As important as the characters of any game are, it's the stages that they're played on that truly shape the game. After the last article on the community-decided Top 5 Best Overwatch Heroes, we're taking a look at the oft overlooked aspect of just how important and fun each of Overwatch's fifteen maps can be. Unlike most games, Overwatch maps fully take advantage of all three axes, having many places up high for players to get the jump on, and sometimes literally jump on their opponents. And, of course, while every map has its own strengths and weaknesses, these are just our personal favorites, if you disagree then feel free to share your own opinion in the comments. But without further ado, here's our top 10 best Overwatch maps.
10. Ilios Starting off the list is the Control map, Ilios. A very summer-themed map, Ilios has you fighting through various sets of Greek ruins and fighting for control of the central point. What helps this map stand out is its reliance on environmental hazards, with open pits and cliff dropoffs right by all of the fighting, making for some unique and rage-inducing environmental kills. These pits also serve to make the firefights unique, giving neither team ample cover and practically making it a requirement that each player find a clever way to flank around the enemy. And luckily, Ilios also has no shortage of discreet passageways to sneak by and blast an ultimate right behind the other team.
9. Volskaya Industries An Assault map, Volskaya Industries has one of the more complex layouts of Overwatch's maps, with a huge variety of side corridors and overhead passageways, complete with clever chokepoints that offer a solid challenge to the offense, yet enough ways around them that the defense must always stay on its toes as well. It's rare that a complete sweep of either team occurs here, and that's what helps make this map fun, with every character able to completely take advantage of their unique abilities here and use them to their fullest. The last thirty seconds here always provide an adrenaline-filled one last push to take or defend the point that never fails to disappoint. Unless you lose. Then it's kind of disappointing.
8. Numbani The first, but not last Hybrid map on this list, Numbani offers up quite a difficult challenge to both teams, with the point and payload spawning a fair distance away from the defense at first, but a final checkpoint immediately outside the defense's last spawn that all but forces the offense to wipe out the entire other team. With tons of buildings and balconies alongside and over the streets that the bulk of the fighting occurs, everyone has to keep a watchful eye on every direction around them while making their way through the map, and the many battles that take place in the last stretch are both tense and extremely fun to take part in.
7. Nepal Nepal is another Control map, as you probably know, and it takes what Ilios has and improves even further on it. On one point you'll have to defend from the top of a gazebo as heroes from the other team swoop in from four different directions, and on another you'll be having to hold off enemies on the other side of a deep abyss while having minimal cover yourself, with its third point allowing you little ability to properly defend your point while you're in it and making you step away to fight off enemies, though you'll have to find a proper balance between this and keeping sure the point is secure. Nepal puts all your skills to the test and does so brilliantly.
6. Watchpoint: Gibraltar Though this map used to have its issues with balancing, heavily favoring the offense for a good while, the removal of the first checkpoint took away a lot of the footing the attack team used to have, making this map a far more balanced and fun one to play on. The defense has to work hard to keep the payload from the first checkpoint, given their distance from the spawn, and it becomes an uphill battle for both teams at that point. The overhead walkways leave lots of room for threats from above while in the warehouse, and the flat and open final stretch leads to some intense and nail biting final moments before the game's end.
5. Dorado A straightforward Escort map, the games that take place here are usually anything but straightforward, with practically the entire map having a second floor overlooking the payload down below. There's lots of ways to cleverly maneuver throughout the place and launch a surprise attack on your opponents, especially in the final stretch to the last checkpoint, which is always host to some particularly intense battles. All the long stretches make it a good place for snipers and those that have hitscan weapons, with anyone caught in their line of sight becoming easy prey. This encourages venturing off the beaten path and makes it necessary to have ample skill in both close-quarters and long-range fights.
4. Lijiang Tower The last Control map on this list (sorry, Oasis!), Lijiang Tower has a lot of variety between its three different points, with each one feeling very much like its own map. The atmosphere of the place is, in general, among the best in the game and only helps add to the map's overall excellence. Every point has many different ways to attack it and equally as many to defend it, and the varied structure of each different point allows all different types of heroes to shine on this map. My personal favorite of the three would have to be the Garden, as it always offers a good and stressful but rewarding struggle to keep the point.
3. King's Row Taking place in the streets of England, King's Row offers a map that feels like three different maps in one, with its first point feeling like a proper Assault map, complete with the many high-up platforms to rain death onto the profligates down below from. The path to the first checkpoint for the Payload is long and winding, and thanks to its complicated layout, you never know which direction the enemy might be, keeping you on high alert the whole stretch. Lastly, the factory area is a bit of a tight squeeze with side corridors basically along the entire perimeter, and with the defense's spawn right at the final checkpoint, it's a brutal and winding but rewarding last push.
2. Hanamura Hanamura is one of the most varied and unique maps Overwatch has to offer, and is always a joy to play on both sides. Though the first point can be especially brutal for the offense given its tight and mostly well-guarded chokepoint, the second point is where the fun really begins, with an open and wide castle that has corridors above it, below it, and on all four sides of it that let the attacking team run wild with their pushes, yet allows the defense to have a clear understanding of what's going on at all times. On top of this, there's various shortcuts both of to the points that only heroes with mobility skills can access that also adds to the different options when on the attack.
1. Eichenwalde The first map added to Overwatch after its initial release, Eichenwalde is a shining example of how Overwatch's level design truly sets it apart from other games. It's essential that every character utilize their abilities to their fullest, as there's no room for error in the intense matches that take place here. It has all the winding passages and side areas of King's Row along with the openness for all-out firefights of Hanamura, complete with the tightly packed and intense final stretch of the likes of Numbani and Dorado. There's also the fact that you get to fight in a giant European castle, which is really just the cherry on top of the delicious sundae.