In previous articles, I’ve whinged and moaned about how I don’t like particular maps, while aabicus has gone on about how much he loves Doomsday and others still have tried to talk about other maps still. Today is about a map, yes, but this time, I’m not whinging. Well, not completely.
Badlands is considered one of the best maps around. It is by far one of the most loved maps for competitive play, as each area has its own weaknesses and strengths, much like our favourite mercenaries. The map comes in three lovely flavours, although two of them are very similar. The flavours are Control Points of the 5cp variant, King of the Hill and Arena. Control Points Badlands is the largest version of the map, with Arena being the smalled. The King of the Hill version of Badlands is slightly bigger than the Arena version, with a larger spawn room with more exits and, of course, resupply cabinets.
The appeal of Badlands is obvious. 5cp is a relatively fast-paced game mode, with territories flying back and forth. The three main areas, the inside bade, the spire and the bridge, all allow for classes to take advantage of them. The bridge is open, allowing Snipers to do their job, but there’s plenty of flanking routes and cover for non-Snipers to hide behind. While the control point itself is open, the capture area is quite large and you can duck behind the carts and boxes.
Once you capture the bridge, it’s a scramble to the Spire, which involves climbing your way up a spiraling steep path carved into a large rock. That is, unless you’re a jumping class, then you can just rocket jump or sticky jump your way to the top. If you’re a Soda Popper Scout, you can just fly up there. Defenders can attack you from above or below with the multitude of available exits.
After Spire, there’s the indoor area. I never liked the indoor area, but it is fairly easy both ways, attacking and defending. For defense, the map offers high ground close to the spawn room but for offense, the capture time on the control point is tiny, meaning a Scout can get in there with easy if you’re careless.
Both smaller versions of Badlands are focused on the bridge in the center, with a control point on top. The glorious spire is missing here, but since it’s so far away from the action and the spawn room is one of the forward spawns. The rest of the map is fenced off, but underneath the road to the left of spawn is a puddle of water that people can hide in or attempt to put themselves out in. Health kits are obviously less generous on the Arena version.
Although the KotH and Arena versions of Badlands miss out on the something-for-everyone aspect that the 5cp version receives, they are still a nice mixture of open and closed territory, with the tighter corners of the buildings and the open space of the bridge, so there is still a little something for everyone. Engineers though are fairly strong, as they can build level 1 and mini-sentries in the sniper huts and remain undetected, a much more common nuisance on the KotH version as there is more metal and health available, as well as longer matches. Unfortunately, the issue of the Gunslinger is inherent with all KotH maps.
Overall, despite the introduction of more competitive-orientated maps like Gullywash and particularly Process, which combines many of the best aspects of Badlands and Granary, Badlands still holds its ground as a great map. It’s also got the bonus of looking nice, which the TFC version lacks.