I remember saying once that I disliked Nucleus. I can’t remember why, but it was something along the lines of it being a Sniper friendly map. But after having played on it a bit more, and having played on REAL Sniper friendly maps, I feel I should retract that statement. And maybe add a few more positive statements too.
My original thoughts were about Snipers being way too powerful on Nucleus, especially on Arena Mode since you die and that’s it. I decided though to try and play Sniper myself. We all know I’m a useless Sniper, but to be fair, I know where’s a good place to snipe and where isn’t. Turns out, all the good places to snipe were also particularly good places to get rockets thrown at. Nucleus is a good map for sniping but since it’s one giant circle, you look one way, someone comes from the other way. It’s quite weird.
It’s not just Snipers that benefit from Nucleus though. Okay, they do benefit quite a lot, but so do other classes. Everyone’s seen the video where a Demoman kills an entire team by sticky-jumping and cabering someone, then abusing the first blood crits to kill everyone else. Turns out, despite the size of the map, there’s quite a bit of explosive jumping you can do. Engineers have to take advantage of the high ground as the low ground and the middle ground aren’t particularly suitable for sentries. Any sentries built around the ‘main ring’ can be sniped, either with explosives or rifles. And Pyros have the time of their lives as they can finally use airblast to push people off the point and into a bottomless pit, rather than just pushing them off the point.
There’s far more to Nucleus though. It’s a different map. And it can occasionally be a bit of a maze. Most of the map looks the same from most directions, apart from the team-coloured markings and props. It feels like most of the map is indoors, something rarely seen in other TF2 maps, but it’s not. Or maybe it is, since technically a lot of the map is below ground. The central hub of the map has no ceiling, with a pretty blue sky and a couple of plants above. It feels more three-dimensional than some maps but less than others, more like a giant hole than a cube.
Nucleus is also a very pretty map. Or I think it is anyway. Well, the central control point is pretty. It’s that sort of sci fi spy tech stuff that I have always enjoyed in TF2 maps. Other parts of the map are rather dull, especially around the back and down below, but the giant generator thing floating above it all makes up for it.
There are issues though. There are issues with every map, but Nucleus’s issues are kinda unique. The first problem is that sometimes sentries can be a little too far-reaching. This is often a problem on maps, particularly King of the Hill ones, but the ideal sentry locations, up on the high ledges overlooking the point, are tricky to take down if your team lacks the right class or enough skill. On the flip side, some parts of Nucleus seem empty and unused. Most people seem to prefer leaving only via the front spawn, never taking the side routes. Oh and the TF_bots will occasionally walk off the ramps towards the control point. They think there’s walkable space there, but since the point is closed off and the bridges only appear after a few seconds, it’s a tad annoying watching your practice bots repeatedly walk to their deaths.
Nonetheless, Nucleus is a fresh change to a lot of other maps. It’s nice to walk around in a giant underground lab sort of thing airblasting people to their doom.