The Best of Halo: Reach's Forge
With Halo: Reach's Noble Map Pack now available, those strapped for cash may feel left out in the cold. Fret not, as we've cooked up a carefully considered list of some of Reach's best user-generated maps.
Maybe that's not quite as cool as some completely fresh, Bungie-developed environments, but with some familiar favorites and stunning originals, the fan community has cooked up some of the best maps the Halo series has seen. We've poured over hundreds of custom maps to bring you our ten favorites (plus a few extras) - so queue up the downloads, grab some friends, and enjoy some brand new maps, free of charge.
Note: To download the maps, make sure you have your gamertag linked to your Bungie.net account, follow the links below, and then click on the download link. Next time you load up Reach it will automatically queue up the downloads.
1 - Battle Canyon by Noxiw
Of all the Forge maps we came across, Battle Canyon was the closest to perfection. It's exactly everything you could ever want out of a fan-made map – namely, a familiar setting (Halo 2's Beaver Creek) bravely re-imagined in a way that you'd normally only trust Bungie to pull off. This is hands down a better map than the original and a call to all Reach map-makers to step up their game. Bravo.
2 - Genome by Ladnil
Genome is a stunner. Its curved bridges not only guide your eye but make for fascinating battles. A perch atop the central bridge leaves you open to snipers but the lower, bowl-shaped areas are a nest for grenades. With tons of clever little jumps, short-cuts, and a symmetrical, easy-to-learn layout, the map demands constant movement. Opponents get into mindgames on this map more than on any other map we've seen.
3 - Insomnia by BlazeIsGodly
Insomnia is a work of Halo map-design art. It has everything you could want from an arena-style map – brilliant jumps, a logical layout, symmetry, and tons of easily identifiable landmarks. This is the kind of map that seperates the men from the boys, allowing you to dance circles around anyone who can't work the jump button or keep tabs on power weapons. It's also quite good looking, using some Forge tricks to deviate from the drab, grey color palette so many maps fall into.
4 - Behemoth by Vincent Torre
Behemoth's name seems to stem not from its size, but from its density. There are bigger maps in the Halo series, maps more deserving of the name, but few offer so many layers. Behemoth is multi-tiered, packed with nooks and crannies, but it never gets confusing and almost every inch of it gets used in combat. It's a great map for CTF and other team-based objective games, or even just a simple free-for-all – it's quite versatile.
5 - Lockout by II MAKY II
The original Lockout was, by a large margin, the most beloved and played of Halo 2's maps. Forge even comes equipped with many of the building blocks to make it. Yet few have been able to step up and make something that truly hits on everything that made Lockout so special. It was the original jumper's paradise, and II MAKY II's remake nails every bit of the original's flavor, even when it has to take a liberty or two. By our money there isn't a more accurate remake available.
6 - Salvation by xXMrMojoRisinXx
Salvation is another remake, this time going all the way back to Halo CE's Damnation. At the time it was a great map, and while these days that might only translate to “good”, Salvation hits the nostalgia buttons better than any map we've seen. The creator even got a working approximation of Halo CE's ladders.
7 - Narrows by Fame28
Halo 3's map selection left something to be desired, but Narrows, with its man-cannons and curved bridge, set the stage for some fantastic objective games. This remake lovingly recreates nearly every last detail of the original map. If there were some kind of “map complexity” to “map accuracy” ratio, Fame28's remake would win hands down. The only problem – the map doesn't yet include support for some team games like Assault.
8 - Interdiction by JackGeneric
Interdiction's creator is a bit too humble for our tastes, suggesting their map wasn't quite up to snuff. But we disagree – while Interdiction may be simplistic, it's an absolute joy to traverse. More than most maps, it embodies fun above all else. Maybe it's not perfectly balanced, but the cat and mouse chases you get into on this map are fantastic. Bring a jetpack.
9 - Impound by rusty eagle
Impound is probably the most cold and calculated of all the maps we've showcased, but it's also one of the most functional. With it's two levels and seemingly wide-open expanses, you'd think it'd be a sniper's paradise, but the Needler is actually this map's weapon of choice. With one on either end of the map on a quick respawn timer, and plenty of space for mid-range encounters, Impound is a showcase of the Needler's prowess above all else. It's like a memorial to the little gun that could.
10 - Convict by II Atticus x
Last one, and again, it's a remake. Halo CE's Prisoner was one of the series' most underrated maps, and this remake aims to change that. While a lot of the combat takes place on this structure's ground floor, the jet-pack gives players the upward mobility they never had in the original map. Convict's creator smartly replaces ladders with teleporters, allowing players to quickly bounce from one level to the next in this tightly packed maze of destruction.
...and there you have it, our picks for the 10 best Halo Reach Forge maps. Thing is, if you're only looking at serious multiplayer maps, you're just scratching the surface of what Halo fans have been up to. To demonstrate this, we've included a couple of our favorite, more gimmick-fueled creations. Check 'em out:
Terminal 777 by o0MrCheesy0o
Terminal 777 is, you guessed it, a remake of Halo 2 fan-favorite, Terminal. The original map featured a bullet train that passed through periodically and destroyed anything in its path. This fan adaptation doesn't work quite right, so we left it out of the running for the top 10, but it really shows the ingenuity that forge creators employ to get things working. In place of the train is a big, red ball that kills anything it touches. Even if the proportions aren't quite right, and the kill ball is a little too liberal in its killing, this is still a map worth seeing first-hand.
Accelatron VFW by JBSpudster
Accelatron VFW is the kind of thing that you accept for the magical mystery that it is. Simply hop into a vehicle of your choice, drive through the teleporter, and then watch in awe as a complicated network of teleporters accelerate you before launching you clear across the entirety of Forge World. Don't be surprised if you lose a few hours tinkering with this one.
Skirmisher by xSoGx Grim
Skirmisher isn't a map or a gimmicky toy, it's a damn sculpture. Creator XsoGx Grim found a use for those Covenant jerks from Reach's campaign, sculpting a massive Skirmisher statue on one of Forge World's islands. The attention to detail is stunning to say the least.
Oceanside MX by cant stop donut
Halo racing isn't for everyone, but at fan-site HaloTracks.org it's everything. The site features nothing but racetracks for Reach, and Oceanside MX was one of our favorites. The variety of terrain and obstacles, combined with a steady flow makes for some truly competitive mongoose racing. That last turn is a bit hairy, but otherwise this track is a must-download.
There's more madness where those came from, but that's a rabbit hole we may have to save for another time. Special thanks goes out to a few different Halo communities including ForgeHub.com, HaloTracks.org, and the Halo: Reach thread at forums.somethingawful.com. Also, an extra special shout-out goes to a few friends, gamertags Philbert and Adama Maneuver, whose hours of play-testing help made this article possible.