What are the most beautiful maps in TF2?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by sevin, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. sevin

    aa sevin

    Positive Ratings:
    They can be official or custom. Try to be specific: replace "I love the desert theme" with an explanation of how the desert theme was used better than other desert themed maps if you can. Screenshots of particularly pretty areas are nice too.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.
  2. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

    Positive Ratings:
    Personally I love Upward- something about the light and air and color correction makes it feel like a place i want to live.
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  3. Lain

    aa Lain meep meep

    Positive Ratings:
    I would say Upward as well, it's more beautiful in a still-life sort of way and not in a panorama/beauty shot that most other maps try to do. Another map that does this well is Thundermountain, looking at the map from every angle everything seems to be there for a purpose, placed there by residence past.
  4. shadowslasher11

    aa shadowslasher11

    Positive Ratings:

    While it has never really earned much of a reputation as a good map, it's a very pretty map and it's also very soothing to walk through. The way the areas are built gives off the sense of freedom if you were to remove all the doors on the map.
  5. Kraken

    Kraken Few more zeros and ones for the site to proccess

    Positive Ratings:
    Probably frontier, something about it just clicks with me. Hopefully I'm not alone with this.
  6. Suomimies55

    Suomimies55 there's a skeleton inside you right now.

    Positive Ratings:
    I found Badlands, gorge, mountainlab and powerhouse nice looking. Of course there's more too. But these are my favorites. (so far)
  7. Yacan1

    aa Yacan1 D I G I T A L I N F L U E N C E R

    Positive Ratings:
    These are my favorites. They aren't in any particular order.

    Koth_King: It's a genuinely beautiful map that perfectly illustrated 1960s/70s hong kong and it guides my eye right exactly where it wants me to look. The Lighting is masterful and overall beautiful on how the surrounding lights from buildings and lamps light the map as opposed to the environment light. The center cap's traditional Chinese architecture blends perfectly with the surrounding buildings and doesn't become an eye sore. The lower levels show that there was activity and life there with all the closed shops and businesses. Also the color balance and general palette of the map is really cool. In a lot of places white wash tile is the perfect backdrop for all these colors. Sort of how the one upper room near mid across the bridge gets away with color lighting, a lot of white tile lets the light color what it wants to. I have a lot to say about this one but I'll keep it short for now.

    Thunder Mountain:The main thing about this that does it over for me is lighting. Oh god all of the lights are just wonderful. The first time it came out I was won over on how they used that one tiny section of the rainy alpine skybox as the source of the environment light. It casts such a warm and bright tone on what would be otherwise a gloomy and dark map. The massive lumberyards and wood buildings are cold on the outside but the walls are always painted with really nice beige tones or dark wood that is illuminated by a lot of warm lighting. On every level there is some really cool vista they want the player to experience. The cliff with the train bridge outside of blue spawn on the first stage, red's courtyard around last out of the tunnel, and the really cool waterfall canyon outside of that larger building. The constant sense of release after leaving the choke points is really rewarding in itself. Thunder Mountain also keeps it very simple in some places. You can look outside of the map and only see a small cliff and a few trees, it's minimal as all hell but it works perfectly where it is an isn't trying to draw your eye there too much. The architecture in general is downright cool as hell too. It uses enough wood and metal to have a nice industrial feel. Again I'll try to keep this short but overall it has wonderful use of tone and lighting. It makes its own atmosphere.

    Pipeline:This is one of few maps that feels genuinely classic for tf2. It could have been released on launch day and fit right it. I think it's one of the last maps that gave this impression for me. I really like how they used the night in this map. Anything they don't really need you to look at is black and not even visible. It's really elegant and simple of a solution to get players to feel closed in by so much industry and shit. It has a nice 'painted' feel and sort of makes me feel like I'm in a postcard or something like that. Lighting is very nice and warm, it just is a nice experience over all.

    Upland:I cannot praise the detailing (and gameplay) on this map enough. It's colorful, it's fun, more condensed and easy to navigate than Steel and it in general is overall very pleasing to walk around in. The outdoor and indoor parts are perfectly integrated into each other and have a very nice seem-less transition. I like a lot of the prop usage in this too, I think there's the barn door from 2fort used as a basement door around B (maybe?) and it just such a nice touch in general. Overall I think what I like most is the 3D skybox. Example of the perfect way to layout a Skybox. It has color, action, a story, it's minimal but has just enough detailing to make me look around.

    Glacier: I haven't honestly played this map since I hardly ever see it in rotation for any server, but it's an early snow map that really nails down the atmosphere and tone. It does a good job of naturally damage to buildings from wind and snow and the way it's 'brushed' with snow is interesting. I wish more people would do these sorts of maps that involved ice and water. Nice toning of the map in general too.

    Dusk:Overall my most favorite map to play on and favorite to look at. Two stage CP was waaay more fun than I thought it would be and the map uses a variety of wood textures and other props I haven't really considered using in a way they all sew into each other. The warm lighting against the rocks and skybox makes for a lot of cool scenes and interiors. I think the second cap on the first stage, there's a light casting onto a factory pipe prop near spawn and the shadow it casts is so crisp and cool to look at it's just.. ugh. I sort of thought the mix of rusty and wood textures didn't make sense at first but the orange/red/grey combo of all of these makes for some nice atmosphere and toning especially with the lighting.

    Dropdown: Mostly why I love this map is the 'hazy' feel overlaid on the whole map that sort of ties everything together. This damp, white overlay over everything makes colors seem more faded and washed out but let players pop out much more. Another map with a super 'classic' feel as well. The architecture is present but doesn't really interfere with player movement and just guides players around. There's a flank route from the spawnroom courtyard that goes to the back of mid that's really pleasing to look at since I don't feel closed in and the trip seems much sorter even though it's a bit longer to get to the point than other routes. Lighting is alright, it's not terribly special but the environment light does most of the work honestly.

    WildFire:Really really cool environment. I honestly miss the maps that involved something happening actively outside of the map. Like it's just really awesome to see those sorts of things and makes me as a player feel more incorporated with the game. There's some areas where the red glow on the clouds is causing a red glow in another place in the map and that's just such a cool detail mechanic. I'd like to see more of that 'world' for wildfire. Something more close to the fire or along those lines. Also those doors that have the 'Top secret' glass replaced with actual glass are awesome.

    Barnblitz: I mostly enjoy the architecture of buildings in this. Even though a majority of the buildings have that gross red wood texture that's completely overused, it's really enjoyable since it's used on a variety of things with the white snow as a nice base. The warm but cool lighting conflicts to have a nice 'morning' feel that it captures effortlessly. The interior spaces are just downright cool and very atmospheric in general. The dark wood walls have a great background for the painfully bright windows that light up the whole space. It makes whatever outdoor area or window just pop out and really draws the player in general. Also it has a bunch of cozy little spaces that make camping or something less suckish. I also enjoy how there are sort of unspoken spaces that are implied through props or just general layouts. Like the locker room near last, or the hay lofts in the upper levels around the third cap. The ridiculously long and bent ladder up to that one roof is comical but ties that space together in my opinion.

    Borneo: Finally, a map that isn't afraid to use copious amounts of cool colors for a red-sided map! Another map with a 'hazy' feel that makes me feel like I'm swimming through dense jungle air. More in love with the tone and lighting of this map more than the architecture. The courtyard outside of Red base is cool, especially that tower it's really rad. It's one of few maps where the custom assets are always there and aren't overbearing. (as opposite, I don't like Zink but that's for another time) I love the trees and just the feel of it all. The jungle isn't surrounding me and completely making me feel trapped. The hills in the skybox with the clouds are super cool and just awesome to stare at in general.

    Hydro: It's so classic it's painful. It's the tf2 in my opinion. Anyone that is trying to understand how gameplay and detailing go hand in hand, please spend an hour or two on hydro by yourself or on a server just walking around. The amount of time they invested in hydro itself is really evident just in the detailing in general. Each area's unique theme or structure is perfectly blended into its environment. Around the Dam the desert walls are almost as high as the dam itself! It makes the point looks miniature in comparison but all of the sight lines and lighting that falls into the point's lap makes a great area to play in. I'd kill to see more maps that don't just slap a spotlight onto the point and call it a day. I enjoy being guided into a space and having the point lit up. Sort of like it was lit up for me almost. Just the impression I get. Quick notes: Interior spaces are really nice and fun to run around, the outdoor 'backlot' feel is super evident and are pretty flawless.

    RottenBurg: So German, it's painful! I think it's pretty fun seeing valve add splashes of color to maps where the red team/blue thing doesn't matter exactly. Also the idea of turning the 'medieval german town' theme up to 10 proves to make a successful urban alpine map of sorts. The whole outer castle wall near where bots spawn is awesome. Perfect as a landmark and just in general a different way of looking at how to utilize assets. The big tower in the middle of the town is cool since you can walk through it, That's a big plus since it isn't just something pretty in the map, it has purpose and is drawing me toward it! The spawn rooms are pretty atmospheric as well, Kinda used too many custom assets imo but it isn't too big of a deal. An area I wasn't exactly... expecting was the canyon/ravine on the side near the bomb pit with the super blue water. It provides a nice vista and just a nice area to look at in general.

    That's about it for my list, I'll update it if I feel like it.

    Overall what I think makes a beautiful map:
    -Toning of a map that is intelligently used and incorporates colors of the map or provides a backdrop for the map's palette
    -Let environmental lighting do the work! Just like in real life, natural lighting can only improve your mood.
    -Architecture that incorporates itself with the map and environment. Get an idea of what kind of landscape your map is in and how buildings would be built in and around the area.
    -Mix up themes and try something different, it doesn't hurt unless it's something painfully dumb then I'm going to call you dumb for being a dumb nerd.
    -A 3D skybox that is present but not overbearing and not too minimal. You don't have to go all out just make something interesting that makes a backdrop for the map and adds context to what you're making. (also incorporation of elements from the skybox is a plus)
    -Contrasts. Night-time map with a lot of white? That's pretty neat! Mostly a red map with a lot of blue? Also neat! this is up for interpretation but I guess just experiment
    -Speaking of experiment, try things out you don't think would work.
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    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  8. Vel0city

    aa Vel0city func_fish

    Positive Ratings:
    Hydro and Powerhouse share my top-1 spot. I just love the industrial look and the bright lighting on those maps. Can't have enough Hydro-lookalikes (although I do think the skybox of Hydro is not as good looking as Powerhouse's but what do you expect with 8 years between them).

    Then comes Nightfall. The whole atmosphere of the map (especially the 1st stage with the rain) just works together beautifully.

    Then Glassworks. Especially last. Crash did a great job on the detailing.

    I'll throw in Doublecross too. It would've been in the top 3 if it had an actual train riding around on the lower bridge.
  9. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

    Positive Ratings:
    Borneo is fucking gorgeous.
  10. Crash

    aa Crash func_nerd

    Positive Ratings:
  11. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

    Positive Ratings:
    Glacier is definitely up there
    Wildfire was really nice and atmospheric
    Watergate (as much as I hate playing on it, it's one of the best looking maps, valve's included)
    Landfall had those giant trees that looked pretty epic

    I'd put Suijin into the list if it had better trees. The darkness of some of the leaves really gets me.
    Borneo also suffers because of the trees. They're the opposite, the shading on the leaves is too flat, they look like cardboard cutouts.

    I'd be lying if I didn't mention Mann Manor. The assets Rexy made for it are so god damned good. (honourable mention for Zinkenite)
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  12. blue9075

    blue9075 L1: Registered

    Positive Ratings:
    I love koth_sawmill because of the dark feeling, yet it's bright. The good props and lighting add to the feeling, and I love the rain, it helps with the feeling aswell!
  13. Dr. Orange

    Dr. Orange L6: Sharp Member

    Positive Ratings:
    I really like cp_granary, cp_yukon and pl_barnblitz. Their time on the day is seemingly in the early morning (barnblitz' skybox is even "sky_morningsnow). I think these maps really portray the slightly cold temperature before the sun have fully rised, and the suspension and nature just at the start of a new day. They just seems so peaceful (minus the fact there's a small-scale war occuring at there).
  14. tyler

    aa tyler snail prince, master of a ruined tower

    Positive Ratings:
  15. Moonrat

    aa Moonrat The end of an era

    Positive Ratings:
    Furnace Creek's amazing sunset and fantastic detailing really makes the map for me. It managed to make an extremely bright light setting, which would otherwise obscure player colors and look ugly and bright work. The brilliant sunset colors along with the custom props and such make the map an amazing impression, and making it one of my favorite TF2 maps of all time. Helps that it is also fuckin amazin to play. This map can make me forgive YM for havin a hand in Hoodoo and Yukon.


    Tidal is a map set by a large bridge at night. That already gives me a hard on, but the detailing is beautiful as well. The light night really brings out the silhouettes on the map, along with the very well made bridge. The ocean setting also helps in making the map stand out to any other 5CP. The gameplay is also pretty nice aswell.


    Backlot was a map created to show off the Construction packs abilities, as well as fix the problems with Arena. It does both amazingly, being extremely fun to play, and having god tier detailing. Everything in map so perfectly illustrates a place under construction, and it stands out because of it. If Arena ever makes a comeback, this is the map I want to be at the head of it.

  16. Habeebit

    Habeebit L1: Registered

    Positive Ratings:
    Mann Manor, Harvest, Yukon, Barnblitz and, I know some people will disagree, but 2Fort
  17. sevin

    aa sevin

    Positive Ratings:
    A lot of you guys are just telling me what maps you like. Tell me why! It's not enough just to say you like them. This thread will only be useful if people explain what makes the map pretty.
  18. radarhead

    aa radarhead Level 20 "Mapper"

    Positive Ratings:
    2Fort is definitely a beautiful map! Just stare at the facades at mid. Just do it.
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  19. Muddy

    Server Staff Muddy Muddy

    Positive Ratings:
    Honestly, although 2fort isn't the best map to play on, it does have some of the most stunning detailing in any TF2 map ever.
  20. Egan

    aa Egan

    Positive Ratings:
    I like arena_discovery cause of it's big radiant sun:


    Default env_sun size is 16, discovery's is 48 ...!
    I like this scene from T:Legacy describing the feeling: http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=11szdxx%3E&s=8#.VcJ7hPm6dhE
    Also Tron:Legacy is a great movie you guys should all watch it if you haven't, it's in my top 3.

    I also really like E-Arkham's pl_snowycoast at the moment, some details a bit make-shifty but a lot of cool ideas for things:

    That mvm prop no one uses elsewhere

    The window covers and the sprites on the radio antenna

    Good use of the medical morgue things

    Good use of the 2fort blast door

    Contrasting the dark skys with bright snowy grounds

    Generally I looked into why some maps felt boring a while ago and found that good-feeling maps tend to have a lot of bright things in the scene to bewilder your brain, here's an album I made for it for watergate's lack thereof at the time: https://imgur.com/a/yZKcZ
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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015