I’ve been mulling over exactly why it is that Behemoth feels so much like a Halo map, while the other maps just feel like generic play spaces and I think I might have figured it out. Iconigraphy.
When you think of things that made maps memorable in past Halo games, what comes to mind the most to me is the big, unique, and interesting features of the map that stand out. Something that makes you instantly recognize it. For Zanzibar it was the giant wheel, and beach wall. For Blood Gulch it was the wide open canyon, and clear view of the entire Halo ring above. For Guardian it was the dense green forest, massive trees, and big golden lift.
Behemoth has this iconography. You can instantly recognize and remember the huge forerunner ring surrounding the arena, and massive forerunner spires serving as the main bases. They stand out, stick out, and stay in your head. It feels like Halo.
The other three maps, while they do have landmarks and are visually distinct from one another, are mostly missing this. The only visually distinct features of Live Fire are the Brute armor adorned targets, and Johnson’s name on the wall. Which are minor details you can’t see from most viewpoints of the map, you even need to zoom in or get close before you can recognize them. They are small details. Compare this to The Pit, which had the targets pop up and glow like an interactive feature, or the very memorable green box/hallway areas in the middle of the map. Even the simple design of the sniper towers was striking and memorable.
Recharge’s most instantly recognizable features are probably the generator near OS/Camo spawn, and that’s something hidden in the background behind grates. Compare to Cold Storage’s giant Monitor AI, and the massive window to the Flood infested area. For Plaza it suffers the worst, aside from the Master Chief painting on a wall there’s nothing visually identifiable on it. Turf had the massive crashed Scarab which, sure you couldn’t see from a lot of the map, but honestly I think it would have been a much more forgettable map without it.
Looking back at 343’s time making Halo maps, the ones that are the most memorable are the ones that had that iconic thing that made it memorable. The green crystal caves of Shatter, and the utterly GORGEOUS Sangheili hands statue in Mercy.
I bet even though nobody likes to play on Isolation, we still fondly remember the forerunner walls containing the infected battleground, and the only use of the flood -Yoink!- door in multiplayer making the map equal parts beautiful, gross and memorable. That’s what these maps are missing, that’s why they seem boring even though they are functionally decent to good maps from a gameplay standpoint.