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Destiny PvP: House of Wolves' new Crucible maps detailed, with screenshots

Destiny expansion House of Wolves delivers three new Crucible maps - four if you're on a PlayStation console - just for PvP fans.


Destiny: House of Wolves is the expansion PvP fans have been waiting for. Sure, there's a lot of focus on story, Strikes and Raids in the community, but for pure versus play fanatics, House of Wolves delivers in troves.

As well as the Trials of Osiris, a new PvP-end-game, there's a stack of new hunting grounds to explore and dominate. Summon your pack together and save the alpha scuffles for outside the Crucible; you'll need a solid crew to master these new maps.

I went to visit Bungie in Seattle last week and had a go at the new maps. I can't tell you much about how the maps play and their potential meta, because I'm a bit of a newb, but Arrekz is much more of a PvP expert than I am so look out for his videos on the subject.

In the meantime, here's what I observed and what Bungie told me about the new Crucible maps included in House of Wolves, as well as a selection of beautiful screenshots for each.

Black Shield

One of a number of new locations introduced in House of Wolves, Black Shield is set on Firebase Thuria on Phobos, the moon of Mars brought close to the surface by the Cabal. A geometrically symmetrical map, Black Shield is still quite easy to navigate as each side is visually distinct.

Crossing from one side to another through the Cabal architecture is dangerous; the area is dotted by doors which open on a very slight delay; anybody on the other side will see you coming via the flashing locks before the portal is wide enough for you to aim through.

There are several tactics you can use to your advantage as a result of these choke points. A powerful short range weapon like a fusion rifle or shotgun, wielded from the flank, will ruin the day of anybody unwise enough to rush out. But you could also approach a door so that it begins opening then back right off, tossing a grenade in front of you, to discourage just such lurking. The doors also hide your numbers; a gleeful ambusher may get more than they bargained for.

One of the control points on this map is surrounded by high ground, which makes it a nightmare for lone defenders, but with a small group it can be relatively easy to hold.





Thieves Den

Thieves Den takes us back to the Ishtar Sink on Venus, a familiar ground. It was most reminiscent of Campus 9 to me; the same sort of lush vegetation. Fallen pirates and outlaws have set up camp in this area, and some of your battle will take place on a skiff.

This map has several notable features. For one thing, the Fallen have built their little hideaway on a blessed volcano, so you're in constant danger of leaping casually to your firey death in areas without guardrails.

For another, there are several narrow, twisting, branching corridors connecting the main areas to each other. Whenever I felt especially frightened I would retreat into these and use my shotgun (Swordbreaker, I love you) to murder someone unwarily coming around a corner, which happened surprisingly often.

It's better to do a bit of platforming and skirt the outside; if you're good at acrobatic, aerial stuff, you can seriously surprise your foes by appearing suddenly behind them, having jumped in from some distance. Hunters especially will have a nice time with that.





Next page: Widow's Court and Timekeeper.

Widow's Court

This map provides us with a rare chance to take a look at the Earth's surface beyond the borders of the Tower and Cosmodrome in Old Russia. Widow's Court is set in the European Dead Zone, an area we don't know much about yet, and thus provides a tantalising glimpse of the broader Destiny universe which Bungie's storytelling is so coy about revealing.

The central structure of the map is a ruined church, but there's also a dead Fallen Walker which makes a good waypoint. It's a pretty map, really, given that most of it is crumbling ruin; it's heartening to see some green vegetation poking through. Maybe the Earth can be reclaimed from the Fallen?

The idea behind this map, Bungie said, is to provide an environment more familiar to fans of modern military shooters - but set within the Destiny universe. As such you'll see more human scale architecture rather than the Cabal, Hive and Vex constructions we're used to.

In terms of play flow, the windows create interesting opportunities for ambushes as players travel from one area to another, and the doors are obvious choke points. Our match was all about using sight cover to lure single Guardians into groups of foes. Entrances to mini-arenas formed by broken walls meant those who used height to their advantage could avoid immediate ambushes, but this map definitely favoured group play.

One of the Control zones was in a basement, and it changed hands multiple times; you really didn't want to be standing there when someone dropped a grenade into the claustrophobically enclosed space from the larger room above.

There's a very, very long sightline easily accessible right from the two spawn points, and a couple of snipers had a really excellent time there. It is possible to creep up on their positions if you can survive circling around the other side of the map, though, or wait for a distraction from another direction.

A large map, Widow's Court is best for larger team modes, although it would also provide a tense, slow-paced duel for patient stalkers in the 2v2 and 3v3 modes.





This PlayStation-exclusive map is set on Mars. It's an eerie, beautiful map, dominated by a huge portal and allowing Bungie to leverage its remarkable talent for light effects thanks to pools of reflecting water.

Burning Shrine experts will find a familiar trick in the form of explosive environmental objects, but this time, there are five doorways to contend with; players are forced into close quarters in these dangerous choke points even more often.

Bungie said that using Vex architecture for PvP map building is liberating; the machines don't necessarily abide by the same architectural concepts as more strictly humanoid species, and their devices can be bafflingly large and mystifyingly shaped to our human eyes.

This small map is clearly designed for small group modes like Skirmish, and will probably be quite good for Elimination, the new mode at the heart of Trials of Osiris. I found Control almost ridiculously busy.






Destiny: House of Wolves launches on May 19.

Brenna Hillier recently visited Bungie's studio in Seattle to preview House of Wolves. Activision provided flights, accommodation and hospitality.

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