An Analysis of Call of Duty WW2: Gibraltar

April 11, 2018

 

Gibraltar is one of the multiplayer maps in Call of Duty World War II and set in a British cliff – side fortification atop the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge in the Mediterranean. During World War II the fortification was an important base for the British Royal Navy and acted as a chokepoint for naval vessels in the region. It is the one narrow, critically important, strategic waterway separating the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, and during World War II, this was an ideal location for a strategic advantage.

 

The map comprises of a singular consistent visual theme throughout, World War II British fortifications with a military encampment feeling to it. The map has a pleasant visual contrast to it as it both showcases the effects of a recent battle with bullet casings, debris and bullet holes scattered through the space in the map area which is nicely contrasted with the overall visuals throughout with white walls, flowers, blue skies and a seaside or summer tone to it. With a mixture of different fortifications and buildings the map generally feels grounded and accurate to what would be expected from a military camp from the period. There are storage rooms, large gun batteries, mechanic shops & radio towers all of which encompass the WW II tone of the map.

 

 

Core Components of the Map Design

 

  • Verticality & variations in terrain height

  • Multiple chokepoints

  • Linking looping routes

  • Machine gun nests overlooking high activity areas on either side

 

 

 

Top Down Maps that Showcase the Encounter Zones, Line of Sights & Flow of the Player.

 

The map is a medium sized map with a dense layout of buildings on each side varying from small to large each with different routes leading to alternative sectors of the map. The interweaving of routes and the tight angles of the interiors helps to create an element of intensity throughout the map with a mixture of short to medium sight lines across the map. The short sight lines can be primarily found adjacent and around the centre of the map located on either side of the bridges. The routes through the buildings support the players movement through the space by giving them a number of possible routes to either lane quickly and uninterrupted.

 

Variations in Terrain Height and Angle.

 

Each route has an element of danger and safety to it as each has cover placed on the golden path of the player but also pockets of open space that adds elements of risk to using the different lanes. The buildings on each side of the map largely consist within the middle lane and due to the nature of how the engagements occur the dense cover is needed and supports the core mechanics of the overarching game, particularly where there are multiple routes where enemies could derive from. The core gameplay loop of Call of Duty WW II is used to great effect here. The characteristic intense, short burst gameplay seen throughout previous Call of Duty games is embodied in this map.

 

A map that Gibraltar could be considered comparable to is Ambush, a popular map from Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare. Both Gibraltar and Ambush have similar condensed buildings on either side which are intertwined with small claustrophobic channels weaved around the map and a central horizontal lane that is structured with three distinct chokepoints to encourage firefights from either side across a ‘valley’ to stimulate challenge and a risk/reward scenario. Gibraltar has a strip in the centre of the map where a large percentage of firefights that transpire between players on the map due to the three closely knitted chokepoints funnelling players into concise and tight firefights across the centre strip. This point in the map relies on the players utilising their skills in the different Divisions and tools available to the player to make any progress and push players out of the strongpoints. There is no particular Division, the type of weapon class, that the map is stronger or weaker on the map as each Division has the potential to be used to great effect by having a mixture or sights, ranges, encounters and cover.

 

Multiple 'Windows' to Obtain a Tactical Angle or Surprise the Enemy.

 

The lane in the centre of the Gibraltar map features an underpass with narrow passageways and two bridges connecting either side. Both bridges act as heavy contention points where both teams will repeatedly encounter as players will be funnelled when approaching the centre due to architecture creating corridors that become narrower when near the two chokepoints. The two chokepoints are positioned in both a higher and lower location giving the player terrain options and branches out on to the different routes and spawn points aiding in creating an overall positive flow of the map.

 

Throughout the map occur there are instances of encounters in varying intensity and size. By using a technique called the Bubble Layout it can help to highlight encounter zones. Creating a Bubble Layout for the Gibraltar map helps to analyse the encounter zones closer by identifying intensity, location and the design concepts behind it on why it makes for an encounter area.

 

A Bubble Diagram Highlighting Encounter Areas and their Intensity from their Size.

 

The first encounter is in the centre of the map, one of the chokepoints on the map. As it is a chokepoint it inherently creates chaotic matches. The short sightlines combined with the lack of cover makes this encounter particularly dangerous.The cover that is in the location has been strategically been placed on the edges of the bridges as a point for safety allowing players to peek or set up for strategies on pushing the lane. Crates have been placed on the approach to the bridge and on the bridge, giving potential cover for the player to use. In addition to the crates the walls on both sides both provide protection when approaching the bridge however the walls also have openings/windows giving players the option to obtain a tactical advantage over other players if timed correctly.

 

A notable strongpoint of the centre section of the map can be found when approaching from the Allied side. Reaching the stairs leading up to the higher bridge section gives a clear sightline across the bridge looking towards the Axis spawn route prior to reaching the actual chokepoint giving advancing players early control of the strongpoint, this is powerful due to the lack of danger to their side as it is covered by a building. Additionally, the player can control the chokepoint from the corner of the wall.

 

Ally Players Can See Axis Players Approaching Early in to the Match.

 

However, on the Axis point this is countered by an opening in the wall overlooking the small lower bridge joining each side on the flanking lane, proving to be a strongpoint for the Axis side. Despite the centre lane having a number of chokepoints they are countered well to ensure the map is balanced for either side, a rock paper scissors scenario.

 

Multiple Points of Conflict on Either Bridge Chokepoint.

 

Due to the weaving of the routes across the map the map flows particularly well. There is never a point where the player must rotate abruptly to move through the map. For example, the player can move from their spawn point, reach a chokepoint, flank and engage the enemy with ease due to the routes often linking to the next, the player is always making progress in the map.

 

The looping routes through the map helps to increase the overall flow of the player allowing the player to continuously move around the map without running into a corner. The map utilises lighting to great effect, to both add to the overall visuals and to add the overall movement of the map. Lighting is a powerful tool that can aid in creating flow by inherently encouraging players to take a route due a light being strategically placed to highlight the route.

 

This can be seen throughout the map, highlighting key routes that can provide the player a tactical advantage or leads to a vantage point. An example of this can be seen with the brighter lights inside interiors that exteriors, helping to distinguish routes through buildings. This is poignant in the cannon side flank where the player needs to go through a section of the mountain side to reach a vantage point and a flanking route. Lights have been placed to highlight both the route down and to the vantage point.

 

Lighting & Lighting Props Lead the Player Nicely Through the Cavern.

 

This is also employed to create a contrast between shadow and light sections next to entrances and hiding spots on both sides of the map. The overall distinguishable visual langue of the map is high, inherently allowing the player to read the terrain and identify enemies easier. The negative space design concept is utilised throughout the map in the white walls of the buildings helping to highlight the silhouettes of enemy players, the contrasting interior and exterior lighting and the use of shadow and the uncluttered open spaces makes the map simple to read for gameplay. If the player squints in key areas of the map they will still be able to distinguish routes, entrances and exits. An example of this is on the Axis side tunnel where a light helps to differentiate the route inside.

 

 Different Variations of Lighting Through Interiors From Exteriors.

 

The two flanking lanes are not intrinsically different from each other and can be seen to hold a similar design concept. The Cannon lane can be seen to be similar no matter what the player comes from as either side features tunnels that lead to a relatively small open area with a lack of cover to use when moving forward. The area is home to two vantage points that overlook each approach providing players with a height advantage over approaching enemies, giving them the tactical advantage.

 

Stairs Leading into the Mountain and a Sniper Vantage Point Overlooks the Lane.

 

The Cannon Lane Side Has a Mixture of Open Geometry and Placed Cover.

 

Each side of the lane features a location that can be used to gain a height advantage for either side, particularly sniper orientated players. The changes in height makes the player look up and down when moving through the map, making the map overall more interesting to play in. When approaching from the Axis lane the player will encounter a strategically placed cover prop, a military vehicle, placed strategically in front of the opening to it, from the Axis spawning side particularly, to give the encroaching players brief protection when advancing and to assist in separating the players into separate routes.

 

On the Axis side of the lane the cover helps to promote movement to the middle lane due to the cover being rotated slightly which nicely leads the player to the stairs leading to the higher middle lane or possibly to the ladder allowing them quick access to the higher ground, however this can be a risk reward scenario. By leaving the courtyard relatively open it adds risk to the player’s movement. The player can also take the route to the crane which again is open to fire, however with the gun placed in the centre of the lane it gives the player respite from oncoming fire if needed. The approach on the Allied spawn side does not have the cover next to the tunnel entrance however the placement of the cover on the Axis side also has the potential for working for any Allied side players. There is also an addition of a vantage point over looking the courtyard, this area is particular dark and can be difficult to spot enemies from making this point of the map predominantly deadly.

 

 

Key Features of Cannon Flanking Route

 

  • Tunnel entrances overlooked by sniper vantage point

  • Different routes leading to middle lane

  • Ladder to sniper vantage point on axis spawn side

  • Large cannon in entre of lane, providing cover for both sides

  • Open section between sides with a lack of cover to use

 

The bridge side has a similar layout with two approaches leading on to an open section of the map, one of the bridge chokepoints. Leading from the Axis spawn there are cover elements to help protect the player and funnel the player into different section of the map and again leading to the middle lane. On the Allied side there is another open section that only has sparse elements of cover adding to the dangerous aspect of the chokepoint and making it difficult to contest and push forward without danger. Additionally, both sides have stairs that give the player a quick route to the higher chokepoint in the middle lane which can be read quickly from the respective spawn.

 

 

Key Features of Bridge Flanking Route

 

  • Sparse and dense areas of cover

  • Stairs leading to higher chokepoints

  • Obvious route to lower chokepoint

  • Path leading to Cannon lane protected by buildings and walls

 

Each side of the middle lane is watched by a stationary machine gun nest that is position in such a manner that can add to the overall intensity and danger of the middle lane, this ingredient overlooks the high activity play areas and provides players with a fun interactable ‘toy’ to utilise and to add to the ongoing battle.

 

 

The Gibraltar map is one of the maps if not the only map that has varying heights within it. The terrain is never strictly flat it ramps up and down with inclines and declines around the map. The varying height in terrain makes the map more interesting to the player and create new gameplay challenges. The map features interesting choices of varying terrain, elements such as cover, high and low walls, stairs and high and low ground all assist in creating ambush or advantageous routes through the map. This can be seen particularly in the centre of the map with a higher and lower section.

 

Unlike other Call of Duty WW II maps, the layout has a more cylindrical than the typical box structure seen in several other maps. The mountain location of the map helps it to retain an organic element to it with reduced hard lines and ninety-degree angles often seen in other maps.

 

 

 

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