Get To Know Your Three (Or Four) New Destiny Maps

by Matt Miller on Apr 29, 2015 at 08:01 AM

Some big additions are on the way to Destiny’s PvP experience in the coming days. When House of Wolves releases on May 19, all players will gain access to three new competitive maps, and a fourth map if you’re playing on a Sony console. In addition, the maps previously exclusive to owners of The Dark Below expansion will enter regular circulation for all Destiny players. Finally, the new endgame-targeted Trials of Osiris will open up for the first time that following weekend.

There’s a lot to learn about the Trials of Osiris, so I’ve set that info aside in a separate story. However, I had a chance to play some Control matches on each of the new maps a few weeks prior to the House of Wolves launch, and came away impressed with each of the new locales. 

Widow’s Court

My early favorite of the new maps is Widow’s Court. The setting offers something new, and the time I spent in the map revealed a lot of tactical complexity. While the map is set on Earth, it takes us to a new location far from the Cosmodrome. The European Dead Zone is littered with the ruins of old civilization buildings, lending a feeling that’s a little closer to modern military shooters than Destiny players may have become accustomed to seeing. The map feels larger than many Destiny maps, with lots of long sight lines and sniping opportunities. An old, run-down church is near the center of the map, and in Control, one of the spaces to dominate is within the church. My favorite feature of the map was its plentiful points of cover, usually in the form of rubble, ensuring that lots of interesting smaller battlefields can coalesce wherever teams collide. 

Thieves Den

This retreat for Fallen pirates is a great map that left me feeling in danger and exposed almost everywhere I went. The Thieves Den has numerous tight tunnels and hard turns that open out into larger conflict areas. The map’s most notable feature is the prevalence of death drops for unwary guardians. In particular, a Fallen skiff near the center of the map could lead to a misadventure fall death if you happen to get caught unawares. The mix of Fallen paraphernalia and the trappings of Venus-style landscape makes for a cool backdrop, and Thieves Den struck me as an excellent multi-purpose map that should do well in various game modes.

Black Shield

My brief match on Black Shield was filled with some furious throwdowns even as most of the players were trying it for the very first time, and that’s a good sign that the map has some exciting potential for future fights. The Cabal installation is set on Phobos, the largest of Mars’ moons. The map is geometrically symmedtrical, but with different visual theming depending on the side you spawn on, both for variety and to help in keeping track of where you are. Black Shield includes a number of opening and closing automatic doors, which naturally lead to choke-point battlefields as one team tries to halt ingress from their opposition. In Control, the central B zone is in an a large open bowl area, so it’s a good idea to try to take it as a team. 

Timekeeper (Sony Exclusive)

The first several months of Destiny have resulted in some important exclusive features for players who choose PlayStation over Xbox, including weapons and strikes. That trend continues with House of Wolves, but only in this one way. The intense Timekeeper map is the only Sony exclusive element of the new expansion, but for PvP players, that may be a pretty big deal. 

I had a blast exploring the compact map, which is clearly designed with 3v3 conflicts in mind. The battlefield is found in and around a vast Vex machine of unknown purpose, which lays out in the open upon the deserts of Mars. The Vex architecture is used to good effect, revealing giant circular portals and strange beams of light. In my time with the stage, fighting was nearly constant, and it felt like I had nowhere to hide, so offensive tactics were a must. More than one spot on the map offers a chance for an attacker to drop down on enemies from above, meaning that vertical awareness is more important here than in many maps. Exploding yellow cubes offer a chance to do some extra indirect damage to otherwise out-of-reach enemies. I really enjoyed the intensity of the firefight on Timekeeper, where strategic planning often goes out the window in favor of fast, dangerous throwdowns.