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Abridged Arena Array

Go To
Red = banned in tournaments.
Yellow = counterpick (can only be picked by the loser of the previous match).
Green = always legal.
Upper half is singles, lower half is doubles.

— An infamous description of any given competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee match.

A gaming community's refusal to congregate in any but a few choice arenas for play. Certain levels are played on over and over again without any deviation due to people either knowing a certain stage well or the level requiring a certain amount of skill and knowledge to get around on, which filters out people who never played on that level before. A type of Complacent Gaming Syndrome.

These tend to be Fixed-Floor Fighting stages, as Free-Floor Fighting adds a layer of randomization.

However, for competitive tournaments, this is often enforced by the rules, and for good reason — many games with a tournament scene have particular levels with exploitable bugs or a lopsided advantage toward a particular side or character.

In online games these are often found in "24/7" servers that play nothing but a single map over and over again, or are likely to be constantly voted for in case of games that work on server lobbies.

For players who look down on anyone who likes playing on anything but a few set stages, see "Stop Having Fun" Guys.


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    Action Game 
  • This is also seen in GunZ. A good 70-75% of all fights take place in the "Mansion" Arena.
  • Usually in Bomberman games, many players prefer the normal battle mode stage. For Fan Game Power Bomberman, the three most commonly-played stages are Path to Glory, Full Power and Retro, due to not containing any obtrusive gimmicks.
  • The English-language version of Dynasty Warriors Online suffers from this. There are at least 30 weapons, roughly 11 maps, 5 vs game modes (excluding showdown, which can be played only at certain times, Campaign, which is Basically 3 of those vs game modes you can normally play but with land at stake, and Defeat commander, which you can only get randomly), and 2 Singleplayer/Co-Op modes. Despite all this, People only play in Confront, use, at most, 6 of those weapons, and only play on plains.

    Fighting Games 
  • The Super Smash Bros. series has a lot of this. In general, the early games were designed much more for chaos than for competitive play, so stages tended to have bizarre proportions and hazards. While these stages provided a lot of the flavour (and music) of the games they represented, they were considered to provide an unfair advantage to certain characters. Competitive players started to default to the more "generic" stages, especially Battlefield and Final Destination, which don't have any stage hazards at all. Their general rule is that they play on the same few stages, with some stages being "counterpicks" (in that the loser can choose them in the next game) and a standing gentlemen's agreement to play any stage only if all players agree to it. They've found many ways to make it work:
    • The original game on the Nintendo 64 had only a few stages, but basically all of them had weird proportions and stage hazards, making many of them a Luck-Based Mission. As such, it has only a single tournament-legal stage, Dream Land. Duel Zone, Final Destination, and Meta Crystal all have no stage hazards, but they are single-player only stages and cannot be used in multiplayer without hacking the game. This is a big reason why competitive play didn't take off until Melee, but even then, stage hazards were a big problem, and Game Mods like Project M modified many stages to remove the hazards.
    • Final Destination is particularly appealing to tournament players, as it is a single wide platform, making it the closest to a "traditional" fighting game stage. However, this does provide a slight advantage to certain characters with powerful long-range attacks (like Fox's blaster or Pit's arrows) or strong ground games (like Little Mac) — but that advantage is slight, so it's still tournament-legal. Competitive players have come to accept platforms as ideal for Smash games, and the Battlefield setup with its three fixed platforms became the gold standard for stage configuration. In fact, the Brawl stage Smashville — which is almost the same as Final Destination except for a single platform that floats back and forth — was so popular that it even relegated Final Destination to counterpick status for some tournaments.
    • Nintendo started to recognize this pattern, and in for 3DS/Wii U they introduced Ω versions of every stage, which allows you to play them in the Final Destination style — a single wide platform — but keep the music and aesthetic from each stage's original game. Its online mode was bifurcated into "For Fun" mode (original stages, items on) and "For Glory" mode (Omega versions, items off). However, the Omega stages are still distinct from one another, as the positions of the blast lines are different between them and only some of them allow you to jump under the platform; this affects tournament play enough that even some of these stages were not considered tournament-legal. EVO 2015 outright banned Omega stages (although that was mostly because the "flavor" of the original stages led to music rights concerns). Ultimate resolved the problem by making the Omega modes identical and introducing a Battlefield-style option for all stages as well.
    • Casual players have this issue, too — they tend to default to stages which allow for maximum chaos. Melee's Temple is a particular favourite, because it's very big (but not too big, as in the weird massive novelty stages like the Great Cave Offensive), allowing players to screw around, but still has no artificial stage hazards or unique mechanics.
  • Rivals of Aether shares many of the same rules as Super Smash Bros, considering that their respective fandoms are generally made up of the same people. Similar to for 3DS/Wii U's Omega Stages, each stage has two different forms; Aether and Basic. Aether stages typically have some sort of hazard or gimmick, whether it be something as mundane as a wall on Fire Capitol or a Man-Eating Plant that deals a One-Hit KO on Treetop Lodge. Basic stages have no gimmicks and are geared towards competitive play.
  • In the fan patched netplay version of Guilty Gear X2 Reload, a lot of players tend to choose Slayer's stage even though stages really have no impact on gameplay in this game. To elaborate, Slayer's stage is a large open cathedral-looking area with a gigantic bearded skeleton wearing armour in the background. It is likely because they want to hear Slayer's admittedly cool theme tune.
    • Before Slayer, it was Chipp, for the same reasons.
  • Due to Tekken 4's engine allowing for various forms of weirdness and other game-breaking moments, combined with the presence of gimmicks such as obstacles in the middle of stages and stages with varying floor heights, tournament play was very often restricted to a handful of stages (the Arena being the most common). That didn't stop the possibility of potentially broken combos still being executed even on the most fair of stages.
  • You are likely to see this plus bonus arguing matches in Dissidia Final Fantasy and particularly its sequel, Duodecim. The source of all this is that the game is a 3D fighter, and arena design and character fighting style can vary rapidly.
    • Terra is a holy terror in the Phantom Train, a closed in, elongated arena, thanks to her mostly frontward-firing projectile attacks that are hard to avoid in such circumstance; Firion, the ground-bound fighter with a terrible air game, is helpless in Planet's Core, the largely vertical arena with small floating platforms as the only footholds; The Emperor, the Trap Master, is best in arenas with lots of closed-in areas like Kefka's Tower and Pandaemonium where he can set up traps easily; Zidane and Kuja, the aerial dominance fighters, are going to struggle in Sky Fortress Bahamut Omega, where a continuous windstorm will blow fighters back when they get too high in the air. In other words, while players have their Arrays that are (usually) dependent on the characters they main, they're often not the same as the Arrays of other players...leading to arguments.
    • Order's Sanctuary is basically the game's version of the Final Destination - a large flat area with a few grind rails to make moving around easier and remove a bit of the advantage long-ranged characters have over others. (Edge of Madness, while completely flat and devoid of any objects, is much too small to be considered fair.)
  • The most common stage that you will find yourself playing on in Jump Ultimate Stars is the Demon World Tournament arena. The only gimmick on that stage is a moving platform above a regular floor. It is loved for the same reason Final Destination (above) is.
  • Most of the stages in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 go unusued in PVP matches, as they are either more fit for PVE quests with their size and starting areas, or can screw with your sight due to poor camera around walls and some objects. The most common pick is decidedly World Tournament Arena, due to being small, starting people off close, but most importantly, being the first in the selection. Some players do dislike it though, as its tiny size (in fact this is the smallest playable map) can make it feel claustrophobic and screw with knockback combos, it's prone to having players get stuck beyond boundaries, the flying confetti particle effect really reduces quality and increases size of recordings and its low ceiling can be used for some really strong combos and even a completely inescapable infinite by Trunks. Hyperbolic Time Chamber is probably the most fair, starting people close but being surprisingly large as well as being completely flat, save for one building in the middle, making hard knockdowns more reliable, the two DLC maps also come close. The maps that are actually frown upon mostly include the very large maps with distant spawns, like Glacier and Archipelago. Most people who pick them use the distance to at best charge their Ki and transform right at the beginning, or at worst use Pose K/F with meditation.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs. tournaments almost exclusively use the Side 7 arena, since it's mostly wide open and has relatively few buildings and obstacles. It's not perfect since there's a giant incline on one side, but it's still the closest you can get to a "Final Destination" in this seriesnote .
  • Even in "traditional" 2D and 2½D fighters like Street Fighter V where obstacles aren't an issue, tournaments will generally be held on the training stage (and you can expect most of your opponents in online play to choose it as well). The pro-training players argue that it's less distracting than arenas that have background animationnote , while the pro-variety players argue that the other stages are there for a reason. On another level, modern training stages tend to be marked with grids intended to help players figure out the spacing of attacks; while nobody questions this utility for practicing, critics have accused tournament players of being unable to play the game without their "training wheels". Capcom has slowly taken steps to combat this over time; the training stage is banned outright for matches held under the Capcom Pro Tour from SFV onwards, and they later implemented a mod for their online tournaments from 2021 onwards which replaces the stages for spectators without impacting the players themselves - a feature which would later be carried over for all to use in Street Fighter 6.
  • Bonne Wonderland from Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a popular pick due to its lack of visual clutter aiding in visibility.
  • There are way fewer Lethal League Blaze matches in Central Streets, Scrap Desert, Paradise Field, New Rise District, or Workbot Factory compared to the other stages due to them having to be unlocked by redeeming it with in-game currency. Many players choose to use those credits to unlock alternate character skins instead. In particular, The Sewers and Room 21 come up a lot, especially on the Nintendo Switch, due to their polygon counts being low enough for the game to always run smoothly no matter what's going on.
  • To the surprise of some, Kirby Fighters 2 actually has a bit of this. It's not quite to the extent of other fighting games but at least two stages, Springy Hand Land and Castle Lololo, are completely banned from Kirby Fighters 2 tournaments — Springy Hand Land for having absolutely obnoxious stage hazards (though, similar to Super Smash Bros. tournaments, stage hazards are usually turned off) and Castle Lololo for having a very annoying stage layout that is not conductive to tournament play.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Battlefield 2 is Strike at Karkand. Curiously, everyone wants to play this almost infantry-exclusive map in a game whose main gimmick are vehicles. Not only this, but the demand for this map was so great it lead to the developers adding the 'infantry only' game-mode to the game.
    • The sequel, Battlefield 3, basically marketed the game on the back of telling everyone that Karkand would be back for it. The DLC in question even has challenges to unlock new guns, with one of the opening ones requiring two hours of playtime on Karkand (all the maps added have such a challenge, but Karkand is the first one players are allowed to do for obvious reasons).
    • The map for the franchise as a whole is Wake Island. It originally came with Battlefield 1942. It was ported into Vietnam, 2, 2142, 1943, Battlefield Heroes, and along with Karkand was one of the maps in the Battlefield 3 pre-order bonus before it was added in the 'Back to Karkand' DLC. The only major games it isn't in and would be expected to be playable in are the two Bad Company Gaiden Games and Battlefield 4.
  • Bad Company 2 in itself has three major configurations everyone plays: Acatama for tanks, and either Arica on Conquest or Isla on Rush for infantry-only. The former only ever falls by the wayside for Heavy Metal or Harvest Day, which are just as good for vehicles. You'll also be hard-pressed to find a populated server that isn't running an "XP+15" mod, boosting your earned experience to ridiculous levels (a single kill with any kit immediately unlocks every weapon and specialization for it, as well as a good handful of ranks).
  • Battlefield 3:
    • Operation Metro. You will find hundreds of Metro 24/7, 64 player servers, most of which included increased ticket counts for longer games. There appears to be some kind of perverse thrill in playing this map, as it's incredibly small, is incredibly biased in favour of the Russian team and 95% of the players do nothing but camp, launch noobtubes, throw grenades and fire rocket-propelled grenades across the map, actively avoiding anything that might result in their death or having to use their actual guns.
      • The major reason for the popularity is that it's used as an extremely quick XP boosting map. People are constantly dying in the meatgrinder, allowing people with medic kits to revive potentially hundreds of times a round, and people with support kit can make just as many reloads. Not to mention that because of all the reviving available, it's extremely hard to get a negative KDR unless you're really bad.
    • Caspian Border is the most popular vehicle map. It contains multiple vehicles, is quite open and has a nice map layout that means games don't end in spawn camps most of the time.
  • Battlefield 4:
    • Operation Locker is essentially the sequel to Metro. Tightly packed hallways and very few options in assaulting means that it's a favorite in all modes, particularly Rush, where the attackers are forced to funnel their way through two very narrow hallways, where XM25 Airbursts, rocket-propelled grenades, and a rain of grenades likely await them. There's a side path outside, but it's also less traveled (even in Domination, where one of the control points is on the helipad) due to lack of cover and poor visiblity through to the inside of the map even when the game isn't abusing its "Levolution" feature to kick up the snowstorm and reduce visibility even further every time you try.
      • Some players even get into earlier maps just to get to Locker, including Golmud Railway (the map before Locker on the standard playlist), which is unofficially known by fans as "that map before Locker" or "Operation Locker Eve". Metro itself has rejoined in the 24/7 love as well now that a modified version made its way into the game with the "Second Assault" DLC.
  • Battlefield 1 has Sinai and Amiens, the former of which is a sprawling vehicle-heavy desert map and the latter an urban map. Oddly, the Metro-esque Argonne Forest and the even more Metro-esque Fort De Vaux aren't nearly so popular.
  • Dust 2 in Counter-Strike is one of the most iconic maps in the history of gaming for being well balanced between the two sides. Concerned parodied this way back in 2005. It even has its own Wikipedia Page! It's popular in every incarnation of the game from the default 5v5, to super high pop servers with 20+ players per side, in team deathmatch and gungame modes.
    • The Global Offensive match searching options which are normally sorted by game mode has an option to search for Dust exclusively.
      • Office or Assault are hostage rescue maps that are other two most common maps to see in a 24/7 single map server. They offer gameplay loops that are based around the Terrorists holding the structure from the CT attack, while also offering opportunities for the Terrorists to rush out and surprise the attacking enemy.
    • For Arms Race mode, Shoots has been the most popular due to its small size and symmetrical layout, with Lake and Safehouse quickly becoming close seconds ever since they were added to the mode in a November 2014 patch.
    • Some unofficial maps can reach this status such as cs_bloodstrike, fy_iceworld, fy_pool_party, aim_awp, scoutzknivez and cs_casa mostly because quite a bit of them are either very small maps that allow for very fast-paced deathmatches, or maps specially designed around specific weapons.
    • Also, if you play the fan made Jailbreak mode, expect to see ba_electricprison and its variants a lot.
  • The Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Italian community plays only on FFA_Bespin. If you change the map with a vote while there's nobody else on the server, expect choruses of "Boooo! This map sucks! We want FFA_Bespin!" once enough people join. Everybody else just plays FFA_Deathstar, usually with lightsabers only and no Force powers.
    • One could be reasonably lead to believe the Movie Battles II mod for Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy only has a single map, mb2_dotf, given that not a single server running the mod will ever play anything else.
  • Day of Defeat Source, the Valve remake of a Half-Life mod, had a lot of playtime on Anzio when the game first released. Avalanche is also extremely popular and is hosted on many 24/7 servers, as it's a level that is mostly fought around the central cap point, allowing games to continue for a long time.
  • Descent is based around disorienting full-3D flight. Therefore, all multiplayer matches take place on the completely flat "Minerva" and "Ultra-Earthshaker".
  • This has happened at least as far back as Doom, where the first map of the compilation dwango5 (otherwise known as D5M1, a derivative of an older map called SS-MAP1.WAD) overshadowed basically every other level in online play at the time. Notable too in that there were seventeen DWANGO compilation packs including the aforementioned dwango5, for a combination of over three hundred maps - and the only variation seen in this was D5M7, from the very same pack, seeing some play when the source port Zdaemon became popular.
  • Temple or Facility for the N64 FPS GoldenEye. Not surprisingly, its successor Perfect Dark included slightly modified versions of both these maps.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved gave us Blood Gulch. On the PC version, after going through the usual server narrowing process (not full, users playing, not passworded) no less than eight of the eleven pages were 24/7 Blood Gulch. Bungie and 343 Studios recognize it by always making sure there's a canyon map, which when remaking Blood Gulch will have a sanguine name (Coagulation, Hemorrhage, Bloodline).
      • Red vs. Blue even cashed on that: that map is the original setting - the first five seasons are The Blood Gulch Chronicles - and even as the characters moved onto other places, they're known as the "Blood Gulch Crew".
      • The popularity on PC may also be due to the fact that the trial version only comes with that map. Most also run a "no 'Shees" mod (a mod that removes the Covenant Banshee with its twin plasma cannons and insta-kill Fuel Rod Gun) or at least have rules against using the Banshees.
    • Halo CE and Halo 2 multiplayer seemed to only be played in Capture the Flag mode. Fortunately, added gameplay modes in later games have gotten players out of this.
    • In Halo 2, it seemed like online custom games consisted of Lockout 90% of the time and Midship the remaining 10%.
    • And in Halo 3, the most popular map was usually Valhalla, Blood Gulch's Expy, while Halo: Reach brought back Blood Gulch, yet ended up a close second compared to Sword Base.
    • In Halo 4, you can count on Exile being voted for at least 90% of the time whenever it shows up in the voting rounds in Big Team Battle. It's the only map so far that has a Scorpion and Gauss Warthog, not to mention it's relatively easy to spawn camp on the map, which may have something to do with it.
    • Halo: Reach had Sword Base always picked in the Living Dead mode, because there was a spot in the map that was extremely easy to defend yourself from the zombies in. Bungie fixed this by creating several different copies of Sword Base with the most common areas blocked, making sure that no players picked the map.
    • Reach also had another example in the Team Snipers mode, where almost every player would pick Haemorrhage, due to the openness and abundance of vehicles. This still stands today.
  • Left 4 Dead. In the finales of each campaign, there's always one very specific spot that most people defend from to guarantee victory.
    • In Versus, corner camping. When you're the infected, expect to see all survivor players camp in wall corners during crescendos and finales so that you will never be able to touch them.
    • Valve has gone out of its way to change this for Left 4 Dead 2, with all of the new playable Infected being made specifically to counter strategies based on camping (Spitter makes whatever spot its spit lands on hazardous for several seconds, Charger can knock over the entire team if they don't move out of the way, and Jockey can separate teammates during an attack).
    • In the original Left 4 Dead, players only ever want to play the first campaign, No Mercy. Part of this is because at launch, only the first and fourth campaigns featured versus mode; since then all four campaigns have been released for versus, but people still rarely choose anything other than No Mercy over and over. Mirrored in the sequel where for VS games, people will only play Dead Center and The Parish, though ever since the original campaigns were officially ported No Mercy is once again the only one ever played. This is mostly due to Death Charges, a technique where a Charger player can charge into a survivor and hurl them to instant death. Dead Center and No Mercy, both of which prominently feature high-rise buildings and similar high-altitude areas, have several spots where survivors can be instantly killed if they are not careful, so infected players pick these maps to get a shot at killing survivors in one shot.
    • Regarding custom campaigns, it's hard to find a good game that isn't going on in City 17, I Hate Mountains or Suicide Blitz 2.
  • The Quake series had DM6 in Quake/Quakeworld, Q2DM1 (the edge) in Quake II, Q3DM6 and Q3DM17 in Quake III: Arena and probably another number in Quake IV.
    • From the original Quake-based Team Fortress, 2fort5 (which inspired Team Fortress 2's CTF_2Fort) and well6 (which has pretty much nothing to do with Team Fortress 2's CP_Well/CTF_Well).
  • Dustbowl, Goldrush and Gravel Pit are the most commonly seen "24/7" server maps in Team Fortress 2. But listing available servers will show 2fort to have the most entries at any given time, despite a large segment of the playerbase hating its guts.
    • And at the other end of the spectrum is Hydro. Ironically, one of Hydro's commentary nodes specifically lays out Valve's anticipation of this trope influencing the focus on this map as the big map that would provide enough content and variety to withstand people playing it all the time. Unfortunately, nobody ended up wanting to play it, due to the actual gameplay on the map resulting in either one team steamrolling the other in seconds, or round after round of Sudden Death, dragging the match on endlessly until one team decides to lose on purpose just to change maps.
      • Well, gameplay plus a respawn-time bug that was left unpatched, and possibly even uncaught, until 2010, three years after release. In a catch-22 scenario, the lack of play may have actually contributed to the bug not being caught sooner.
    • Similarly, the Arena mode - an attempt to appeal to the Counter-Strike crowd, by giving everyone a single life per round - has essentially been abandoned (since TF2 players hate having to wait around for upwards of several minutes watching and waiting for one team to win, and CS players just kept playing CS), mostly replaced by the fanmade Vs. Saxton Hale mode (which at least tries to intentionally differentiate itself from Counter-Strike by changing how one side plays). Though even Vs. Saxton Hale is losing players, since nobody wants to sit around and watch other people play after they've died. And when it's down to one or two people vs. the boss player (Saxton Hale), said remaining players will hide in out of the way areas, dragging the game out, and angering those who just want someone to win already so they can respawn and play again. The fact that most people won't capture the control point out of some misguided sense of honor may play into it as well.
    • Also ironically, this trope's use in Team Fortress Classic is the only reason that maps like 2Fort and Well were remade, even though their gameplay and layout isn't as refined as their contemporaries.
    • Valve also recognized the rise of custom maps over the built-in ones, and struck deals with the creators of several popular and/or (in their opinion) well-made ones to add them to the game officially.
    • The King of the Hill community has an outright unhealthy obsession with Nucleus (whose design offers greater advantage to certain classes than more balanced maps), and those who don't have a similar obsession with Kong King (added with the Pyromania update). If the current match has one of the two in its voting option for the next map, chances are 95% that it will be the one chosen. If you want to play any cult favorites such as Sawmill or Harvest, you better hope both Nucleus and King are in the list so as to cancel each other via competition.
    • The Payload community has a similar obsession with Badwater Basin. Granted, there's a significantly lower amount of Payload maps than most of the other gamemodes, but Badwater is the easiest to find a game in. The aforementioned Gold Rush is a distant second, but it also overshadows most of the other maps.
    • If you're looking at playing the Payload Race mode, expect to spend a LOT of time at Hightower. It's gained a following similar to that of 2fort above, due to the tendency for matches to drag out for incredibly long periods of time due to the goals being right beside each other, and two chokepoints which both require the attacking team to push the cart uninterrupted for a fairly long stretch.
    • 5CP servers usually spend a lot of time in Granary and Badlands, due to the heavy focus on them in competitive play. There's a reason why the pair are collectively referred to as "Blandlands" by the more weary of the 5CP community.
  • From the Unreal series:
    • The first game has DMDeck16, the first map of a long time series.
    • Unreal Tournament's most (in)famous map is CTF-Face, also known as "Facing Worlds". Quite small and simple, with no running around through mazes trying to find each other. It is incredibly easy to spawn-kill the enemy team from pretty much anywhere in the map, due to each base being a giant tower with only one entrance, but the spawns being behind or to the sides of it rather than inside. Yet, the snipers at each tower can also be shot down, what with the players spawning near Sniper Rifles, and the Redeemer also being able to kill said campers. Oh, and the Translocator makes this map pretty bearable. In fact, the map was so popular that it ended up with three versions in its introductory game (the original Face, a redesigned Face][, and a rebalanced Face-Special Edition), with UT2003 following up with another redesigned Face3 before UT2004 brought back the original as FaceClassic. After not being included in UT3, it was later added in the Titan Pack.

      On the Deathmatch front you have DM-Deck16][ and DM-Morpheus. Part of the fun regarding Face and Deck16 is simply the visual decor. Both maps have impressive art assets in addition to workable gameplay.

      Other frequent maps in servers are CTF-Clarion, CTF-CivilWar (and its smaller variant) and CTF-McSwartzly are usually the most-frequently played maps on Siege servers.
    • In Unreal Tournament 2004, expect a lot of DM-Rankin online, assuming you can find any populated servers outside of Onslaught mode, where ONS-Torlan reigns supreme.
    • Unreal Tournament III has DM-Sentinel.
    • The full conversion Red Orchestra for UT2004 hasn't seen any new maps created for a looooong time. Everyone seems to acknowledge nothing else will be played, ever, so if you plan on playing on open servers, you'll probably want to become intimately familiar with Arad (for tanks) and Danzig (for infantry).
    • Oddly, Killing Floor, which also started as a mod for UT2004 doesn't have a particularly popular or unpopular map, and all the official ones can be found in a rotation at some point or another. Part of this might be because the game is hardcoded to prevent 24/7 servers as much as possible. That said, there are still some maps that are much more popular than others, particularly West London, Biotech Labs, and (ever since it was made official) Mountain Pass.
  • While the original Modern Warfare had over a dozen maps in its multiplayer, you would often be hard-pushed to find servers - especially in those oriented for competitive environments, such as using Pro Mod - including anything beyond the "usual suspects" in their map rotation; these being Crossfire, Crash, District (also known as "City Streets" due to its filename) and Chinatown (a modern-day reskin of Carentan, which served as the map of choice for the classic Call of Duty games).
  • Treyarch actually had to patch Call of Duty: Black Ops a few months after it launched because everyone was only playing in Nuketown. Now it can't be selected within two or three games of the last time you played in it.
    • But then to the other extreme, they actually added a "Nuketown 24/7" mode, which cycles through different modes exclusively on that map. It's only available during double-experience weekends on consoles, though. Its popularity is likely because the map is so small, there's a very high chance that chucking a Semtex two seconds after the match starts will get you a cheap grenade kill or three right off the bat. Also, the easy camping spots (on top of a bed, behind a fence, two houses with one open window) and the constantly-embroiled-in-explosions-and-gunfire Point B on Domination Mode made this place very popular.
  • If you play Killzone 3 multiplayer, expect to see Bilgarsk Boulevard pop up more than once. Why? It has miniguns on both ends to defend the boulevard, great sniper positions in the buildings, and the routes around the main road are usually stalemated with grenades and turrets, allowing Marksman and Infiltrators to sneak in and cause havoc. Basically, it appeals to everyone.
  • In GoldenEye (2010), expect to play a lot of Jungle, Docks and Outpost. Seeing as they're basically the only high-visibility maps with plenty of levels and indoor/outdoor play, it's justified. Try playing Sewer for a few minutes—your eyes will literally hurt from strain.
  • In America's Army 2, the vast majority of online servers ran the Bridge map. Possibly because it was a simple map with simple objectives. And on that map, Defense was the preferred team of choice, since all they have to do to win the round is prevent the other team from crossing the (narrow) bridge. Assault, on the other hand, only had a handful of minutes to make it across or they lost.
  • Metroid Prime: Hunters:
    • The Combat Hall was the most played level in multiplayer because the arena is tiny and there is almost no place to hide. The map is also popular with people that use the Weavel character because a glitch allows them to send the character's lower half inside a wall and have it shoot at anyone that wanders by while it can't be shot back. If Combat Hall isn't picked, at least half of the players will leave the game.
    • The Alinos Gateway map is also popular in multiplayer for its sheer size and open spaces with a mix of some small halls to hide in. People who usually play as Spire will always pick this map since he can get to a certain spot that other hunters can't reach, thus he can easily snipe everyone while generally staying out of harm's way.
    • The Obulette is also another frequently picked level because there's a ton of vertical space and it's the only map to contain the Omega Cannon.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has First World Bank and Diamond Heist as the most played levels online because they have something that makes it easy to level grind. First World Bank is played the most due to it being the easiest level even on the highest difficulty and the secret vault containing a ton of gold bars that allows players to level up several times in one sitting. Diamond Heist offers quite a lot of money from the sapphires you steal (if you can get them before being spotted by the guards) plus the jewels in the vault you are aiming to steal.
    • PAYDAY 2 has or had several heists picked over and over for various reasons:
      • Ukrainian Job was played by nearly everyone non stop because it was incredibly easy to use shaped charges to blast open the safes, get the tiara, and escape before the cops arrived (there's even an achievement for doing this in less than 30 seconds), which meant that people could quickly farm loot drops and gain experience points at a fast rate. The developers quickly nerfed the exploit by introducing safes that can't be lockpicked or blown up on Death Wish difficulty and reworking the experience point system to be more rewarding for heists that have multiple days.
      • When the experience points system was changed, players quickly flocked to the Rats heist because not only it had a massive experience point payout (over 300,000 points on Overkill difficulty!), but Rats was also the quickest heist to play if you botch the meth cooking on purpose on day 1, quickly use shaped charges on the safes in day 2 to get the intel, and then kill the Mendoza gang on day 3 and leave without getting the money on the bus. The heist got changed slightly in the Death Wish update where the van on day 1 won't show up until you cook 3 bags of meth (he shows up in less than a minute) or blow up the lab (he'll take 3 minutes to arrive). Blowing up the meth lab on the Death Wish difficulty makes the entire map go up in flames, creating a Total Party Wipe; should you somehow avoid this, the van will never show up, so you're stuck until you reset.
      • Nightclub runs in a similar way to Ukrainian Job and was played in nearly the same way until the developers added 2 more rooms that could appear and added an extra safe that could contain the money needed to finish the heist or contain some coke for bonus loot.
      • Firestarter, like Rats, is played by everyone looking to level up quickly.
      • With The Dentist's missions out, there's Hotline Miami, a difficult mission with a huge exp and cash payout. Then there's Hoxton Breakout, which has no bags but still had a huge exp and cash payout.
      • Aftershock is seen quite a bit for grinding out money as fast as possible, giving a guaranteed two million in spending cash on Overkill difficulty. It's not quite as overplayed as some of the other maps above, though, due to being rather tedious (those safes are extremely heavy, and you need to carry them across a very large and very wide-open map, with only a slow and ungainly truck to make things quicker).
      • Vlad's annual Christmas-themed heists, like White Xmas and Santa's Workshop, tend to see a lot of play as well thanks to their gimmick of potentially limitless amounts of loot to stash. Even as low as Very Hard difficulty, you get a noticeable boost to your end-of-heist experience for every individual bag you manage to grab.
  • Ace Of Spades suffered from this rather badly at times, with one particularly controversial, totally flat and featureless map by the name of "Pinpoint" dominating for a long time. Its main redeeming feature was that it limited the utility of the otherwise hideously unbalanced rifle and generally cut down on the camping a bit, but it wasn't especially pretty and had little scope for actual tactics. The rifle got nerfed after a while and it pretty much disappeared soon after. And then Jagex happened.

  • Several courses in Albatross 18/Pangya got whored out at some point; North Wiz and Ice Cannon are two such examples. Both courses had plenty of icy shortcuts to gain lots of overdrive Pang from; a single 18-hole round of Ice Cannon can easily net you over 1,000 Pang in a single round.
    • Newest courses Lost Seaway and Ice Spa now hold this role, partly because they're easy to generate pang on, partly because they're the two easiest courses to start getting very low scores (less than, say, -22) on.
    • On the other hand, because of the way Season 4 calculates XP gain (giving bonus XP for playing on harder courses), four-player three-hole VS. games on Deep Inferno are now very popular.
  • In City of Heroes, you can start in one of two zones: Atlas Park or Galaxy City. The marble block under Atlas always has at least 20 Level 1 characters hanging out underneath it, while Galaxy City is a dead zone. Even the addition of the Arena in Galaxy didn't help (and if anything hurt the adoption of Arena Mode). City of Villains seems to have recognized this, with everybody starting in the same spot (with an alternate starting contact 500 feet away patched in later), and the Rogue Isles' Arenas are literally abandoned, falling apart from disuse.
    • As a result, a surprising number of players start in Galaxy for some peace and quiet.
    • As of Issue 21, Galaxy City has been destroyed, and serves only as the tutorial zone for both heroes and villains.
  • Final Fantasy XI has this to the nth degree. Parties seeking experience points always go to the same zone based on their level - and to specific "camps" within that zone are better than others. These are always the easiest and safest places to gain experience, learned through trial and error.
  • In Everquest, out of the many dozens of zones, only a couple see much action. For example, players in their teens and early 20s, level wise, hunt in Paludal Caverns. Period.
  • Phantasy Star Online has people playing the Boss Rush mission "Towards the Future" ad nauseum, and that's pretty much it. Anyone who isn't doing this is either not at a high enough level to easily complete it on their current difficulty, farming a specific enemy that is more numerous in another mission, or a Japanese person playing Challenge Mode.
  • Phantasy Star Universe also suffers from this. Throughout its run, the players would seek out the Free Missions with the most efficient EXP gain, and the lobby for that mission would similarly be packed. In Vanilla PSU, this first happened to "Plains Overlord," then to "The Mad Beasts," then "Endrum Remnants." When the Expansion Pack Ambition of the Illuminus was released, this honor went to "White Beast," and remained so whenever an event wasn't going on—to the point that PSU itself was derisively nicknamed "White Beast Universe" as no one seemed interested in running any of the other missions in the game. This tendency prompted Sega to introduce the "GUARDIANS Boost Road," encouraging players to run chains of other missions for greater gains rather than simply spamming a single mission over and over.
  • In Classic World of Warcraft, the players would always congregate around the high level zones and for awhile, a good 70-90% of the playerbase would hang out in either Orgrimmar or Ironforge, especially in the areas in and between the auction house and the mailbox. However, as for leveling, most players would either hang out around the Barrens (For horde), Westfall (For Alliance), Hillsbrad Foothills, then Stranglethorn Vale, Tanaris, then the Plaguelands and Un'goro, and later on, Silithus. Very very rarely you'd see somebody in Loch Modan, Wetlands, Silverpine Forest, Feralas, Stonetalon mountains, Azshara, Desolace, or the Hinterlands. Most of the time they were in places like Desolace it was because the only other option was Ganklethorn Hell, Hellsbrad Foothills, or Ganklestan and on a PvP servers for awhile, you were very very likely to be ganked. Stranglethorn Vale was a common questing hub because there was just so many quests for both factions, and they all covered a huge range. Now there are more options, thankfully.
    • Justified with Silithus because at first, the area was not even finished and only half the map could be explored. The only way to get a quest chain that lead into Silithus was a rather obscure quest line.
    • Vashj'ir in Cataclysm. You'll not find many people in that zone because at launch it left a bad taste in many peoples' mouths. The zone is actually quite diverse, with seaweed forests, massive palaces, deep ravines, underwater caves, and enormous sea creatures. Its reputation seems to come mostly from the fact that people just don't like underwater levels. For all its diversity, because the zone is in deep water it's necessarily darker than most zones and always a shade of blue, giving a constant feeling of heaviness and sneaking claustrophobia. People just generally see water more as a place to get out of rather than a place to stay for an extended period of time (possibly an evolutionary thing in our subconscious). There are two objective problems with the zone however. When first released it was incredibly buggy, preventing some people from even progressing through it (you can still get screwed on the final quest if you're unlucky). Secondly, the whole theme of the zone was a build-up to a confrontation with underwater Eldritch abominations which, while planned to be released later, never happened, making the whole thing feel pointless.
    • The Warlords of Draenor expansion added instanced garrisons that were run by the player. The garrison allowed players to collect resources and launch missions from their own personal command fort. One of the major criticisms of this expansion was that this resulted in many players spending considerable amounts of time hidden away in their garrison instead of out in the world, making everything seem rather empty.
  • The Wayward Lobster in Stormreach Harbor of Dungeons & Dragons Online seems to be the only area that players PVP in. In fact, another tavern in the Marketplace, which is much bigger and better suited to the sheer number of people, almost never has anyone battle there. It can get to the point where slower computers can't even handle all of the spells being cast by other players when you're in the service area.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online goes through fads, generally those instances that are dropping whatever gear is currently regarded as "the best". Good luck pulling together a fellowship or raid for anything else. You'll occasionally find parties running instances where you can bypass a lot of the area by making a beeline straight for the end boss, ignoring everything that doesn't actively try to stop you along the way.
  • In Dragon Nest, the only map you'll see people use for 1v1 is Lost Temple. The commonly cited reason is that this map has good walls for comboing with, few paths for kiters, and no major obstacles to get in the way.
  • In Guild Wars 2, the devs employed the use of scaling so that the game is feasible in any possible zone, meaning you can still gain experience even if you're level 40 and backtracking to a level 10 zone. However, once you leave the starting zones (Which everyone zergs for dailies), the population of zones drops fast, only to rise again when you start getting high level.
  • Star Wars: Galaxies quickly settled into this after its first few months. Players would almost exclusively be found in Mos Eisley, Bestine, Coronet, and Theed, with smaller contingents found in the outposts of Dantooine and Dathomir.
  • PlanetSide 1's "Cyssor" - an archipelago continent with huge, two lane bridges running between the various islands - became infamous for week long meatgrinder battles over bridges and for being fought over by at least two of the three empires pretty much 24/7, to the point where people were calling the game "CyssorSide".
    • Planetside 2 has "Indar", a continent divided evenly between scrubland, salt flats, and canyons. Infamous for meatgrinder bases (THE CROWN!) that lead to back-and-forth Zerg Rush attacks all day long. When the eagerly anticipated Esamir and Amerish continents were added, everyone kept playing on Indar. When Hossin was added, a temporary 25% XP boost was added to fights there just to get players off of Indar.
  • Hit level 50 in MapleStory 2 and want to get your Epic weapon so you can move on to Hard Adventure Dungeons? Be prepared for Tronix Bunker, Tronix Bunker, and more Tronix Bunker. Because it consists entirely of pulling 3 switches to open a straight passageway, fighting Dual Minibosses that can have half their HP removed instantly by grabbing a battery from the passageway and throwing it, and fighting a boss whose only dangerous attack can be avoided by not standing on burning squares, it's the fastest dungeon that has a chance of giving Epic weapons, meaning you'll get it all the time if you don't change your search settings.

    Racing Game 
  • On Initial D Arcade Stage Ver. 2, few multiplayer races were played on courses other than Irohazaka.
  • Mario Kart players tend to pick the basic "straight" courses in order to Snake easily. Baby Park as well. The Wii version included bikes, which resulted in most people in always picking bikes over karts since bikes could wheelie almost anywhere to get a boost while karts can only boost from power sliding.
    • Mario Kart (as well as other games that allow you to pick where you want to play in) also suffered from people who would refuse to play any track other than the ones they keep voting for. Rainbow Road (DS and Wii), Grumble Volcano, Figure-8 Circuit, Sky Garden and GCN DK Mountain are some of the the most voted tracks online due to them either being easy to snake on, have lots of straight roads so bike users can spam their wheelie ability, or is difficult for the general gaming public. If the difficulty is set to Mirror mode, expect nearly everyone to pick Rainbow Road or a similar difficult track just because of how hard it is; basic rule of thumb in stage picking is the harder the level, the more likely it will be picked just to weed out the players that are not good at it.
    • Invoked heavily early on in Mario Kart 7 because of a glitch on the Maka Wuhu course, where falling off the track at a certain point would cause Lakitu to drop you far ahead of where you had fallen, creating an instant shortcut which was an easy way for players to eliminate anyone ignorant of the shortcut from any possibility of winning the race. It was eventually patched by Nintendo.
    • Averted for Mario Kart 8 where you can only pick one of three randomized tracks to vote for when playing online (or you can choose random and hope the game picks something else). Friend only games do not have such a restriction. However, when a course in the DLC packs does show up, expect a good half of the room or more to pick it, especially if it's Hyrule Circuit or either of the F-Zero courses. This also holds true for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which comes with these DLC courses. You could stay in a room and race only on the DLC courses (which makes up one-third of the total courses) for a good half hour or more.
    • Battle mode isn't immune to this either. Funky Stadium (Wii) is always picked because it is huge and easy to stay out of everyone's reach. Wuhu Town (7) is picked the most due to the buildings giving players cover, thus they are harder to hit.
  • As for actual modes, good luck finding anyone online in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed who wants to play Arena (this game's Battle Mode equivalent) or Lucky Dip (chooses between race and battle modes randomly). This game was designed by veterans of arcade racers and has attracted such an audience, who are in it for racing and aren't quite as interested in more eccentric modes like these.
  • Expect most of the versus matches in Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune are set in C1, Hakone or Osaka. In the opposite direction, almost no one choose Yokohane, Wangan or Yokohama, especially the latter.
  • When it comes to voting on the next track to race on in F-Zero 99, almost everyone will pick Mute City I, Mute City II, Big Blue, or Death Wind I if they show up in the selection. Both Mute City tracks are very easy to race on due to their simple turns and many straightaways, Big Blue is a step up in difficulty from Mute City without being too hard, and Death Wind I is a simple oval track.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Starcraft, various versions of Fastest Map Possible, hacked maps that place whole stacks of resources mere pixels away from the start points.
    • For the competitive players, there's usually one map that sticks out for overuse. First it was Lost Temple(so popular it showed up in War Craft III as well, and has many strategy guides), then Python, and now it is Destination. The prevalence of this has led the primary competitive server to make certain maps give extra points for a week, to encourage players to play all the maps.
    • Big Game Hunters (BGH) is a popular 8-player map (likely the only 8-player map you'll find being played, besides Fastest Possible maps).
  • In Supreme Commander virtually all 4v4 games are played on Seton's Clutch; likewise almost all 2v2 games are played on Fields of Isis.
  • Well over 50% of the custom map War Craft III games on are for Defense of the Ancients hosted by bots. Its rampant popularity is the whole reason the MOBA genre exists.
    • This is also the reason why whenever a MOBA game introduces an alternate map or gameplay mode (with the sole exception of the 5v5 single-lane map), it inevitably ends up being a niche mode with little to no tournament backing after the first few months or gets removed entirely (such as League of Legends Dominion mode): the base 5v5 map derived from DotA All-Stars is the only "pure" experience for the game. This idea is rooted so deep in the genre that Dota 2's logo looks like the minimap.
    • There are some people who got Warcraft III just to play the custom maps and have never touched the unmodded game.
  • World in Conflict: for a good while, Space Needle was the predominant map being played on public servers, with the runners-up probably being Hometown and Seaside. After a while, the community did move on to include a greater variety of maps, though occasionally you will still notice a pattern of frequently recurring maps. Also, Domination mode is by far the preferred game type as opposed to Assault or Tug-of-War, but there's seems to actually be a good reason for this.
  • Age of Empires II: Arabia and Arena are by far the most popular maps and staples in competitive tournaments, ironically for opposite reasons: Arabia is a straightforward open map with zero obstacles or gimmicks suitable for early rushes, while Arena surrounds each base with stone walls, allowing players to boom in peace before transitioning to later fights.
  • In Age of Empires III, finding a game that isn't on Great Plains is a challenge in itself.
    • Random maps may be generated anew for each game, but the template is still prone to favoritism.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • Until official tournaments adopted double battles only, anything that wasn't single battling is seen as a novelty at best and reviled at worst. Even after three generations of exclusively double battling in official events, competitive players will assume you're talking about single battling unless noted otherwise, and it's very difficult to find advice pertaining to triple battles, rotation battles, and battle royals. The competitive single battlers and competitive double battlers also exist largely separately from each other, with people rarely doing both. That being said, the main series games run almost entirely on single battles, so it'd be logical that most players would be more accustomed to single battling than any other type.
    • In Pokémon Sun and Moon's Festival Plaza, you can pick events to play with other people to gain points to redeem for goodies in the area and level up the plaza, allowing better shops to move in. 9 times out of 10, people will choose either "Type Match-Up Test" or "Inverse Type Match-Up Test." Additionally, these events get an order of magnitude more participants than any other event you can choose, suggesting that lots of players ignore any other events chosen if either of these two are also running.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • Touhou Kaeidzuka ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View tournaments are exclusively played on Misty Lake "due to possible frame drops on other stages and bullet visibility, especially for those that are color blind". Other than technical problems, each stage plays the same anyway, so it's not a big loss.

  • MechWarrior Living Legends has TSA_Sandblasted, which is best described as "trench warfare". Two sides sit on opposite sides of dunes and occasionally pop up to shoot missiles and lasers at each other. In version 0.3.2 of the mod, servers ran a grand total of ~3-4 maps, and Sandblasted was always one of them (The other maps in the rotation weren't exactly lacking trench warfare and sand, either) - and it ran for ninety minute rounds. Newer versions of the mod have lessened the issue as it introduced objective-based Battlefield-esque gameplay and extensive support for community maps, but server owners still seem to get a hard-on for running hour long matches on the map.
  • Ace Combat Infinity has a few of these:
    • Generally, the map of choice is Area B7R Dogfight, which is hosted by at least 80% of the co-op lobbies active at any one time, likely owing to a combination of it being the only map that is completely focused on Fighters outside of the random Emergency Raids and the rare Team Deathmatch events, and to the popularity of the original Area B7R. About the only thing that can displace it even temporarily is the month-long OEL challenges that require making a specific amount of points in a different map for unique rewards - and even then, once a majority of players have completed those challenges after three or four days, they all go right back to B7R, with the added annoyance that anyone who hasn't completed the challenges by then is pretty much shit out of luck unless they have enough friends to make a full lobby with.
    • Moscow Battle, particularly its Hard mode variant, is likewise popular for the exact opposite reasons. It's ground-target central, with everything in both phases clustered in near each other, allowing for ground-focused Multiroles and Attackers to have their day in the sun. At the same time, the second phase of the mission also has a high chance of spawning a metric ton of enemy fighters, allowing for players using Fighters to make up for bad starts and reap the rewards. To a lesser extent are Avalon Dam Facility and the more recently-introduced Paris Liberation War, for similar reasons to Moscow Battle, but the former focused even more on ground combat (almost no air targets except for a few helicopters outside of the emergency update), while the latter similarly allows for Fighters to still dominate with massive clusters of both soft ground targets and enemy fighters to shoot down.
    • Team Deathmatch events get their own depending on whether it's regular TDM or Naval Fleet Assault. For regular TDM, it's Avalon and B7R again, once more likely owing to the popularity of the game that introduced them. For Naval Fleet Assault, Comona is usually the most-played, at best probably due to its awesome music.
    • Conversely, there are also maps that see almost no play. Dubai Night Assault is probably the worst for this - it was even proven that the level could be S-ranked with more than two minutes (out of six, for context) left on the clock, which did wonders for a player's ranking points during a Ranking Event, and people still ignored it in favor of Comona (which, for the record, could not give nearly the same sort of bonus because a scripted event makes it impossible to finish with more than 45 seconds on the clock). It's not even because the night-time setting makes things difficult to see, either, because its daytime Hard mode variation is even less popular - not even a monthly OEL challenge to score a certain amount of points on the map, which for anywhere else will tear even the most obsessed of B7R or Moscow players away from their preferred maps for a few days, is enough to get anyone to actually play it.
  • If you try to play RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 online, don't be surprised if the map is flat.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Gears of War:
    • In the first game, Gridlock was pretty much the only map ever played, likely because it was the very first map in the default quickplay rotation and therefore the first one most people would memorize the layout of. Sometimes matches on War Machine or Raven Down would be among the pile of Gridlock matches.
    • In Gears 2, get used to playing on Blood Drive, Security, and Jacinto. Especially Jacinto. River gets voted on a lot too, though the jury's still out on whether this is actually desirable. In addition, Blood Drive is considered the map for playing Horde, because of how easy it is to camp at one of the spawns and kill the Locust as they funnel into the narrow stairs to get to you.
    • In Gears 3, Checkout is set up really well for shotgun fights. Since the shotgun is the only weapon anyone ever uses, it makes sense that this would be the only map anyone ever wanted to play on. It came back in Gears 4 as DLC, and in rolling lobbies, playing the same mode on the same map again is always one of the options to vote for. As soon as Checkout shows up, it will never go away.
  • In Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode, the choice of map determines which one of the five sectors gets the most Galactic Readiness for winning; always playing on the same map will quickly max out the rating in one sector, but slow the growth in all other sectors down to a crawl. This doesn't stop most people from playing Firebase White endlessly.
    • As the saying goes, WGG—Firebase White, Geth opponents, on Gold difficulty. The old version of the map had a fantastic place for camping and geth opponents initially had no grenadiers (and thus no good way to flush players out of cover), making it about the easiest way to get through a Gold-level match there was. Updates to the map and new enemy types have made the Firebase White camping strategy more difficult, but it remains a popular tactic.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has several multiplayer modes, many of which fit this to some degree.
    • Deathmatch is seemingly limited to three maps: Happiness Island, Charge Island and, as of The Ballad of Gay Tony, Vespucci University. For a game where cars are such an integral part of the experience that it's even in the title, the fact that two of the most popular maps are either too compact for vehicles (in the case of Vespucci University) or eschew them entirely (Happiness Island) says something. What that is, we don't know.
    • In the racing modes, the most popular track by far is Taxiing, presumably due to the long airport runways allowing players to go very fast.
    • Similarly, many players in Free Mode are content to hang around the airport, primarily because that's where the attack helicopters can be found. This is especially pronounced in The Ballad of Gay Tony, where the choppers come with rockets.
  • GTA Online features a large amount of matches for each match mode, trying to avert this. Since "Verified" player-made matches first got out a bit after Creator Betanote , it still shines through. One of the examples, "Down The Drain", was hugely popular to its simple track and how players would get shot up into the air if they ran over a piece of cardboard. Sadly, the cardboards were patched to either not appear or not work, chopping down some of the popularity of it.
    • Story Missions in Online. When the player gets to meet Martin Mandrazo, he gives the highest pay out for missions, even more than Lester. Because of this and a few of his missions bordering on That One Sidequest, it's not too frequent to hear players talking to each other about calling Mandrazo until one of them gets the desired job with the highest payout and lowest amount of effort needed.
  • Splatoon:
    • Generally averted with the map rotation system, which Word of God states is done to encourage weapon experimentation.
    • In the Japanese competitive scene, the community greatly prefers the Splat Zones ranked mode, with their most prestigious tournament (Area Cup) employing a Splat Zones-only ruleset. This is one of the factors that lead to their Meta Game being different to the Western scene, which is generally more game mode-agnostic when it comes to ranked (though Splat Zones would slowly become the most popular mode).
    • In the Western competitive scene, Turf War is disliked due to being viewed as having poor competitive integrity: one team can dominate the other all the way to their spawn, but all that matters is how much paint exists at the end of the match, meaning even a single wrong move late in the game can result in what could have been a curbstomb victory becoming an immediate loss, leading to the common (negative) refrain that only the last 30 seconds of a Turf War match actually count. In contrast, Japan widely accepts Turf War, with tournaments like Koshien even being Turf War only and Nintendo's own official ruleset using Turf War as qualifiers; as such, the West will begrudgingly play the mode when they have to, but it is rare to see Western tournaments make use of them.
  • In Fortnite's Battle Royale mode, expect over half of the up-to-100 players in the match to land at Tilted Towers, a town with tall buildings for faster landings and a lot of weapons. Because so many players land here, the "remaining players" counter will quickly drop below half in the first five minutes due to all of the resulting firefights.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Battle for Wesnoth: Isar's Cross is a very popular despite being hideously unbalanced. Even when the developers wanted to remove it in version 1.6, they just couldn't because of its popularity.
  • Civilization multiplayer games take place almost exclusively on Pangaea or Continents map types, with Islands and similar types almost never getting used. This is largely because players can win or lose an Islands map on the first turn depending on which civilization they pick; it's far easier for naval civs to stay competitive on land than for terrestrial civs to keep up over oceans, so large landmasses are preferred.

  • Valve Software, developers of Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, and Day of Defeat, recognized this trope coming into play in these games' original incarnations, where of the plethora of maps they packed with the game, only one map would see play on over half of the servers, with maybe two or three others rotating on some of the others, and custom maps taking up the rest. As a result, the one repeated professional criticism of their multiplayer games since Half-Life 2 has been the low number of included maps.
    • Team Fortess 2 even came with a map explicitly designed for people who would want to play the same map over and over: Hydro. It's probably the most hated map in the game, as there's apparently no middle ground between one team steamrolling the other in seconds or the game dragging on forever with Sudden Death after Sudden Death.
  • Dark Souls II has some:
    • The Iron Keep bridge. A combination of high traffic (the bonfire there is the only one before the end of the area before you defeat the Smelter Demon, ensuring there are always players running through there) coupled with the excellent location (a fairly long, slightly arcing bridge with no immediate enemies) and the fact that the Dragon Remnants covenant's leader is just a short distance away (in other words, where one of the biggest PVP covenants congregate) ensures that there will always be someone to fight in the area, meaning that many PVP players congregate there as a matter of course.
    • Heide's Tower of Flame is a common PVP hotspot mostly because the terrain effectively divides the entire area into a bunch of small arenas. The enemies are also easy to clear out, and the area is accessible right from the start of the game, making it very popular for players who have just started a New Game Plus and want to fight before reaching other, later areas. The fact that the Blue Sentinels covenant/arena is close by only adds to the popularity.
  • This exists for pinball too:
    • The Professional & Amateur Pinball Association has a chart with most easily-obtained pinball machines, restrictions on what sort of tournaments they can be played on (if any), and why. Reasons behind tournament bans include lopsided scoring, the ability to steal progress from other players, a Game-Breaking Bug, or a Progressive Jackpot. For instance, bugs found in the software for Terminator 2: Judgment Day that activate seemingly at random means it's not recommended for high-level competitions.
    • From the players themselves, any pinball events will have most people congregate to modern machines, getting a lot more play than vintage and antique machines. This behavior resulted in most major tournaments splitting modern ones from all of the others, as the tournament organizers soon realized most people who play in these events have no interest in older ones, and the ones that do play the older machines oftentimes have little interest in the modern ones.
  • Most of the attention in Puyo Puyo Tetris is on Versus mode, where you simply pick either Puyo Puyo or Tetris and play against other people. There are four other modes in the game - Swap, Fusion, Party, and Big Bang - but they are far less common such that there are almost never any rooms open for those modes. Most likely, this is because players gravitate to either regular Puyo Puyo or Tetris, and the other four modes force players out of their comfort zones in various ways (and while most modes balance the two games against each other pretty well, Party is considered horrifically unbalanced against Puyo Puyo players). In Puzzle League, the ranked mode, players can disable modes as they wish, meaning you will mostly see Versus there too, with other kinds of matches being quite rare. That being said, Swap has been established as the standard mode for tournaments, leading to slightly higher Swap play; even then, it's rarer than Versus, as it requires adeptness at both Puyo Puyo and Tetris, as this mode is played on two playfields at once, one for each game, with the players swapping between the two at set intervals. As for the other two modes, Fusion is unpopular because it not only requires adeptness at both games, but further complicates them by having both take place on the same board, and Big Bang forgoes strategy in favor of simply memorizing preset patterns and playing as blazingly fast as possible.