Abridged Arena Array

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Red = banned in tournaments. Yellow = banned on the first round.

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. And That's Terrible.

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

Examples of Abridged Arena Array include:

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.
  • The english community in Dynasty Warriors online suffers from this. There are (up to 8/12/2011 in the English Version) 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

  • Final Destination from the Super Smash Bros. series is infamous among casual players because its lack of hazards and fairly good balance make it a choice stage in tournament play. However, actual pros don't use this stage as often as they do other stages.
    • This is due to the fact that people believe a completely flat stage is the most balanced even though it just gives the advantage to the high-tier characters. This misnomer cause all the pro wannabes to pick the stage thinking it's the most balanced and therefore skill-dependent... for some reason.
      • This may be due to the misconception that a stage that completely flat and devoid of obstacles show a true test of skill between players, even though characters with long range attacks like Fox's Blaster and Pit's arrows get the upper hand since there is nothing blocking their shots.
  • 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, 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, because of the way the game works, there are potentially real and severe consequences to character/stage matchup—Terra is a holy terror in the Phantom Train, while Firion is practically helpless in the Planet's Core. And when you're playing with the few characters who can handle (and are arguably built with them in mind) the near-universally despised Scrappy stages...well. 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.
  • 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.

First Person Shooter

  • In Battlefield 2 is Strike at Karkand. Curiously, everyone wants to play this almost infantry-exclusive map on 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, is basically marketing the game on the back of telling everyone that Karkand would be back for it.
    • The map for the franchise as a whole is Wake Island. It originally came with Battlefield 1942. It was ported into Battlefield Vietnam, Battlefield 1943, Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, Battlefield Heroes and along with Karkand is one of the maps in the Battlefield 3 pre-order bonus. The only major games it isn't in are the two Bad Company Gaiden Game sequels.
  • 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 noob tube bombs, throw grenades and fire RPGs across the map and actively avoided anything that might result in their death or having to use their actual guns.
    • 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.
  • The de_dust maps in Counter-Strike are quite popular. Heck, Concerned even knows this.
    • Some unofficial maps, especially fy_iceworld, fy_pool_party, aim_awp and cs_casa also enjoy this status, mostly because quite a bit of them are either very small maps that allow for very fast-paced deathmatches, or maps specially designed to use a certain weapon.
    • Also, if you play the fan made Jailbreak mode, expect to see ba_electricprison and its variants a lot.
  • The 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.
    • The Movie Battles II mod for Jedi Academy. Every single server running it plays mb2_dotf and nothing else.
  • The Anzio map in Day Of Defeat has this status.
    • Nowadays it's Avalanche, which is particularly perplexing because Avalanche is quite possibly the worst official map in the game - it's confusingly laid out, filled with dead ends, and has a ridiculously open capture point in the middle of the map that makes it impossible to actually win on - unless one team is far more skilled than the other, the teams will just keep swapping the center control point. For the entire game. Which normally lasts 15 minutes. And there are servers dedicated to playing this map 24/7.
      • They presumedly just want to kill each other over and over without the game ending before their expectations to interrupt it.
      • The difficulty of winning makes victory all the sweeter.
  • 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. There's even a website dedicated to it.
  • Temple or Facility for the N64 FPS GoldenEye.
  • Halo 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.
    • The popularity is probably the reason Red vs. Blue is set on that map.
    • Halo 1 and 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%. Seriously, how often did anyone play on some other level?
    • And in 3, the most popular map was usually Valhalla, Blood Gulch's Expy, while Reach brought back Blood Gulch, yet ended up a close second compared to Sword Base.
  • 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 the sequel, including new infected like the Spitter which will force players to leave their closets, and the Charger who will run them the hell over if they don't move.
    • Don't forget that 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 though all four campaigns have been released, and people 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. No Mercy is now the most played since it was added into the game.
      • 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 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.
  • 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 every round ending in Sudden Death.
      • Well, gameplay plus a respawn-time bug that was left unpatched, and possibly even uncaught, until 2010. In a catch-22 scenario, the lack of play may have actually contributed to the bug not being caught.
    • 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.
  • By far, the most popular maps in Unreal Tournament are "DM-Morpheus" and "CTF-Face", both of them being quite small and simple (no running around through mazes trying to find each other). Also Deck16][.
    • CTF-Face was so popular, it was included in UT 2004 as Face Classic. After not being included in UT 3, it was later added in the Titan Pack.
    • Besides CTF-Face, CTF-Clarion, CTF-CivilWar (and its smaller variant) and CTF-McSwartzly are usually the most-frequently played maps on Siege servers. A few other maps are played regularly, and you're a noob if you vote for anything else.
    • In Unreal Tournament 2004 and Unreal Tournament III, expect a lot of DM-Rankin and DM-Sentinel online.
    • And for that matter, full conversion Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45, haven'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 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, though West London does seem to be slightly more popular.
    • In regards to Facing Worlds and Deck16, part of the fun is simply the visual decor. Both maps have impressive art assets in addition to workable gameplay.
  • Treyarch actually had to patch 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.
    • And 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.
      • And WHY is it so popular? 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 kills) 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 Golden Eye Wii, expect to play a lot of Jungle 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.


  • 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 Universe 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. It's completely underwater meaning that the mobs can have a 360 degree aggro radius, the environment could often conceal hostile mobs as well. Combine these with that at launch, so many people flooded the new leveling areas that the mob respawn rate was out of control and cause the player to be attacked by mobs that they just killed three minutes ago or for mobs to respawn and attack them while they were looting. So in all, it becomes a bit of a Scrappy Level. But that doesn't mean you can't just go there for peace and quiet.
      • It also loses players because since the Firelands patch, you need to go at least halfway through the other zone of choice to unlock the new questline, vendors and daily quests.
      • It also doesn't help that the zone is painfully linear with only occasional quests on the side. Many hated the linearity of Cataclysm but Vashj'ir is probably the most linear. Not helping is that to get around quickly you have to get an underwater mount which while free takes about a dozen quests and at least a half-hour of gameplay to get the mount when the plot hands it to you and you have to repeat this on every character who you want to do anything in Vashj'ir and since there is a faction vendor in Vashj'ir...yeah.


  • In Metroid Prime: Hunters, Combat Hall is also the only level anyone seems to play on since it's small and you can't hide from other players, save for one glitch.

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.

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 WarCraft 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 Warcraft III games on Battle.net are for Defense of the Ancients. This map is so popular it's inspired several seperate Video Games (Heroes of Newerth, Demigod, League of Legends) and its own theme song ("Vi sitter i ventrilo och spelar DotA" by Basshunter).
    • There are some people who got Warcraft III just to play the custom maps and have never touched the unmodded game.
  • Warcraft II. Garden of War.
  • The Space Needle seems at times like the only map played on the World in Conflict public servers.
  • In Age of Empires III, finding a game that isn't on great plains is a challenge in itself.

Third Person Shooter

  • In Gears of War, get used to playing on Blood Drive, Security and Jacinto. River gets voted on a lot too, though the jury's still out on whether this is actually desirable.
    • In the first game, there were pages and pages of matches on Gridlock.
      • The Gears 3 Beta had four playable maps, but whenever it was an option Checkout was winning the vote about 80% of the time likely because it's set up really well for shotgun fights.
    • Epic's map rotation algorithm has been changed several times since launch, each time kicking off an Internet Backlash amongst the group that liked the old way better.
  • 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. Which doesn't stop most people from playing Firebase White endlessly.

Turn Based Strategy

  • Battle for Wesnoth: Isar's Cross. The map is very popular despite being very unbalanced, even when the developers wanted to remove it in version 1.6, they just can't, because of its popularity.


  • Valve Corporation, 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.
    • To recap: Valve noticed this trope in effect and determined there were too many maps, reduced the number of maps to reflect the number that would actually get played, and then got complaints about too few maps. Just. Can't. Win.