The Daily Grind: What MMO has the worst possible maps?

When I think back about the ways in which MMOs have improved over the 15-ish years I’ve been playing them, my thoughts invariably turn to one of the biggest tools in your MMO arsenal. I speak, naturally, of the honorable map. Humble in stature yet great in impact, the map is how you know where you’ve been, where you’re going, and where you need to sell your garbage after you’ve gotten to your destination. Or they do now, anyway; for a long time I remember MMOs having maps that were only marginally better than “utterly useless.”

Seriously, I think I got more navigational help out of the pack-in fold-out map for City of Heroes than the actual in-game map for a disappointingly long stretch of that game’s lifespan. This is not the way a map should be.

Fortunately, maps are generally a fair bit better at this point, but several of them could still use improvement. World of Warcraft still lacks good labeling on the overall zone map as opposed to the minimap for things like vendors, and an awful lot of maps lack elements like Final Fantasy XI’s user-defined labels (which were a nice feature of some overall terrible maps). So what do you think, readers? What live MMO has the worst possible maps?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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52 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What MMO has the worst possible maps?"

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ZenJitzu

I’m putting in an honorable mention for Destiny 2’s minimap. It’s dots on an empty circle; you have to pull up the main map just to tell teammates where to go or where you are, and there’s no indications for the cardinal directions. Not even getting into vertical axis.

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Zen Dadaist

The old default planetmap in Anarchy Online took the cake interms of uselessness. A zoomed-out muddy brown mess devoid of markers and information. Absolutely awful.

There were community fan made maps that you could install, thankfully, which were miles better. With the rebalance patch in 2015 FC finally included a stripped down version of one of the fan map sets as the new default in the game client. Ironically, the player made Atlas replacement maps were excellent and contained tons of additional info such as rare spawns, loot drops, FGrid exits and so on. Way better than most maps in current games, even considering those that allow custom markers!

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Alex Malone

SWG’s maps were pretty horrible. Fine for getting around the larger areas of a planet, but unusable if you wanted to find something specific, like a vendor or profession trainer. Only way you could really do it was setting a waypoint for that specific thing.

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Fred Douglas

LOTRO. The Shadows of Angmar maps are all pretty good, but the recent maps are absurd, particularly in Gondor. Borderline useless.

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Будусов Виктор

Exactly the opposite. Old maps were fun but useless, new ones are much better.

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mysecretid

Most MMORPG maps give me trouble when trying to find things because, as my gaming buddy Shane and I used to joke, a 2D navigation map for a 3D world never seems to work the way you want it to work.

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socontrariwise

If the question was which HAD the worst I’d say Vanguard and SWG (hours of running over flat and undeveloped/undistinguished land?). But HAS … Shroud of the Avatar. Don’t even get me started.

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Toy Clown

FFXIV’s maps have been a nightmare for me in the past. One of the first times I quit was over not being able to navigate where my character was supposed to go. Playing it now, I’ve gotten used to it, but find it clunky.

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socontrariwise

I remember when it was just in beta prior to the whole Reborn thing. And every little piece looked the same because of the map part copy and pasting.
THAT was incredible. Don’t complain about today. ;)

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nobleeinherjar

I eventually came to adore FFXI’s map system. I had a lot of custom markers, and it broke my heart the day I returned to find them all gone (I guess because I had uninstalled the game at some point). Acquiring all of the maps in the game became one of my goals. Though actually pulling up the map and working its UI was always pretty clunky.

I remember SWTOR’s maps being pretty bad sometimes, mostly in that they highlighted that the planets themselves were glorified hallways.

But I can’t think of an MMO that deserves the award of “worst possible map.” I really don’t remember the maps very well in the recent MMOs I’ve played, which I guess means they functioned well enough for me. The thing I remember most is how improved EQ2’s maps were with the use of the EQ2Map add-on.

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Alien Legion

I can’t believe no one has mentioned SotA yet. Probably because no one is left playing.

Anyway, while they say they had great plans for the maps, at some point you need to realize that is not going to happen and have some sort of contingency in place aside from a user-created addon. I give Jakub White an enormous amount of credit for making the 3rd party app however.

Not only is the lack of mapping a huge issue, but zone design overall is terrible. One way in, one way out, no map, you need to travel the overland map which is brutally frustrating due to impassible terrain and, again, no maps, but throw in the near complete absence of ‘fast travel’ options and it is just a prodigious disappointment.

shibby523
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shibby523

Came here to say SotA as well.

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Robert Basler

As someone constantly thinking about how to make my game’s map better, a more helpful question would have been “which game has the best map and why?”

GW2’s map of Tangled Depths is by far the worst game map I’ve used. It is much worse than no map at all would have been.

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socontrariwise

Best in my opinion: UO, ESO (NOT the repetitive dungeon parts), early EQ2 zones – but BDO beats them all by far. The insane number of hidden nooks and crannies, little caves behind rocks, under waterfalls … I spend weeks just exploring a single zone searching for caves. ESO is second place in my opinion.