The original Unreal Tournament, first released in 1999, launched with a ton of maps, most of which have long been consigned to the Recycle Bin of history. There’s one, however, one very simple map, that has stood the test of time: Facing Worlds.
It’s a simple, fundamentally broken map, one that features two stone towers linked by two small land bridges, a symmetrical murder rock that is wildly unbalanced, favours snipers above all else and by today’s standards wouldn’t even make it to a whiteboard in a brainstorming session, let alone into the retail release of a game.
And yet! And yet. We love it all the same, because as busted as it is, it’s beautiful. It’s simple. It captures everything about the game it was a part of, and everything we loved about shooters at the time.
All of which, and more, is explored in this excellent video about the map by Noclip, which is rightly critical of its flaws (by 2022’s standards), but also right to point out that, like so many other games and moments from the dawn of the 3D age, they’ve endured and are regarded as classics because the technical limitations of the time created a sort of purity, a distilled experience born as much out of what the developers couldn’t do with these new, 3D spaces as what they could.
If this has got you feeling all sentimental about the map (and the game itself), you can read more on it in this 2014 feature we ran on the site:
Above us, the moon. Beneath us, the Earth. In front of us, a massive, three-story tower. Overlapping bleeps and bloops accentuate the eerie calm. We’re blasting off into orbit, and you might know where we’re headed. Never before, nor since, has Capture the Flag been so much fun.