The First CS Map Pool: Remembering the Classics

first CS map pool 

On June 19, 1999, a new mod for Half-Life was released. It was multiplayer-only, with players tasked with either rescuing or defending hostages. Over 25 years, the mod evolved through several versions into the world's most popular shooter.

The first beta of CS was very different from the full game: only nine guns and four maps. You probably haven't heard of two of them. Let’s take a look at the first CS map pool.

Wpndepot

Wpndepot CS map

A nighttime cs map with a large warehouse in the center and adjacent buildings. It featured many open spaces and small rooms with narrow corridors, making it easy for defenders to hide. Moreover, there was only one path to the hostages, complicating the attackers' task. Additionally, the hostages were in a room on the upper floor of the warehouse, allowing defenders to cover half the cs map from there.

Many elements of Wpndepot CS were later incorporated into Assault, which is similar both visually and structurally – for example, both cs maps have a warehouse and containers.

The cs map's layout was quite illogical. Attackers had a lot of space: streets, the warehouse, tunnels – but they all led to a narrow corridor that had to be navigated to reach the hostages. Not only were they guarded by enemies, but also by broken automatic doors that closed immediately after a player passed through. As a result, hostages often got stuck in the room.

Prison

Prison CS map

An even stranger cs map. A network of tunnels under a building and a secret entrance through a sewer pipe. Inside the prison, it was hard to navigate due to numerous branches and rooms. Forget about balance: defenders could climb a high guard tower overlooking the only escape route for the attackers with the hostages. Consequently, winning as the attackers was nearly impossible.

CT could reach the hostages by two paths, but these were unsuitable for escape since hostages in CS could never crouch. A third path was available for rescue, but it required two live players: one to turn a valve and the other to lead the hostages through the opened gate. This process had to be repeated for a second gate, all under sniper fire from the tower.

The map in CS was broken in the beta – a proper hostage rescue point was missing. Attackers won the round by bringing hostages to their spawn point, most of which was on the tower, but bots couldn't climb the ladder to reach it!

Siege

Siege CS map 

The only long-lasting map from the first beta, it even made it to CS:GO! It was the largest cs map in the pool and arguably the most logical and comprehensible. The layout of Siege was quite linear, which appealed to gamers. Attackers had two straightforward paths to the hostages – through an underground tunnel with an elevator or through a street covered by snipers.

Unlike the first two CS maps, Siege could be learned in a couple of rounds. Just run straight until you meet opponents. The hostages were hidden in an enclosed area, but it was also easy to navigate. Yes, the cs map was still rough: due to its size, a lot of time passed from the start of the round to the first encounter, and many sniper positions for defenders made life too difficult for the counter-terrorists. But compared to Wpndepot and Prison – it was a masterpiece.

Mansion

Mansion CS map

A map that players remembered forever and became iconic. A simple, small location with a house, a barn, and a small tunnel. Even though Mansion is legendary, it was also unsuccessful. If other maps were too complex, Mansion CS map was too simple. It had no real structure – just a house with many rooms.

Again, there was no balance. Terrorists easily took advantageous positions in the house windows, making them almost impossible to shoot. During an assault, the counter-terrorists found themselves at a disadvantage as enemies could hide in any room. And they had to reach the mansion through a completely open map.

Why Were the First Four CS Maps Unsuccessful?

Counter-Strike was an amateur mod by little-known developers, so no renowned map creators wanted to collaborate with them. "During the very first beta version, we had almost no choice. We received very few maps, and we basically accepted any that weren't empty boxes," recalled one of CS's creators, Minh Le. Since the game had no genre counterparts, there was no right structure for levels to borrow. Competitors hadn't yet appeared.

The lift in Siege, automatic doors in Wpndepot, the lever-operated gates in Prison – the maps were cluttered with gimmicks. Gameplay tricks that gamers liked in Half-Life turned out to be useless for a dynamic shooter.

Another drawback of all the maps was the lack of minimal balance and strange structures. Prison and Wpndepot were too complex, with bottlenecks – an unacceptable feature for competitive maps. Mansion was thrown together in just two days.

The fate of the beta CS map creators is notable. The author of Wpndepot later contributed to the popular 747 map, the designers of Prison and Mansion never released another work, and Justin DeYong (Siege) passed away in December 2000.

The maps didn't last long either: in August 1999, Prison and Wpndepot were removed, and Mansion survived until November. Only Siege, with numerous revisions, survived until the end of CS and even received a remake in CS:GO. However, it never became popular.

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