After playing nonstop Deathmatch, both ranked and unranked, I remain impressed with Petra. The novelty of the map hasn’t worn off because, well, there’s so much of it. Petra is the second Deathmatch only map in Overwatch, following Chateau Guillard. The map takes place in an archaeological site, and it sprawls through dark and dusty ruins into brightly lit camps.
The obvious main draw of the map is the center stage, where a mega healthpack sits on perilous ground. Sustained damage to the area will break the floor, creating a death pit. This is probably Petra’s greatest strength as a map: it’s a memorable location with a unique mechanic, and the area has enough ledges and crannies and doors to tunnels that any hero can potentially come out ahead in a brawl here.
The death pit and it’s surrounding locations is just one part of the map: there’s a dark and gloomy archeological dig overlooking a cliff, winding tunnels and hallways, another camp and cliff in a much sunnier part of the map...
If anything, the problem with Petra is that it’s too much. There are three or four distinct areas to the map, linked by bounce pads and tunnels and hallways. There are moments where you’ll wander for a minute, trying to find someone to kill. Chateau Guillard is smaller, more compact, and so it feels more like a map and it adds a measure of panic to the proceedings.
It’s obvious why Petra has such a diverse range of environments: Blizzard created a map where anyone could succeed. Mei may struggle on the death pit, but she’s right at home in the nearby corridors. Widowmaker can set up nearly anywhere on the map and snipe some kills. Pharah has multiple areas she can roam, looking for targets to boop. Every hero can find a corner of the map to set up, call home, and rack up kills.
The designers have done a fantastic job in making sure that each part of the map remains visually distinct. The deeper you travel inside the ruins, the darker things get; the map becomes painted in cool blues and purples. The death pit is confined and there are huge patches of dark shade. The open cliff under the sun is bright, all oranges and yellows. You can tell where you are—and where you’re heading—at a glance. This is pretty crucial when you’re fleeing a Moira, or trying to set up an ambush.
I can see why Petra is so sprawling and varied; it comes across like an attempt to make the Deathmatch map. Right now, the Deathmatch map pool is Chateau Guillard, Petra, and... a bunch of standard maps that have had parts closed off to create makeshift arenas. Petra is a gift to Deathmatch fans, and it’s unclear how long we’ll have to wait before we get another map built for Deathmatch.
Ultimately, the map is just a little much. Chateau Guillard, with its underbelly of tunnels, relatively small scale, and spacious balconies is far more memorable. Petra, on the other hand, is like attending a huge festival. Sure, there’s a lot to do and a lot of places to go, but it can get overwhelming.
In the future, I’m excited to see where Deathmatch design goes. Petra one-ups Chateau Guillard in size and features; it seems impossible for the next map to one-up it in turn. Instead, we may see maps with a far more honed identity, with clearer strengths and weaknesses. Petra is a fantastic gift from the developers, but hopefully they don’t think size is all that matters for future maps.