Why We Love (And Hate) Call Of Duty’s Nuketown

Why We Love (And Hate) Call Of Duty’s Nuketown

Few maps evoke as much of a reaction as Nuketown does. Some love it, some hate it, and some — like me — can’t decide between these extremes.

Gameological has a fascinating writeup on the divisive Nuketown, which delves into its history and explores the virtues and shortcomings of the map.

As some of you know, Nuketown is a small, compact map that recreates a slice of suburbia in Call of Duty. Overtly, the mannequin-populated map pulls from American history — a time when the Army wanted to test out how a typical town would stand against a nuclear explosion. (Not very well, it turns out.)

Though obviously based on a nuclear test town — it’s in the name! — I didn’t know that it was based on the infamous refrigerator scene in 2008’s Indiana Jones until I read the writeup on Gamelogical. Specifically, it’s the scene in the movie where Indy survives a nuclear blast on a test site by taking refuge in a fridge.

There’s something eerie about Nuketown and its picture-perfect depiction of the American atomic family… and yet, something very appropriate about its existence as a multiplayer map on a popular shooter. It’s like we’ve simply accepted that that reality, that conception of the American dream, is so unreal that it feels fitting as a campy stage used for our entertainment.

At the same time, we’re complicit in something when we idolise the map. It’s like we can’t let go of this era, like there is still something about this time that haunts us. The fact that Black Ops II presents a technologically updated Nuketown supports this idea: we’re dragging that past with us, even to the future. Granted, a more meaningful exploration of that all of this would probably be found on the Fallout games.

Regardless, it’s clear that the mere image of Nuketown carries baggage and that alone makes a good case for why it’s such a popular map.

…so far, all conceptual mumbo jumbo. This is a place we play in, so surely, there’s something to be said about that too, yes?

Gameological poses that Nuketown is both “fairest battlegrounds in series history” and yet it’s a place that can “devolve into chaos at times.” I’m not sure both of these can be true at once, unless we’re postulating that most Call of Duty maps are awful and broken.

If nothing else, the small map size allows the Call of Duty signature twitch style play to shine — it’s almost entirely close-combat that requires fast reflexes. But that also means we’re constantly experiencing the highs and lows of the Call of Duty experience. Shortly after a match starts, you’ll feel either empowerment or rage depending on how you perform.

But ultimately, as Gameological puts it, most of that is all for naught:

The sadistic joke of Nuketown comes at the end of each match, when a bomb drops and obliterates everything in sight, making all of the desperate head-shooting and flag-capturing seem a bit futile. But that’s all forgotten seconds later when the scoreboard pops up and the game asks you to vote once again for a new battlefield. 90 per cent of the time, the crowd votes for yet another skirmish on Treyarch’s lark of death.


Call Of Duty: Black Ops-“Nuketown” [Gameological]


  • worst part of nuketown is hackers, its filled with Wallers in blops1.
    But Blops2 the main issue is no hardcore mode for nuketown.

  • Why some love Nuketown. Throw a grenade, get a 5-killstreak reward. It also plays to CoDs mulitplayer of thinking that gamers can’t function in a videogame if they go more then 5 seconds without shooting something.

  • I loved Nuketown in BLOPS and it was great in 2 until they pulled it from having it’s own dedicated game list.
    I also think NT is best when played as free for all, but for some reason the devs for BLOPS2 thought it was great for 12 player team games, idiots…

    It reminds me of fast paced twitch shooters like Quake 3. I rarely won at it, but it was still fun.

  • a bomb drops and obliterates everything in sight, making all of the desperate head-shooting and flag-capturing seem a bit futile.

    But all of the desperate head-shooting and flag-capturing is a bit futile. I don’t think anyone is under the impression they’re changing the world.

  • Nuketown, Kill House and Dome are all awesome (at least initially) because of their size. You can usually find something to shoot at within 2 seconds of spawning and if you die – who cares!

    Just simple fun

  • Small maps suck, they require no skill and half the time you spawn in the middle of a gun fight. There is no strategy besides who can lob the most nades.

  • Nuketown in BLOPS1 was fun at first. Great for a 4 Vs 4 or something. Then it just started to frustrate the hell out of me that the map was so popular, when it came up in the list of next map choices after a game, everyone clicked on it straight away even though sometimes the other choice might have been a better map. Nope, straight to Nuketown. Everyone wanted their quick n easy level-ups.

  • I really think the article is reading into the Nuketown theme a little too much. I played that map simply because it was quick and easy thrills. Pretty much the entire concept behind CoD.

    If I played the original CoD4, I probably would have loved shipment.

    • Personal opinion but i think shipment was the best of all the CoD mini maps (size, not the thing in the corner).
      Dust just got ridiculous with all 6 players on a team up on that platform and nuketown is just large enough that there is 2 ‘sides’ to the map (also you have time to set up my most hated weapon, the claymore).
      Shipment is great (for mindless twitch-shooting fest) because of the square nature of the map and that there is no ‘side’ to spawn from. Also the hardest to camp, most corners to hide in could be shot through from behind, or just destroyed with a grenade.
      I think the other thing that worked great was headquarters before they messed with it, it was still a twitch-fest but unless your entire team helped cap the headquarters than the enemy could just stop you with a grenade (which there was many).

      This is a purely subjective experience of the map and gametype, but some of my fondest memories of CoD 4 were capping the headquarters (on shipment) and then having the rest of my team killed by grenades and then defending the headquarters by myself for the full minute.
      Somehow the chaos of shipment felt controlled (barely) and never degenerated into bad chaos (couldn’t think of a better description). But since CoD 4 all the mini maps in future games just felt like bad chaos (there has to be a better word for this)

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