Which Call of Duty had the best Nuketown map? Ranked

Andy Williams
Nuketown '84 in Black Ops Cold War

Nuketown is the most iconic map from Treyarch’s Black Ops series and arguably the Call of Duty franchise as a whole, but which remake of the popular map was the best?

Black Ops is Treyarch’s flagship Call of Duty series. Following on from the events of World at War, the Black Ops series delves into conspiracy theories, espionage and political warfare. 

While Black Ops’ narrative has remained much the same throughout, Treyarch’s series has dipped into different timepoints along the way… The Cold War, futuristic warfare, more futuristic warfare and then somewhere in-between with Black Ops 4.

Yet one thing that has remained a trademark to the Black Ops experience, is Nuketown. Being one of the smallest maps in Call of Duty, Nuketown was originally based on a typical 1950s suburb. As the name suggests, the map was used as a testing facility to demonstrate the effects of nuclear weapons. 

Filled to the brim with mannequins and all of the trimmings which you’d expect a residential area to have, Nuketown soon became a big hit with fans, due to the hectic, close-quarters combat which it encourages. Given the map’s popularity, plenty have been having their say on which version of Nuketown they preferred. 

Being a symmetrical map, Nuketown has sported a variety of game types throughout its time in the Black Ops’ map pool. Players are also greeted with an animation of a nuclear bomb rising from beneath the estate during the post-match scoreboard sequence — a feature exclusive to Nuketown. 

Given the map’s iconic status in the Call of Duty franchise, we have ranked each iteration that Treyarch have provided over the years and listed them in descending order while listening to the voice that matters the most — yours!

5. Black Ops Cold War Nuketown ’84 (2020)

Nuketown '84 in Black Ops Cold War
Nuketown ’84 still has almost the same structure as all of the previous iterations, but sadly fails to score well on our list.

The long-awaited inclusion of the famous Nuketown map in Black Ops Cold War proved to be somewhat of a disappointment for long-time fans of the multiplayer map.

While the colors are no doubt better and brighter than those in Black Ops 4, there were a number of reasons that we’ve put Nuketown ’84 at the bottom of our ranked list.

The biggest issue with ’84 is the fact the fences are far too low. This means that players on both teams can immediately shoot at each other from spawn, rather than giving players a chance to get to cover.

The visibility across the rest of the map is also poor, making tactical plays tricky. Finally, there is also a documented glitch that allows players to access out-of-bounds areas, giving them an unfair advantage. Overall, not the best work from the BOCW developers.

4. Black Ops 4 Nuketown (2018)

Black Ops 4's Nuketown.

Nuketown’s fourth remake was met with a mixed bag of reviews. Set in a Russian nuclear missile testing site from the Cold War, the map brought an icy feel to what was previously noted to be a color-filled landscape. 

The RC-XD passageway from the original Nuketown still held its place in the map, but gave players an insight into what lies beneath. Maneuvering the killstreak through the underground alley, players could navigate past the subterranean missile silo where the warhead is situated.

The underground passage for the RC-XD was an easter egg in which fans lapped up, while the slight adjustments to the layout supported Black Ops 4’s contemporary in-game mechanics. It’s for this reason why some loved Treyarch fourth iteration of Nuketown.

Yet there always felt like there was something missing. The color scheme was a far cry from what fans had become accustomed to, plus some of the Specialist’s abilities felt foreign and out of place (such as Ruin’s Grapple Gun). Thus, plenty of fans hold conflicting views of the iconic map’s uprooting.

3. Nuk3town: Black Ops 3 (2015)

Black Ops 3's Nuk3town.

Set in a simulation some forty years after the events of Black Ops 2, the more aptly named ‘Nuk3town’ remained a part of Black Ops’ core multiplayer experience (regardless of the overhauled movement system). 

After devastation struck Nuketown 2025, the Coalescence Corporation’s simulation was designed to support a new way to traverse around the map. More colorful than ever before, Nuk3town’s fresh lick of paint appeared to hit the spot. 

Mannequins redesigned to look like AI robots, cars transformed into something Bruce Wayne would cruise around in, and buses with pixels rising from them — yep, Treyarch out-did themselves on the cosmetic front. 

Three easter eggs were embedded in Nuk3town, each of which revolved around shooting heads and limbs from the android-themed mannequins to prompt zombie-esque outbreak. Heck, Treyarch even included a shrewd reference to the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who with one of the hidden gems.

Given the developer’s efforts to spruce up the nuclear testing facility, there are some fans who rank Black Ops 3’s iteration above all others… A bold statement given the animosity which the game faced on the whole.

2. Nuketown: Black Ops (2010)

Black Ops 1's Nuketown.

Where it all began. Initially embarked upon as a side project by Adam Hoggatt, a prototype framework was put together in a mere two days. Little did Hoggatt know that he was laying the foundations for a map that would transcend throughout various console generations. 

Nuketown was inspired by a scene from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where Indy stumbled upon a replica 1950s suburb that acted as a nuclear testing facility — complete with the eerie, lifeless mannequins which would make their way onto Nuketown.

Nuketown soon proved a popular addition among Call of Duty fans, and Treyarch responded suitably by adding a ‘Nuketown 24/7’ playlist which supported both Team Tactical and Free-For-All gametypes. 

Sniper duels from house-to-house, chaotic mid-map engagements, spawn trapping enemies with a Chopper Gunner… Treyarch created memories that would resonate with players for years. Despite its flaws, Nuketown was loved by fans everywhere. Therefore, even a full decade on from its release, many still rank the original render of this map as their favorite.

1. Nuketown 2025: Black Ops 2 (2012)

Black Ops 2's Nuketown 2025

In a similar fashion to the ‘Best Call of Duty game of the decade,’ Treyarch out-did themselves with Nuketown 2025. Somehow, David Vonderhaar and co. topped their previous efforts. 

The original map received a complete aesthetic overhaul. From the outside looking in, it seemed almost as if someone from Treyarch plucked ‘the retro’ from the 1960s and the futuristic style of Black Ops 2, smashed them together and hey presto, Nuketown 2025 was the offspring. And obviously, they made the right call. 

Since Nuketown soared to the top as the most played map in Black Ops history, a remake of the now-trademark map was inevitable. Dubbed the “Model Home of the Future,” Nuketown’s remodel also fixed some key spawn issues that clouded the original.

Treyarch hit the nail on the head. Combining more balanced conflict with the contemporary vibe and players poured thousands of hours into Nuketown 2025. Will a map ever top Nuketown’s second iteration?

Both TheAngelol and Aero Panther have compiled a list that reflects our current rankings, and the majority of Twitter appeared to agree.

Of course, there have been multiple renditions of Nuketown outside of the main four listed above. Nuketown has appeared in Black Ops 4’s ‘Blackout’ battle royale, as well as featuring in Tencent Games’ Call of Duty: Mobile. Not to forget the Zombies version of the map, which plays on the aftermath of the multiplayer’s end-of-game sequence. 

One thing that fans everywhere will agree on, is that Nuketown embodies everything that is at the core of the Call of Duty multiplayer experience: fun, close-quarters combat that you could enjoy for hours on end.

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About The Author

Andy is a former Dexerto games writer, with a passion for competitive shooter titles like CS:GO and Valorant.