Justin Rouse, Multiplayer Map Designer, talks about Barrens:
Going into the DLC we knew we wanted another flood map but which size to make? I choose a 1v1 because of the frequency of games played on 1v1 maps and only having 1 that you could see some of the cool flood units on just didn’t feel like it was enough. We felt the layout was pretty interesting because of it’s “maze’ishness”. As with most maps, to make the gameplay interesting you need to draw the player away from his starting area. Barrens has no problems drawing a player out, when looking at the map from a top down view you can slice the map into thirds using the cliffs and valleys as divide between each segment. While looking at the map in this manner you can see why a player wants to get into that middle third pretty quickly. With 2 Reactor hooks, 2 Expansion base locations, and a Spire of Healing in the center controlling the middle third can be very advantageous. The other benefit of the windy layout is the added distance between players at the beginning of the game. The little bit of extra time it takes can make a rush a bit easier to defend but at the same time a player can’t allow their enemy to control the center of the map for too long either. All in all, we’re pretty happy with how Barrens turned out and hope you enjoy it as well.
Barrens has some interesting gameplay for any leader but Forge is my favorite option. The layout and hooks play into Forge’s strengths exceptionally well. Barrens forces you to leave you expansions more secluded from each other than normal, early game this can allow a Forge player to gain a bit more advantage from his boosted supply pads while other players have to spend their early game resources upgrading pads if they don’t want to risk the far away expansion. When playing as Forge my endgame plan is always formulated around having an army of Scorpions and upgrading them to Grizzlies as soon as possible, but most of the time this is easier said than done. Although, Barrens is another 1v1 map that offers the reactor hook, clearing away the nearby flood and gaining access to one of these hooks allows me to jump up in tech level quickly. It’s also the only 1v1 map to have the healing spire on it. This hook synergizes well with a tank strat because it can help you keep those expensive units alive and gaining veterancy throughout the course of the game. Combine all these advantages and your Forge heavy armor can have a lot of success on this 1v1 map.