Sandtrap is set in a desert wasteland on The Ark.[Note 1] The primary focus of the map is a series of ancient Forerunner stone structures, buried in the desert sands. Surrounding the site is a circular Forerunner wall, lined with six massive Forerunner towers. The stone ruins extend off to both sides of the map, though those in the centre have been partially excavated by persons unknown.
At some point, likely during the Battle of Installation 00, the area came under the occupation of the Jiralhanae, who fortified the site with landmines and at least one Type-52 Phantom. However, the brutes were later driven from the region and UNSC forces deployed from UNSC Aegis Fate took control of the area, utilising D96-TCE Albatross 03 and two M313 Elephants, named "Behemoth" and "Leviathan". An analysis of Sandtrap's atmosphere by the UNSC showed its atmospheric compositon to be the following:
and surface composition to be Carbon, Silicon, ???, ???, Sodium(?), Zirconium(?), Calcium, and other trace elements.[Note 2] In addition, the composition of the structures is presently unknown, and life signs in the region are minimal.
The structures on Sandtrap are symmetrical along the map's long axis, with two different bases at either end - one by the UNSC encampment by the Albatross and another by the Phantom. Each base has access to an Elephant, a Chopper, a Mongoose and two Warthogs. However, one side of the map's symmetry is fully unearthed by the excavations while the other largely still buried in the sand, adding some slight asymmetry to the map's layout. The central "spine" of the map is a two-floor triangular structure running through the middle of the map, acting as a ramp for vehicles on top and having a small infantry corridor running through the structure. One side of the spine has two small buildings with gravity lifts connected by bridges, and a vehicle-access underpass beneath the bridges.
The base near the Albatross is fairly open, while the base on the other side of the map is a multi-level structure with the bottom floor comparable to a crypt, while the top floor resembles the top of the aforementioned central spine. The downed Phantom off to the side of the map has a Banshee next to it. Sandtrap features odd Forerunner constructs (called Shrine Defenders in the Halo 3 files) and is encircled with a "minefield" that features vertically launching mines to prevent players from venturing beyond its boundaries. The outer skybox of the map features a full model of a Charon-class light frigate, the UNSC Aegis Fate.
The map has a heavy emphasis on vehicular combat. All of the Forgeable vehicles available at the time in the game are on this map - for example, the "bases" are a pair of Elephants at opposite ends of the recently unearthed Forerunner ruins. There are also some very interesting sniper spots. For example, if you are inside of the crashed Phantom, it will be hard for other players to see you and the location gives you a very interesting view to take down some unsuspecting players. Also, a large hill gives you a good view over the field from overhead.
Secrets of Sandtrap
The "Secret of Sandtrap" is a community-generated idea that Sandtrap has a large secret, and was the subject of community speculation for many years. As such, players have spent countless hours poring over Sandtrap's details, attempting to uncode the "secrets" behind the following map production objects;
In an interview later conducted in 2010, however, Justin Hayworth did indicate that Sandtrap does have a secret involving the script found on the metal panels in the stone structures, the script being identical to that found on Epitaph. Hayworth had the following to say;
Variant: Sand Tarp
Sand Tarp is a map variant released to improve the gameplay balance in any team-based gametype. It was due to be released on September 16, 2008, but was delayed until the 23rd. It is included by default as a built-in map variant in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The following is a list of changes made;