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What is the single, best designed level in any game?


Nov 30, 2012
I'm playing through the original DOOM (again) and it reminded me, how well designed some of the maps are.

The second map (e1m2 - Nuclear Plant) and third (e1m3 - Toxic Refinery) are so good, i never get tired going through them. Even though i enjoy e1m3 a bit more because of the music, i'm going to give it to e1m2 because of the big yard and the optional labyrinthine area inside the plant. I remember back in the day looking through the windows and wondering if i can ever get to explore outside. When i finally did it it was an amazing feeling, i felt like i broke the code or something. Though Toxic Refinery also has a secret exit. Man, it's hard to pick.

Such good level design... Many games like this had great designs that were a joy to explore and solve. Duke Nukem 3D and Quake 1 also had many great levels.

I miss this kind of gameplay/design. DOOM 2016 and Eternal tried a bit to emulate this but i don't think they come close.
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Gold Member
Aug 18, 2006
I miss those kinds of maps. Extremely well designed and chock full of secrets.

oh obligatory



Aug 26, 2019
Also back when players were given multiple objectives without a way marker or bright glowing path.

Indeed. Lots of the Goldeneye 64 levels are great. I like how "videogamey" they all were instead of EPIC MOVIELIKE EXPERIENCES. You can watch them all here.

After watching some of them, have to admit it wasn't nostalgia, it was really a great game way ahead of it's time.
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Gold Member
Jul 4, 2020
I miss those kinds of maps. Extremely well designed and chock full of secrets.

oh obligatory

I loved those maps so much, i went through like a 1 week obsession with my friends in the early 00s were we filled the left page of our notebooks with floorplans for half life levels.. i remember a lot of chemical spills from cracked containment tanks...


Dungeon siege is one big level, so that's cool. Epic experience.

Telvanni towers in Morrowind had super high polygon counts and great textures...

Okay getting more real now...

Blackrock Depths in Vanilla WoW. Tyros think it's too long and complex but if you had a committed band of friends and good class mix it was the closest thing to lord of the rings that game produced... 23 boss encounters, must be about 30 individual bosses

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Resident Cheap Arse
Oct 25, 2017
Megaman X's first level is basically a masterclass in teaching the player how to play without using a tutorial

Super Mario Bros 1-1 is much the same in the way it subtly introduces the player to the mechanics.

Always impressed with those.


Dec 16, 2020
Thief 2 - First City Bank and Trust
Dishonored 2 - Sokolov's House

Even they do not hold the candle to probably the greatest achievement in combining architecture, gameplay, and storytelling. I give you:

Thief 3 - The Cradle

Here you can find a 10 PAGES review from PC gamer on only this one level (major spoilers if you didn't play Thief 3): http://gillen.cream.org/thecradle.pdf
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Jun 11, 2020
Impossible to choose one level ffs!

But some that truly stand out:

Lofty Castle in Spyro the Dragon:

One of my favorite childhood memories is this level, I even had a dream about it once. The level design in the first Spyro game is great in general tbh and this game is often overlooked when talking about platformers. A lot better than any sequels. The soundtrack is also the best one in the game (which has a very underrated soundtrack in general, written by Stewart Copeland).

The Alchemilla hospital in Silent Hill is another one that truly stands out to me, every room you can enter is a new horror in itself. Back when horror games actually used psychology and fear of the unknown to scare you and not jumpscares that you got used to after 3 hours like most other horror games.

Another great contender which has already been mentioned are 1-1 in Demon's Souls. Simply amazing!