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

brian0057

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Thief 3 - The Cradle
This.
Also, one of the scariest levels ever made.

My vote:
The Spencer Mansion from the Resident Evil remake.



 
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Magog.

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Well that's extremely hard to quantify isn't it?

From a integrating gameplay with story perspective I would have to say the final fight in Silent Hill 2. Everything comes together and you realize you've been fighting your inner demons in a vain attempt at assuaging your guilt. The culmination of the most layered, nuanced, and integrated story of any game ever.

From a gameplay perspective probably Ellie's final infiltration mission in TLOU2. You finally had your full arsenal and you're going up against the biggest and baddest group so far. The incredible AI soldiers are what really makes it stand out for me. Lethal bastards.

From a sheer oddity perspective I have to give a shout out to Raiden's journey through Arsenal Gear. Your limited load out and the constant bombardment of insanity makes it very memorable.
 

mcz117chief

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We have had a ton of good posts already so I decided to dig a little deeper and pull out a fantastic map (probably my favorite) from Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, the Fuel Dump. A massive map split into two sections. First, there is the crossing of the river with the option to build two bridges, one for the infantry and one for the objective tank. Then the second part of the map is an assault on an armored fuel dump (in the picture). There are many ways to play this map and it is very big with every kind of combat environment for every weapon.
 

Magog.

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We have had a ton of good posts already so I decided to dig a little deeper and pull out a fantastic map (probably my favorite) from Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, the Fuel Dump. A massive map split into two sections. First, there is the crossing of the river with the option to build two bridges, one for the infantry and one for the objective tank. Then the second part of the map is an assault on an armored fuel dump (in the picture). There are many ways to play this map and it is very big with every kind of combat environment for every weapon.

That picture reminds me of SOCOM. There was a snowy level in either one or two that was very tough. It is remembered for its multiplayer but the voice controls and usefulness of your AI teammates in the single player was really good too. Been too long to call out any one level by name but there were some great challenging ones involving the rescue of hostages.
 
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deriks

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This.
Also, one of the scariest levels ever made.

My vote:
The Spencer Mansion from the Resident Evil remake.



Is that considered a level? Too big and stuff. If is, I also agree. Still confused thou

Intro stage from Super Metroid is like GOAT

You learn how the platform works, how shooting works, how door works, and how you should evade stuff. All this in like the first two minutes

Also, I love Doom's first stage

There's no better way to start a videogame by letting the player know that there's an item that you can't get easy. You need to search how to get this, and guess what? That's not the only secret thing on the stage. Also, there's acid on the floor. And hey, you can open a door and there's a demon right in front of you

John Romero said something like "wanna do a great first level? Do it when you're about to finish the game"
 
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Fbh

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For me it's definitely one of the Souls Games. It's actually hard to decide which I like better between DS1, 3 and Bloodborne.

But to bring something new to the conversation, this gen one of my favorite places to explore was the Palisade Bank in Deus Ex Mankind Divided:




Spent hours in this relatively small space because there's a lot to see and multiple ways to reach each location. Every time I thought I was sort of done I found some new room I haven't been to before.
Pitioss Ruins from FFXV. The level design of this dungeon is insane. Sad that most players won't even know that it exists.

This dungeon was BY FAR the best thing in the game.
Slightly frustrating at times since it requires some precision platforming that the controls and physics clearly weren't designed for. But the actual design of the place and puzzles was better than a lot of fully fledged puzzle games.

The people who designed this location should be given a team and budget to make a whole new game.
 
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Magog.

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Surprised no one has mentioned Resident Evil 4 yet. The whole game has great level design. I think the castle parts are some of the best.

I hated the castle. That's when I turned that game off and put it back in the box. Everything about RE4 was a disappointment to me.
 
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Magog.

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I think you may in the minority.

Yeah maybe. To me what made old silent Hill and Resident Evil games scary was that you felt under equipped and under constant threat. RE4 was an action game and you basically were mowing down enemies. The weapon seller was also probably the cheesiest and most out of place character in history.
 
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Buggy Loop

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System Shock 2's MedSci level

A blend of Star trek esthetics with an absurb amount of chaos, uncertainty and psionic monkeys throwing hadoukens at you. It was the "hub" of the Von Braun and you passed through it multiple times, but it was never redundant. All the audio logs of the scientists who made the meat/cyborg experiments and the downfall of the Von Braun, was super interesting and basically set this game to be a big influencer for Bioshock and Dead space.



One of System shock 2's most iconic soundtrack is from MedSci

Creepy MedSci music :
 

johntown

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Yeah maybe. To me what made old silent Hill and Resident Evil games scary was that you felt under equipped and under constant threat. RE4 was an action game and you basically were mowing down enemies. The weapon seller was also probably the cheesiest and most out of place character in history.
I agree with you there besides the weapon seller (I love the stranger). RE4 was a different game and I completely understand people who love the earlier games no liking it. It is more action than horror and just different.
 

kyussman

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I've been thinking about this since posting about the Dishonored level,clockwork mansion...and realise it's actually quite hard to come up with many recent examples....because everything is open world!
.....but another I'll mention is yet another from Arkane in Prey...although picking one level from that is hard as the entire space station felt like a masterful piece of level design in itself,and being able to exit and re-enter the station at various points was also very cool.It gave the whole place a very real feel,that it was an actual space station and not just a series of levels.
 

Krappadizzle

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PREY. I'd say more, but the map is the map and you can just explore the whole space station if you know how.
 
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Azelover

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Metroid Prime. All of Tallon IV.
 
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Magog.

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I've been thinking about this since posting about the Dishonored level,clockwork mansion...and realise it's actually quite hard to come up with many recent examples....because everything is open world!
.....but another I'll mention is yet another from Arkane in Prey...although picking one level from that is hard as the entire space station felt like a masterful piece of level design in itself,and being able to exit and re-enter the station at various points was also very cool.It gave the whole place a very real feel,that it was an actual space station and not just a series of levels.

Not everything is open world. Two of the biggest games from last gen TLOU2 and God of War were still broken into sections. TLOU2 especially you could tell a lot of effort and thought went into making all of the areas dynamic to explore and fight in even if they were more open than games of the past. Compared to the first game in the series the open level design really enhanced the experience because you were forced to think about your routes.
 

Ogbert

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Might get more elaborate, but doesn’t get better. Been playing that damn level for 20years now. Been updated visually many times, but the
Layout remains.
Yeah, good call.

It’s about as perfect as it gets.
 

Pantz

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Maybe not the very best but for some reason Twisted Metal 2's Antarctica level came to mind. It was cool that most of the level falls into the ocean along with any cars still on those parts.
 

levyjl1988

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I love the levels in Dark Souls a bit with some exceptions, but any level that uses the gravity, slopes, verticality, camera angles for secrets, subverting player psychology of video game level design conventions are absolutely amazing. Too many devs force players to areas they designed that it doesn't feel like a secret. And most games are far too often a collect-a-thon.
 

kyussman

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Not everything is open world. Two of the biggest games from last gen TLOU2 and God of War were still broken into sections. TLOU2 especially you could tell a lot of effort and thought went into making all of the areas dynamic to explore and fight in even if they were more open than games of the past. Compared to the first game in the series the open level design really enhanced the experience because you were forced to think about your routes.
Yea,not everything....it's harder to find good examples these days though.
I loved GOW's design...the way everything branched off from the Lake of Nine and also the way the lake itself had different levels as the water level sank....brilliant design!
 
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NeoIkaruGAF

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Metroid Prime. All of Tallon IV.
It’s a toss-up between Phendrana and the Phazon Mines for best area. I’d lean towards Phendrana ‘cause the atmosphere is pure magic, there’s so many different parts to the area that all make sense, and it’s connected to basically everything else. Phazon Mines are incredible, but the forced no-save part to get the Power Bomb on your first visit is a bit of a design slip to me in the grand scheme of things.
 

Azelover

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It’s a toss-up between Phendrana and the Phazon Mines for best area. I’d lean towards Phendrana ‘cause the atmosphere is pure magic, there’s so many different parts to the area that all make sense, and it’s connected to basically everything else. Phazon Mines are incredible, but the forced no-save part to get the Power Bomb on your first visit is a bit of a design slip to me in the grand scheme of things.
That was so awesome. I had a really good time with that game, it was magical.
 
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SkylineRKR

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Dishonored 2 really is a masterclass. When I played it, I just couldn't replay Mankind Divided anymore. Its kids stuff compared to D2's design.

I would replay it if its boosted for PS5. Same with Prey, its another masterclass hampered by load times, input lag, mediocre encounters and sloppy performance on consoles. But the space station, you can view it from outside, is something else. These guys know what they do.
 
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intbal

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The correct answer has already been stated in the thread (Titanfall 2: Time Shifting).

But I'll give an honorable mention to Vandenberg Air Force Base from Deus Ex. It's big and complex and everyone who plays the game will have a unique experience due to different character builds, inventories, and personal play styles.
 

fart town usa

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School 2 in THPS2 comes to mind.

I remember freeskating that level for hours in middle school with the realism cheat turned on. Back then it was the equivalent of playing Skate.

Can the Spencer Mansion of the original RE be considered a level? I frigging love the layout of that game. Same with the police station in RE2. Peak game design as far as I'm concerned.

Edit-

Some of the dungeons in Skyward Sword are magnificent. The Lanayru Mine dungeon is so insanely good.
 
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