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Best singleplayer levels in FPS history?

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I think the medical facility levels in Quake 4 are pretty rad. Also, the waste-processing levels - I really digged the aesthetic.


And that one Return to Castle Wolfenstein level where you fight in that airport. Loved scoping dudes w/ the FG42, haha

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Half-life 2: Highway 17 and Sandtrap Combined, amazing in storytelling, atmosphere and level design. I can't emphasise how awesome these chapter are!
Half-life 1: Xen and Interloper (Xen chapters purely for the atmosphere)
Doom 3: Delta Labs
Thief: Assassins, Mage Guild
Thief 2: Shipping and Receiving, Bank Level, Life at a Party
Doom: E2M2, E1M5
Doom 2: Dead Simple, Abandoned Mines
Dishonored: High Overseer Campbell
Dishonored 2: The Good Doctor
Splinter Cell: CIA HQ
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory: Bank

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Not much to add to a list I gave some years ago, so I'll basically copy/paste:


Not including Doom pwads:
Battlezone (it only had one "level")
Five Alive (Lemmings) - well thought-out puzzle [OK, not FPS, but it was just in the list I C/Ped]
Darkmere (Hexen) - atmospheric
Na Pali Haven (Unreal) - pretty
Bluff Eversmoking (Unreal) - grandiose
Blast Pit (Half-Life) - epic and imaginative
Blood: the one in the Circus (I'm sure you don't need a link to remember this one)

Blood2: the bit where you travel up to the craft (apologies for vagueness; I probably had in mind the set of three levels starting with C1L7)


Edited by Grazza

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The Office Complex in Black Mesa Half Life 1 remake. The Crowbar Collective just went insane with the level of detail with working fire sprinklers and emergency broadcasts over the radios. Atmosphere is off the charts.

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For me Doom 1's Episode 2 as a whole is an enjoyable experience, mostly due to the introduction of the Berserk pack & overall good and memorable level design.


From Doom 2 Circle of Death, Inmost Dens and Suburbs stand out as the most fun levels to play through IMO.


As for some other FPS games that come to mind:

Hollywood Holocaust from DN3D is an iconic starting level.


Unpopular opinion, but I really like On A Rail from Half Life. I enjoy the claustrophobic level design and watching the HECU duke it out with the aliens.


I've also come to appreciate Highway 17 from Half Life 2 more and more over the years. It includes great environmental storytelling and has some fantastic level set pieces.


pl_badwater and cp_gravelpit from Team Fortress 2 are most memorable for me as the design of these 2 maps allows all 9 classes of the game to shine. Shoutout to ctf_2fort as well. While it's not exactly a good map for serious play, it is great for introducing a newbie to the game.

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I'm gonna ignore mods, just to keep things simple.


Wolfenstein 3D E3L8 - It's probably the most challenging and intense level out of the original three episodes in Wolf 3D, all done by a clever use of object placement and timing. In particular, the corridor with the barrels at the end is a sequence I always look forward to.

Doom 1 - Mt. Erebus and Limbo. I feel like both of those levels really pushed the genre forward with their use of openness and elaborate and hazardous navigational challenges.

Doom 2 - Inmost Dens. Still looks excellent, well thought out and clever.

Dark Forces - The last level, Dark Awakening I think it's called. Very climactic and challenging with good music choice and a lot of Dark Troopers to fight. Honestly, it feels deserving of being the final level more than perhaps any other finale I can think of in FPS history, perhaps largely because of how long it lasts.

Blood E2M5: The Haunting - It's just well laid out, good looking and appealing. It's the first I think of when I think of Blood. Don't have much else to say.

Quake E1M5 Gloom Keep - It's the design and visuals for this one. It just represents Quake's unique setting so well. I like the split key path structure as well along with the clever secrets. I still feel the influence of this level in a lot of later games, most notably the first level in Amid Evil.

Unreal's Nali Castle - Pretty obvious choice. It actually is a huge castle with a haunting atmosphere and a lot of objectives you need to complete.


I see a lot of people included immersive sims like Thief and Dishonored, which I don't really group with traditional single player FPS games. That would definitely be an interesting list of its own though.

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On 11/13/2021 at 7:57 AM, TheMagicMushroomMan said:

Another good one is Timesplitters 2, where almost every map is memorable and unique.

The atmosphere of stuff like Neo-Tokyo is absolutely unforgettable, if it weren't a stealth mission at the start I'd be confident in giving that the top slot, that however goes to Robot Factory.


For Future Perfect it is a tie between "You Genius, U-Genix" and Machine Wars




As for other stuff it is really hard to gauge a "top 10 of all time", so I've just listed a few and spoilered it:



Doom 64: The Bleeding

Spyro: Twilight Harbour

Spyro 2: Metropolis

DMC5: Three Warriors

Deus Ex: The Synapse

Ratchet And Clank 3: Annihilation Nation, all of it.

Duke 3D: Lunar Reactor

Half-Life 2: Anticitizen One

Medievil 2: Que Gardens

Dark Souls 2: The Old Chaos


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True Love Waits from Zerstorer: Testament of the Destroyer, a Quake mod.


It takes the trope of the player knowing monsters will appear when a pickup is grabbed, and stretches it into a level that is one big honeypot encounter.

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Hmmm good question. At first I read it as "favourite fps" which is an easy one for me (FEAR) but favourite levels .... let's see what I can pull off the top of my head.

Doom 3: Hell, especially the first time you go there. An absolute masterpiece of atmospheric design. Unknowable and alien architecture that bends the mind into a pretzel. 

Doom Eternal: Doom Hunter Base. I haven't seen a better build up to a climax before or since. Seeing the Doom hunter get progressively built as you move through the level is so good at building your anticipation. The level itself looks fantastic. The imposing blend of brutalist lines, hell tech and gothic overtones is just *muah* chef's kiss. The music matches it perfectly and the gameplay walks the line between a decent challenge without getting annoying with the eponymous fight being a great finisher.


FEAR Extraction point: The final stanza. Probably the creepiest bit of any game I've played. The insane asylum section in particular.  

Blood: E1M4 Dark Carnival. Awesome map. Good sense of humour, fun lay out but with a good proper unnerving undertone. The mini games are the icing on the cake.

Ultimate Doom: E4M2 Perfect Hatred. An aptly named map as it really does fucking hate you. No punches pulled just thrown straight in the deep end and the pool is on fire. 

That'll do for now

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3 hours ago, Aaron Blain said:

True Love Waits from Zerstorer: Testament of the Destroyer, a Quake mod.


It takes the trope of the player knowing monsters will appear when a pickup is grabbed, and stretches it into a level that is one big honeypot encounter.

Thank you for reminding me of that, it's been a long time since I've played Zerstorer. I'm sure there's plenty of Quake mods that I've forgotten about in the last 20 years that I should play again, but that was a good one. The Nehahra Project being another one.

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I really loved "Pavlov's House" from Call of Duty back in the day. I'm sure it wouldn't hold up to scrutiny today, now that I'm better at games than I was when I was a kid, and try harder to preserve health packs until I really need them, but it stressed me out in exactly the right way. Shooting galleries of hitscanners converging on a small area in endless hordes shouldn't have worked, but it did. Call of Duty made a big mistake when it changed to recovering health over time while in cover.


I liked Dusk's "Blasphemy," the wide-open slaughterish level in which a tornado demolishes a Satanic cathedral. "The Escher Labs" probably deserves more praise, though, for its witty use of space and more interesting combat encounters.

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From the top of my head.


Duke nukem 3d: Hollywood Holocaust (Just overall great level)

Serious sam SE: Corridor of Death (Epic finalle + Godlike music. 1 Man against 1000)

Doom Eternal Tag1: Blood Swamp (I think were in the wrong Swamp Donkey)

Blood: E1M3 The train level. (Mindblowing level for build game)

Metro Last light: Red square location. (Atmospheric psycologial level)


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