Open-world games continue to grow in popularity, but levels are here to stay in 2019. Here, we’re going over the most unique set-pieces and interesting architecture of the year — whether you’re sprinting through a self-replicating hotel hallway or dodging undead in a Police Station / Art Museum hybrid, these are the best levels, locations and missions of 2019.
We’ve already delved into some other levels this year with our 10 Best Secrets of 2019 — but these levels are anything but secret. You’ll have to finish these stages to reach the ending, and they’re all so memorable, so special and exciting, they couldn’t get out of my head all year round. There’s nothing better than an awesome level in a video game, and these are the best of the bunch.
The Ashtray Maze (Control)
The mother of all mind-bending levels, the Ashtray Maze is a transforming music-video sequence, packed with thrilling action and scored with the right hype-inducing music to thrust Jesse into her final confrontation with the apocalyptic forces at the center of the Oldest House. It’s one of the most joyous, visually interested levels of the year — and it’s all made from a few repeated assets. It’s a kaleidoscope of cascading hallways. The maze walls rapidly shrink or grow as you punch through, fighting armies of enemies.
In a game full of trippy visuals, the Ashtray Maze might be the most out-there of all. Hilariously, the music itself is the ‘key’ to solving the maze. Instead of navigating the maze, Jesse punches straight through it, forcing the endless structure to make way. Control is one of the most unique games of the year, and sequences like the Ashtray Maze elevate the game into one of the true greats of the decade.
The Last Resort (Hitman 2)
Two DLC maps dropped in 2019 for Hitman 2 — and the sprawling Maldives resort is one of my favorite levels in years. Set on a high-class getaway for the rich-and-famous looking to reform their dirty images, the twisted resort is packed with details. There are special hotel rooms, restaurants, spas, and workout rooms populating the resort filled with unique characters and quests. That includes a hidden treasure map you can piece together for a special bonus reward.
But the best parts of the map are hidden away from the world. The large mansion in the outskirts is heavily guarded, and a massive underwater server farm is the piece de resistance. Two-story windows with beautiful views of the ocean floor, and more armed guards than you can count. It all adds up to an amazing map that’s filled with all the delightful surprises we expect from Hitman 2.
Explore more amazing levels on the next page of our best-of 2019 list.