The first level/area/fight/wave of monsters trying to kill you is supposed to set the tone for the rest of a game, providing an instant impression that - if done well - should grab a player’s attention and convince them to keep playing.
In days past, it was often used as a demo for the full game. Madness, I know.
Poor first levels can often spell doom, as in this day of Netflix, mobile phones, social media feeds and even other human beings demanding our attention, few people have the patience to slog through something they are not enjoying, no matter how great they’ve heard the game becomes (looking at you, Final Fantasy XIII).
A great first level can engage a player instantly; teach them everything they need to know about gameplay mechanics, story and the world they temporarily inhabit, making the gamer want to invest countless hours into such a veritable digital playground.
First impressions count and opening levels will forever be important - but which are the very best?