We all know that some of the greatest cities in entertainment and popular culture come from video games.
So, why don’t we take a look at 10 of the greatest [subjective, I know but some cities don’t get the acclaim they deserve], especially from smaller franchises?
I’m not going to lie; at times, I will be using the term “city” loosely as I will be adding some large towns [and this time, using the word “large” loosely], but with the intent of highlighting some great underrated titles.
Kicking us off is an undisputed favourite among fans.
1. Rapture (Bioshock & Bioshock 2)
How can you make a list of amazing game cities and not include the big daddy (see what I did there?) that is Rapture?
If I had already been spliced at this point in the game, I would have jazzed my plasmids all over a flannel at the first sight of this majestic modern Atlantis from the window of the bathysphere.
At the point in Bioshock and its sequel, you arrive when the city is in ruin, caused by the war between Andrew Ryan and Atlas’s uprising.
The style of the city is beautiful, even if the city has seen better days during your visits, you can imagine the scene during its heyday.
Areas like Neptune’s Bounty and Arcadia stand out as impressively crafted environments, with Neptune’s marine setting and Arcadia’s agricultural visuals showing the variety of available.
2. Novigrad, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
As anyone who has played The Witcher 3 will know, the moment you get to Novigrad is a game-changer.
A massive sprawling city within Redania, but is considered a free city and not subject to Redanian rule, rather being controlled by the criminal underworld of the city, the Big Four.
Packed with peasants (not judging, I’d class myself as one) and members of the Eternal Fire – a fanatical cult-not-commune of weirdos and even a secret service.
Featuring areas such as the dangerous docks, The Great Temple of the Eternal Fire, the Rosemary and Thyme brothel; later the Chameleon and the treacherous sewer area; complete with sarcastic vampire inhabitant.
Credit: eyeboxTV Inc
Novigrad is a well layered area to explore with a myriad of different shops, missions and even beasts to kill.
3. Linblum, FFIX
I had to pick a city from the Final Fantasy series to put on the list and Lindblum was an easy choice.
Comprising four large districts, it’s the largest city on the Mist continent, requiring the use of Air Cabs to traverse the area.
Regent Cid Fabool IX rules over the constantly technologically improving regency, steaming ahead with his projects to better enhance the lives of its populace.
My favourite part of Lindblum has to be the Festival of the Hunt, an annual competition you can enter as Zidane, competing in a personal bet against friends Vivi and Freya.
You’ll battle dangerous creatures across the various districts attempting to get the highest score, culminating in a tag team battle with Zidane and Freya fighting the Zaghnol (below).
This guy loves to hoof.
4. The Imperial City, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion had its fair share of amazing locations and vistas to behold, but The Imperial City really takes the cheese wheel.
The first time you get out into the open from the sewers of the city is easily one of my favourite moments in gaming (edging out leaving the vault in Fallout 3), then turning to see the city just blew my youngish mind.
Growing up around The White-Gold Tower in ages past, the city now covers nearly the entirety of City Isle.
The behemoth of a city is made up of seven districts, as well as The Arcane University, the Imperial Legion Compound and my favourite area the Imperial Waterfront.
The Arena District is also home to as you may have guessed, the Arena. During your ascension through the ranks you can defeat several tough challengers and eventually face the Grand Champion, Agronak gro-Malog, who’s actually a pretty cool guy… who you kill, sorry buddy.
There’s an amazing amount of things to do, see and steal in the city, that when you start the game you can spend hours upon hours here before you even venture into the country side; to be attacked by cheesy line spewing bandits.
He says to the nearly invisible Wizard, and to which I reply, “No, your money, your life”
5. Springfield, The Simpsons: Hit & Run
I can’t believe it took them so long to make the perfect Simpsons game, but making Springfield open-world was a stroke of pure genius.
The Simpsons Road Rage came close to the formula, but allowing you to get out of your vehicle to explore on foot was the logical next step, similar to the Driver series.
From Evergreen Terrace to Mr Burn’s Manor and Chester Lampwick’s golden house, it’s all here to explore.
Guess Chester won’t be painting that chicken coop now.
There’s so much to do in Springfield, like collecting Itchy & Scratchy cards and coins that can be used to buy new vehicles and outfits.
I’ll try and list just some of the great areas to check out, deep breath…
The Simpson Home, The Kwik-E-Mart, Springfield Elementary School, The Stonecutters Hidden Tunnel, Moe’s Tavern, Kamp Krusty, The Squidport, The Duff Brewery, Krusty Studios, The Bowlarama, Mr Burn’s Casino and Springfield Observatory.
Fans have spent years clamouring for a remaster, but considering there’s now 30 seasons of content to use, a sequel is surely the way to go.
6. Gran Soren, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma is an underrated gem and my tied favourite game of all time.
The main city Gran Soren is a lovely creation of a fantasy city/town plucked straight from medieval times… but also there are wizards, magic and cryptids of all kinds.
There are shops and a tavern, an inn, a church, some residential areas and a sewer section, as well as the Duke’s castle.
Though underneath the city lies a bigger secret, the Everfall.
A tower style labyrinthine section with multiple layers traversed by falling through the hole in the centre, which when you get to the bottom throws you back to the start, so you can technically fall forever.
Each floor of the Everfall is full of different beasts to fight; like Hydras, Golems, Cyclops’, Cockatrices, Lich’s, Dragons of differing kinds, even the mythical Ur-Dragon.
I could spend forever talking about this game, but I won’t and as there is even a Netflix series coming out soon, maybe I can hold out hopes of a sequel, letting me explore Gran Soren all over again.
7. Greenvale, Deadly Premonition
I know, I know, Greenvale is a town and not a massive one.
But this game needs some appreciation and to show people what a mad, twisted little town Greenvale is.
At the first the town comes across as a lovely little fictional town in the good old US of A. It has the regular selection of small town amenities, with nearly all the buildings being enter-able.
Greenvale may seem normal on the surface, but features a lovely S & M cult, oh and also a serial killer who wears a raincoat, so maybe not a great holiday destination.
“Good evening sir, do you have time to talk about our Lord and Savior, axe wielding raincoat guy?”
The Twin Peaks inspiration is clear to see as the protagonist runs around the small town on the pretence of solving as murder, while also talking to himself and drinking coffee (seem familiar?).
But at times you are also able to enter an “Other World” within Greenvale, akin to the world-changing in Silent Hill (another obvious inspiration).
Seeing as the sequel Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise has just released on Switch, there’s never been a better time to visit Greenvale and see what lies beneath the calm surface.
8. Undead Settlement, Dark Souls 3
I know you guys were all expecting Anor Londo, I’m as surprised as you are that I chose the dirty old streets of the Undead Settlement.
Strolling through the streets you’ll encounter the colorful locals like the bonfire crew.
Led by the Evangelist, who’s probably talking about eating people or waffling on out about Dorhy’s again.
The hidden doorways and crooked streets hide enemies likely to pounce on you given the first chance, and even the roofs and beams hide hooded little freaks who apparently don’t like you.
But there also a slew of good people to meet in the settlement.
Yoel of Londor; giving levels away for free on the street corner, Irina of Carim who asks you, a stranger to touch her… and Siegward of Catarina; stuck, confused and steaming in like a legend.
There’s even a big friendly giant to make friends with who’ll aid you like a cluster strike of giant arrows once you have a brief chat with the sizeable lad.
The rotten Ent himself.
If this wasn’t enough, can we talk about the Curse-rotted Greatwood for a moment?
When you enter the area this gross twisted Ent comes to life, flailing with its splintery limbs, grabbing at the player.
Worse still it leaks a poisonous liquid from it’s underside, yep it has a rotten goop emenating from its multi-ball like sack.
In conclusion, visit the Undead Settlement. It’s a great place to make friends of all kinds.
9. Titan Station (The Sprawl), Dead Space 2
I’m completely aware that when you visit during the events of Dead Space 2 there are literally Necromorphs crawling everywhere.
They’re in the air ducts, they’re in the toilets and they’re in all the cupboards; obscuring the view of your precious spaghetti hoops tins.
Despite the Necromorphs, the Sprawl can be a beautiful place to explore, especially when walking on the outside and drifting between the structures.
Built around a shard of Titan, a moon of Saturn, the sprawl comprises many buildings and structures housing around a million crew.
The focal point of the space station is the Mine, hiding the Marker from which the Necromorphs spread to infest the entire station.
Imagine getting up everyday and looking out of the window at the beauty of Saturn as you drift in it’s orbit.
I imagine it would get old, but fun while it lasts.
10. Bright Falls, Alan Wake
Rounding out the list is yes, another town, but what a bizarre place it is.
Bright Falls from Alan Wake is a picturesque fictional town based in Washington state, with fir trees, foggy atmospheric forests lit by moonlight and a mountain looming over the originally small mining town.
Located next to Cauldron Lake, hosting important story area Diver’s Isle and Elderwood National Park, Bright Falls is a sizeable area with many landmarks.
Battle the Taken at the Bright Falls Dam, the Coal Mine Museum or the Oh Deer Diner, there are a plethora of places to take on the Dark Presence.
By far my favourite place in Bright Falls is the Anderson Farm, home of the Anderson brothers Odin and Tor.
Using the old stage from their band days as the Old Gods Of Asgard, to fight off the Taken is stunningly dramatic, as rock music blares out during the altercation.
Other great location situated in Bright Falls include The Well-Lit Room, Bird Leg Cabin and of course the Dark Place, a supernatural location accessed from beneath Cauldron Lake that allows artistic works to manipulate reality.
- New Vegas, Fallout: New Vegas – The remnants of Las Vegas brought back to life by Mr House, a creepy and somehow-more-skeletal-than-Mr Burns human ice lolly. There’s also a sexbot called Fisto, so there is that.
- Goldpaw, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – A city-based around gambling, designed around Chinese culture and controlled by a dog/man named Master Pugnacious. It’s a pretty fun time.
- Colombia, Bioshock Infinite – I couldn’t put two Bioshock cities on the list, but it clearly deserves a shout. Floating through the clouds, I can’t think of a city from videogames I’d rather live in. It’s perfect…if you don’t think about from the religious nut jobs and racism.
- Los Santos, GTA V – It’s massive, need I say more.
- Revachol, Disco Elysium – The former capital of the world, considered a city of contrasts. With most people referenced as “It’s pornographically poor,” sounds like fun.
- Venice, Assassin’s Creed II – A fantastic recreation of a real-life city, that, when released, looked stunning.
So what do you think about the list? Let us know in the comments below your favourite cities or towns form videogames.
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Human, friend to the animals and serial procrastinator.
Pessimistic Pompey fan and chocolate addict.
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