There are so many beautiful worlds and cities in video games. The best of which embed us in that place, or better yet, make us wish a tiny bit of ourselves actually lived there. But at the very least: we get an interactive playground to frolick in for a few hours or far more.
So this week's community question poses the question: What's your favorite world or city in a video game, and why? You can find the USgamer staff's answers below, but let us know what yours are in the comments!
I feel kind of funny writing this given that it might actually be the worst region in Pokemon, but I have a lot of love for Sinnoh. And most of that love has little to do with the region itself.
See, I was living in Japan at the time, so I will always link Pokemon Diamond and Pearl to that period of my life. What's more, I've actually been to Hokkaido in the winter, which is the area of Japan that Sinnoh is modeled after. As such, revisiting Sinnoh always brings with it warm feelings of skiing, spicy ramen, and the annual Snow Festival.
That connection is the strongest in the northern part of Sinnoh, where you trudge through knee deep snow en route to Snowpoint City. It's an effective moment, not the least because it really drives home how unbelievably cold Sinnoh is, and makes me think of home.
Oh, and the Sinnoh region has the best gym leader music, so there's that too.
This is a hard question. The problem with the answer is you can't assume that you'll be the protagonist or related to the protagonist in whichever world you choose. There are a number of settings that are really cool, but only if you're the focus of the story of that world. Like the Marvel or DC comic universes, being a hero is really cool. Being a bystander? Not so much.
This knocks out some fairly awesome worlds from contention. Hyrule in the Legend of Zelda seems like a great place to explore, depending on which version you're in. The Old Republic stands out to me, but there are areas of intense crime, poverty, and devastation. Grand Theft Auto V is a playground, but only for the main characters.
Given those thoughts, I'm drawn to games and worlds where everyone is on a level playing field, or at least you're not hurt too much being on the bottom rung. I'm going to go with the world of Minecraft.
All you have when you start is your life and how much effort you're willing to put forth. Death doesn't exist. You can die and lose stuff, but you never really die. How much you're willing to build determines how comfortable you are and what you have. There's no economy. It's just there. So yeah, I'd probably live in the Minecraft world.
Or the Citadel after the end of the Mass Effect Trilogy. Seemed like a cool place.
Okay. This is honestly a recent game, but trust me on this: Gravity Rush 2 has one of the best video game cities of all time.
Gravity Rush 2 isn't even a great game, honestly. The combat remains just as clunky as the first game; the main missions often escort you out of the city and into confined, linear spaces that are often boring. But once you get back to the breathtaking city of Jirga Para Lhao, it's awe-inspiring. It's a tiered sort of city, with the poorest living far below and the rich living high in the sky in lavish mansions. The music changes as you drift to new areas, setting the tone for them respectively. The level of detail on every inch of Gravity Rush 2's city is remarkable, from street signs to food stalls. Gravity Rush 2 feels like a city that people live in, and it has a pointed sense of identity that's rare in most games.
It's also a rare open world that doesn't approach you with constant conflict. Instead, usually the side missions in the city are delightfully mundane, like delivering newspapers, or finding a dog's long lost frisbee and playing fetch with them afterwards. As you explore, it suddenly makes sense why the game literally gives Kat a camera upon her first step into the city. This is Kat's playground, a city she can experience from every angle imaginable (this is Gravity Rush after all), and it's hers to explore and photograph at her leisure.
When I ended up stopping playing the game, it wasn't because I was tired of it, it's because I missed my home in this city when it moved locales. I missed flying around it, landing on skyscrapers, and plummeting somewhere excitingly new. A new vantage point that was always prime for selfies.
It's probably because I just finished Lost Legacy recently, but I'd love to find myself as a globe-trotting treasure hunter in Uncharted. "But Matt!" you say, "the Uncharted world is just our world!" Yes, but it's a version of our world that still apparently bankrolls treasure hunters (of less than reputable qualifications) to fly to far off lands and escape from ancient curses.
I figure my history degree is enough to convince some wealthy patron to jetset me to some hidden city of gold or something. Unlike Drake, I'll try my best and come back with the treasure.