End of Year 2018: Favorite Environment


Favorite Environment

You are in a space. Look around. What surrounds you? What can you see? What can you feel? And how does it inform the actions you will take? A successful game setting can invoke all these questions simply by placing us in its context. Your Favorite Environment can be a peaceful and cohesive Somewhere you’d want to live, an outlandish Somewhere that piques your curiosity, or a terrible, severe Somewhere you could never experience otherwise. This category is distinct from related categories pertaining to aesthetics, sound, and writing, as it is meant to embody the setting as a whole; sensory input combining to evoke feeling. Where did the parts come together most effectively, and what made them stand out?

You are in a space. Look around. Where are you, and why?

Nomination Submissions

[[click here for access to the submission form]]

You will have until 5th January to nominate your games – this is our cut-off ahead of polling going live.

Remember: you can nominate up to three games, so be creative with your choices!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!


Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, head on over to our google form and write down your submissions in the appropriate field. You may nominate up to three games and you will be able to edit this submission at any time by returning to the google form (before the nomination date closes).

As the nominations will be done externally, this thread will instead be the place to discuss what your favorites were and to make the case for them if you feel strongly. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end January 5th, 2019.

Q: What games can I nominate?

A: For this category, we’re specifically looking for games that were released between 10th December 2017 - 15th December 2018.

Games that either entered Early Access or hit 1.0 during this period are eligible.

Ports, remakes, and remasters are not eligible.

Standalone games/expansions are eligible, however Downloadable Content (DLC) is not.

Mobile and browser games are eligible as long as they meet all other relevant criteria.

The moderation team reserves the right to remove any game from nomination if necessary.

  • Thank you to @Emily for the banner!

End of Year 2018: Vote for your favs!
End of Year 2018: Waypoint Community's Favorites

Yakuza as a whole is known for recreating the bustling night life and burgeoning underworld of Kamurocho, a district in Tokyo. Kamurocho has been the draw for money of the games, but Yakuza 6 introduces Onomichi as a location. The sleepy, sea-side rural(-ish) town is a far cry from Kamurocho. The way the city is designed highlights the difference, as it has a lot more alley ways and the buildings are far shorter. In addition, it builds in a hill in to the design of the city, and you have to navigate around that hill while running around. In addition the art of the city really sells the small-town personality of the place.


Saint Denis of Red Dead Redemption 2 was probably the big environment for me this year. There’s just so much intricate detail, and the density of the space makes the small city seem even larger when you just stop and watch it just move.

Here’s a nice video of it:

Some of the best moments in that game were just walking around, interacting with the people on the streets, donating money to a church, listening to a suffragette, stumbling upon a vampire mystery, watching a cop chase someone down an alley, and watching the smoke stacks of industrialization fill the air.

It’s just so unfortunate that such a condemnation of early industrialist capitalism was made with such terrible conditions for Rockstar’s employees. Every time I play this game, I am blown away by just how damn GOOD it looks. But all of that flavor is stamped with an asterisk of terrible labor and honestly really frustrating gameplay.

Still, it is an absolute sight to behold. I think it is still very worth honoring.


I’ll nominate Sea of Thieves. While I fell off the game pretty quickly (mostly for lack of any friends playing, although I did have some surprisingly fun times with strangers), it remains a standout in my mind for how effectively they made me feel like I was out on the wild & open seas. I love ships, the ocean, etc. IRL and this game let me effortlessly slip into a fairly well realized sailing and exploration fantasy for the first time since AC IV: Black Flag (albeit different tones). In large part they accomplished this with not just the art design, but in combination with the sound design. It’s not so easy to capture the unified look and sound of a place in a way that will let your brain conjure the rest (the smell of ocean water on the wind), but Rare did that for me. While Sea of Thieves is unlikely to end up in too many of my other nominations, I think it deserves strong consideration here.


God I think Saint Denis is the crowning achievement of that game’s world. Yeah, the whole map is beautiful, the quiet spaces and open fields are so well realized, but Saint Denis is just this whole other thing in comparison, and to have this game manage to make both wide open fields and dense forests and nature work alongside this grimy, busy, “electricity just showed up” actual city with trolleys and streetlamps and a general feeling of hustle and bustle is just incredible. I love it.


The environments in Hitman 2 really stood out to me this year as some of my favourite. The maps IO Interactive have created for you to get up to all kinds of nonsense in are as much a character in this series as any of the NPCs you find within them. They succeed not only on the meticulous detail in the art design but in the way they serve as a foundation for simulation at the core of Hitman.

One minute I’m walking around a formula 1 event dressed as a flamingo, the next I’m interrupting a middle-class barbecue by nailing someone in the head with a blueberry muffin, then I’m off to a party amongst the elites to throw the bourgeois into the sea. The creative locations you find yourself throughout Hitman 2 are a delight to explore, and you’re actively encouraged to do so while you poke & prod at the simulation. There are some games with beautifully realised landscapes that you find yourself moving through very quickly, the space only serving to act as a backdrop to the player’s actions. In Hitman 2, there’s this wonderful relationship between the environment and the game design, wherein navigating and studying the space goes hand-in-hand with accomplishing your objective. You learn the map, and by doing so learn how to most effectively take down your targets.

There is absolutely reason to be critical of Hitman’s brand of ‘murder toursim’, as well as the stereotypes it’ll occasionally lean on. That a lot of the series takes place in foreign (“exotic”) locations can at times feel like an attempt to place a distance between the violence you’re enacting and the uncomfortable real-world analogies, thereby othering the people who live in these countries. I’ve said before that I wish the Hitman games would go in the direction of abstracting the violence by way of showcasing the artifice, leaning into the idea that it is all a series of clockwork interactions/simulations and interrogating how this stage for you to play in is put together.

At its best though, Hitman 2 offered up some of my favourite virtual spaces this year. I’ve barely scratched the surface on most of them and I can’t wait to spend more time in the world of assassination.


I know it’s a late entry, but how do y’all feel about the world in Below?

Haven’t played it yet, but good god is it gorgeous


Moss has lovely environments. It’s a great VR game for people who aren’t all that into VR. I love the perspective of seeing a lush forest from the close-up perspective around a mouse. An early screen with deer in the background and leaves fluttering around you was particularly astounding.


I don’t want to spoil this for anyone so I’ll just say that the area you enter at the end of Delta Rune elicited one of the most profound emotional responses I’ve ever experienced from playing a game. It basically melted me down to a blubbering goop.


scrolls through comments

quietly nominates Subnautica


I’m gunna say Ring of Elysium. I loved the snowy landscape for the main map.


Mount Celeste from Celeste

It was as much a character as Madeline or Theo and tied directly into the themes of the game as a whole. Also the spritework was pretty.


Gotta shout out Vagrant’s Rest in Ashen. Such a cool mechanic to grow the town dramatically as you progress. It provides a sense of progress, community, and a very much needed safe haven in an otherwise dangerous world. Plus it’s gorgeous, just like the rest of this game.


Hey folks!

With the deadline for phase 1 fast approaching we wanted to remind everyone to get their nominations in if they haven’t already. The google forms will stop taking submissions by 10pm GMT (2pm PST / 5pm EST) on Saturday.

That said, these threads will remain open so that people can continue to share their thoughts on specific categories/games for the remainder of the event. We hope you’ve enjoyed the event thus far and we’re excited to unveil the the voting phase over the weekend!