Notable Hub Worlds


#1

A place to relax, prepare, and explore in their own right: Hub Worlds don’t get enough credit. The psychological toll of just existing in a game world as hostile as Demon’s Souls for example likely makes the inclusion of somewhere to chill and take a deep breath all the more comforting. Somewhere like Delfino Plaza in Super Mario Sunshine does a great job offering a fun place to bounce around and practice with new techniques and equipment, all the while offering secrets of its own to discover.

Any notable hub Worlds you can think of? Have we begun to trade the humble hub world with fast travel and completely connected open worlds? What are some of your favorite discoveries in these virtual homes away from home?


#2

Since you already mentioned Demon’s Souls (The Nexus is one of the reasons why Demon’s Souls is my favorite Souls game) the only other hub worlds that immediately come to mind are the titular bastion, from Bastion, and I would definitely include the Normandy from Mass Effect 1-3 as a hub world as well. Actually I guess the Hunter’s Dream or whatever it’s called from Bloodborne works too, but I haven’t played that game.

I think it really takes a certain kind of game to do a hub world justice, you’re definitely on the nose with calling it a place to chill and take a deep breath. A game needs a certain sense of foreboding for a hub world to feel like it’s actually necessary. That or you have to turn your hub world into a level in it’s own right, a la 3D Mario platformers.


#3

as far as being a place you always check in on goes I absolutely loved just keeping up with the Kreuzbasar between missions in Dragonfall


#4

I like the vibe in the Tower from Destiny. I didn’t even put more than 40 hours or so into it, I just like the aesthetic.

Also I know Mass Effect: Andromeda gets dunked on a lot, but oh maaan do I love the Tempest. It’s cozy, sleek and reminds me of Serenity a bit. I like it more than the Normandy(s).


#5

God yes. There’s such a great feeling of community to the Kreuzbasar; it’s what I ended up feeling like the game was really about, even more so than the central mystery. I think the presentation of the space is a big part of that, the music that plays in particular really created a mood.

I’m not sure it 100% counts, but Skyhold from Dragon Age: Inquisition. I honestly thing this is something BioWare is really good at, creating spaces that feel like home by the end of the game. Even Dragon Age: Origins dingy little campsite really evokes those feelings for me. There have definitly been times when I’m stressed out that I’ve just loaded up an old save and hung out there for a while.


#6

BioWare party hubs are definitely like. All my favourite. The only times I haven’t liked them have been like, DAII when your party all have their own homes and your mansion is just a place for your dog and Sandal and Bodahn. (I do like that your party members all have spaces of their own it just means the mansion feels kinda lonely)

I also really like the Ebon Hawk AKA the original Normandy. Especially if you end up with the Gizka infestation and there are just these alien frogs wandering about


#7

The Comet Station from Super Mario Galaxy is a gorgeous place with gorgeous music that’s just kinda lovely to wander around.

Same with The Hunter’s Dream from Bloodborne, only more so and also there’s a sex doll and large quantities of dread.


#8

Oh wow, I straight up blanked on the Ebon Hawk. I love that little ship.


#9

Yeah, Dragon Age II’s approach of having everybody hang around their own places was like, an idea I’m glad they tried, but I’m glad they walked back from it in future.

I think Mass Effect 3’s Normandy is probably the best they’ve done in large part because each space felt tailored to who was there. Like, Garrus had a disassembled sniper rifle lying around, Liara has her wall of monitors. All the spaces felt very messy and homey. Inquisition had some of that too, though the specifics of each area don’t jump out at me as much (probably because Inquisition gave you less reason to check in on everybody all the time).

The Ebon Hawk was great. I’ve always had a soft spot for it, considering it was the first time a video game gave me a cool ship.


#10

Peach’s Castle from SM64 set the standard for hub worlds, and it’s still my favorite one to date. I love how it acted as a kind of consequence-free sandbox where I could explore the game’s mechanics, and it was full of some delightful secrets that made spending time in it that much more of a joy.


#11

Not sure if this counts as a Hub World per say but in Zombie Panic! Source there were what was called Ready Rooms where when you joined the server or after a round you spawned in this room that was separate from the main play area often themed around the map and had spots you could run to in order to pick your team. It was essentially a room where afk players would end up dumped into and also listed things like credits or tips and tricks. Sometimes people would just hang out in the ready room to talk. Mappers would include easter eggs or other fun gimmicks like a soccer field where players could form teams and try to push a ball into the other teams goal others would have buttons that could activate changes to the main play area itself. Was great when you joined an empty server and wanted to kill time while you waited for a decent number of people to join before starting a match.

One of the most unique concepts I liked about that mod and I’m surprised no one has done anything similar.


#12

The Hunter’s dream would be a cool place to kick back if that doll wasn’t giving me the side eye the entire time. But yeah it’s a great recent use of a serene area to mentally prepare for the many deaths ahead of you. And Nintendo is the king of the playground style hub, can’t wait to see Odyssey’s.


#13

Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland had a sort of pseudo hub-world, like an old farm that eventually developed into a fully fledged big skatepark as the player progressed further and found objects to populate the park. This was a fun way to make the game feel lived-in and a more concrete proof of effort than just a list of achievements.


#14

SM64 definitely gets the GOAT from me. When I was little, that was the first real game I associated with, and because I was scared of enemies I’d just spend hours upon hours running around and exploring. I distinctly remember spending ages trying to find a way to jump over the wall in the courtyard because I thought there was a secret there.

To be honest, it feels like hubworlds are going away. Most games aren’t level based, and if they are, you pick them from a menu instead of jumping into paintings. It’s a bit of a shame really. Fingers crossed though for new doNK CITY!!!


#15

I hope Bungie’s plans for a hub in Destiny 2 are more ambitious. I didn’t spend much time playing the first one either but I completely agree that it was aesthetically and conceptually cool but suffered from that same lifeless, drab feel that plagued a lot of that game


#16

Like you said, the “jump into a portal and be on your way” hub will be a thing of the past, but in relatively recent years games like Dishonored and Wolfenstein: The New Order have had safehouses of sorts where you can do some limited exploring and speak to friendly NPC’s, which is a nice opportunity to characterize them in a quiet environment without distractions. I’m ok with more of that.


#17

Even though it’s pretty much like, a singular room, I really liked the Castle that Never Was in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 days (chirst almighty it’s been eight years and that’s still an unwieldy title). Days spends a lot of time just kinda dwelling on the everyday lives of its characters to contrast the mundane with the more weird and tragic parts of the KH universe, and I think just seeing what everyone was up to everyday helped with that.

Your Stronghold in Pillars of Eternity, Caed Nua, is also a fun sort of “hub”, in a sense. It’s really easy to get invested in its restoration, and after you sink some money into, it really feels like a welcoming place you can call your own. So I’m very sad to see that it gets destroyed at the start of the sequel


#18

Oh sweet, that sounds cool as! Wolfenstein is on my to play very soon list and I should get to dinshonored some time next year, so I’ll be looking forward to exploring those spaces. Currently up to the part in wolfenstein where you’re driving through a checkpoint with an old couple and their grand daughter who’s the nurse, so I mustn’t be far off that part hopefully.


#19

WTNO has one of my favorite shooter campaigns of all time, has way more heart than you’d expect. Best of luck with the list!


#20

I hope so too. From what I caught of that press event from a couple of weeks ago it seems like the hub(s?) will be inhabited by more NPCs than before; maybe that’ll infuse them with a little more life (or at least the appearance of it. I’d like a little throwaway mini-game or something. Like pinball or whatever. Just a few pinball tables to keep people occupied while this Cabal warlord is working to wipe them out.