hey gamerz— Walmart Azathoth (@bombsfall) January 25, 2018
got a gamer question for you
what are you favorite towns/cities in games to wander around? preferably ones that aren't from GTA or similar. towns that have a sense of place you like to explore and hang out in.
First of all apologies if this has already been posted! Saw this thread earlier on Twitter and it piqued my interest. I really enjoy hearing other people discuss things like this and couldn’t think of a better forum for it. What are your favourite towns and cities in videogames and why?
Thinking of my own personal favourites, I immediately thought about Lindblum and Alexandria from Final Fantasy IX. I really liked the way they looked and how they always represented an opportunity to stop and rest for a bit. I enjoyed coming back to them frequently throughout the game especially since they felt nice and big with plenty to do throughout each disc.
Another game where I enjoyed the towns and cities was Morrowind. Someone in that thread mentioned that it looks like the architecture is directly influenced and built from the surroundings which is cool and the entire vibe felt suitably developed and different from anything I’d played before. I also really enjoyed the lack of a compass which meant that I had to focus much more on studying my surroundings and learning about landmarks in order to find my way around with ease.
That’s a couple of old examples and I was racking my brains to think about a modern example and the best I can think of is The Witcher 3 and particularly Novigrad. The whole Witcher world feels populated and suitably different from the war ravaged lands of Velen to the more untamed Isle of Skellige but Novigrad perfects everything that I wanted to see from a modern videogame city.
What are yours?
This isnt a town per-se, but the urban environments in XCOM2: War of the Chosen have a very well realized, “lived in” quality that I don’t think was present in Enemy Unknown or in base XCOM 2.
Despite not being one of those super immersive, lived in cityscapes that usually come to mind with questions like this, I really enjoyed Pelican Town in Stardew Valley. It felt nice to gradually become part of the town and to actually be able to make it a better place for the people living there. Quests like the Community Center are usually not my cup of tea but in this game I didn’t mind it at all. Mostly because I was already so invested in the town and this was just another way of being a good neighbor.
I think the thing that makes a video game town work for me or not is does the town feel like it needs to exist? Mostly that boils down to does this town have enough jobs for it’s population? If it didn’t then the population would have moved already.
Sometimes you’ll find a video game town that has like 3 houses and you have to wonder how any form of economy happens there. One that comes to mind is in Trails in the Sky. I forget the name of the town but it’s the one with the orchard. It’s also got a mine, an inn and a grocery store, but there aren’t enough residents for all that and that just breaks it for me.
And so I guess the first game town that came to mind when you asked was Pelican Town from Stardew Valley. Everyone has a job, everyone has a place to live. No one has a reason to pack it in and move away to somewhere else, and therefore the town continues to exist.
I loved this question when I first saw it, and I know almost every little nook and cranny of Skate 3’s Port Carverton still. I bought that game at launch and I still find myself retreading familiar locales trying to make new lines and combos for myself. It’s well put together as a city but it’s so good in creating a city-wide skate-friendly terrain.
Oh, Pelican Town. I love you (and most of your residents) so much.
Megaton will always hold a special place in my heart, probably because Fallout 3 was the first game I ever played to completion on a console and I just loved it so much. The one playthrough of Fallout 3 where I blew it up caused me such immediate, all-encompassing guilt that I quickly reloaded and earlier save and killed that rich fucker in his stupid tower like a good kid should.
Majula from Dark Souls 2… it’s gorgeous, the music is amazing, and really conveys the sense of melancholy that pervades that world.
Everyone loves to clown on Dragon Age II, but Kirkwall was legit pretty cool. It was a pretty neat concept of having almost the entire game take place in this one city, so I got to know it well. There’s a power struggle for the city, a seedy underbelly doing all sorts of ill shit, and even a de facto Qunari occupation. What a cool setting, even if repetition makes it boring after awhile.
People talk a lot of yay about DA2, but the combat wasn’t nearly as janky and I could actually beat it, so it had that going for it that DA:O didn’t.
And Kirkwall was great, repetition aside! I feel like I knew every nook and cranny of that damn town.
There was an open thread sort of about this a while back: What’s Your Favorite City in Games? Not exactly the same question, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there to read through.
At the moment, I have to say Possum Springs from Night in the Woods. Even though it’s pretty small, it has such a tremendous sense of place from all the different paths and buildings and passing character interactions (and I love how NITW lets you “overhear” conversations without actually being a part of them). It manages to straddle this line of feeling singular and unqiue while also evoking this archetypal image of a west Pennsylvania mining town. Definitely a big reason why that game was so evocative for me.
Has anyone made a game set in Marielda yet?
The second I read this, my mind immediately went to the Kingdom Hearts franchise, despite not having played a game since 2 or finished one since 1. Traverse Town and Twilight Town are, aesthetically, pretty memorable.
Also, my personal MVPs for Cool Cityscapes in Video Games has to go to Dunwall and Karnaka. Of the two, I prefer Karnaca, but that’s entirely because the quasi-Mediterranean atmosphere in that city is a lot better than Dunwall’s ‘Gross and Shitty Steampunk London’ vibe.
I’ll second Majula from Dark Souls II and Possum Springs from Night in the Woods. Both weirdly enough strike a very similar emotional note for me: coming home from the dangerous and unknown. It’s a place you’re fond of and where you know you’re safe, but it’s still kind of sucks to be there.
The obvious recent answer is the Eva’s Hammer from Wolfenstein II. Shit’s dire and everyone has to deal with that, but also what’s for dinner and how can I decorate this steel crate I live in?
My personal deeper cut would by the City from Thief 1 and 2. The way you’re only shown very specific parts of the City while a myriad of other locations and districts are hinted at or mentioned in passing implies that the place could contain anything. The later games filled in the map a bit too much to maintain that.
As others have said, Pelican Town immediately sprang to mind. It’s a very wholesome place where everyone seems to get along. It’s not without its problems but they’re very real problems that real small towns face. I want to live in Pelican Town.
The lore about the towns in the Elder Scrolls games always betrays their in-game appearance, they just feel too small to actually function as cities even if everyone has a house. But nevertheless, I really like the concept of Vivec. I just hate finding my way around it.
Um, probably most of the towns in Chrono Cross? I remember wanting to live in either Termina or Arni as a kid since they all looked aesthetically pleasing and very chill.
North Point / Night Market in Sleeping Dogs doesn’t fit the criteria here since it’s based on Hong Kong, but that place felt very alive in a way I didn’t get with modern GTA games.
the first thing i thought of was twilight town from kingdom hearts II
the way it works narratively as like, a perpetual almost-end that wont actually end (always twilight never night or day) and how that reflects roxas’ story and how its like, the end of summer for them for like, 8 days or however long the intro is, idk its a perfect place created for that section of story and the place is such an important mood-setter for the intro to that game.
there’s not much by the way of exploration bc the town is mostly empty but as a narrative device it’s one of my faves
The best part about Kirkwall was how by the second act you definitely got really familiar with the city’s nooks and crannies down to remembering how to get to The Hanged Man from anywhere with your eyes closed. That game was so good at immersing the player in Hawke growing to live in that city and Bioware either would need to absolutely nail going back there or never even think about it.
It’s such a peaceful place in an otherwise intense game. Sometimes I’ll just idle by the bonfire and soak in the atmosphere.
Heoi and the Kreuzbazar from Shadowrun for sure! I’m probably biased because I just replayed them, but I love the atmosphere so much. They’re both cyberpunk in such different ways, and the music and level design make me happy.
Also the campground in Psychonauts- although I guess that might not be a town, technically? And the citadel in ME1. The common thread now that I see it all laid out, is that I really like wandering around and bothering npcs to a pleasant musical backdrop.