Our Top 15 Favorite Game Locations!

26 Apr 2016

We like to make lists of our favorite things in games on our Tumblr, and we recently went through our top 15 game locations! In case you don't follow us on Tumblr (which you should! We post lots of great stuff there) we've compiled the list right here! We tried limiting it to one entry per game to keep it fair (there are a few exceptions), and even when the entire game should have been entered we settled on the specific area that is our favorite. Let us know what your favorite game locations are and why in the comments below! Do you feel like we missed out on any, or did we ace it? We would love to hear your opinions!

 

In order from number 15 to our all time favorite:

 

15 - Versailles, Assassin's Creed Unity

The Assassins Creed series does some of the greatest game trailers that exist, literally giving us goosebumps every time. AC: Unity was no different, with each trailer getting us more and more excited for a trip to the French Revolution. And it didn’t disappoint. Now, let’s not get too hung up in the bugs and glitches, because the game looks amazing. AC: Unity was our first game on the XBOX: One, and really does a great job at showing of new generation graphics. It was early in the game when you first see Versaille that we were really blown away. If you’d shown us a picture of the scene we might not have known it was a game at all. Versailles is one of Lou’s favorite places in the world, so for her to experience it so well executed in a game was a pretty big deal, and it’s something that stuck with us.

 

14 - Lavender Town, Pokemon series

 

The greatest children’s entertainment are the shows and games that also appeal to a more mature audience. The ones with hidden themes, optional complexity and well executed design/writing/directing. Let’s not get too much into the arguments surrounding this, but we feel like the Pokemon games belong in this category. And as an example to why let’s look at one of our favorite places in the Pokemon universe; Lavender Town. The moment you arrive, the entire mood of the game changes. No longer is it cheery and bright, nor is it intense and exciting. It’s melancholy, dark and disturbing. It’s unique and somber music, the tower of the dead (literally: there are ghosts all over), the story of vengeful spirits and loss. It’s dark, it’s different and it’s one of the most memorable experiences in a Pokemon game.

 

13 - Timeless River, Kingdom Hearts II

 

We like to make lists of our favorite things in games on our Tumblr, and we recently went through our top 15 game locations! In case you don't follow us on Tumblr (which you should! We post lots of great stuff there) we've compiled the list right here! We tried limiting it to one entry per game to keep it fair (there are a few exceptions), and even when the entire game should have been entered we settled on the specific area that is our favorite. Let us know what your favorite game locations are and why in the comments below! Do you feel like we missed out on any, or did we ace it? We would love to hear your opinions!

 

 

12 - Halo Installations, HALO series

The Halo series has recently released it’s fifth installment, and while the titular Halo rings aren’t as central to the plot anymore, they were definitely part of what made us fall in love with the original games. If you’re not familiar with Halo, the games are named after ancient ring shaped space stations that exist throughout space. Each of these rings has it’s own ecosystem and climate, simulating earth like conditions. While they might look nice and cozy they actually hold some pretty nasty secrets, which I won’t spoil here if you still haven’t played the games. Racing across the already beautiful terrain while seeing the ring world tower above you truly feels epic, and it’s a feeling we won’t soon forget.

 

11 - Fort Frolic (Rapture), Bioshock 

As an overall game world Rapture is one of our favorites and choosing just one area in it was really hard. We love the 1950′s aesthetic, and the dilapidated underwater world is so meticulously well designed. In the end we narrowed down, and chose the culture district of Rapture, Fort Frolic, as our favorite. Home to the insane genius Sander Cohen, it offers up quite a few surprises despite only being available in the second half of the game. The overall atmosphere of Bioshock is so tense and thrilling, and Fort Frolic is no different. It has some of the best jump scares in the game, as well as one of our favorite characters from the Bioshock series.

 

10 - Teldrassil, World of Warcraft

In some circles World of Warcraft has a bad rep, but honestly it doesn’t deserve it. It’s a great game, though it’s dangerously addictive. We played in every expansion, including vanilla, but have since stopped purely due to a desire to actually play other games as well. At times however, I do long for it. It’s a surprisingly beautiful game despite being a bit graphically challenged after 10 years. The music and art style of certain areas all contribute to why we could spend hours doing absolutely nothing in the game. And one of our favorite places to just hang out online was the great tree (it’s not a world tree to those who felt like correcting me there) island of Teldrassil. Here the ancient, moon worshiping night elves make their home, having built their capital on the branches of the sizable tree. It’s magical and wonderful, and after looking up all these images we just might re-subscribe. 

 

9 - Macalania Woods, Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy games are really pretty, and I don’t just mean that you run around with 6-10 modelesque characters, but the settings are always stunning. From techno-magical metropoleis to crystal forests the Final Fantasy series covers a vast array of unique landscapes. Macalania Woods was always one that really stood out to us as a serene and somber magical place. It’s the setting for one of the most memorable scenes in Final Fantasy X, as well as a backdrop for quite a few other ones. It’s one of those special moments that really change the atmosphere of the game, and it really touched us in a way that few games manage.

 

8 - The Shattered Library, Dragon Age: Inquisition

We’re both huge lore nerds, and with Dragon Age: Inquisition the Dragon Age lore expanded on one of our favorite Thedas related subjects; the ancient elves. And we loved it right away, but in the Trespasser DLC is when they really hit us hard. The shattered library was like a dream scenario. It’s basically the Library of Alexandria of the elves, and not only did it satisfy our nerdy brains, it looked amazing too. The environment is very surrealistic and Bioware must surely have been inspired by certain Dali paintings. We loved everything about it, and spent many hours reading through all the codex entries found here, trying to make up theories about the Elven Gods and Artlathan!

 

7 - Clock Town, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

Here at Dinobyte Labs we have always had split opinions on which Zelda game is the best. Lou thinks it’s Majora’s Mask, while Chris favors Ocarina of Time. One thing was CAN agree on, is that Majora’s Mask has one of our favorite atmosphere’s of any game! Clock Town is at the heart of all of it, and it is here you can really see the emotion which drives the game. A lot of this is carried by the stories told through the NPCs from the depressed Mayor to the slightly bizarre, but sweet love story between Anju and Kafei. We also love seeing how the town changes from day to night, as well as how frantic it becomes as you get closer to the 3rd night. While the retro graphics may leave something to be desired, it is more than made up for by great story telling, music and gameplay!

 

6 - Vale of Tears, Alice Madness Returns

While the hack-and-slash gameplay was a tad repetitive, we have to admit that this is one of the most visually interesting games we have ever played. The surrealistic dreamlike quality that each level had, really drove us to want to progress and see what was next. The immediate contrast from the first level of Alice Madness Returns, which has low saturation and grim dark elements, to entering the wonderland which is the Vale of Tears really took our breath away. Not only are the colors beautiful, but the childlike and dreamy elements throughout the level fit perfectly juxtapose the creepy Gothic themes, like the crying fountains. One of the best game art books out there is the Alice Madness Returns one, so if you haven’t seen it, check it out!

 

5 - Aperture Science Enrichment Center, Portal 2

Portal is one of those amazing games that comes around only once. What would have been brilliant just as a 3D puzzle platformer, turned out to also feature one of the greatest characters ever, as well as a surprisingly eerie story. Portal 2 builds on this in an amazing way, giving us a deeper insight into Aperture Science, and we finally get to see just how huge Aperture is/was. We also get a cool look at the history of the company, accompanied by some amazing monologues by Apertures CEO Cave Johnson. Befitting his name one of the most jaw-dropping moments is when you first enter the underground cave systems below the science facility and see just how grand it all really is. The feeling of being so isolated in a huge space felt almost terrifying, and adding yet another dimension to this game.

 

4 - The Emerald Graves, Dragon Age: Inquisition

The Dragon Age series is one of our all-time favorites, and one of the elements that always pulled us in was the history of the elves. While the amount of elves encountered in the Emerald Graves isn’t that high, it’s full of lore and ruins to explore and learn from. It doesn’t hurt that even without the elvish roots it’s allround a beautiful and lush forest which is something a lot of games struggle to deliver on. If you’re more into the Orlesian side of things in Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Emerald Graves deliver on that as well, with some beautiful mansions and villas scattered throughout. For us it was one of those game areas where we could just run around enjoying the scenery without really caring about the quests, and we think Bioware deserves recognition for how they handled this particular location.

 

3 - The Shivering Isles, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Shivering Isles is a plane of existence within the Elder Scrolls universe, ruled by the Daedric Prince of Madness; Sheogorath. As you first enter the realm of the mad you find yourself in a small dark room. After a brief and cryptic encounter, the entire room dissolves into a hundred butterflies revealing a colorful and alien world. It feels like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, not the high fantasy of Tamriel, yet it feels so right: you’re in the realm of madness now and anything goes! As you continue to explore you find that the realm is split in two parts; bright and fun Mania, and dark and depressing Dementia, both representing the duality of the Prince of Madness himself. Bethesda has knocked it out of the park with their level design, little by little introducing the inhabitants and the insanity of the realm in a really creepy way, until you yourself feel like you might be going mad.

 

2 - Arcadia Bay, Life is Strange

We were introduced to Life is Strange at an industry games convention in London, and were lucky enough to attend a talk by the developers; DontNod. The little we saw of the game really gripped us; the excitement only continued to build until it was released and we were not disappointed. The amazing narrative and intriguing gameplay aside, the mood and aesthetic of the game is something we haven’t seen in a game before. It absolutely blew us away, and we fell in love with Arcadia Bay. DontNod has done a great job capturing the small town feeling, and their stylized graphics is an argument in itself for games as visual art. The soundtrack fits perfectly, and really accentuates the mood and feeling of the small town. Through this excellent world building and aesthetic design DontNod has made us care more for Arcadia Bay than most games make us care for their characters, and we think they deserve a standing ovation for it.

 

1 - Columbia Town Center, Bioshock Infinite

If Bioshock Infinite’s Columbia had an early 1900′s aesthetic, but not added a cool sci-fi element, it would have been enough. If Columbia had a cool sci-fi element, but not been a visually stunning floating city, it would have been enough. It Columbia had just been a stunning floating city, but not fused great visuals with amazing old-timey interpretations of modern music, it would have been enough! If Columbia had just fused great visuals with a wonderful soundtrack, but also been a greatly designed representation of political, racist and religious extremism of the time, it would have been enough! Yet it does all of this and more (We hope you get the reference). Columbia is both such a beautiful place, and such a horrible one, and manages to both be as dark and twisted as the original Bioshock’s Rapture, yet look like a paradise. Irrational Games clearly had a top notch world building team!

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