Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Your favourite video game universe

GameCentral readers reveal their favourite video game settings, from the world of Pokémon to the post-apocalypse of Fallout.

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asked, regardless of the quality of the games themselves, what setting is your favourite and why? Why do you think it works so well and how consistent is the universe between different games?

With so many long-running franchises to choose from there were plenty of different suggestions, but The Legend Of Zelda did come up a lot, along with the likes of Mass Effect and Fallout.


Masterful chief

There’s been a lot of big questions lately about whether Halo still has the pulling power as a major franchise but to me it’s still my favourite franchise and a bit part of that has to be do with the lore and setting that has been created around it. I actually think that’s one of the main problems with the last couple of games, in that they didn’t feel like the original Halos and created all these new bad guys and everything that changed the nature of the set-up too much.

When Halo started it was humans vs. aliens with a lot of influence from James Cameron movies, but behind the action the two factions had been very well thought out, especially The Covenant and all their difference races and politics. The Flood was also a fascinating third faction and it all worked together to create what seemed liked it was going to be the equivalent of Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings for video game.

But even though it’s gone off the rails since Bungie left I still love the universe and hope things can be brought back round with Halo Infinite.


A world of exploration

Considering how much time I’ve spent in it, Azeroth almost feels like a home from home. Unlike some players I refuse to look to see how many hours I’ve put into World Of Warcraft but it’s definitely hundreds. A lot of that has to do with how huge the game world is and how well thought out all the lore and history is.

It doesn’t seem so special now but when it first started the idea that you could explore the whole landscape, that every mountain and forest in the distance was a place you could actually visit, seemed crazy and exciting.

But even now that open worlds are commonplace it still comes down to the design and atmosphere, not just the graphics. There are dozens of novels and guidebooks and everything you could possibly imagine about the world of Warcraft and even if I’m not into all of it I can totally understand why.


Dark magic

It’s got to be SoulsBorne for me. The way FromSoftware construct their worlds is just incredible, leagues beyond anyone doing anything similar. So little is explained to you in a traditional fashion but you slowly pick up what’s going on and all the intricacies of the plots and characters, it’s almost magical – dark magic, but still magic.

The absolute best for me is Bloodborne simply because it’s so weird. With Dark Souls it’s a dark fantasy world and you get it straight away, even though it’s very unique in itself, but Bloodborne you don’t really understand what’s going on for hours. Then when the Lovecraftian stuff starts it’s just mind-blowing.

It almost feels like a dream at times, like you’re sucked into the game world and experiencing it for real, which is obviously terrifying in its way. Amazing game that I doubt will ever be bettered, no matter what else From do.


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Cheese sandwich

It think it’s got to be Resident Evil for me. Even though it must be hell living in that world I just think of the games and get a huge grin on my face. That special combination of scares, action, and cheese is unlike anything and how they’ve got it to work so well over eight games and a ton of spin-offs I’ll never know.

It is a universe though because it’s been the same plot running through all the games, right from the beginning up till now. Things are taken a bit more seriously now but the characters are all still recognisable and all have their own little arcs and endings.

Second I would say is The Witcher, which is my favourite open world. I know it’s based on a series of books but as far as I understand the game doesn’t stick very close to them so I’m sure it counts. The amount of incidental detail in The Witcher 3 is amazing and it really does feel like a real, living world. Which is what you’re after really. Or a real, undead world I guess, in the case of Resi.


Gotta pet ‘em all

I think for me it’s Pokémon, which now I come to think of it doesn’t have a name, just the different regions. I know Pokémon may seem a strange answer but part of its nostalgia and playing it as a kid but the other is that it is a pretty idealised version of our real world, where it’s always sunny and beautiful out and while there’s bad guys and evil pokémon around nobody ever seems to get really hurt.

It just seems a fun place to exist in, where nobody seems to have much of a care and everyone has sentient pets that they use to fight other… okay, maybe it is a bit weird but the film made it all look really cool and in my mind it’s a place just like our world but where everyone gets on and there are cute pokémon everywhere.

I’m not sure where the terrifying ghost and giant bug ones go though. Maybe we can ship them all off to whatever the region that was based on France was called. Also, if I lived in the Pokémon world I would be able to create my own Pokémon Snap 2 by just wandering around with a camera.


Pretty apocalypse

My favourite gaming world/universe has to by Hyrule. Whether it’s the version from Ocarina Of Time, The Wind Waker, or Breath Of The Wild, it always manages to have beautiful locations to visit. In each game the world is supposed to be coming to an end and overrun with evil but the landscape still manages to look like a postcard.

I’ve always wanted to go for a day trip to Lake Hylia: do some swimming, bit of fishing, and finish the day watching the sunset. Ah… if only.


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Longer-lasting world

My favourite game world has to be The Elder Scrolls games.

I first played Oblivion and at the time I don’t think I had ever come across such a beautiful, expansive, varied world. The forests, meadows, cities and mountains all looked incredible.

The first time I saw the Imperial City from afar I was agog.

With so much to do it was frankly a bit overwhelming!

Then came Skyrim, and while I don’t actually think Skyrim is as varied in landscape as Cyrodiil from Oblivion, it again looked amazing, and dragons!

These are games I’m happy to just get on my horse and ride through the landscape, taking everything in.

I never played Morrowind, so would love a remake of that. But equally excited to see The Elder Scrolls VI.

The only thing is, Oblivion took me three years to finish the main storyline, and Skyrim took me five, so does that mean The Elder Scrolls VI will take me seven years?
The Dude Abides
PS: Shout out as well to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, I love sailing around that world with your crew singing their shanties!


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