Op-Ed, Video Games

Games With Amazing Environments

A good setting is vital to a video game. While good gameplay can carry a game, a great environment with that gameplay takes it that next step. When talking about in-game worlds there are so many different ones that deserve credit. It’s almost impossible to narrow down the list to just a few. The following are a few that deserve credit as being some of the best worlds to be explored by gamers. Whether impressive in their size, detail, or just aesthetically appealing, these worlds are just downright amazing to explore.

Eternal Sonata

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While not the most popular RPG, Eternal Sonata deserves credit for the truly unique world in which it is set. Centered around the life of Chopin, Eternal Sonata is supposed to be the fever dream that he has while on his death bed. This is an interesting concept and manages to weave a beautiful world. Naturally the world is very focused on music giving it a very wonderful atmosphere. With the characters you explore many different settings, each one detailed, colorful, and aesthetically appealing. As far as ideas for a video game environment the last dream of a very talented artist is a wonderful idea.

Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall

Daggerfall earns it’s place on the list due to it’s size. It can proudly claim to be one of the largest in-game environments ever created with a shocking 15,000 in-game locations for players to explore. If that weren’t impressive enough add in fact that terrain is randomly generated. It can not be over stated how large this environment is. It’s also incredible because the game came out in 1996, and despite all the time that has passed few games have gotten close to having a world this large. It’s an interesting and fun place to explore, but it’s size is what makes it so special.

The UnderGarden

The UnderGarden is in a class of it’s own in many aspects. It is not very action packed, instead focusing on puzzles. The environment is a major focus of this game. You swim through the worlds, they start darker but you spread light and colors to them. Most of your actions serve to grow flowers and add to the setting. It’s a very calming world, and rather exquisite. Because you are interacting directly with the environment it starts to feel like it’s own character almost, and restoring it brings a certain level of joy.

South Park: Stick of Truth

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What I think gives Stick of Truth one of the best environments is how true it is to the show. Running through the town in the game is like running through an episode. A lot of attention is paid to the location of certain buildings, as well as putting a lot of buildings in that were call backs to earlier episodes. Taking the time to make sure it looks like the show, and then adding many of the fan’s favorite places really makes Stick of Truth shine.

Assassin’s Creed

This franchise does an amazing job of putting gamers in different settings. Part of what is so fun about this series is getting to explore old worlds in a realistic way of how they would have been. Using real landmarks, and the knowledge the teams have available they do their best to take gamers into the past. Whether it’s expoloring the middle east during the third crusade, or America during the Revolutionary War this franchise allows gamers to play in history. There was some creative liberty taken of course, but it remains enjoyable none the less.

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is interesting because not only does it include standard environments, but the colossi themselves are also part of it. The overall feeling of this game is dark, and has a very grey and moody atmosphere to match. Then add in the massive colossi that the player has to climb over to defeat. It’s a great blend of both the epic monsters that the player is battling, and a wide open spaces. Shadow of the Colossus is not a happy game, and it does a great job of dragging the player along in a beautiful but depressing world.

Fallout

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Fallout blends futuristic technology with 1950s Aermicana, and people love it. It’s a very interesting clash of new and old, and remains one of the more unique series in gaming because of it. There is something wholly unique about walking around a nuclear savaged world while at the same time feeling like you’ve stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. This blend is compelling, and allows Fallout to shine.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts doesn’t just have one setting, but rather a multitude of many interesting places. Kingdom Hearts gives gamers the wonderful chance to play in a few of their favorite Disney worlds. Each world has it’s own unique look and feel, even the main characters will change at times. With such distinct worlds it helps to keep the game interesting. The jungles of Tarzan feel completely different from the darkness of Halloween Town. It helps to immerse the gamer as well as give a heaping helping of nostalgia.

Video Games

Favorite Animals from Video Games

Previously Published on 30plusgamer, a no longer active site

Humans get attached to our pets. We enjoy their love and enjoy having them around as companions. This concept transfers to video games. Give us a world with 10 human companions and one dog, and most gamers seem to gravitate towards the dog.

Yoshi from the Mario Series

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As this series has grown and developed Yoshi has become less of an animal companion and more of his own unique character. However in the early days of the series Yoshi was this cute little dinosaur that was useful for solving certain platforming puzzles. Yoshi is adorable, helpful, and just a huge staple in the series.

Dogmeat and Rex from Fallout

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Whether it’s Dogmeat bonding with you because his owner is dead or Rex being given to you, both dogs rock. They are both good fighters with unique personalities. Dogmeat bonds because he is left (by an assumed dead) master. He joins you and always wants to be close. Rex is owned by an Elvis want to be, and for some reason hates hats and all those that wear them. They are amusing, adorable, and helpful. They are must have companions for dog lovers.

Dog from Fable 2

The player gets a dog companion in both Fable 2 and Fable 3, but there is a huge difference to me. In Fable 3 it feels as though the creators knew they could not deny gamers a dog after the preceding game. It’s still a fun companion, but less developed. In Fable 2 however your dog is a major part of your journey. Your dog shows up at the best and worst times through the heroes journey and even bonds with the player in a very real way. It’s not simply a video game dog, it’s a truly loyal and attached friend that shows it’s devotion in major ways. Not only that, but the bond you build with this dog ultimately tests your in game morality at the end.

Bloodwing from Borderlands

Bloodwing is one of those characters that develops based on the classes you play and play with. I played through Borderlands with a hunter so considered Bloodwing a 3rd member of our party. Where as the person I played with considered her an actual extension of their character. Borderlands 2 goes on to develop the relationship of Bloodwing and Mordecai on a much deeper level, giving them both more rich personalities. Even if you didn’t play the character with Bloodwing if you were ever exposed to it you saw an extremely helpful ally. In Borderlands 2 you saw a man that didn’t really have a pet but an extension of his soul. Bloodwing is just awesome.

Agro from Shadow of the Colossus

Throughout the game Agro serves various uses. Sometimes he/she is simply transportation to get to the next Colossus you have to battle. Other times Agro is an important part of being able to get to the Colossus’s weak points and you are unable to solve problems without him/her. It’s hard not to get attached to this beautiful horse and feel like Agro is a central part of your journey.

Hewie from Haunting Ground

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Part of what makes horror games so scary is the feeling of isolation. In Haunting Ground Hewie helps to ease that a great deal. He gives you just a little bit of company while you journey through the castle. In order to make the gamer not too dependent on Hewie there are challenges where he must leave your character, or you simple have to solve things without him. However from the moment he befriends your character to the end, his presence is always welcome and warming. It helps to make the intense experience more bearable.

Dog from Dragon Age

The Dog is a missable companion from Dragon Age. His back story also depends on your own back-story. Once recruited though he is an extremely devoted companion. He is a useful fighter as well, and as has his own unique dynamic with the group. There are funny and interesting conversations that happen between him and your other companions. He also responds to your affection or anger believably, like real dogs have a tendency to. You can’t help but fall for him and wish you could have your own real life war dog like this one.

Epona from The Legend of Zelda Series

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Players are first introduced to Epona in Ocarina of Time, and since then Link has traveled through many different changes in the series. Epona makes at least a small appearance through all these different games, and is typically Link’s faith mount. It’s always wonderful to see Epona, and nice to have her as a connection in the various games.

Honorable Mentions

Pokemon and the neighbors from Animal Crossing

Despite them being awesome characters and the in game bond you create with them I don’t find them companions per se. In the case of Pokemon they are actually the ones battling for you. In Animal Crossing they are more neighbors rather than companions that go with you through your quests. Also in the case of the Animal Crossing animals are so anthropomorphic they don’t really feel like animals.