Author Topic: Your favourite settings in video games  (Read 3443 times)

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Your favourite settings in video games
« on: December 03, 2018, 06:09:50 AM »
What are your favourite worlds portrayed in video games? There's the obvious big-hitters with years worth of lore, like Elder Scrolls, Warcraft, Fallout and so on, so let me talk about some of them:

The Elder Scrolls
What seems to the casual observer like a regular run-of-the-mill high fantasy setting is actually one of the most complex fucking things ever created in a work of fiction. It's packed with really cool ideas - Argonians drinking hist-sap from living trees and all going on collective psychic trip-outs, Khajiit's physical forms being determined by the moon phase during their birth, the Dwemer collectively agreeing that they didn't actually exist and therefore vanishing from existence and/or becoming the skin of a giant living mech that lives in outer space, all Mike Kirkbride's bizarre shit with the moons, CHIM, Vivec, etc.

There's so many layers to the Elder Scrolls lore, even without the metaphysical stuff about the whole world being a collective dream or whatever. Everyone in Tamriel absolutely despises everyone else, whether along racial lines, national lines, political lines or religious lines, and nobody you speak to can be trusted to be unbiased, nor can any books you read, meaning half the "facts" we know about the world are completely up for debate, and the best you can do is read as many in-game books as you can from as many different perspectives and just try and take a stab in the dark at which parts sound vaguely right.

Of course, the catch to all of this is that fuck-all of the lore makes it into any of the games. You basically run around stabbing generic people and have to read the in-game books then use your imagination to fill in the huge gaping holes in the game's portrayal of the setting. Only Morrowind and the weird spin-off Redguard really even try to engage with the lore properly, and Oblivion chooses to ignore 90% of it entirely in favour of, uh, this. Or this.

Anyway, nowhere is the setting's ambiguity better exemplified than in the Pocket Guide To The Empire 1st Edition, which you can read here: https://www.imperial-library.info/content/pocket-guide-empire-and-its-environs-first-edition

Blatant propaganda, but there are annotations by "Y.R", presumably one of the Elven races, challenging the obvious bullshit... but everything he or she writes could also be bullshit. If you've ever wanted to learn more about the Elder Scrolls setting, the Pocket Guide is a great place to start, despite being an Imperial propaganda piece.

There's a subreddit devoted entirely to TES lore, and they get way fucking into it: https://www.reddit.com/r/teslore/

Fallout
The Fallout setting portrayed in Fallout 1, New Vegas, and parts of Fallout 2, at least. None of the fan attempts to fit Fallout 3 into the canon have ever worked for me, and Fallout 4, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and Fallout: Tactics are just total write-offs in terms of lore.

I'm sure most everyone here has played New Vegas at least, so everyone already knows how much fun this setting can be when it investigates politics and ideology in a way unusually complex for a video game. But I really love the way the world is portrayed in Fallout 1, where most people living in the world aren't even really sure what the nuclear war was, and don't particularly care about it either way if they do know.

There's just a huge appeal in 1950s-styled Americana being blown off the face of the Earth and, in its place, a radically different society emerging in a way that completely undermines the pre-war world but can't totally escape from it. Tim Cain's goal with Fallout was to explore the ethics of a post-apocalyptic world, and I'd say he got it perfect. I love New Vegas and it's potentially my favourite Fallout game, but Fallout 1's portrayal of the world is refreshing in a way that no other game in the series ever matched.

Now that the obvious big settings are out of the way, let's do some slightly more obscure ones.

Thief
Specifically Thief: The Dark Project. Thief 2 and onwards don't feel like the same world to me.

Thief is fucking weird. The entire world seems to be a gigantic oppressive city and there's no indication as far as I remember that anything much exists outside of it. Everything just feels slightly scary and hostile. And that's before the surreal and paranormal stuff kicks in.

The second level of Thief, where you must sneak into a cliff-side prison, is one of my favourite videogame levels just for the way it fucks over everything you might have expected from the game. You're a thief in a vaguely steampunk city, and you assume you're going to be running around breaking into mansions, like in the first mission. But then a corpse gets up and tries to kill you, a floating skeleton detaches its own skull, throws it at you, cackles and then vanishes (and that's never explained), and suddenly it becomes clear that there's something properly, deeply weird going on.

Then you ascend into the prison itself and meet the Hammerites, who speak almost exclusively in indecipherable babbling doctrine that doesn't seem to mean anything or relate to anything. They have control over seemingly massive parts of the city and huge power and their religion is everywhere, but you can never really have any idea what that religion is or what it means. If they catch you, they scream quotes from their holy texts at you while trying to kill you - they believe in this religion strongly enough to murder you over it, but again, you will never really understand why, no matter how deeply you look, because the answers are intentionally not there. There's just something immensely appealing about that to me.

Then later, you meet the Pagans, and everything simultaneously begins to make much more sense and much less sense. There's a clear plot to follow, but you never really have any idea what's going on behind the scenes and the whole setting is immensely alienating and creepy, which really makes it one of the most memorable settings of all time.

Go. Write about your favourite video game settings. GO. NOW.

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2018, 07:09:07 AM »
1080p, high details, medium shadows, 16x anisotropic filtering.


Moribunderast

  • What is your place in my glorification?
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2018, 07:21:53 AM »
More a setting than a world but: The mansion in Resident Evil. Just a joy to explore. It, like the city in Yakuza, stands as a great argument against the obsession with expansive open-worlds that AAA games are obsessed with. Better to have a small, well-designed area that is jam-packed with stuff as opposed to massive areas with nothing going on. The homestead in RE7 was similarly well-designed, I thought, and it's no surprise that the game wanes when it leaves that area.

A really obvious answer would be the worlds in Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. There were times I'd get annoyed it was a shooter as I just wanted to wander around looking at things.


Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2018, 09:34:49 AM »
Yeah the RE mansion and Racoon City are great, my true love is the town in Silent Hill 2.

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2018, 10:35:05 AM »
Well I'm going to say the space station in Prey again, another testament to how more limited but designed open worlds are much more fun to explore than the vast empty ones. Like the mansion in resident evil i know that place almost like the back of my hand by now yet each time I play I still find something new, such is the incredible attention to detail of the design and world building.

the

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2018, 11:39:59 AM »
Crazy Taxi - default everything, music off

the

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2018, 02:25:14 PM »
Worms 1 - No airstrikes, No homing missiles, No teleport, 1 dynamite, 2 landmines, 2 ninja rope, 2 girders.

Could probably work that up as lyrics for a disco track

Twed

  • "J" Joe Jeans and his jelly beans
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2018, 02:30:24 PM »
I'm not saying this to be contrary, but the ASCII Nethack world. It's the reading-the-book-versus-watching-the-movie thing. You get your own vision of the world.

FFVII. That's not a game, it's a place I went to as a 14 year old.

Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2018, 02:45:21 PM »
Worms 1 - No airstrikes, No homing missiles, No teleport, 1 dynamite, 2 landmines, 2 ninja rope, 2 girders.

And in Worms 2, definitely no frigging Concrete Donkey. Never in any other videogame has there ever been such a bullshit, game-ruining weapon.


Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2018, 03:35:01 PM »
The correct joke response is Goldeneye 64 - Slappers Only.

I'll probably look like some gaming ignoramus, since Thief has already been mentioned, but I really like the setting of the Dishonored games. A steampunk-ish world, with many different factions all scheming away. Then there's the world beyond, not only the realm of the Outsider (and the equally mysterious whales), but the tantalising descriptions of lands across the seas that you find in books scattered about the place. And all of it is so lavishly designed, right down to billboards for brined hagfish.

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2018, 03:39:35 PM »

Thief
Specifically Thief: The Dark Project. Thief 2 and onwards don't feel like the same world to me.

Thief is fucking weird. The entire world seems to be a gigantic oppressive city and there's no indication as far as I remember that anything much exists outside of it. Everything just feels slightly scary and hostile. And that's before the surreal and paranormal stuff kicks in.

The second level of Thief, where you must sneak into a cliff-side prison, is one of my favourite videogame levels just for the way it fucks over everything you might have expected from the game. You're a thief in a vaguely steampunk city, and you assume you're going to be running around breaking into mansions, like in the first mission. But then a corpse gets up and tries to kill you, a floating skeleton detaches its own skull, throws it at you, cackles and then vanishes (and that's never explained), and suddenly it becomes clear that there's something properly, deeply weird going on.

Then you ascend into the prison itself and meet the Hammerites, who speak almost exclusively in indecipherable babbling doctrine that doesn't seem to mean anything or relate to anything. They have control over seemingly massive parts of the city and huge power and their religion is everywhere, but you can never really have any idea what that religion is or what it means. If they catch you, they scream quotes from their holy texts at you while trying to kill you - they believe in this religion strongly enough to murder you over it, but again, you will never really understand why, no matter how deeply you look, because the answers are intentionally not there. There's just something immensely appealing about that to me.

Then later, you meet the Pagans, and everything simultaneously begins to make much more sense and much less sense. There's a clear plot to follow, but you never really have any idea what's going on behind the scenes and the whole setting is immensely alienating and creepy, which really makes it one of the most memorable settings of all time.

Go. Write about your favourite video game settings. GO. NOW.

Surprised you don't rate Thief 2, to me it feels like a logical expansion of the first game, and I think it has some of finest examples of storytelling through environment. A shame they dropped the "supernatural" missions as those felt like a necessary break between standard thieving activities, but the overall quality is consistent with the original. "Sabotage At Soulforge" has to be one of the most nerve-wracking and claustrophobic levels in any first person game.


Lemming

  • I'm becoming the Fuhrer - the Fuhrer of laughs
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2018, 03:50:28 PM »
Surprised you don't rate Thief 2, to me it feels like a logical expansion of the first game, and I think it has some of finest examples of storytelling through environment. A shame they dropped the "supernatural" missions as those felt like a necessary break between standard thieving activities, but the overall quality is consistent with the original. "Sabotage At Soulforge" has to be one of the most nerve-wracking and claustrophobic levels in any first person game.

Oh yeah, I love the game itself (Life of the Party is one of the top Thief levels of all time, and First City Bank and Trust isn't far behind), it's just the interpretation of the setting that doesn't match up to the first game for me. The leap in technology level to have submarines, battle-robots and what-have-you everywhere just feels a little too jarring compared to The Dark Project, and the levels often feel quite populated and lively compared to the eerie desolate feeling of most of the first game.

There's no equivalent to The Haunted Cathedral, Down in the Bonehoard or any of the other lonely horror levels, and nothing that matches the surrealism of The Sword. Strangely, I don't actually look forward to Bonehoard or the Cathedral on replays because of the lack of any real stealth gameplay, but as atmospheric pieces they're incredible.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2018, 04:00:44 PM by Lemming »

Chollis

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Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2018, 03:52:49 PM »
Elwynn Forest!

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2018, 05:44:08 PM »
I've not played it in years, but Planescape: Torment is a great concept packed full of other great concepts, like a fantasy turducken. A city that's a world between worlds, collecting the lost and forgotten from multiple realities, itself shaped by belief and governed by a mysterious woman whose shadow can slice you to pieces.

I can't quite recall the full sprawl of the storyline, but there are loads of fantastic worldbuilding nuggets, my favourite of which is that your character (who is amnesiac) can give a false name out as he goes about his quests - and if you get enough people taking about him, their collective belief in the psedonym spontaneously generates the fictional "you" as a character who can be talked to.

A brilliant, weird world rich in detail. And all the women have F-cup tits.

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2018, 05:58:25 PM »
I wouldn't mind living in Sapienza.

Kelvin

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Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2018, 06:14:26 PM »
I wouldn't mind living in Sapienza.

You'd certainly make it easier for Agent 47 to blend in.

Golden E. Pump

  • Basically Morris Day.
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2018, 06:27:38 PM »
FFVII. That's not a game, it's a place I went to as a 14 year old.

Yes. The whole world is remarkable. You've got fun little areas like Wall Market and Costa Del Sol contrasted with the desolation of Midgar itself and towns like Gongaga. The Wutai continent, which is entirely optional, is incredible. Everybody remembers the first time they went to the Gold Saucer.

It really gives an atmosphere of corporate greed sucking the life out of a vibrant planet. This is of course echoed in the treatment of the Cetra people. It's all underpinned with this wonderful mish-mash of technology encroaching the simple life, with large metal pipes and machines everywhere you would not expect.

Midgar is such a fascinating city, withe the poverty of the slums literally built over with the upper plates. The fact that you really don't see a lot of it makes it really interesting, I think.

Kryton

  • Keep it neutral. Keep it safe. That's my motto.
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2018, 06:33:44 PM »
The Gold saucer in FFVII was an amazing change of pace and tone. Like Disneyland on crack. Wonderfully placed just above the shanty towns and ruins of a hostile desert. Chocobos can fuck right off though.

DayZ's Chernarus has left me with some mental scars. I remember the genuine sense of dread I would feel as a new-spawn, spawning near somewhere like Elektrozavodsk (which at one point was just sniper city) or the coast of Chernogorsk, or the dreaded air base dashes (good loot vs everyone else having good loot and camping it out). The occasional distant cracks of sniper rifles. The complete lack of food, clothing, heat sources or weapons. The sound of an incoming vehicle. Being shot out of nowhere as you run to the woods just as the sun is setting. Someone with a Glaswegian accent shouting over comms 'that they won't hurt you' as you see a trio of torches coming your way.

A lot of DayZ live-action fan videos have been made, but for me this is the best : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFTmU-fvZXE

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2018, 06:56:27 PM »
Metal Gear Solid 2 tanker. I love dandering around, avoiding guards and imagining how nice it would be to fall asleep outsider under the tarp. Fella I knew suggested the tarp thing years ago and I've subsumed his desires.

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2018, 07:00:04 PM »
You'd certainly make it easier for Agent 47 to blend in.


Hurtful remark.

Kelvin

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Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2018, 08:06:27 PM »

biggytitbo

  • WHAT ABOUT THE GODDAM JAFFA CAKES ASSWIPE
    • theunredacted
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2018, 08:28:27 PM »
I haven't killed as many people as him either!

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2018, 08:29:50 PM »
Final Fantasy VII had just enough to make it believable as an actual planet, the way the continents are spread and have quite an even mix of major towns with distinct characteristics on each continent, the geography of it all felt more unified.

VIII had me questioning things, like why is the orphanage they grew up on completely detached from everything else? (As well as the questioning of how the hell Esthar somehow kept that metropolis a secret from most of the world.)

IX has the idea that there's not really much civilisation outside of the mist continents, because that's what technology is based on, which means a lot of the maps are very barren, but then if you do come across an actual town then it doesn't quite make sense.

Cuellar

  • Push off my wire
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2018, 08:34:33 PM »
Ultima Online's one! REAL open world shit. Run about, scam people out of their armour by pretending to be a GM BLACKSMITH FREE REPAIRS.

Magical times.

Mister Six

  • Half-masted, bass-boosted, sling-backed
Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2018, 10:49:09 PM »
I dunno - even as a teen who loved the game, the world of Final Fantasy VII didn't make a lot of sense to me. Why is Midgar so horrendously densely populated when there's a load of fields and clear land (and a cute Chocobo ranch!) just to the south? Who travels across an entire desert to get to the Golden Saucer, and how does the world's economy manage to sustain it? Why are all these little towns so dramatically technologically behind Midgar?

I think you have to assume there are other, not-notable cities in-between everything else, and that the game chooses not to show on the world map.

Ace game, though, and it works in that exaggerated, symbolic way that so much anime does. I just don't see it as a real, lived-in world the way I can view Fallout or Planescape.

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2018, 10:56:50 PM »
I have been meaning to start a thread on FFVII for a few weeks now. It's one of the few things in any medium that I care about more than almost anything in life.

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2018, 11:13:50 PM »
I dunno - even as a teen who loved the game, the world of Final Fantasy VII didn't make a lot of sense to me. Why is Midgar so horrendously densely populated when there's a load of fields and clear land (and a cute Chocobo ranch!) just to the south? Who travels across an entire desert to get to the Golden Saucer, and how does the world's economy manage to sustain it? Why are all these little towns so dramatically technologically behind Midgar?

I think you have to assume there are other, not-notable cities in-between everything else, and that the game chooses not to show on the world map.

Ace game, though, and it works in that exaggerated, symbolic way that so much anime does. I just don't see it as a real, lived-in world the way I can view Fallout or Planescape.

That's what I mean though, it gives more scope to imagine that there would be because there's a reasonable spread of towns about all the continents, and Junon is also a pretty major city as well. I think you're supposed to assume the world map is as abstraction where you mentally fill in the gaps.

In 8 and 9 though you've got whole continents that are just there for dungeons essentially, no sense at all that they've been any life for miles which makes it harder to understand how I'm supposed to be filling in the gaps.

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2018, 11:20:49 PM »
VIII had me questioning things, like why is the orphanage they grew up on completely detached from everything else? (As well as the questioning of how the hell Esthar somehow kept that metropolis a secret from most of the world.)
It's about 15 years since I last played it, but wasn't there some kind of cloaking device? Aided by there being no air travel and only one bridge leading onto the whole continent (!)

I loved FF7 to bits, played it again last year and it held up very well. But I do have a soft spot in my heart for VIII too. Probably because I was a right moody twat of a kid, just like Squall.

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2018, 11:26:51 PM »
It's about 15 years since I last played it, but wasn't there some kind of cloaking device? Aided by there being no air travel and only one bridge leading onto the whole continent (!)

I loved FF7 to bits, played it again last year and it held up very well. But I do have a soft spot in my heart for VIII too. Probably because I was a right moody twat of a kid, just like Squall.

Yeah, I know it's Final Fantasy, but it never really felt like it made enough sense to me.

Re: Your favourite settings in video games
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2018, 11:34:52 PM »
Yeah, I know it's Final Fantasy, but it never really felt like it made enough sense to me.
I guess I let it slide amongst the time travel/compression/soul-transference, witches with speech-impediments and someone at some point putting forward a viable business plan of training children as mercenaries.