Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: 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.


Trek Wars

My favourite by far is Mass Effect, which makes it all the more upsetting considering what’s happened to it since the end of the third game. But despite that ending, and what came after it, the experience of the original trilogy is one I treasure and have replayed many times before.

A lot of it isn’t all that original – mix of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other sci-fi classics – but since none of them have any decent story-based games Mass Effect kind of stood in for them all and added its own twists and new ideas. Most importantly it wasn’t bound to any of their existing lore so it could make things up that suited the game rather than having to work things round the other way.

At the end of the day though it’s the characters that make any universe worth living in and Mass Effect was filled with memorable ones, all of which you could interact with in a much more complex way than any other game. I love the whole trilogy and I really hope they can start a new one that’s set in the same galaxy. The whole idea of Andromeda was bad from the start – after all that world (universe) building why go and create another one, especially as it was clearly not as good.


Broken world

I’m going to say Fallout for this. You might think that Fallout 76 would’ve put most people off its world but I think it just shows how appealing it is even when the game around it is not very good. In fact, I’d say the map in Fallout 76 is probably the best that Fallout has ever had. It’s huge but varied with lots of interesting details, and really deserves to have better gameplay to take advantage of it.

The regular Fallout games though are probably my favourites ever, and I never know whether to say 3, New Vegas, or 4 is my favourite. The post-apocalypse world idea is a bit oversubscribed nowadays but Fallout with its retro-futuristic vibe is still my favourite, even if it doesn’t make much sense – especially in terms of no one picking up all the litter in the last hundred years or so.

But Fallout 3 was one of the first open world games I ever played and I loved the setting, the characters, the freedom, the weapons… everything really. The problem for me is that nothing much has evolved in that time, including the graphics. The fact that it’s still fun despite that just shows how good a concept it is, but I wish Bethesda would get a move on and update it properly.


Landscape with character

My favourite world by far is Hyrule from the Zelda games. It’s the first answer that came instantly to mind but now I sit down to explain why I’m not sure, because Hyrule itself is very loosely defined and doesn’t really have much of a backstory or unique features in any of the games.

The reason I love it though is because of the quality of the games played in that world and how the world itself, from A Link To The Past right up to Breath Of The Wild, is always a big reason for that and so much fun to explore, with so many details and memorable characters and things to do.

Hyrule itself can look completely different from game to game but that doesn’t matter because the thing that’s consistent is that it’s so much fun as a backdrop for the games to happen in. More than ever with Breath Of The Wild it’s almost the main character of the games and that’s why I love.


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Rockstar multiverse

I know which one I wouldn’t want to live in and that’s the GTA universe. The place may literally be Hell, where violence is around every corner and nobody ever really gets punished for it. Also everyone seems horrible and I don’t know that there are any ‘nice’ people there at all. It’s fun to play, obviously, but as a world it’s pretty bleak.

By comparison Red Dead Redemption (which is supposed to be the same universe, I’m never sure?) seems a bit closer to our in that there are actually some people in it that aren’t violent psychopaths. Some act like real human beings and the hundreds of hours I’ve spent in it has made me almost miss it when I’m not playing or am playing a similar game with a less convincing world.

It’s also policed a lot better than GTA, considering the number of people willing to dob you in to the sheriff if you commit murder, even by accident. And yet round the edges you can tell it’s still not our world, what with all the UFOs and vampires and everything.


Squids in

Since I imagine everyone is going to say Zelda and Fallout and things like that I’m going to go for Splatoon. Might seem an odd choice but I love how Nintendo has created a completely new world that has an actual backstory (did you know it was a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has made itself extinct?) and a really unique aesthetic.

Obviously the game itself is great but I think a lot of its success is down to the art design of the Inklings and other creatures and the general sense that the whole world and concept has been really well thought out and designed.

It immediately makes me wish Nintendo, and other companies in general, would create more new non-sequels more often because when it works out it’s much more interesting than something you’ve seen before. That said, I can’t pretend I’m not looking forward to Splatoon 3.


Internal logic

It’s been mentioned quite a bit lately in the Inbox but Metal Gear is my favourite fictional universe in video games. I don’t that Hideo Kojima has ever talked about whether it’s supposed to be the real world that we just don’t see or if it’s literally another dimension or something but I love its mix of realism and sci-fi wackiness.

To me it’s a perfect sort of video game world in that the details, especially things to do with gameplay, like guns and stealth, are quite realistic but other stuff, like the bad guys and when you need a big robot for a boss battle are just whatever they need to be. I mean, not even the idea of the Metal Gear itself makes much sense (if all they are is portable nuke launchers wouldn’t you be better off with something a bit more clandestine than a giant hulking robot?).

I wouldn’t say it all makes sense in context but it all works in context to make some of the best games I’ve ever played, that you never know what’s coming next. I suppose they’re over now though, so we’ll just have to wait and see if Death Stranding is the same sort of thing. It definitely looks like it.


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World creation

My favourite game world! Wow, what a choice. I won’t go through a list of favourites as some I have mentioned in other letters, but a strong cheer has to go to the world of Terranigma. A kind of a sequel to Illiusion Of Gaia and Soul Blazer, all three released on the Super Nintendo and developed by Quintet and Enix.

The game world is based on ours but with an alternative history and creation, but with similar myths and histories containing familiar geographical continents and locations.

The story starts off epically as you control a character called Ark in a top-down Zelda: A Link To The Past view, who has to resurrect the world and then evolve it into a modern and futuristic place. All this happens after its beginnings as a dark and desolate place – a savage and volcanic world.

As the game progresses, and after the trees and flowers and other greenery have been recovered, you must start the way for life by creating birds, animals, and at some point humans. Good and evil and then immorality is next, which sees you following the storyline like any other action adventure game completing quests and missions until you have to save life from self-destruction again as the human race and an evil alien/devil entity try to destroy that which you’ve created.

With amazing music to the magical ending sequence (one of the best endings of a game ever) it is a game world which just makes you want to experience it again and again and take on the struggle for life as it tries to survive against all odds. The saddest moments are when you lose the eventual ability to talk to the birds and animals and you are just communicating to humans only, as you travel through the ages of man.

This game never fails to satisfy and makes the gamer think about life in general and our understanding of it and the struggle of survival which creates the many inventions, works of art, and religions – from the human perspective of trying to understand our place in the universe. Well done to the developers for making this title and the other titles mentioned from this series, which are also worth checking out.


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