Top 10 Fictional Cities in Video Games

Articles May 24, 2024, 7:46 pm

By Aria Moghaddam

Designing a different and ideal city provides the basis for narrating a unique story. Here, we have listed the top ten fictional cities in the world of games.

Every city in the world has a character of its own. For example, Paris is known as the city of love, New York as a city that has no difference between night and day, and Rome as the cradle of architecture. The character that a city has directly affects the people who live in that city, the tourists who visit it, and its overall atmosphere. This difference in culture and character of cities has led directors to travel to various locations for years to depict memorable films or recreate those environments in their games.

Alongside real cities, there are cities that are the product of human imagination. Cities that only the lofty mind of a writer or director can create. Places full of peace or chaos that have always been the basis for narrating unique stories. The gaming industry is full of these imaginary cities that have accepted us as travelers and we have lived in some of them for a few days, a few months, and even a few years.

The list below consists of ten fictional cities that, regardless of their ideal or dystopian nature, have a unique design and have added something new to the world of games. In this list, we have not mentioned real cities that have been recreated in games or places that are not necessarily cities, and we have tried to focus on fictional cities. So join us for a short tour of these ten cities!

10. Midgar (Final Fantasy VII)

Many gamers and critics believe that the seventh installment of the Final Fantasy series was the best version with a rich story, lovable characters, and engaging gameplay. It managed to secure its place as one of the best role-playing games in history. The city where Final Fantasy 7 is narrated is a very large industrial city divided into two separate sections. The upper part where the wealthy population of the city lives and the lower part which does not have a good living condition.

Midgar perfectly illustrates class differences and depicts the effects of the city’s selfish politicians on the living conditions of the people. Architecturally, Midgar is an industrial city with huge iron structures where the wealthy parts of the city are shown much greener and cleaner than other parts. In the remake of this game, Midgar is designed with a larger scale and during the game, you almost visit everywhere.

9. Raccoon City (Resident Evil Series)

It’s almost impossible to make such a list and not mention Resident Evil! In addition to the political and mysterious story, cool characters, good gameplay, and the pure sense of fear and survival, the creators of Resident Evil have proven their skill in city building. Raccoon City, an imaginary city in the United States, is where the second and third installments of the Resident Evil series are narrated, and direct and indirect references are made to this place in other games of the series. Everyone knows Raccoon City as a city full of chaos and terror. A city that seems to have been a quiet and cozy place to live before the virus outbreak and had beautiful nights.

In building this city, the creators have been inspired by the architecture of medium and small American cities and have created an environment that is both pleasant and terrifying. Different parts of this city, such as the police department, train control center, and advanced laboratories of the Umbrella Corporation, are among the most memorable parts of this city. But the most important reason for the presence of Raccoon City in this list is its nostalgic nature for Resident Evil fans and the many memories we have with this fictional city.

8. Silent Hill (Silent Hill Series)

It’s natural that when we talk about Resident Evil, we also mention the sibling of this series, which, like Resident Evil, has a significant impact on the horror and survival genre. As most of you know, Silent Hill is not only the name of this series but also the name of the city where the game takes place. The design of this city is truly unique and unparalleled, and as soon as you enter it, you can feel that good things are not going to happen there. Fog has taken over all parts of this abandoned city, and strange creatures, which are actually manifestations of the protagonist’s sins, are lurking in every corner. In terms of atmosphere, few cities can compete with the terrifying Silent Hill. Its cold and ruthless environment, which was later used as a model for making many games in this style, is still unique and unrivaled. These are enough to give the eighth rank of this list to Konami’s masterpiece.

7. City 17 (Half Life 2)

Most gamers agree that Half Life 2 is an unparalleled masterpiece in the history of games and has opened many doors for games that followed it. However, we want to take this opportunity to talk about a part of this game that has been less discussed so far. The city where the story of Half Life 2 is narrated is called City 17, which has been captured by aliens and has a cold and soulless atmosphere. Insecurity, suppression, and failure are words that can express the audience’s feeling about this city. The architecture and atmosphere of this fictional city bear a great resemblance to some Eastern European cities, and it is precisely this atmosphere that plays a significant role in conveying a sense of failure to the audience. The ominous castle built in the center of the city always injects a sense of fear into the audience and creates a dystopian environment that we have seen in fewer titles.

6. New Vegas (Fallout: New Vegas)

In an article I wrote about the Fallout series a while ago, I mentioned my interest in the world-building of the Fallout series. A huge part of this interest is due to the atmosphere and excellent design of the cities in this series, all of which are designed with great attention to detail. Diamond City, introduced in the fourth installment, has a warm environment and bright color scheme, and Megaton, where the story of the third installment of the series is narrated, perfectly portrays a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. But New Vegas was so good that an entire installment of the game is named after it. As its name suggests, New Vegas is actually what remains of the city of Las Vegas after the war, and just as Las Vegas is famous for its neon lights, large casinos, and extensive entertainment facilities, we see such things in New Vegas as well.

The owner of New Vegas is a person named Mr. House, who has preserved this area from the damages of war as much as possible with his wisdom, and amidst the wasteland of Fallout, has created an environment that is much more advanced than other parts of this land! In New Vegas, the dark humor of the Fallout series better manifests itself, and its NPCs also make the city’s atmosphere more special. Fallout: New Vegas may be a bit old, but if you take the time and go for the game, you will come across interesting things in the fictional city of New Vegas!

5. Gotham City (Batman Series)

Although Gotham City existed long before the release of the Batman game series and was often depicted in Batman comics and films adapted from it, Rocksteady once again managed to portray this dark and rainy city well. Gotham is clearly built by modeling after New York City, but a much darker and more dangerous New York that is now the haunt of criminals, murderers, and madmen like Joker and Scarecrow. There isn’t much news of light and day in Gotham, and at night the city plunges into absolute darkness. Rainfall is also an inseparable part of this city, making its atmosphere more dramatic.

With its tall buildings, dark nights, and our favorite superhero, Batman, Gotham is one of the most dangerous and at the same time memorable fictional cities in the world of games.

4. Anor Londo (Dark Souls)

I know that Dark Souls fans were waiting to see this name on the list! Miyazaki’s games, and more specifically, the Dark Souls series, have always had some of the darkest and most ambitious architectures among video games. I don’t know if Anor Londo should be called a city or a land, but whatever it is, it definitely has one of the best atmospheres in the game world. Tall castles that reach for the sky, beautiful sunset views, ruthless mountains, and dark holes, only express part of the character of this city. Gothic architecture has been used to build this city, which was a common style for building giant buildings like castles and churches in medieval Europe. This architecture, with its sharp corners and dark coloring, always instills a sense of fear and power in the audience, and this is exactly what the creators of Dark Souls want from their game environment!

3. Night City (Cyberpunk 2077)

Cyberpunk 2077 had one of the worst releases in history, and the game was so buggy on eighth-generation consoles in the early days that it was even unplayable. This led to the strengths of this game being overlooked even after multiple updates and the fixing of many of these bugs. One of these strengths was the vibrant and lively city of Night City. It can be said that Night City is definitely one of the best cities ever designed in the world of games, with dozens of different activities. This fictional city is divided into six different sections, each with its own character. For example, Watson is an area that criminals have taken over, and Westbrook is a luxury neighborhood where the city’s wealthy have gathered.

The environmental diversity in Night City is excellent and walking around in it is really enjoyable. If you have a powerful PC or a ninth-generation console and have not yet played Cyberpunk, it’s time to visit Night City.

2. Vice City/Los Santos (Grand Theft Auto Series)

Can we even talk about the best cities without mentioning Rockstar’s masterpiece? It’s not an exaggeration to say that the GTA series has played the most prominent role in increasing the popularity of open-world games, and many other games have tried to create a city like one of the GTA cities, but none of them have even come close to Rockstar’s original examples. There were many choices for the second number, as each of the GTA cities, including Liberty City and San Andreas, could easily rank lower on this list. But based on taste, we have brought the names of Vice City and Los Santos in this article, which are two of the most unique cities in GTA.

Los Santos is a warm and coastal city where the flow of the fifth version of the game takes place, and Vice City is actually designed by modeling after the state of Florida in the United States. Both of these cities have a lively and bustling environment, and their geography provides an environment where you can go boating, ride a jet and helicopter, and drive a supercar on their streets. Something is happening in all parts of these cities, and the environmental diversity is so great that you can wander in them for hundreds of hours without getting tired at all. We are eagerly waiting to see how Vice City is designed in the sixth version of the game and on what scale!

1. Rapture/Columbia (BioShock Series)

The most ambitious cities on the list are definitely Rapture and Columbia, the former we have seen in the first two games, and the latter in Infinite . Whatever I say about the design of these two cities and the thought behind them is an understatement. Rapture is a city under the water that was supposed to be a utopia for the world’s elite. A city that when you get to it is anything but a utopia! Chaos and turmoil are rampant in this city, and the dark, damp, and ruthless environment of this city is exactly the opposite of what one would expect from a utopia.

On the other hand, Columbia is a city in the sky and on the clouds that, unlike Rapture, has used a bright color palette for its design. A city that uses a combination of Victorian and Neoclassical styles in its architecture and conveys the feeling of a growing city to the audience. The city environment is designed in such a way that the game without cut-scenes can tell you a story for hours and hours without becoming monotonous and tiring for you. Columbia has strange people and its alleys are full of small and large details for those interested in this style of space creation.

You can write for hours about these two cities, one under the water and the other above the clouds, and praise the smallest details of them, but in this article, we will suffice to this extent and give the first rank to these two cities from the popular Bioshock series.

Can you share more fictional cities that you think deserve a place on this list?


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