It's tough being a video game character. After a hard day's work killing things, collecting items, commanding armies and so on, you need a place where you can relax, have a drink, unwind and hang out with your buddies. A good video game bar has a decent menu, cool decor and some chatty NPCs. Musical entertainment is also a plus.
Here's my run-down of the hippest hangouts for the discerning video game denizen. They might have pretty lax rules when it comes to carrying weapons around or getting into scraps, but are usually some of the safest areas for the weary protagonist.
Hyperion Cantina (StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty)
In #StarCraft2 Jim Raynor leads the Terran freedom fighters from his command ship, the battlecruiser Hyperion. In between missions, Raynor can hang out in the cantina, resplendent in the game's space-cowboy style. There's a surprising amount to do in the area. As Raynor, the player can get to know his crew, hire mercenaries, and watch the media react to his exploits on the flat-screen TV. The decor in the bar also updates with trophies and mementos from your missions.
There's also an engrossing (I've beaten the actual game several times over, still can't finish this) mini game hidden in this bar, in the form of a classic-looking arcade game called Lost Viking. Whether Raynor would really find much escapist value in the spaceship shoot-'em-up is another question.
It's also a place where simmering tensions break out into violence. Check out Raynor laying down the law in this clip:
There are even posters for the local band Tosh and the Screamers promising an upcoming gig, but sadly it never materialises. Still, there's a functioning jukebox packed with tunes and a holographic dancer. The cantina goes a long way in showing the human side of Raynor and his crew as they struggle to liberate the Koprulu sector.
Club Confession (Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines)
Confession is a nightclub in downtown L.A. located inside an old church. The name and decor are all tailored for that delicious sacrilegious feel.
The proprietress, Venus Dare, is also a pretty charming lady, and if you play your cards right (bump off her abusive Russian mafia landlord), the player character can even end up being a business partner with her, receiving a cut of the club's profits.
With its banging goth-industrial music, spooky decor, cage dancers and chains, Confession is a place I'd happily frequent in real life. For a vampire on the prowl looking for some bloodbags to drain, it's the perfect party location to dance away your own damnation.
The Friendly Arm Inn (Baldur's Gate)
The Friendly Arm Inn gets a ton of points for being basically a friggin' castle, which amps up the cool factor. But I've also got an emotional attachment. The beginning of the game is a low-level Dungeons and Dragons adventure, and this means being a pathetic weakling lost in the woods, running scared in open areas full of things that want to kill you. The Friendly Arm Inn offers more than just solid walls. The bartender is also a merchant with useful gear, and there are several recruitable NPCs hanging about.
After all the near death experiences you go through to get there, the Friendly Arm Inn is where the player finally finds his feed and rounds out his party and equipment into something actually survivable. There's even some monsters wandering around outside so you can get your bearings while having your safe haven close by. Not to forget it's primary purpose, there's a selection of alcohol brews to calm the nerves after yet another bandit ambush, and warm beds to get your hit points up for the next one.
Moxxi's Bar (Borderlands 2)
Mad Moxxi's various establishments in the Borderlands universe vary greatly in quality. Some of them are more like hangouts for villains than good guys. The seediest of the bunch actually has the most reputable clients, and that's Moxxi's bar in Borderlands 2, serving the Crimson Raiders, Vault Hunters, and various citizens of Sanctuary.
Moxxi's has that metal-plated, rough and tumble appeal that appeals to the scrappy wasteland scavenger in me, and Moxxi herself is a pretty purveyor of projection weapons. Leave big enough tips to help pay for bar expenses and she'll offer some custom submachine guns (that she has hidden somewhere in her cleavage).
The Blue Casket (Grim Fandago)
Grim Fandango is full of locations that just ooze character and style, and none cooler than the nightlife hangout of my favorite video game Mexican, Manny Cavalera. The Blue Casket is tastefully lit, elegant and hip as hell, dripping with jazz and (dead-)beat stylings.
The bar serves a drink it calls coffin shooters, which have caused patrons to pass out. The waiter can eventually reveal the secret ingredient to be dirty hookah water, which Manny claims Olivia stole from himself.
If the entertainment isn't quite your thing, stick around to listen to the witty banter of its cynical clients. As Manny, the player can even have a go on the mike and slam down some morbid (and nonsensical) deadbeat poetry.
Relive some classic moments from the Blue Casket with this cut courtesy of YouTuber Luisfius:
This rundown's been thirsty work, but sadly I won't be able to wind down in any of the above establishments.
What are your favorite video game bars that you'd like to hang out in, and why?