Video games have always been a form of escapism, a portal in which to transport ourselves to faraway lands whether they be nonfictional places such as the streets of Los Angeles to the fictional ring planet of Halo. This power that video games have has placed the medium so close to my heart, and has even further cemented that position with the advancement of technology to create worlds so life-like, it is astonishing to see how far games have come over the years. Here is my top 10 video game environments that demonstrate that beautiful realism of nature, created by amazing work of bespoke video game developers.
Just to state a disclaimer, I have not included games that even though they have well detailed environments, they show a gritty and dark theme. Games such as the stunning environment as Dead Space 2 and Fallout 4 fall into this category, this is only a list of elegance.
10. 'Mirrors Edge'
Playing Mirror's Edge for the first time was a memorable experience. Nearly ten years ago, my parents bought a HD television, and playing #MirrorsEdge on it for the first time was mind blowing back then. The overpowering shade of whites and blues is not a negative point at all, as the crisp and bright color tones make it look like a waxed car in a showroom. Not only that but the distinguishing orange spots to tell the player what they can and cannot climb doesn't deter the experience at all. Freerunning from building to building with the lens flares and motion blur completely immerse first person perspective too, albeit a motion sickness one to some.
9. 'GTA IV'
Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV was pivotal moment in video game history. A computer generated city with populated civilians, traffic, internet cafes, bars, nightclubs, clothing stores, car dealerships and even a comedy club all add to the reason why Liberty City is one of the most diverse and realistic environments in all of video games. However, its concentration of the urban New York-esque style environment is why it is down low on my list. A remarkable world, but one I surely wouldn't like to live in.
8. 'Star Wars: Battlefront'
Despite the game's incredibly disappointing lack of content, DICE did not disappoint when it came to the visuals. As I was born in 1994, there was no real element of nostalgia for me when it came to planets such as Hoth and Endor being playable maps. Nostalgia aside, these maps are gorgeous in their looks alone. I also like the fact that weapons shoot lasers instead of bullets, so not only can you tell who's firing at who, but the exchange of light beams across the screen contrast the woodland and snow areas pretty well. It is obvious that it is the best looking #StarWars video game to date, however the beautiful worlds can't stop this game from getting boring fast.
7. 'Battlefield 1'
Its hard to avoid the horror and setting of The Great War whilst playing #Battlefield1. Each map has an initial tranquil feeling moments before they are ruined by explosions and fire, in addition to DICE's use of the Frostbite 3 engine which allows buildings and landscapes to be destroyed into rubble. However one can't ignore the the environments ranging to deep forests, idyllic French towns and the deserts of Arabia; each signifies the calm before the battle.
6. 'Red Dead Redemption'
Rockstar managed to combine the wild west setting with the freedom power element of Grand Theft Auto. Not only does it show the memorable landscapes that you would see in a typical western such as Stagecoach or The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but the setting also takes place in local rural farms and frosty northern wilderness inhabited by grizzly bears. The setting also changes completely during night time, as countless stars become visible, and the howl of coyotes can be heard in the distance.
5. 'The Last of Us'
I know I stated in the disclaimer that I wouldn't mention any gritty titles, but The Last of Us is one huge exception. Disregarding the look of run down scenery and abandoned buildings, the overgrowth is what puts this game on the list. The true beauty of nature overcoming the man made structures is one that can be taken in any way you want it. The scene in which Ellie and Joel encounter the zoo with the Giraffes is a graceful moment that I will never forget, and I'm sure players of the game will not either.
4. 'Bioshock Infinite'
I was debating about putting Rapture from two previous #Bioshock games on the list, however the floating city of Columbia trumps it. There is something about steampunk that fascinates me, for some reason I haven't a clue why. The copper and gold architecture contrasts with the subtle cloudy sky all the time, and for me the game only excels visually once the player is outside. The theme of American Exceptionalism also works well as flags, banners and crowds of people all make Columbia a cleverly made dystopian city.
3. 'Just Cause 2'
Just Cause 2 is probably the most diverse biomed environment I have ever seen in a game. It manages to combine sandy beaches with snow capped mountains, to urban city skyscrapers and dense woodlands. The ability to fly jets and skydive in this world makes it all the pleasure to see, making it one colossal toybox in the process. Did I mention that this game is 400 square miles?
2. 'Grand Theft Auto V'
Grand Theft Auto V is arguably my favorite video game of all time. From the story, the action and even the charming wit makes this game one of the best video games ever made. GTA V also takes the hustle and bustle of Liberty City from GTA IV, and combines it with the enormous countryside of Red Dead Redemption to create a gargantuan map with endless exploration and even incorporates some of the setting from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. The alternate version of Los Angeles that GTA V produces is one with ten times more character than the alternate version of New York in GTA IV, as the diverse range of sports cars and colorful array of buildings make the city pop.
Yes Steep is my number one on the list, and here's why. Equipped with the AnvilNext game engine, Ubisoft nailed the visuals to a downright tee. The game showcases the beautiful european alps combined with the exhilarating sport of snowboarding, skiing, paragliding and even wingsuit flying; the player can even alter the time of day and ambiance by pressing specific buttons on the d-pad.
I remember playing Mad Max last year, and that game blew me away from the tiny detail of leaving marks in the sand wherever you walked and drove over. Yes this game has that too. The feeling of looking behind you to see your tangled trail carved into the mountain will always bring that cheeky smile to my face. Before each jump I pause and rotate the camera as I am mesmerized by the sheer beauty of this game, and has even caused me to contemplate traveling to the Alps for a holiday. The snow covered mountains combined with the blue skies makes this game a truly amazing experience to escape to.
Have any favorite game worlds yourself?