games / Columns

411 Games Top 5: Top 5 Fantasy Game Worlds

October 29, 2016 | Posted by Sean Garmer

Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there. This is the 411 Games Zone Top 5, where 411 writers get to make lists on a different topic each week. This week, since Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition came out yesterday, we are doing the Top 5 Fantasy Game Worlds.

John Cash (Regular Contributor to Games Top 5)

5. Gauntlet Legends: It doesn’t get much better than this for an arcade style hack and slash game, in my opinion. It was perfect for a Nintendo 64 owner, because of the built-in four player support, anyone could jump in whenever they wanted, and you could even have your own save file if you brought your “controller pak” (memory card) over. Valkyrie is top tier, by the way.

4. The Elder Scrolls V: SKYRIM: I’m sure this is a bit low for some people’s tastes, but as someone who wasn’t a PC gamer when this game came out, the bugs and problems that everyone was apparently already used to and found endearing somehow instead left a really bad taste in my mouth, to the point where it almost ruined the game for me period. However, the complete freedom to go anywhere and do any quest whenever you wanted kept me around long enough to appreciate all the great things about it despite its faults. Little details like a messenger bringing you a few coins and notifying you that someone you had met earlier in the game had died, without you being involved whatsoever, were really striking to me.

3. Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura: I’ve only had maybe one or two chances to talk about this game in the past three years, so I better do it again while I can. I was originally exposed to this game via a friend who made a Let’s Play series with it almost a decade ago. It’s kind of an attempt to make a “four races” story modernized, but it still has that classic isometric style and the depth of lore of it’s peers. There are companions you wouldn’t even think could be companions unless you figure out that you can talk to them, which I always thought was really cool. If I had to make a comparison, I would say that Arcanum is the Bloodborne to Diablo’s Dark Souls.

2. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance: When I said earlier that it didn’t get much better for a hack and slash than Gauntlet Legends, this is the game I was talking about. It’s drawback comparatively is that it only supports two player co-op. Other than that, this is the perfect medieval hack and slash game. I preferred the Elven Archer’s playstyle, but on higher difficulties the dwarf was better because of his damage output and bulky health upgrades. Playing on extreme difficulty in co-op was one of the most rewarding times I’ve ever had playing a video game, because you really have to discuss who gets what loot and who is going to take out which enemy, stuff like that that usually in a hack and slash you can just kind of wing it.

1. Dragon Age (series): There are very few series that deserve the term “epic” these days, due in large part to the devaluing of the word over the last two decades, but Dragon Age is something I would certainly describe as an epic both in traditional and contemporary terms. Origins is the classic action RPG on a much grander scale than had been seen before. Then you have the much-maligned but slowly gaining appreciation middle brother that is Dragon Age II, who tried to focus more on the family you build around your character than the events that happen to them. Thirdly comes Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare’s biggest game to date, which truly made it feel like a journey when you had to travel across the entire continent of Thedas. On top of three great (in my opinion) games, there are also novels, comic books, and two mobile games (both of which have been mostly overlooked, but I enjoyed them massively.) Truly a great saga, that apparently has at least two more stories to tell.

Paul Leazar (Co-Host of Wrestling 2 the MAX Podcast)

5. Azeroth, Home of the Warcraft Games: I’m not a huge World of Warcraft fan, or player, by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have invested a fair amount of middle school and high school years into playing Warcraft II and Warcraft III, and let me tell you, Blizzard knows how to make a world come to life. Maybe none of their other setting have been as in-depth as Azeroth, which plays host to fantasy/sci-fi epic struggle between Orcs, Humans, Demons, Elves, and all manner of other creatures. What Azeroth does well is play off of the already established stereotypes within the fantasy setting, and spins them on their head. Orcs especially, who before making a pact with a bunch of demons from The Burning Legion, were a bunch of nature loving beatniks.

4. Sanctuary, Home of the Diablo Games: As I said, Blizzard knows how to make a setting come life. However, none are as attractive as Sanctuary, which plays host to the physical war between Heaven and Hell. Seriously, this place is awesome. It lives and breaths in darkness, but when you come across the light of Heaven, it leaps off the screen as otherworldly. Diablo III may not have been the home run swing that Diablo II was (or even Diablo I during it’s time), but it proved to be another terrific installment in make the world come to life.

3. Albion, Home of the Fable Games: Fable may not be everybody’s favorite series, or even the highest rated, but I just can’t get enough of these games. Spinning off medieval fantasy with some British, pop culture, and tons of other tropes all smashed into one beautiful world. While the stories Fable told may not have ever been the grandest, exploring Albion was almost it’s own reward. The vivid colors, and the life that you got to see the denizens go about doing was certainly a large step forward for fantasy settings in video games.

2. Tamriel, Home of the Elder Scroll Games: I’ve only been playing this series of games since Morrowwind (Elder Scrolls III for those not in the know there), it doesn’t take a genius from the second you turn the game on to see the world smack you in the face. Each game in the Elder Scrolls series focuses on a different area of the world, and you can literally walk from end of the map to the other multiple times, and find something new every time. Much like Albion, each person in the world runs about their own schedule, and the amount of quests in Elder Scrolls borders on mind-boggling. Tamriel might be the most fleshed out universe in video games, but it loses out by just a hair to my favorite fantasy world.

1. Theadas, Home of the Dragon Age Games: I love BioWare. They haven’t released a game since 2001 that I haven’t bought, and I just can’t ever get enough. Chief among those releases (Outside of Knights of the Old Republic, which might be favorite game of all time) would be Dragon Age. Theadas has so much built around it, and they’ve barely scratched the surface of what they could do. Mages and Magic are persona non-grata within the major religion of the world, wars have been fought, and fallen gods can posse dragons, and summon up some evil beings known as Dark Spawn from underground to take over the world. It’s a fascinating place, made more beautiful by the gameplay and storytelling done across all three of the titles in the franchise.

Marc Morrison (Games Zone Reviewer, Co-Host of Video Games 2 the MAX Podcast, Writer of Games Zone 8-Ball)

5. Fabletown (The Wolf Among Us): I really wish in The Wolf Among Us that Fabletown was a more open experience. I found the idea of a little district set in NYC full of magical creatures to be interesting, especially in the few times that the game intersected the real world. It would be interesting if in a next season of the game if the subterfuge got out and more normal people found out about the fairytale creatures. Also, beheadings seem a popular way to spend the time in Fabletown, so that’s cool.

4. Hyrule (The Legend of Zelda): Arguably the longest running fantasy world, at least in a video game sense, Hyrule has it all. Evil creatures, magical wands, potions to drink, swords to find (or not find) and many more populate the world of Hyrule. Hyrule also features the general journey of the hero’s quest, as it goes from a schmo in a green outfit to usually being the destined hero that will vanquish evil and rescue the princess.

3. Azeroth (World of Warcraft): Arguably the most dense world in this list, Azeroth is overflowing with content for you to discover and explore. There’s about 3 dozen zones for you to check out, dozens of dungeons and raids, and a whole lot of story content for you to burn through, if you so wish. The world of World of Warcraft may be a bit silly in spots, but they still keep it fairly close to the vest when it comes to the big story stuff.

2. Vvardenfall (Elder Scrolls: Morrowind): One of the reasons why Morrowind is the best Bethesda game is due to the world of Vvardenfall. It is weird, with gods running around, dickish birds to deal with, and giant insectoid cabs that run between cities. It’s also just an incredibly varied landscape from lush forests to swamps, to volcanoes, to impressive cities with unique architecture.

1. Sigil (Planescape Torment): I truly loved the world of Sigil as I played Planescape. It was a dark, depressing, mechanistic town that offered almost no hope for anyone living there. My kind of place, to be honest with you. And if you did something wrong The Lady of Pain would teleport you to a mystical maze. It is also basically the anti-fantasy world, as almost no characters carry a sword, save for one who was an angel. If there was any world that could do well with a HD perspective it is definitely Sigil.

YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS

List your Top Five for this week’s topic in the comment section using the following format:

5. CHOICE: Explanation
4. CHOICE: Explanation
3. CHOICE: Explanation
2. CHOICE: Explanation
1. CHOICE: Explanation

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