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Top 10 Iconic Video Game Cities

With soaring home prices and inflation at record levels it’s nice to think about what iconic video game cities you would like to live in (or where you are grateful not to live in).

Almost everyone fantasizes what it would be like to leave this mundane world and go somewhere more exciting. While we are stuck with this world we can still think about how we would thrive, or just barely survive, in these far off lands. They may not all be ideal places to live, but you have to admit life in these cities would never be boring! 

10. Whiterun (Skyrim)

The Nordic-esque city of Whiterun from Skyrim.

Whiterun is the first major city you are introduced to in The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, it stands out for its picturesque setting, nestled against the Throat of the World mountain, and being smack dab in the middle of the world map. Its iconic architecture combines Nordic style with a towering central keep, Dragonsreach, visible from afar.

The city’s pivotal role in the game’s main storyline, companion recruitment, and the vibrant mix of characters from the Jarl to the townspeople, all contribute to its iconic status among Elder Scrolls fans. You will also find the game’s most annoying npc, Nazeem, who will harass you about how frequently you visit the cloud district. It is never wrong to kill Nazeem.

9. Diamond City (Fallout 4)

The run down Diamond City from Fallout 4.

Diamond City in Fallout 4 is the jewel of the Commonwealth in the year 2287. Located entirely within the post-apocalyptic ruins of Fenway Park, the city features a baseball-inspired aesthetic that kind of makes you forget about outer Boston’s desolation. Its iconic green diamond structure and bustling marketplace create a sense of community and commerce amidst the chaos.

Almost everything in Diamond City reflects the baseball heritage from the security decked out in umpire gear to “The Dugout” bar.  There is also a good variety of characters such as the arrogant Mayor McDonough, plucky newspaper writer Piper, and the synthetic robot detective Nick Valentine. As a central hub for mainline quests Diamond City is a focal point of the game’s themes of hope and adaptation in a ravaged world.

8. Ecruteak City (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crsytal)

concept art of Ecruteak City from Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal.

Ecruteak City, a standout locale in the Pokémon series, wows players with its rich cultural heritage and mystical ambiance. Located in the northern Johto region, it boasts historic architecture that echoes its connection to the past, including the Bell Tower and Burned Tower.

The city has strong ties to the legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh and the legendary dog trio. With the Kimono Dance Theater showcasing the region’s tradition, and the Ecruteak Gym’s focus on Ghost-type Pokémon, the city blends gameplay, history, and lore into the Pokemon world in few ways other towns from the series do.

7. Los Santos (Grand Theft Auto 5)

A smog covered Los Santos as seen in Grand Theft Auto 5.

You can’t make a list like this and not feature the Grand Theft Auto series in some capacity. Inspired by Los Angeles, Los Santos blends diverse neighborhoods, iconic landmarks, and socio-economic disparities into a mixing pot worthy of L.A. The city’s attention to detail, from bustling streets to serene beaches, creates an authentic experience (I grew up near Los Angeles, it’s pretty authentic).

Its multifaceted characters and satirical take on pop culture provide some much needed depth to the game. The branching narratives, activities, and heists intertwine seamlessly with the city’s fabric making Los Santos a truly special place.

6. Midgar (Final Fantasy 7)

The steampunk city of Midgar from Final Fantasy 7.

Midgar isn’t just the main city in Final Fantasy 7, it’s arguably the most iconic city of the entire franchise. So much of what Midgar represents in the FF7 story itself gives it a larger-than-life feel. A colossal metropolis beneath a suspended plate, it symbolizes the stark divide between the elite and the oppressed.

The city’s towering skyscrapers, intricate sectors, and steampunk design create an immersive cyberpunk atmosphere that casts a (literal) shadow over the poor slums. The Mako Reactors spaced out at the city’s edges add to the heavy post-industrial vibe. With iconic locales like Wall Market, the Train Graveyard, and the Shinra Headquarters, Midgar remains an iconic setting in gaming history.

5. Raccoon City (Resident Evil 2 & 3)

Outside of Raccoon City’s limits as seen in the Resident Evil franchise.

Raccoon City is central to Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 (and a handful of spinoff games) and stands (well not after it was nuked) as one of the most iconic video game cities. Its detailed environment captures both the familiarity of everyday life and the horror of the unknown. The city’s gradual descent into chaos, brought about by the T-virus outbreak, generated tension and fear as it citizens’ quickly transformed into zombies.

Recognizable locations like the Raccoon Police Department, clocktower, Hospital, Raccoon City University, and Umbrella’s secret facilities add depth to the narrative. In some ways Raccoon City becomes a character in itself, reflecting the franchise’s survival horror essence and leaving an indelible mark on the gaming horror genre.

4. Silent Hill (Silent Hill franchise)

Protagonist James walking the streets of Silent Hill in Silent Hill 2.

The titular town of Silent Hill is less a static location and more of an abstract concept. The notorious town of the Silent Hill game series, stands out as a remarkable video game city due to its psychological terror and surreal atmosphere. Shrouded in perpetual mist, the town becomes a manifestation of characters’ inner demons and fears.

The town’s influence on the characters’ psyche deepens the narrative, pushing the later portions of the games into deeper psychological horror. Silent Hill’s ability to evoke primal fear and self-reflection defines its legacy in the gaming world (and not so much the terrible movies that came out years ago, ignore them).

3. Yharnam (Bloodborne)

 

The Hunter gazing at Yharnam in Bloodborne.

Yharnam, the brooding setting of Bloodborne, takes a lot of inspiration from Lovecraftian and Gothic horror. The city’s architecture, from towering cathedrals to labyrinthine alleyways, gives off a sinister “London” vibe. Its grim history, plagued by a bloodborne illness and cult-like practices, further enhances the creepy factor.

Yharnam’s darkness is heightened by its nightmarish denizens and grotesque creatures, blurring the line between nightmare and reality. The city’s secrets and cryptic lore challenge players’ perception of good and evil (but mostly evil). Yharnam’s unparalleled blend of visceral horror and beauty earns it a spot on this list.

2. New Donk City (Super Mario Odyssey)

New Donk City as it appears in Super Mario Odyssey.

They say if you can make it in New Donk City, you can make it anywhere. Super Mario Odyssey’s New Donk City is a fusion of classic Mario charm with a modern urban landscape. The city’s vibrant colors and realistic design creates a wonderful playground to jump through and explore. Iconic elements like Pauline’s Jazz performance and skyscraper-climbing gameplay sections pay homage to Mario’s long legacy.

The city’s busy streets and verticality offer a fresh, but familiar, twist on the franchise’s platforming mechanics. Blending Mario’s magical world with a modern cityscape, New Donk City is a terrific example of two opposites becoming more than the sum of its parts. I only hope we can return to this city in future games.

1. Traverse Town (Kingdom Hearts)

The second district of Traverse Town from Kingdom Hearts.

Traverse Town is a world in-between worlds in the Kingdom Hearts series. This city of refuge, populated by Disney and Final Fantasy characters who have lost their home worlds, has a somber yet hopeful charm to it. Its cobbled streets, inconsistent architecture, and intricate alleys perfectly capture the quirky nature of the crossover of Disney and Square Enix universes.

Traverse Town is a central hub where the main character, Sora, lays the foundation of what will be many meaningful friendships throughout the game. The town is a cornerstone of the franchise!

Closing Thoughts

What do you think about the list? Feel like any of the cities are overrated? Or perhaps you would add different cities to the list? Sound off in the comment section, I’d love to read your thoughts. For more gaming takes, opinions, reviews, video game news, or list articles be sure to subscribe to GeekNewsNow. Be sure to follow our Facebook page here, and our Twitt- I mean X account here. Which now leaves me to say “stay geeky out there everyone!”

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