5 Best Cities in Video Games (2023)
Not to encourage you to stay indoors all the time, but the cities in video games these days portray such intense realism and cityscapes that it feels like walking down the streets of the actual city itself. Take Athens, Amsterdam, Paris, or any city you’ve been yearning to step foot into, for example. Any one of your dream destinations is likely featured in the adventure and open-world games of today.
Thanks to modern technology, video game developers have managed to translate every detail down to the most minuscule pattern and reflection. It’s truly the best time to visit as many cities as you want, right from the comfort of your own home. Yet, even with the immense number of real-world cities replicated in games today, there are still a few that offer more surreal experiences. So, if you’re looking to start living the digital nomad dream without the hassle of boarding planes and nursing jet lag, these best cities in video games in 2023 are a great place to start.
5. Venice – Assassin’s Creed
If you’ve ever wondered what Venice looked like in the 15th century, then you might want to hop on over to Assassin’s Creed. As ancient as you can imagine the buildings and bridges to be, that’s the same way Assassin’s Creed manages to capture the essence of Venice.
You learn historical facts for the first time, with some embellishments, of course. Still, the game captures history as accurately as possible. You can even experience the Italian Renaissance right from home. And who said traveling back in time was impossible?
4. Night City – “Futuristic San Diego, California” – Cyberpunk 2077
Night City in Cyberpunk 2077 is a fictional megalopolis of the future. However, despite being way ahead of its time and its obsession with power, glamour, and body modification, its physical location can actually be traced to the heart of California, directly on the coast. It’s a great way to visualize an alternate San Diego, imagining if the city is a self-governed free state, albeit filled to the brim with grime, darkness, and filth. Many people in Night City struggle to get by. And even more so, they are willing to do whatever it takes to survive.
But Night City is far from a hopeless trip into the future. It’s also a stunning place in design. Cruising down the streets, swerving through the traffic as you try to get away from the law officers in blue. There are so many gigs to keep busy. You’ll enjoy the rush of adrenaline as you engage with authentic NPCs and attempt to get away with crime. When talking about an escape, Night City is the perfect spot to pump your adrenaline flow and see how much cyber warfare your inner child can take.
3. Prague – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided portrays a rich, diverse character spectrum in an immersive world. It’s set in Prague, soaked in a neon gold color palette and bright lights that culminate in a stunning spectacle. It’s the game for cyber-noir adventure fans, with some events taking place in Dubai and London. You’re free to explore the world as you please, enjoying the developers’ take on a technological age, albeit rampant with inequality.
With the story portraying a world overrun by “mechanical apartheid” that strips away augmented people’s rights and leaves them isolated in ghettos, the game’s Prague experience may not be exactly what you sign up for. However, like Night City, it draws an alternate perspective on Prague in 2029, imagining what a futuristic cyberpunk world in Prague might look like.
2. Kamurocho – “Kabukicho, Tokyo” – Yakuza Series
The Yakuza series is a pretty special entry for travel enthusiasts. It takes you on a journey – not a physical one, but a historical one. Since the Yakuza series’ debut in 2005, eight main Yakuza games and two remakes have hit the stores. Each of these games takes place in Kamurocho, which is a real-life recreation of the Kabukicho district in Tokyo.
To describe Kamurocho as anything but spectacular would be an understatement. Walking in the streets, amid convenience stores and arcade stores, feels as surreal as the Kabukicho district itself. The developing team diligently researched host clubs. They physically attended the clubs themselves and replicated the red light district of Tokyo as is. Even locations such as the Don Quijote discount store and Club Sega gaming centers represent their real-life counterparts to a T.
The only thing needed to tie Kamurocho with a bow is sound. Thanks to Japanese ads cutting through the air at one point and karaoke machines running off at the next, it feels like truly taking your first virtual steps amid the bright ambiance of Kabukicho’s look-alike.
So, if you’re ready to take a trip down memory lane and see how much Kabukicho has changed over the years, you can take turns playing the mainline entries in the Yakuza series. While some changes are subtle, you’ll still see some big ones, like shops and businesses, that come and go. It’ll definitely bring some nostalgic feeling, especially for old stores you may have been going to or entire buildings you may have passed by now turned into parking lots.
1. Los Santos – “Los Ángeles” – Grand Theft Auto 5
Is there any other game that does open-world cities better than Grand Theft Auto 5? GTA 5’s Los Santos depicts real-life Los Angeles. It includes practically all surrounding areas like South Central, Beverly Hills, Koreatown, and South Central. This mimicking of LA fits as closely as humanly possible to their real-world counterparts.
It won’t necessarily take long to drive from downtown LA to downtown Santa Monica. Still, it doesn’t take away much because, ultimately, most of the parts that are left to one’s imagination are, well, long stretches of nothing.
In Los Santos, you have so much freedom to do anything you want and become whoever you please. Because of the sheer wealth of freedom to cruise around and the multitude of packed content to keep you busy, Los Santos feels as vast as the ocean and like a city you’d never want to leave.