9 Video Games to Play When Experiencing Wanderlust
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is, without doubt, one of the best video games for remedying wanderlust. Spanning three continents and with stunning graphics to boot, Naughty Dog’s 2016 masterpiece instantly transforms you into an intrepid explorer/thief, questing for legendary treasures in the most exotic locations. Long to visit crumbling Spanish ruins? Or photograph yourself at mysterious Scottish abbey ruins? Or stroll through exotic Malagasy bazaars? You can do all these, and more, in this concluding episode of thief extraordinaire Nathan Drake’s career. Best of all, the game comes with an extensive multiplayer mode. After you have addressed your wanderlust, you can attend to your anger issues. Uncharted 4’s multiplayer mode has endless hordes of rampaging brigands and ghostly pirate lords for you to gleefully gun down.
2. Sleeping Dogs
I recently wrote a mini-feature on Sleeping Dogs for my blog, and before I knew it, I was replaying the game more than writing. The most ambitious open-world game based on Hong Kong made to date, you’d easily lose yourself in its streets for hours, doing no more than soaking up the many sights and sounds. My favourite activity in the game, to just cruise around the districts on my Ducati while listening to the extensive soundtrack. If you’ve ever longed to visit the Pearl of the Orient, but could not afford the time or money, this is the best alternate to go for. Actually, there’s no better way.
3. Any Assassin’s Creed Game
How could any listicle on wanderlust and video games not include the Assassin’s Creed franchise? Practically a showcase of the most popular tourist locations in Europe and the Americas, Ubisoft’s flagship series has so far digitally recreated for us the Holy Lands, Italy, Paris, London, Boston, New York, and a handful of Asian locations. Whether through the signature parkour gameplay or just aimless wandering in the open-worlds, you are instantly teleported to these spectacular destinations, with the ability to experience these places from vantage points no normal tourist can easily reach too. My personal episode from the AC franchise? Part 2. Taking place all over fifteenth-century Italy, this masterpiece is a cyber Grand Tour. It’s a renaissance adventure you can go on again and again, just by loading a save file.
4. Ryu ga Gotoku 0 (Also known as Yakuza 0)
It would be a sin not to include a Ryu ga Gotoku game on this list. Renowned for its painstaking reconstructions of Tokyo’s largest red-light district, and famous for integrating real-life brands and shops to heighten realism, the series is literally a virtual reality tourism showpiece. One that hesitates not to show you the best and worst of Japanese nightlife. For this list, I choose Ryu ga Gotoku 0 because of its cutting-edge graphics, and also because it includes Osaka’s Dontonbori. A suggestion here. Play this game with good headphones. Better still, play it with PlayStation VR. The VR experience is second only to being within the metropolises themselves.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda’s best-selling masterpiece might be a strange entry for a list on wanderlust and video games. After all, Skyrim is a medieval magical realm. But remember that Skyrim is heavily based on Scandinavia. With the amount of detail Bethesda injected into the game, it’s not difficult to imagine yourself actually journeying through the rugged landscapes of Northern Europe. (That is, as long as you avoid fire-breathing dragons and animated skeletons) When playing the game, don’t forget to read the many mini stories included with the game too. Just as travelogues enhance any traveling experience, these colourful tales greatly add colour to your sojourn in this frosty realm. You might be so fascinated, you never want to leave.
6. Persona 5
Unless you are severely adverse to turn-based combat, it's impossible for you not to love Persona 5. A quirky blend of fantasy and daily teenage life, Persona 5’s renditions of Tokyo’s most famous districts is nothing short of inspirational, with the game also going all out to ensure you know how modern Japanese teenagers spend their days. If you’ve ever dreamed of being on an exchange programme in Tokyo, or your wanderlust just points towards Tokyo, this is the game to play. At the same time, Persona 5 also has one of the most imaginative stories ever written for a game. This is a story equally as absorbing with its fantastical elements, as it is with acute social commentary.
7. Far Cry 4
I was torn between recommending Far Cry 3 or 4. Ultimately, I decided on Far Cry 4 as it featured a region harder for most travellers to get to. Set in Kyrat, a fictional Himalayan country, Far Cry 4 affords you the thrill of journeying through the world’s highest mountain range, but without the actual perils associated with that sort of trek. As a first-person shooter, the game, of course, comes with substantial violence, which might be a turn-off for some folks. On that, be informed that FC4 has one of the largest and densest open-worlds ever created. Brigands don’t lurk behind every rock. Sometimes there’s just cliffs, wildlife, and absolutely breathtaking Himalayan scenery.
There are many reasons to play Bioshock, foremost of which being Rapture, the Art Deco inspired underwater city at the heart of the game. The romanticised New York so many of us long to visit, Rapture is Art Deco architecture at its dreamiest, a metropolis perpetually shrouded by night and aglow with neon illumination. In addition, the Ayn Rand elements in the story also presents the spirit of that era, an age when the world was torn apart by political and ideological differences. If I may put it this way, playing Bioshock is more than gaming adventure or wanderlust gratification, it is also philosophical consideration. Surviving Bioshock is to survive the many contradicting ideologies that have choked the world for centuries.
9. World of Warcraft
Like Skyrim, the best-selling MMORPG in gaming history might feel to be a weird entry. In contrast to Skyrim, the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor contain decisively magical sceneries, such as floating cities and mile-high trees. On the other hand, many WoW locations are based on real-life locations, particularly those in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. If your wanderlust is brought on by dreams of misty adventures in Chinese paddy fields, bamboo groves and golden palaces, a leisurely ride through the continent of Pandaria will not disappoint. Incidentally, many other locations in WoW are also reminiscent of travel hotspots. For example, lush European forests, forgotten Egyptian ruins, the rugged Australian outback, etc. Play with the right character, and you could be at all these instantaneously.
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© 2017 Kuan Leong Yong