Video games have been entertaining us for decades. According to a study published by Time in 2015, about 1.23 billion people worldwide spend at least one hour every day playing video games. Considering this enormous popularity, it comes as no surprise that video game developers have already produced thousands of video games. On today’s list we are going to focus on an important (but sometimes underrated) factor that might have a huge influence on the way we perceive a video game – the game´s architecture. It’s understandable that gamers focus on the performance of a game, but many a-time, the game’s architecture may not command that much attention. But that is a huge mistake, because some of the most fascinating renditions of architectural elements can be found in video games! Structures such as majestic castles and medieval towns, futuristic cities, designs inspired by real modern metropolises – architecture featured in video games simply makes them more immersive, credible and – most importantly – enjoyable. From Bioshock and Assasin´s Creed to Dark Souls and Mass Effect, these are 25 Video Game Architecture Designs That Are Absolutely Gorgeous.
Developed by 2K Boston and 2K Australia, Bioshock is a first-person shooter video game set in 1960 in the underwater city of Rapture. Bioshock´s outlandish architecture and locations were greatly inspired by Art Deco, an influential visual arts design style that originated in France.
First published in 1989, SimCity is a popular open-ended city-building video game in which the player is given the task of founding and developing a city, while maintaining the happiness of the citizens and keeping a stable budget. Developed in Orinda, California, SimCity’s game mechanics are heavily based on 20th-century California development.
Assassin’s Creed is an action-adventure video game set in a fictional history of real world events. It follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with free will, and the Templars, who desire peace through control. In the game, players navigate through real cities and sites such as the Colosseum in Rome and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Released in 2002, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is an open world fantasy action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. There are several playable races in the game, each of them having their own skills, culture and setting. The Bretons and their architecture, for example, are influenced by Brittany, a real region in north France.
A fantasy role-playing video game created by Japanese designer Hironobu Sakaguchi in 1987, Final Fantasy takes place in a fantasy world with three large continents. Apart from majestic buildings and temples, the player also encounters forests, caves, mountains, swamps, underwater caverns and other locations.
The third best-selling video game of all time, Minecraft is an iconic sandbox video game originally created by Swedish programmer Markus “Notch” Persson in 2011. While cubes may seem simple as building blocks, players have been able to create massive structures that rival some of today’s most respected architects.
An action-adventure platform video game by EA DICE, Mirror’s Edge is set in a futuristic dystopian society, in which a network of ‘runners’, including the main character, Faith, act as couriers to transmit messages while evading government surveillance. The player guides Faith over rooftops, across walls, through ventilation shafts, and otherwise within urban environments.
L.A. Noire is a neo-noir detective video game developed by Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games. Set in Los Angeles in 1947, the game draws heavily from both the plot and aesthetic elements of film noir – stylistic films made popular in the 1940s and 1950s that share similar visual styles and themes, including crime and moral ambiguity.
An action role-playing first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox, Borderlands takes place on a fictitious planet called Pandora on which players try to find and open an alien structure called a “vault.” The architecture surrounding this exotic quest has a futuristic and post-apocalyptic design.
Considered one of the greatest video games of all time, Half-Life 2 is set around the fictitious City 17, a dystopian metropolitan area in Eastern Europe. The city features a variety of architectural styles dating from pre-World War II neoclassicism, to post-war revival of classical designs, Soviet Union modernism, and post-Soviet contemporary designs.
Grand Theft Auto is an open world action-adventure video game that features a group of criminals who perform various crimes for their respective syndicates. GTA takes places in 3 fictional cities which are modeled on real locales: Liberty City is based on New York City, Vice City is based on Miami, and San Andreas is based on regions of California and Nevada.
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World of Warcraft
Created in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment, World of Warcraft is the world’s most-subscribed massively multiplayer online role-playing game and also the highest grossing video game of all time. In the game, players control a character avatar, exploring diverse locations, landscapes and cities.
Cities: Skylines is a single player city-building game by Colossal Order. Players engage in urban planning by controlling zoning, road placement, taxation, public services, and public transportation of an area. Players work to maintain the city’s budget, population, health, happiness, employment, pollution, traffic, and other factors.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved is a military science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie in 2001. The game is set in the 26th century, with the player assuming the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced super-soldier who battles various aliens on his quest to uncover the secrets of Halo, a ring-shaped artificial world.
The Secret of Monkey Island
The Secret of Monkey Island is a 1990 point-and-click graphic adventure game developed and published by Lucasfilm Games. It takes place in a fantastic version of the Caribbean during the age of piracy. Although the game is 2D, the architecture featured in it is very elaborated, giving the game an intense and immersive feel.
Guild Wars 2
Developed by ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2 is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Set in the fantasy world of Tyria, the game is unique in the genre by featuring a storyline that is responsive to player actions. In the game, players navigate through a number of locations with different architectural designs.
Deus Ex is a cyberpunk-themed action role-playing video game – combining first-person shooter, stealth and role-playing elements. Set in a dystopian world during the year 2052, the game mostly takes place in fictionalized versions of real-world locations, including New York City, Hong Kong, Paris, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Area 51.
Released in 2015, the Witcher 3 is a high-fantasy, action role-playing video game. Played in a third-person perspective, players control protagonist Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter known as a Witcher, who sets out on a journey through different locations such as the Free City of Novigrad, the swamps of Velen, huge Skellige Isles etc.
Dishonored is a 2012 stealth action-adventure video game developed by Arkane Studios. Played from a first-person perspective, the game is set in the fictional, plague-ridden industrial city of Dunwall. The city’s design is modeled on London and Edinburgh between the late 1800s and the early 1900s.
Known for its typical dark atmosphere and elaborated macabre architecture, Castlevania is a Japanese video game series centered on the Belmonts, a clan of vampire hunters, and their fight with Dracula, a vampire who is resurrected every 100 years.
Remember Me is an action-adventure sci-fi video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment. Set in the year 2084, in a futuristic version of Paris called Neo-Paris, the game revolves around Nilin, a memory hunter working for an underground resistance called the Errorists.
Thief: The Dark Project
Also known simply as the Thief, Thief: The Dark Project, is a 1998 first person stealth video game developed by Looking Glass Studios. The game takes place in a metropolis called just “the City” which has been noted to contain architectural elements of the Middle Ages-like dark fantasy and the Industrial Revolution.
Destiny is an online-only first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Activision. Set in a “mythic science fiction” world, the game features a multiplayer “shared-world” environment with elements of role-playing games. The game features a number of different locations including Moon, Venus, Mars (in the picture), spaceships etc.
Dark Souls 2
Developed by FromSoftware in 2012, Dark Souls 2 is an action role-playing video game. Taking place in the fictional world of Drangleic, the game offers both player versus environment (PvE) and player versus player (PvP) options. The architecture featured in the game contains many creepy, gothic-like designs.
Mass Effect is a science fiction action role-playing third person shooter video game series developed by the Canadian company BioWare. It takes place in a fictional version of the Milky Way, in which the galaxy is populated by several different species throughout its vastness. Futuristic space station known as the Citadel is one of the most significant settings.