We’re super excited about our new issue of PC Gamer Magazine—it’s packed full of articles about our favorite digital worlds. The Escape Your World issue is available to order now in both the UK and US, and inside it you’ll find stories about the game worlds we love, like The Witcher 3, Read Dead Redemption 2, Skyrim, Abzu, Yakuza, and tons more.
In keeping with that theme, this week we asked our writers and members of the PC Gamer Forums: What’s your absolute favorite game world? Below you’ll find the answers, and we’d love to hear yours in the comments.
Jody Macgregor: Warhammer
You knew I was going to say it. The Old World specifically, although I like the more heavy metal high fantasy vibe of Age of Sigmar as well. What I like about the Old World is that it’s a setting where you can get an entire faction that’s high-tech rats with a society based on betrayal, one that’s just German people with muskets, and another that’s like something Clive Barker vomited. Meanwhile the tone could vary at any moment from an episode of BlackAdder to cosmic horror. Also most of the dwarfs sound like they’re from Yorkshire instead of Scotland, and I don’t even know why that’s good it just is.
Dave James: Football Manager
Look, hear me out, okay? The game world of Football Manager, like the text adventures of old, exists almost entirely in my head, and it’s a place built on emotional highs and lows. A full career can encapsulate a lifetime of experiences: the heartbreak of a cup final defeat, or crushing relegation battle, the joy of transforming a tiny club into world-beaters (come on you Bath!), or the pride of your homegrown star striker coming out to the world with your team rallying around them. It may only be spreadsheets to some, but to me it’s a living, breathing world of possibilities.
Lauren Morton: Horizon Zero Dawn
It’s not on PC just yet, but it will be. As far as apocalypses go, HZD’s is my absolute favorite. I’ve played through my fair share of irradiated wastelands and even if HZD isn’t the first overgrown post-apocalyptia, it’s my favorite. I loved climbing, exploring, and sneaking my way through Horizon’s forests and canyons as Aloy the cyber-assisted huntress. Sure, there are horrifying robot dinosaurs, but they’re usually only a threat for folks who leave the major cities and outposts. Even if I had to exist in Horizon’s world as myself, I could do worst than living in the giant mesa metropolis Meridian as one of its silk and feather-adorned citizens.
Rachel Watts: ABZU
I love booting up ABZU and just mindlessly gliding through its underwater world. It has peaceful moments where you can just swim around and watch all the different species of fish get on with their daily business. Everything feels so relaxing and controlling the movements of the diver is effortless. I feel like the area that captures this feeling the most is Chapter 3’s forgotten temple where everything is basking in a majestic golden glow (with the added bonus of having manatees and manatees are awesome). If you want to take a rest there are meditation rocks where you can sit and absorb your surroundings in quiet tranquility. ABZU is a little pocket of calm for when times get stressful.
Robin Valentine: Thedas
I’ve got such a soft spot for Dragon Age’s world. Just to my left as I write this is a book shelf with three huge books dedicated to it in pride of place—an artbook and two world guides. At a glance, it looks like any fantasy setting with elves, dwarves, wizards, and whatever. But the more you explore it, the more you find all this strangeness and horror churning under the surface.
It’s the perfect world for Bioware’s style of RPGs, its conflicts naturally spawning all sorts of meaty, morally grey decision points. I find myself feeling weirdly strongly about its politics—pro-mage for life!
I love how its visuals have evolved, too. Origins’ aesthetic is like Tolkien meets survival horror, but through 2 and then Inquisition, it’s taken on all these other weird elements to become something more otherworldly. Even if the retcons have been a little awkward at points, it’s helped give each game a different personality and style, while still feeling part of a coherent throughline.
Alan Dexter: Azeroth
I’ll be that guy. Azeroth (and the various other worlds I’ve visited in World of Warcraft) has given me hours and hours of entertainment, and while there are moments where it’s simply a backdrop for killing reskinned boars, there are still moments when I’ll just set out to climb a distant mountain, see what’s beyond a jungle, or explore a cliff face for caves or rare mobs. Flying has traditionally taken the edge of discovering such vistas, but at the same time does make it easier to get to places that you would never normally find on foot, so on balance it seems a fair trade. Damn, now I want to resub to WoW again.
Andy Kelly: Red Dead Redemption 2
For me, nothing beats Rockstar’s slice of the West. It’s one of the most convincing, immersive recreations of the natural world I’ve ever experienced in a game, encompassing a huge variety of terrain, from grassy plains and snowy mountains, to boggy swamps and barren deserts. It’s ’empty’ compared to a lot of game worlds, but even the most uninhabited stretch of scrub is packed with absurdly granular detail. And when you hit one of its settlements, whether it’s some dusty cowpoke town, or the bustling city of Saint Denis, they really do feel alive. Whether you’re riding across the plains on horseback, or sinking a shot of whisky in a rowdy tavern, the sense of place Red Ded Redemption 2 creates is second to none.
Emma Matthews: Lordran
I’ll never get tired of exploring Dark Souls’ world. Despite how broken and wistful it feels, it’s comforting to return to Firelink Shrine and trek through the same areas over and over. It’s story may be difficult to follow, and you’re literally dropped straight into it, but piecing together fragments that I find along the way to make sense of its convoluted lore is still satisfying whenever I decide to dip back in.
Of course, that’s not to say that every area is perfectly crafted. I still groan when heading into the Depths, and running through the Catacombs isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, either. But the Souls games are well-versed in conditioning players to pat themselves on the back when besting a tricky environment, and arriving at Anor Londo makes it all worth it. Even though I know where every illusory wall is and which chests are Mimics, it doesn’t take much to convince me that it’s time to revisit.
Harry Shepard: The Witcher 3
Sometimes I return to war-ravaged Velen or the picture-perfect fairytale duchy of Touissant just to be there. Not to quest or slay monsters, but to simply exist as the breeze flows through the lush fields and woods and endless tributaries tinkle and trickle under rickety bridges. Yes, there are bloated corpses hanging from trees and flesh-eating necrophages feasting on festering battlefields, but nowhere is perfect. With the attention to detail devoted to each space in mind, it’s staggering how large each of the game’s open worlds are. Uplifting yarns and tragic fables feel as if they’re waiting for you behind every corner in a world that none other in videogames has immersed me quite so utterly since.
Jorge Jimenez: The Citadel (Mass Effect)
When it’s not under attack by a sentient starship bent on eliminating all forms of organic life, the massive space station has everything my sci-fi loving heart wants. You’ve got shopping centers, nightclubs, and views to die for in the Presidium. The Citadel is the hub and melting pot for all intelligent life in the galaxy, almost making it like a space New York City. I still hold out hope for more stories on the Citadel. I’d kill for a sci-fi noir detective game set in the Citadel. It’s got culture, danger, and home to Commander Shepard’s favorite store.
Jacob Ridley: Dunwall
Come to Dunwall—it’s filthy, decrepit, and littered with plague-ridden bodies! Come visit the Hounds Pits Pub, a rundown rest stop on our wonderfully macabre shoreline that’s famed for its dark past and band of turncoat revolutionaries.
Few games have enveloped me so completely in their world as Dishonored. Dunwall is a horrible place. It struggles with class, corruption, and the plague—it’s a real escape from the troubles of real-life. But it’s also filled with people actually living their lives, as best they can. It’s not desolate, nor is it devoid of its moments of twisted beauty from time to time.
Frindis: Right now it is playing GTA Online and doing vehicle cargo missions. I recently bought a Cargobob and it is just so relaxing taking the bob to the waypoint, hooking on a car, and delivering it back to the warehouse. I actually played with another bob lover yesterday and he even managed to hook on a car driving at full speed. This bob was a special one also, as it was honored in the server chat when it finally blew up. R.I.P bob!
Pifanjr: Three games come to mind: Skyrim as my favourite world to walk through. While the graphics were never top of the line, I always liked just roaming around nature and the world is just stuffed with interesting places and details. Minecraft as my favourite world to interact with. Minecraft gives you so much power to shape the world exactly how you want it and so many options to do whatever you want in it. Mass Effect as the world (or rather, universe) with my favourite story. There’s some great world building in Mass Effect and it did a good job making me care about the characters and immersing me in its story.
Zloth: If “game world” isn’t limited to video games: Monte Cooke’s Dark Space. You’ve got your fantasy magic, your (forbidden!) high tech, your bio-implants, a bunch of Lovecraft’ish monsters, and it’s all based on the Rolemaster/Spacemaster systems!
If “game world” means “existing videogame world” then: Secret World. It was fun having a game set in current times and what I saw of the lore was really great. Unfortunately, I was burning out on MMOs so I didn’t get far into the game. I sure wish they would develop a few single player games based on that world.
Xorn: Dark Souls! I mean, it’s the Dark Souls of world building after all! Hiding much of the story in item descriptions and environment details made falling off the same ledge to my death for the seventh time almost bearable! Why is there a dead dragon here? Who’s armor is this? Why did my head burst into pustules that absorb half the souls I gather? Hey-ho read some item descriptions and look around a bit.
I’ve also grown quite fond of the solar system of Outer Wilds over these past few days. It’s filled with endearing explorers, spectacular environments, and (much like Dark Souls) a story that you slowly unravel through exploration, puzzle solving and repeatedly dying by falling off the same ledge.
Sweevo: Morrowind. Going back there is like going on holiday to a place I’ve been so many times. I can just walk around for hours soaking in the ambience, and then running from the Cliff Racers!
There are lots more great responses from our forum right here.