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Favourite RPG cities?


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Lately i've been playing a bit of Torment and enjoying some of the finer details of Sigil: The Skeletons of the Dead Nations going to church and listening to Hargrim's sermons on Undead Existentialism at 6pm prompt, the young ladies of the Brothel chatting with their customers and each other, Collectors searching high and low for deaders, all the little details and routines of the characters who populate this strange metropolis.

 

This has to be one of my favourite cityscapes of fairly modern games, it has the edge on Athkatla because of art design, the weird setting and the citizenry. There are only a few that I can place above it: Britain in the Ultimas of course, still unmatched. Vizima in the Witcher, though I wish the Trade quarter had been expanded upon. Tarant of Arcanum, a metropolis of amazing reactivity and character, though unfortunately burdened with that graphics engine. Daggerfalls cities have to be mentioned of course, massive, bustling and lively rather than the little hamlets modern Elder Scrolls game have degenerated into, with fans cheering them on all the way downhill. One has to obviously include Novigrad from the Witcher 3, and all the other cities of that game, holding the bar high unlike other developers and making a stand for citybuilding in modern games.

 

What are your favourite cities and towns in CRPGs, and why?

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I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

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Athkatla of BG2. It makes up a huge part of the game and is mostly accessible as soon as you escape. Lots of quests.

 

Tarant of Arcanum. It has newspapers. NEWSPAPERS. 'Nough said. L0L

 

Citedeal of ME series (especially part 1).  ALIENS ARE HERE.  Just a huge part of the game.

 

 

Sigil, as you mentioned,  up there as well.

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Speilburg from Quest for Glory was the first town that really captured my imagination.  The whole series really had memorable cities, except for the last one.

 

Baldur's Gate always seemed so epic and huge, particularly because it took so much to finally get through the gates.  

 

All of the cities in WoW made me drop my jaw when I entered them.  TOR also captured that amazing look when you get to Coruscant, although it was tempered by the fact there were very few places you could actually go.

 

Not quite an RPG, but Hitman Blood Money and the AC games are the best I've ever seen at creating living cities.  Walking through the French Quarter is probably one of the most impressive moments in a game for me.  Then AC took it a step further by letting my climb to the top of a bunch of amazing historical landmarks.  Jump off the Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiore?  Yes please!

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Not a huge fan of cities focusing on quantity over quality (which certainly encapsulates procedurally generated towns in Daggerfall or, sadly, even Tarant - even tho in case of Tarant I think it's more of a case of Troika not having enough time to properly fill it with content more than anything.)

 

Novigrad is a good one, altho when we're talking Witcher 3, I'd say Toussaint instead - it's certainly smaller, but also a lot more interesting to explore - bonus points for the city having a lot of verticality.

TW3BAW_The_palace_of_Beauclair_EN.png

 

Then there's Vivec from Morrowind, one of the most visually striking locations in RPG games with a huge boulder looming over it.

1jy4Rah.jpg

 

Dunwall from Dishonored if Dishonored can be considered an RPG, for how eerily familiar it feels.

Dunwall-SagenunLegenden.jpg

 

Anor Londo from Dark Souls is a city you'll never forget, that's pretty much guaranteed.

anor_londo.jpg

 

Actually, Yharnam from Bloodborne is quite worth mentioning as well.

bloodborne-yharnam.jpg

 

Does Citadel from Mass Effect count?

citadel.png

 

Fallen London from Fallen London and Sunless Sea for how utterly fascinating it is, with background that could fill several lore books.

 

Hell's Kitchen from Deus Ex for presenting strangely believable future (with a little detail born from lack of memory, but made frighteningly real later on)

 

Sigil from Planescape Torment goes without saying.

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One nice addition that i've always admired is slang, obviously the Cant of Sigil stands out in this respect but there is an awful lot of such patois in Athkatla as well: A pearl to you, ach it's red ink to even discuss it. Thiefs taffing this and that also stands out, such a little thing but adding so much character and charm.

 

Edit: Tarant is absolutely chock full of content, masses of it even in the late game where several interesting events occur that can shape the political situation. A fantastic example of both quality and quantity rather than lazily skimping on one or the other.

Edited by Nonek
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Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Citadel from the first Mass Effect was great to explore.  They really streamlined it in ME2 and ME3, so it lost a lot of its splendor.

 

Toussaint in Witcher 3 is great, both in terms of aesthetics and things to do, plus watching people go about their lives.  I actually liked Novigrad as well.

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"Console exclusive is two words Darque." - Nartwak (in response to Darque's observation)

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New Sheoth from Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion, particularly the Crucible half of it, though I had fun in both halves.  I spent so many hours rooftop jumping and getting into wacky shenanigans in Crucible.  Good times.

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I don't like cities in RPGs very much, actually. They always feel so...small, because, well, they have to be, because it's a computer game and it's difficult to simulate an actual city by any stretch of the imagination. Baldur's Gate, Athkatla, Sigil...there are so very few people actually in these "cities": if we assumed the number of people in them to be even relatively correctly represented by the number of people we actually see while playing, Baldur's Gate would have a thousand, maybe two at best, Athkatla probably somewhere around 5 thousand, and Sigil maybe a few thousand. It's just like when you're playing the fighter stronghold in BG2, and your steward tells you that Lord Roenall is launching an attack on your keep with his "army"...and then you get out there to defend your lands and he and his invading "army" is actually like just 10-15 dudes. I mean, the sense of scale is always so off, immersively-speaking. I try not to think about these things, because I know you really just have to use your imagination sometimes, but often times the games really press it into my face.

 

On the other hand, games that try to simulate an even somewhat accurate amount of people in their setting almost always face the problem of there being very little content or depth to that setting, and especially so if a significant amount of time is wasted on trying to make an accurate city. Smaller, more detailed is definitely better...but for various reasons, including the sense of scale issue I mentioned above, cities are just not my favorite setting for an adventure, really.

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  • Hong Kong - both the Deus Ex and Shenmue II variety.
  •  

 

Not to mention Sleeping Dogs (not really an RPG, though).  " A man who never eats pork bun is never a whole man" - Wise Man

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The opposite answer for this thread goes to Denerim in Dragon Age Origins.  Touted throughout the game as the biggest city in Fereldan, blah blah blah, and when I arrive there it's the size of a small outlying village in any other RPG.

 

The beginning village in Witcher 3 (White Orchard) was bigger than Denerim.

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"Console exclusive is such a harsh word." - Darque

"Console exclusive is two words Darque." - Nartwak (in response to Darque's observation)

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Athkatla of BG2. It makes up a huge part of the game and is mostly accessible as soon as you escape. Lots of quests.

 

Tarant of Arcanum. It has newspapers. NEWSPAPERS. 'Nough said. L0L

 

Citedeal of ME series (especially part 1). ALIENS ARE HERE. Just a huge part of the game.

 

 

Sigil, as you mentioned, up there as well.

This, but I would replace Citidel with Vivec of Morrowind or Trinsic of Ultima Online. Tarant is my number one. It's one of the strong points of Arcanum.

 

Edit: I mean Tarant also had street names to assist navigating it, and that made it a hair more "real" to me.

Edited by Ganrich
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Markarth is Skyrim is one of mine. I liked the levels and waterfalls. Baldur's Gate because as Hurlshot said the payoff was totally worth the wait. Sigil because everything about the Planescape setting was awesome. Mannan from KOTOR was pretty cool. Sadrith Mora, Vivec, and Balmora of Morrowind deserve mention because they were very different from anything else I've seen at the time or since. 

 

Oh and don't forget Neverwinter from NWN...  :lol:

 

Yes, joking about that one

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Neverwinter is pretty solid but definitely doesn't belong in 'best ever' city wise.

 

P.S. L0L  @  all the Twitcher and ES shells.   Total garbage is total garbage.

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Tough choice between Novigrad and Vizima. Novigrad is immense and as detailed as anything I've seen in a game outside Asscreed cities, though I wish there were more side quests in it. Feels like they could have built an expansion purely in that city. I also liked the imperial city in Oblivion. Denerim was a huge disappointment. I so wanted that district to be bigger. 

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P.S. L0L  @  all the Twitcher and ES shells.   Total garbage is total garbage.

Well, when it comes to ES games I've never played one vanilla and mods adding NPCs are usually high on my must have list. So I've never seen the empty cities they get criticized for.

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I have a soft spot for Tenebrae in U8 and enjoyed exploring it as much as Britain in U7. If only the rest of the game was built like it.

 

As for already-mentioned cities. Sleeping Dogs' rendition of Hong Kong is a great call, it did to me what any Saints Row or GTA game completely failed to do. Novigrad was so alive that I enjoyed just slow walking across it to do my business.

 

Probably the common factor in these choices is that each is constructed as a whole, single entity, as opposed to being cut down into smaller pieces like in most IE games. Sure most of the city might be functionally useless, but I feel the inclusion of those parts is valuable nonetheless.

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Sigil is definitely one of my favorites as well. Varied and with great density to it. Interesting sights.

 

Vizima from Witcher 1 is fantastic. The atmosphere is just outstanding. From the ghetto parts to the lush Trade Quarter in Chapter 3, it's great. A joy to explore.

 

There is a mod for NWN1 called Almraiven with a city called... Almraiven. It had an approach where most areas where very small parts of the city, like an alley or a small part of a port. It was very succesful in this I thought, the modmaker did a fantastic job.

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How many pages fit in this thread? Just kidding, but I have a "hometown" in most RPGs. Let me see.

 

-Trynton (Wizardry VIII)

It's built in the trees, so it's save from most dangerous animals. The view is fantastic, and the Trynnie are among the cutest and kindest inhabitants of all fantasy and sci-fi realms.

 

-Tarant (Arcanum)

Huge, as a capital should be. And so atmospheric with the different districts, the newspaper, the museum etc.

 

-New Reno (Fallout 2)

Again, the atmosphere. Just don't feel too save there, or you might end up caught in the conflict between the leading families.

 

-Wyzima (The Witcher 1)

Like Starwars said, the atmosphere of this city is outstanding. It's very detailed. Not as detailed as Tarant, but it's a very good approach as well.

 

-Balmora (The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind)

I don't know why, but whenever I want to rest a little from my adventures in the wilderness and the dungeons of Vvardenfell, I go to Balmora. I just feel at home there. A few mods even add to this.

 

-Riva (Realms of Arkania III: Shadows over Riva)

I've spent countless hours in this town, so I grew attached to it. Just don't worry about the giant rat in the sewers. It's probably too big to get out through the manholes.

 

-Sigil (Planescape: Torment)

It's huge, and the different districts and guilds are so imaginative. Where else do you help a pregnant alley to give birth to a street?

 

 

Honorable mention:

-Jirinaar (Albion)

The Iskai live in harmony with their planet. The grown plant houses are really beautiful, but also a bit alien, as they should. Too bad the game gives me terrible motion sickness within less than 15 minutes. I've never finished it, and only explored the parts of Jarinaar that I actually had to go to for shopping or for the main quest.

 

 

I might add more in a couple of monthes, as I'm catching up on some games that I missed in the 90s, due to the lack of a computer or a console. (Thanks, GoG) I also haven't finished every RPG of the last couple of years yet, because I got lost in the Elder Scrolls. Those are time consuming, especially if you add mods and roleplay several characters instead of playing every guild at once.

(What am I doing here? I should be playing.)

Edited by LittleRose
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Oh, I just remembered Krondor from Betrayal at Krondor, but it's just an example of cities presented in older RPGs. You only got pictures and text-descriptions with your imagination doing all your work. This bundled with great writing in Betrayal has made mere act of reaching Krondor for the first time very memorable for me.

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The opposite answer for this thread goes to Denerim in Dragon Age Origins. Touted throughout the game as the biggest city in Fereldan, blah blah blah, and when I arrive there it's the size of a small outlying village in any other RPG.

 

The beginning village in Witcher 3 (White Orchard) was bigger than Denerim.

Denerim still wasn't as disappointing as the city of Orlais. It was supposed to be the largest city in Thadus, but boiled down to a single small level. At least Denerim is kinda explained away by Ferelden being a poor backwards country.

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