5 Game Locations

And Their Real World Look-a-Likes
By: Nick Lehner

When the Phantom Menace came to theaters in 1999 audiences were captivated by Queen Amidala’s beautiful capital city of Theed, Naboo, and who could blame them? The bold Gothic styled architecture, the beautiful blending of nature and infrastructure. Star Wars has always been a world phenomenon spanning generations of fans. From the countless books, games, and films, something about the galaxy far far away has drawn us helplessly in. So, when Battlefront II came to game consoles in 2017 fans were once more ready to be transported to their favorite locations within the Star Wars universe. One of those locations being Theed, players were able to experience the city streets in a whole new way with a boots on the ground view, and incredible graphic rendering. The flowing waterways, the shining statues, the beautiful buildings, where in the world can compare? Venice would jump to mind but there is a far better comparison not so far away. Padua, Italy stands forty kilometers away (25 miles) and holds within beautiful bridges, statues, and a basilica with the grandeur to rival Theed’s capital building itself. Saint Anthony’s Basilica may not be one with the force, but its centuries worth of history and seven massive domes make it practically a clone of its doppelganger. Add in the beautiful waterways, bridges and combine them with a landscape like no other, Padua truly is a city of imperious presence.

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt was born into the gaming world on May 19th, 2015. In the years to follow, many have tried to imitated it, but none could ever match the masterpiece created by game developer CD Project Red. Truly a work of meticulous detail and massive scope The Wild Hunt took gamers on a journey of vast proportions immersing them into a stunning landscape every step of the way. Almost every location within the title is worthy of a post card, but one location undoubtedly stands out above the rest. Hidden away among a grouping of deadly and mysterious islands known in the game as the Skellige Isles stands the mountain keep of Kaer Trolde. Home to the King of Skellige and impenetrable to enemy attacks with its dark, formidable, stone walls, and massive stone bridge. Carved out of the mountain side itself Kaer Trolde is a thing of incredible beauty, and Its real-world partner? Tucked away in the Swabian Alps of southern Germany sits Lichenstein Castle. Built in the mid 1800’s on the ruins of an older castle and accessible by a foreboding stone and wood bridge, the structure seems to be pulled straight from a fairy tale. Different in some ways and yet so similar, the two mountain keeps emanate power with their larger than life presence and undeniable aura of myth and legend. If you loved Kaer Trolde, then it’s time to buy that plane ticket for southern Germany!    

Video games, hate them or love them, play them or not, their growing influence and place within today’s society is undeniable. Gaming has always been a hot button issue, disputed since Space Invaders and Pac-Man arrived in arcades across the world in the early 70's and 80's and continuing to present day. It’s been almost forty years since their arrival and while the systems have gotten smaller and the graphics better the opinions only ever grew louder. Do they improve memory and motor skills? Can they influence violent behavior and cause depression? The arguments split us all and while facts can be found amidst the fog the most important fact of all seemed to be forgotten, what was gaming created to do? The answer has ever remained the same, to bring people closer, to invoke a thoughtful and unique experience for players, to take people to places they could only dream of going. So many games over so many years, so many incredible worlds to explore, but what if some of them existed in reality? Controversy or not, opinions aside, we all love to travel, so let’s take a moment to explore these game locations hidden away across the globe and let’s all agree, they’d be worth the plane ticket!   

The single best-selling game in 2018 Red Dead Redemption 2 takes players back to the old west in all its rough and tough glory. Playing as the Van der linde Gang exploring the stretches of the 1899 United States with the civilized world creeping in around you, the title delivers a truly captivating experience from start to finish. Red Dead is the video game rending of every old west movie each of us grew up adoring. Each minute players find themselves riding through history rivaling the tales of Billy the Kid and Buffalo Bill themselves. What are we drawing a parallel to? Being that Red Dead Redemption 2 was a massive game with a plethora of towns and cities to pick from the choice that comes to mind is the city of Saint Denis. Located in the Bayou Nwa territory adjacent to the Kamassa River, Saint Denis is a blend of civilized world and old west making it a striking place to explore. Add in the surrounding swamps and it leaves quite an impression, but what city does it resemble in the real world? The obvious pick would have to be New Orleans, Louisiana. Located at the gates of the Gulf of Mexico, tucked away among rivers and lakes the city stands rich in history and tradition. In 1899 New Orleans was among the largest cities in the old west, notorious for its widespread gambling and infamous for its Storyville brothels the city quickly draws parallels to Red Dead’s Saint Denis. The blend of old and new architecture, vibrant culture, and a wild history to boot there can be no other doppelganger!

Saint Denis (Red Dead Redemption 2) - New Orleans, LA
Kaer Trolde Harbor (The Witcher 3) - Lichtenstein Castle (Germany)
Theed, Naboo (Star Wars Battlefront 2) - Padua, Italy

Sedra, an outer colony within the Halo universe also known as Orrichon III, the massive settlement is found within the Orrichon system and is built sometime in the 2500’s. Many worlds and populations within the Halo games were ravaged by war, Sedra being an exception. In fact, barring a surge in unemployment amidst economic turmoil Sedra escaped the worst of the universal conflict, and upon the war’s end economic stability returned, showing the colonies resilience. Iconic as the Halo franchise is, why look for Sedra’s doppelganger? Some things can’t be done justice without physically experiencing them, and while the outer colony lacks riches and luster, its landscape and skyline are enough to take your breath away. What city draws parallels with Sedra’s growth and potential? The globe is filled with so many great candidates, each unique in their own way but only one can be Sedra's equal. New York, the city that never sleeps, home to the American dream? London, the booming modernized metropolis, rising from within a time capsule of culture and history? Abu Dhabi, the diamond of the middle east, radiating wealth and opportunity? Beijing China, capital of a rising titan, home to an industrious and ever modernizing populous? All of them are incredible in their own right, but only one matches the outer colony. Beijing, a city rapidly growing, rapidly carving out its place in the world, a city that has weathered the economic highs and lows and has risen to all challenges. The two cities are a reflections of an industrious and agricultural society, two giants on the verge of greatness. For all the Halo and city lovers out there, Beijing skips the load screens only giving you the experience.

Far Cry was a Franchise born out of game developer Ubisoft in 2004 and has since then almost exclusively been a first-person shooter based around defeating insane drug lords and Cultist’s. That is until Far Cry Primal was released in 2016, in this rendition you play as Takkar, a hunter of the Wenja tribe in the year 10,000 BC. The game took the franchise in an entirely new direction bringing players back to the prehistoric age and places them somewhere in ancient Europe. Giant woolly Mammoths, Saber tooth tigers, and cannibalistic tribesman number among just a few of the challenges faced by players as they traverse a visually stunning world. No one place in Far Cry’s world of Oros can be extracted, the whole game is incredible to explore so what place in modern day times could possibly compare to the grandeur and sheer scale of Oros? New Zealand’s Mount Saint Cook serves as our metaphorical time machine and manages to capture everything Primal holds. Between two massive glaciers and rising before the beautiful Tasman Lake its three ancient snow-covered peeks mark the mountain as the largest in New Zealand, drawing in countless tourists and climbers every year. Countless mountains around the globe could be compared to Far Cry Primal’s heart stuttering landscape, but none quite compare as evenly as Mount Saint Cook. Its surrounding glaciers and imposing yet jaw dropping beauty can only be the thing of prehistoric splendor.      

Oros (Far Cry Primal) - Aoraki/Mt. Cook (New Zealand)
Sedra (Halo) - Beijing, China
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