Be like Ezio and Geralt, see the world up close and personal.
Have you ever seen a centuries-old temple? Istanbul is where you can find Hagia Sophia, one of the most beautiful of these.
Or maybe you’re more into Ancient Rome and would love to see the Pantheon? Because of its beauty and popularity, it’s always really crowded with tourists, which makes taking stunning photos all the more difficult.
Let’s go across the Atlantic Ocean for a moment. Ever heard of the Hoover Dam? Even though it’s not the biggest dam ever, it’s incredibly popular, with approximately 7 million people visiting it each year.
We all have bucket lists and places we want to see, but these adventures are usually quite costly or simply not possible for every human being. While Google Earth is an amazing tool to see these places and explore their surroundings, video games can give you an opportunity to discover them in depth.
Even better: you can visit the monuments of the past and see them in their prime. Take the Colosseum, for instance. If you visit it today, it’s a ruin. A spectacular one, for sure, but still a ruin. Games like Ryse: Son of Rome, on the other hand, give you a chance to see the iconic amphitheater the way it was in the ancient times.
Revisiting the places I’ve seen in Assassin’s Creed
During my university years I had the privilege of visiting Istanbul, Turkey, which I consider one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t visit it again physically, but years later I returned to Istanbul anyway…just in a different form.
Thanks to video games I was able to see it as Ezio Auditore de Firenze, the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I’ll never forget how surprised I was at first when my character stood at the top of the Galata Tower. There I saw the familiar shape of Hagia Sophia, along with its four minarets. This inner urge overcame me, where I just had to see these places up close, but as Ezio this time, of course.
When I got there, not only was I amazed at the sight from the top, but I also accomplished the mission that was hidden inside of it. Making ceiling-high cat-like jumps was honestly pure pleasure, especially in comparison to my own memories of this place that I now got to see in a virtual setting.
Until this day, I remember that I spent quite a bit of time just admiring Istanbul from all kinds of different angles and places around the city. Ha, I even tried to put my hero at the exact place I took a photo with my friends when I was there in person, many, many years ago. The Assassin’s Creed series gave me the opportunity to go and explore certain places, and the inside of the temple which I couldn’t see and visit myself.
The makers of Assassin’s Creed were so meticulous that they even tried to recreate the smallest details of famous buildings and monuments. I began paying more and more attention to the architecture. I was so fascinated by it.
When video games precede reality
Then I began playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and I immediately took note of the fantastic depiction of the 16th century Rome.
I’ve never been there and to be quite honest, I’ve been postponing that trip for years now. But after I saw it in the game, I knew it was time to stop procrastinating and a new adventure was waiting for me right around the corner. I was so set on seeing it with my own eyes that there was not a thing that could’ve stopped me.
However, this time it was all a bit different. In comparison to Istanbul, I saw Rome in the game first and then decided to visit it in real life. During my time there, I literally saw most of the places I have already seen in the game. It’s heartwarming to know that Assassin’s Creed’s developers put that much thought and care into the smallest details, which makes it amazing for those who cannot physically travel there for whatever reason it may be.
I totally need to talk about Ubisoft’s artistry when it comes to recreating historical buildings and landmarks. Here’s one super cool fact about Assassin’s Creed Origins: you can explore a secret chamber, implemented by the developers based on scientific research and theories.
Here’s what Maxime Durand, the historian working on the Assassin’s Creed franchise, had to say about that:
“We have long believed that Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theories about the inner ramps and royal circuit with two antechambers inside the Great Pyramid are probably the most credible, which is why we decided to use them in the game.”
Guess what: scientists discovered that exact chamber after the game was released!
By the way, the latest AC games (Origins and Odyssey, with Valhalla soon to join these ranks) feature a kid-friendly Discovery Tour mode where you can freely explore the game world without any combat or other interruptions.
A game to build a dream on
I mentioned the Hoover Dam. When it comes to video games, this building appeared in Fallout: New Vegas. The dam — or structures inspired by it — appeared in several other titles as well, but it is in New Vegas where it plays a crucial role. There, you have the option to visit both the inside and the outside of the structure.
It’s a truly interesting building to see and I found myself sort of being under its spell from the first time I saw it.
While I haven’t been to the USA yet, it’s something I want to do in the future. My little fascination with Hoover Dam encouraged me to literally look all over the Internet for its pictures, articles and even YouTube videos and clips from tourists. So by now I feel like I know the place, I just haven’t been there in person.
Need more examples to see how awesome video games are when it comes to seeing the world?
In the fourth installment of the Fallout series players can visit the beautifully recreated — even if mostly destroyed — city of Boston. It’s more of an apocalyptic version of the place, but it resembles the real one to the T.
And then you have The Division 2 replicating Washinton D.C to the tiniest details.
And while oftentimes New York City is the place where most modern games are set, in my opinions no games developer has ever captured the heart and essence of the Big Apple like the creators of Marvel’s Spider-Man.
When it comes to recreating reality, open-world games are the best. Even if they’re set in fictitious places, they’re often based on real locations. Take GTA V and its faithful replica of the Los Angeles County, for example.
AAA games have incredible budgets, and lots of money is spent on extensive research and photo documentation of the locations they portray.
Video games give us a wonderful opportunity to learn about the world, from the local cities and villages to lands far, far away out of our reach. Thanks to the development of the VR technology, we got to know the world even more. Previously, it was movies which had influence on the traveling industry and now, it’s beginning to look like video games are having an even bigger effect.
It’s always so cherishing to see something with your own eyes in real life that you have seen in a game. Did you know that the crane in Novigrad in The Witcher 3 can be found in Gdansk, Poland?Back