5 Real World Locations We’d Like to Visit in Games

Concept artists are often tasked with coming up with fantastical locations to serve as maps or regions within games, locations that must be both visually impressive and fun to navigate. While there’s no doubt that the imaginations of these artists have given us some formidable environments over the years, it turns out that the real world contains regions that are just as impressive.

Here are five places in the world that, with only some minor modifications, would be right at home in a game.

Note:Some of these regions hold religious significance. No disrespect is intended to their respective cultures by implicating them in a game. Concept artists commonly draw inspiration from the real world; these are five locations that would make for excellent inspiration.

1. Angkor Wat


Photo via wikipedia

Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world, built in the early 12th century in Cambodia. It served the dual purpose of state temple and eventual mausoleum of a Khmer King.

Tiered galleries, monumental towers, and extensive bas-relief decorations make this a complex and visually interesting set piece to explore, perfect for an action-adventure game — particularly one themed around exploring ancient ruins. Tomb Raider, anyone?


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2. The Reims Cathedral

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A location you probably recognize, Our Lady of Reims is a Roman Catholic cathedral where French kings were once crowned. The Gothic architecture and stained glass windows — particularly the magnificent rose window — make it an impressive set piece to behold.

With towers over 265 ft tall, an interior that is 125 feet high at its center, and plenty of spires and flying buttresses, the cathedral makes for a perfect jungle gym for players to navigate in a stealth action-adventure game with free running elements, like Assassin’s Creed. Imagine standing atop the tower, staring out over the panorama of a 12th century city of Reims, before sneaking inside to spy from above upon some shady dealings transpiring in the chapel.


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3. The Tianzi Mountains


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China’s Tianzi Mountains rise as rectangular spires hundreds of meters high, with clouds billowing through like a mystic fog.

The dizzy roads that wind their way up and around these mountains would make a perfect track for a racing game, with the mountains themselves serving both as impressive scenery and as the track’s “gimmick” in the form of a high-altitude jump from one mountain plateau to the next. Just don’t look down.


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4. The Tiger’s Nest


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Paro Taktsang, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, is a Himalayan Buddhist sacred temple constructed in the 17th Century. Built right into the rock face, it sits atop a nearly vertical cliff 3000 feet high, and clouds often shroud it in an air of mystery.

An exotic, sacred building located in an extraordinary setting — sounds right at home in a fantasy MMORPG. Heck, I could see this in Mists of Pandaria.


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5. Bagan


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No, not Tolkien’s Bag End, home of Bilbo. Bagan is an ancient Burmese city and the once-capital of the Pagan Empire. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the sprawling Bagan plains, and over 2,200 of those structures survive today.

Looking at the multi-tiered pagodas and monasteries of various sizes, I see a tremendous capacity for Z-axis gameplay, close and long-range combat, and tactically advantageous positions to battle over in the form of a large, central structure — the perfect setting for a multiplayer FPS map.


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It was difficult to pick only five locations, as there are several others that deserve to make this list. Games aren’t the only place to view fantastical vistas — our world is full of them as well.

What real world locations would you like to see in a game?

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