Contributions by Dakota, Eric and Zach
We are blessed that video games allow us to inhabit so many different worlds. These range from historical, to science fiction, to fantasy. There is one world, however, that video games can portray much better than any medium thanks to it’s vastness and interactivity – post-apocalyptic wastelands. As a player, we are able to inhabit these worlds and experience the remnants of society. These games truly excel when they take it upon themselves to get a little creative with the history itself and the reasons that led to the world’s demise. Here are our Top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands in Games.
10. Sera (Gears of War)
While long plagued with environmental destruction, the planet Sera is ravaged at the hands of the Locusts, alien creatures born from below the planet’s surface. Remaining human survivors now occupy the Jacinto Plateau while many others, known as the Stranded, clinging to their old lives and homes. Even before the fateful Emergence Day, the planet suffered at the hands of human conflict and natural energy depletion. Whilst warring over a new energy source, Imulsion, the Coalition of Organized Governments (COGs) was formed, and now serves to combat the Locust threat. The conflict leaves the planet long in ruin as the first game does not take place for fourteen years after the emergence. We only get to see the world as Marcus and company, but the lore of the world is there. Its long history and unique cause of destruction earns the planet Sera a spot on the list.
9. United States (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West)
Here is one of the more unique post-apocalypse settings around in gaming. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West does not rely as much on the dull colors and dark tones that clutter game design, especially in apocalyptic settings. Instead, the world is overcome by nature, and the surviving humans live in fear of an almost alien oppressor. The scattered mechs that wander the lands wait to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Based on the story of Journey to the West, which featured the Monkey King in the classic Chinese literature piece detailing his pilgrimage to the West. Unfortunately, this game did not receive the praise it deserved. Therefore, this is one world that many missed out on, but should definitely give a try.
8. Australia (Mad Max)
Poor Mad Max. This game was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Immediately following the releases of Batman: Arkham Knight, sharing a release date with Metal Gear Solid V, and immediately preceeding the much anticipated Fallout 4, Mad Max was a poster child victim of open-world fatigue. The game is not bad, by any stretch of the imagination. The hand-to-hand combat was a little lackluster, sure, and the story was a contrived narrative to send you on mundane side activities. However, the setting was purely breathtaking. Whether you were soaring over sand dunes or racing for safety with a desert tempest nipping at your rubber heels, you always felt like you were in the Mad Max universe. The characters are full of flavor and unique idiosyncrasies. Customizing your car and tooling around the deserted wasteland just feels so right. The original movies serve as direct influences to the like of Borderlands and Fallout, and Avalanche Studios’ realization of the world was a faithful one.
7. Hyrule/Great Sea (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker)
At first glance, this world does not seem like it fits in with other post-apocalypse settings. It takes a bit of story progression and some critical thinking, but soon it is clear that the world of Wind Waker is the flooded world of a past Hyrule. Some kind of catastrophic event, most likely related to this timeline’s return of Ganondorf being unchallenged, caused the oceans to rise and submerge the planet. The residents of the world become acquainted with it and begin to rely on naval travel to navigate the still uncharted waters of this mysterious and watery world.
6. Earth/City 17 (Half-Life 2)
The world of Half-Life 2 is bleak. Since the events of the original Half-Life, the Combine has entered Earth’s dimension and taken over the planet. All of Earth’s resources are being harvested by the Combine. This includes human beings as well. Beyond the Combine, Earth also has a population of inter-dimensional creatures inhabiting it thanks to the efforts of the scientists at Black Mesa, which includes Gordon Freeman. The wastes of a free civilization remain, filled with the oppressor’s Combine whose goal is to ensure that the world is sucked dry of what little life remains. The remaining humans build up a resistance called Lambda in hopes of pushing the Combine back into their own dimension for good.