With most international travel off limits for the time being, travellers like me are forced to think outside the box (or inside their XBox) for their fill of sightseeing and exploration. After my four-month Europe and Middle East trip was cancelled in March, I went out and bought a PS4 and settled for exploring virtual worlds instead of our real one. Here are some games which helped me with my travel fix – maybe they can help you too (and some are also available on XBox and PC).
Assassin’s Creed games have been around for 14 years now and there are heaps of them to choose from. They are all set in real world settings in various times throughout history. I’ve played a few of them and Odyssey is my favourite. This is the first PS4 game I bought, and I was immediately hooked by the setting. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey you control a mercenary who travels the ancient Greek world in search of family, adventure, evil cultists and mythical beasts. You’ll spend hours helping out the citizens of Athens, Mykonos, Sparta and dozens of other locations.
One especially memorable moment happened when I was exploring Naxos, an Island I’d been to a few years previous. There’s a ruined temple close to one of the towns, and I found it while wandering around the island. It was under construction in the game – very different to the lonely ruin it is today.
The best thing about this game is the vastness of the world. There are so many places to explore – I played it for over 100 hours and there were still places I’d never been to. If you like to explore, are interested in Greek history or just missing being able to travel to Greece, you can’t go wrong with this game. Well, it is very violent, but you can play it without killing people or there’s a mode which just tours you around the world while teaching you things (which would be great for kids).
I’ve also played Assassin’s Creed Origins, which is set in Egypt during the time of Cleopatra, and Black Flag sees you exploring the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. In Origins you get to explore the beautiful cities of Alexandria and Memphis, get lost in the great pyramids and ride your trusty camel over golden desert dunes. There’s also a new one — Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which is set in England and Norway. Another good thing about these games is that you meet and interact with real people from history, meaning it’s not only fun but educational.
I’ve never been to New York, but I’ve obviously seen it on TV and in the movies a lot. It’s probably the most iconic city in the world, and my favourite New York experience has definitely been playing Spiderman on PS4. They’ve beautifully recreated the city and right from the start you can explore every inch of it. There are heaps of things to collect, crimes to stop and the story is top-notch. If you’re missing New York, or want to see a different perspective of it, you’ll love Spiderman.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the most highly rated PS4 games. The story, graphics and voice acting are all great, as is the main character. It’s set in a post post-apocalyptic world and the beautiful views and ruins to explore. If you want to set out into the unknown and explore a vibrant world you can’t go wrong with this game (and it also has robot dinosaurs).
The Yakuza Series
The Yakuza series, which debuted on the PS2 all the way back in 2005, lets you delve deep into the Japanese underworld. The games are mostly set in Kamurocho (a fictional area heavily based on Kabukicho, Tokyo) and the it’s a really fun place to explore. I’ve played Yakuza 0 (a prequel to the series set in the 80s) as well as Kiwami 1 and 2 (remakes of the first two games) and the spinoff Judgement, which follows a private detective in Kamurocho.
These cities feels alive, mostly due to the amazing amount of locals you get to meet and interact with. There are dozens “substories” in the games, which are basically little quests featuring some entertaining characters as well as heaps of mini games. I’ve infiltrated a cult, helped a kid win dolls from a claw machine, run a cabaret club, gone on dates, played classic 80s arcade games and so much more. That’s not even mentioning the main stories, which are drama-heavy tales of life in the Yakuza.
The Uncharted Series
There are 5 Uncharted games and their premises are all pretty similar. Travel to exotic locations around the world to collect artifacts and avoid being shot by bad guys. I’ve only played bits of 1, 2 and all of 4 so far but they are all fun, the action set pieces are like experiencing a movie and the graphics (especially in Uncharted 4) are excellent. If you’re into temples, tombs and Indiana Jones movies you’ll love playing through the Uncharted series.
The first four games follow the likeable Nathan Drake (and his friends and family) on adventures all over the world. It’s all pretty innocent until you get to the parts where you have to mow down dozens of mercenaries with machine guns — it doesn’t seem to traumatize them much though!
The Tomb Raider Series
I could cut and paste most of the Uncharted description for the new Tomb Raider games as they are very similar. Tomb Raider is the original though obviously, with Lara Croft first appearing all the way back in 1996 on the PS1. I’ve only played Rise of the Tomb Raider so far, which is mostly set in Siberia, meaning you’ll explore stunning mountains areas and mysterious ruins. Lara Croft is an iconic protagonist too.
One of the first thing I did in Sleeping Dogs, an action game set in Hong Kong, was head to the local night market. I’ve been to a few of these in places like Taiwan, Thailand and China and it was awesome to see the chaos, colour and huge variety of food in video game form. It wasn’t entirely like my real world experiences though — I never had to beat up vendors for protection money in real life!
Sleeping Dogs is very similar to Grand Theft Auto V — you compete in races, beat people up and generally cause chaos on the streets of an open world city (and you can even take touristy photos of a woman voiced by Emma Stone!). If you’re a fan of Hong Kong, Hong Kong cinema or just want to be involved in a fun story, check out Sleeping Dogs.
Grand Theft Auto V
Driving around a big city stealing cars and shooting cops probably doesn’t sound like a very “travelly” thing to do, but Grand Theft Auto V isn’t just about the violence. The city (Los Santos, their version of Los Angeles) is full of interesting people to meet and things to do. You can fly planes, rob jewellery stores, do a triathlon or play tennis (among many other things). It’s a fun city to explore and you play as three different characters, making for some great variety in story and tone.
Ghost of Tsushima
I haven’t played this game yet (it was released last year and I’m waiting for a discount) but it’s getting near universal praise. It’s set in Japan during the time of the Mongol invasion and the art direction, game play and story look really strong. Ancient Japan is always going to be an interesting setting – I’m going to have a lot of fun exploring this world (when it gets a bit cheaper!).
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in the late 1800s, a time of great change in the U.S.A. You control an outlaw and take part in train robberies, bar fights and pretty much every other Western cliche imaginable. The graphics are amazing and it’s rated as one of the most immersive games ever made. There is so much you can do in Red Dead Redemption 2, and the story looks like it’s going to be pretty awesome (I’ve only played the first few hours).
What are your favourite travel PS4 games? Have you played any games on this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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