In honor of Earth Day 2020, the GGA video games crew wanted to explore another aspect of the Earth: it’s Future. More specifically, the dystopian Earths from our favorite video games series. These unique settings are a character of their own and shape the stories, adventures, and people that inhabit them. Here are some of our favorite video game dystopian earths.
New Vegas (Fallout: New Vegas)
The world of Fallout is easily one of the most recognizable Dystopias in video game history. Set in an alternative future of the 2200s, it’s been 200 years since Nuclear War ravaged the earth. Now, in the late aftermath, you take on the roles of the Sole Survivor, Vault Dweller, Courier, and more amidst the changed wasteland of the United States.
My favorite Fallout title is hands down Obsidian Entertainment‘s Fallout: New Vegas. In this game, you get to roam around a post-apocalyptic (yet still thriving) Las Vegas, while encountering irradiated creatures, robots, ghouls, humans, and more. One reason why it’s my favorite dystopia is because of it’s Wild West nature. Fallout: New Vegas is chock full of country music, sheriffs, pistols, and more. But it’s not just about destroying enemies and playing blackjack. You also have the chance to establish relationships with the various groups and gangs that inhabit this landscape. Will you be someone who is ultimately good and provides aid to others? Or do you go All-In on yourself, becoming king of the New Vegas strip? The choices are yours in the irradiated Mojave desert.
North America (The Last of Us)
The world of Naughty Dog‘s The Last of Us is one that most of us would never want to live in. With the last of humanity hanging by a string, the Earth is now dominated by the Infected, humans mutated by the Cordyceps fungus. As humans spread out, factions are created and loyalties are divided. But in looking at a world that is no longer governed by the whims of humans, nature has thrived. Animals live free, vegetation now runs rampant. And it’s beautiful. Only in the world of The Last of Us can one walk outside (a huge risk to be sure) and see a giraffe walking calmly along the streets of Boston or find a herd of them in Utah. It’s a poignant reminder of the impact humans have had on nature, but in the end, nature will always find a way to survive.
Detroit, Michigan (Detroit: Become Human)
In the 20th century, the name “Detroit” was synonymous with the United States automotive industry. The 2018 adventure game Detroit: Become Human envisions a new future for the “Motor City” as the “Android City” in 2038. A world-transforming technology has once again made Detroit the economic capital of the U.S. The android industry has brought much wealth back to Detroit. However, a divided dystopia exists beneath the shiny exterior of Detroit’s prosperity. Many service-class occupations (such as taxi drivers and housekeepers) are now completely dominated by androids, resulting in a heart-stopping nationwide unemployment rate of 37.3%!
Likewise, the human birth rate is also outstandingly low, due to the majority of people preferring sex with an android partner than a real human. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that androids are treated merely as machines, despite being able to speak, move, and behave like other human beings. Detroit: Become Human shows how technology can improve human society while simultaneously causing dissatisfaction and economic failure for individuals. This Detroit is a future on the brink of chaos and revolution…could it perhaps be our future, if we are not too careful?
The United States (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West)
When I think of games that feature a dystopian Earth several come to mind. But one of that has allows stayed with me is 2010’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West from Ninja Theory. The game is set 150 years in the future after a massive global war. Only a small portion of humanity has survived and now live alongside giant war machines. As Monkey and Trip begin their journey back to her home through New York City we are treated to one of the most beautiful game worlds I ever experienced. The game focuses on traversing each of the levels in control of Monkey which gives you a great view of the world that was created.
Ninja Theory really thought of everything when it came to how everything would look 150 years into the future without humanity’s interference. They didn’t just focus on throwing in some overgrowth, but thinking ahead about how buildings and streets would truly look. It reminded me of images I have seen of Chernobyl. It made me think of how the things I do each day affect our environment. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was one of the first games that I felt was able to build a dystopian world that didn’t look overly packed with just greenery but felt like the natural progression of growth. The world was beautiful to play in throughout the journey but also is a reminder of how we affect nature around us and what it is truly able to do when left to its own devices.
What are some of your favorite video game dystopian Earths? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
This article was originally published 4/25/20