Best Towns & Cities In Video Games To Explore If You Like Historical Settings

Games are a unique medium that can take players to different worlds and times and allow them to experience these settings in their way. This is especially true of games set in the past. Whether it is recent history like the 1980s or ancient history taking one back to the 14th Century, video games are the closest gamers have to a time machine allowing for some of the best forms of pure escapism today.



Related: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Surprisingly Accurate Historical Details

Historical settings can be implemented in many genres of video games from a turn-based strategy like the Rome: Total War series to first-person shooters like Battlefield. However, it’s open-world games that embrace the kind of freedom one wants to explore worlds set in the past. This list includes games set during various times in the past that include some of the best and most memorable cities and towns for history fans to explore.

8 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – Vice City/Miami

  • Released: 2002

  • Developer: Rockstar North

  • Platform: Android, iOS, Fire OS, MAC OS, PC, PS2, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S

Set in a fictionalized version of Miami in the 1980s, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a love letter to 80s and 90s gangster movies and TV shows like Scarface, Goodfellas, and miami vice. It stars the late Ray Liotta in the lead as Tommy Vercetti and Miami Vice’s Phillip Michael Thomas as Ricardo Tubbs.

It wasn’t just the talented voice cast that made Vice City great, however. Despite its age, Vice City remains one of the most atmospheric and beautifully crafted worlds in gaming. It’s also backed up by one of the best 80s soundtracks ever with music from bands and artists like Foreigner, Michael Jackson, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, and much more.


7 Mafia: Definitive Edition – Lost Heaven/Chicago

  • Released: 2020

  • Developer: Hanger 13

  • Platform: PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Released in 2020, Mafia: Definitive Edition is a remake of the first title that was released in 2002 and getting rebuilt from the ground up showing off one of the most beautiful cities in gaming. There aren’t many things to do in the city in terms of side missions but the sheer joy for fans of history will come from allowing oneself to get immersed in its city.

Mafia transports its fans back in time by giving players the opportunity of taking in the sights and sounds of this stunning recreation of 1920s Chicago. Like the GTA series, the Mafia franchise is inspired by classic gangster movies, but the tone is serious instead of satirical. For Mafia, it’s the Godfather Trilogy thanks to the game’s feel, period, and fantastic set pieces.


6 Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – Victorian London

  • Released: 2015

  • Developer: Ubisoft

  • Platform: PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One

One could pick any Assassin’s Creed game if they wanted to be transported to another time in history. Whether it’s exploring the sun-drenched deserts of Ancient Egypt, sailing the Caribbean as a pirate, or raiding English shores as a Viking, the Assassin’s Creed has something for the history fan in all of us.

Related: Things Assassin’s Creed: Origins Does Better Than Odyssey And Valhalla

Perhaps one of the most underappreciated games in the franchise was Assassin’s Creed: Syndicateas its Victorian London setting. It’s an amazing feat to allow players to explore the cobbled streets of London at the height of the Industrial Revolution. Moreover, the contrast between the rich and the struggling working classes is portrayed with finesse, and the different sections of the city are brought to life by its occupants. Moreover, one has to love a game that allows its characters to climb to the very top of the iconic Big Ben. Now, if only Ubisoft would release a patch so Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate works on the PlayStation 5.


5 Mafia 3 – New Bourdeaux/New Orleans

  • Released: 2016

  • Developer: Hanger 13

  • Platform: macOS, PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One

The third entry from the Mafia franchise moves away from the Godfather-like story by putting players in the shoes of a soldier returning home from the Vietnam War in 1968. The protagonist still has to deal with the Italian Mafia along with the Haitians, the Irish Mob, the Black Mob, and a white supremacist group known as the Southern Union.

The game’s setting of New Bourdeaux is a recreation of New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite the criticisms of the lack of side quests, exploring the city with musicians like Creedance and Jimmy Hendrix helps bring it to life. Along with the story, the NPCs, police, and more really give a sense of the difficulties that various cultures faced in the late 60s and early 70s. It serves as a great backdrop for one of the best narratives in the genre.


4 Kingdom Come Deliverance – Rattay

  • Released: 2018

  • Developer: Warhorse Studios

  • Platform: Amazon Luna, PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Where games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and The Witcher 3 draw players into their stunning medieval worlds and landscapes, the games are high and dark fantasy. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set during real historical events in the 15th Century in the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Warhorse Studios’ passion for history and creating a deep and realistic world to role-play in is evident. Every town and city in Kingdom Come looks and feels authentic and detailed despite some technical issues here and there. However, it’s the town of Rattay that invokes that feeling of being taken back in time. The work that has gone into creating the town as it existed in the early 1400s and any history should experience this one-of-a-kind RPG.


3 LA Noire – Los Angeles

  • Released: 2011

  • Developer: Team Bondi

  • Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

Originally released in 2011, The black was remastered and released again in 2017. It’s a detective game set in the 1940s and takes a lot of inspiration from the detective noir genre as well as the 1997 movie LAConfidential.

Related: Grand Theft Auto: Things Vice City Does Better Than Any Other Game In Rockstar’s Franchise

The sights, sounds, and landmarks from the time have been faithfully recreated in The black‘s open-world city. While there isn’t a wealth of things to do, simply exploring and taking on minor cases in between the main campaign is an absolute joy.


2 Assassin’s Creed: Unity – Paris

  • Released: 2014

  • Developer: Ubisoft

  • Platform: PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One

It may be another Assassin’s Creed title for this list, but this is one worth revisiting. After a rough launch and a lot of work from the developers, Assassin’s Creed: Unity has stood the test of time as one of the most beautifully crafted titles in the franchise.

The game is set during the French Revolution with its portrayal of a city in a state of unrest hitting home. Furthermore, the contrast between the poor side streets and the rich who attend lavish parties at the Palace of Versailles tells a story of its own. Ubisoft doesn’t get enough credit for some of its wonderfully crafted worlds and Unityis one of their most ambitious yet. Players will get the chance to visit iconic landmarks like the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Luxemburg Palace, and the Bastille.


1 Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Released: 2018

  • Developer: Rockstar

  • Platform: PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One

Released in 2018, Red Dead Redemption 2 arguably has one of the best and most dynamic open-world settings in gaming. The game is home to stunning environments and a wilderness to lose oneself in for hours. However, the work that has gone into creating a world that feels lived in with its stunning towns and cities is almost unrivaled.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has several memorable towns to visit like the industrial town of Saint Denis. However, for a truly Wild West town that takes the player back in time, the town of Valentine can’t be beaten. Its gritty realism is only matched by HBO’s Deadwood series, and it features saloons, barber shops, gunsmiths, and more. The town, along with the rest of the world is wonderfully dynamic, and it’s a joy just to watch its residents go about their daily lives, get into fights, and work long hours to make ends meet.

More: Open-World Games With The Most Immersive Historical Settings

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