The Best Holiday Destinations For Your 2020 Getaway: Video Game Edition
We can't speak for everyone out there, but we sure can speak for some of you watching when we say: oh boy, it sucks that we've had to cancel, or at best postpone, our holidays. And yes, there are bigger things happening in the world right now - but it's still a bummer to not be heading off for breaks we'd had our hearts set on.
Thankfully, video games are pretty great for a little virtual tourism - and let's begin our guide to the best gaming getaways for your 2020 with a quick rundown of some attractive city breaks.
If you're wanting a bite of the Big Apple but can also stomach an outbreak of super villains, Marvel's Spider-Man will swing you off to New York's Manhattan quicker than you can claim that your Spidey Sense is tingling.
Getting around NYC has never been easier in a video game, thanks to Peter Parker's fabulous contraptions and uncanny ability to stick to vertical surfaces. But if you really must mix it with the pedestrians, the subway's a valid transportation option, too. While in the city, be sure to check out its many famous streets and sights, including the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Flatiron Building and, um, Avengers Tower. Pretty sure that's a real place, right?
Heading across America to the West Coast, and sun-seekers can drink in the rays of Los Angele... we mean, Los Santos, in Grand Theft Auto V - a game that, by now, surely needs no further introduction. Whether it's hiking across the slopes of Mount Chiliad or splashing in the surf down at Vespucci Beach, outdoorsy types will love the city and its surrounding area. Just keep hold of your wallet.
And sticking on the West Coast, why not take a drive down to the high-tech playground of San Francisco, as seen in Watch Dogs 2? This wonderfully detailed recreation of one of the wealthiest cities in the States - with all the division that richness inevitably breeds - features all manner of real-world spots to sightsee at, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Museum of Modern Art, countless cable cars, a wholebunch of seals, and even the offices of the game's makers, Ubisoft. There's even a virtual version of Silicon Valley to snoop around in, for the nerds.
If you were thinking of a break to Scotland's festival-hosting Edinburgh, Forza Horizon 4 has you covered - albeit exclusively from the perspective of four wheels. Time-travellers can relish French Revolution-era Paris with Assassin's Creed Unity - and of course, other games in the series are great for comparable history-class field trips - and Yakuza 0 delivers a moreish version of 1980s Tokyo, full of video game arcades, discos to dance at, karaoke bars and, um, bikini fighting. If cockfighting is more your thing - and let's be honest now, when it's virtual, why wouldn't it be - hop over to the Hong Kong of Sleeping Dogs for some fearsomely fowl play, as well as another healthy dose of karaoke.
But perhaps you're of a more tropical persuasion when it comes to holiday booking? Well, pack the factor 50 for the Rook Islands, the setting for Far Cry 3, because things can get so hot out there, somewhere around where the Indian Ocean meets the Pacific, that they're literally deadly. Pro-tip: don't try to pet the bears. They will end you, the claw-happy furry harbingers of doom. And it's probably best not to pet the pirates, either. (Or the goddamn cassowaries, holy beakin' crap.)
If the Rook Islands are way too, let's say, violent for you, try catching a speedboat to the Monument Islands of The Touryst. Yes, some might say that they're something of a square destination, but these blissful little ports of calm amid a glistening blue sea are just the ticket for anyone needing to de-stress - perhaps after being chased by bears. Okay, so there are some weird temple things around, but come on - what's a holiday without some adventure?
If you're able to hop back into that time machine of yours, Kenya of the 26th century is yours to explore in Halo 3 - just watch out for all those laser beams and don't stand too close to anything in New Mombasa around, let's say, October 21st 2552. Be somewhere else, anywhere else, is what we're saying.
Like, for example, your own island getaway, that you can name whatever you want to. Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets you build a community on a spot of paradise entirely of your shape and style. The raccoons here do talk, though - and what's more, they keep on sending you bills just for trying to live your gosh-darn best life. So if that's too freaky for you, keep that Switch powered down.
But perhaps it's all about the journey for you - be that by train, plane, or a gigantic mobile city striding across the plains of India. If the latter immediately appeals, please, let us direct you to 80 Days, a game all about making it around the world in - you guessed it - 80 days or less, and featuring a wealth of wonderful, fantastical modes of transport, from airships to ice walkers. Okay, so your imagination has to do a lot of the heavy lifting in regard to sightseeing with this one; but so rich is the storytelling that it really won't be a struggle.
What's that? It's struggle that you're actively after? Then, please, try to make your way across a near-future, post-apocalyptic America in Death Stranding. Alternatively, you could try to make your way across a near-future, post-apocalyptic America in The Last of Us. The differences, while many, can ultimately be boiled down to one key point: in the first game you pee on mushrooms, while in the second they try to eat you.
But if America's just too much of a land of the free for you, then another near-future, post-apocalyptic trip can be taken in Metro Exodus. You'll need to navigate your way through a shattered vision of Russia, while all the while dodging dangerous monsters and even more dangerous men.
It's a long-haul ride this, too, with the hard frost of winter giving way to spring and then summer, only for the cold to again descend. Pack your thermals! And as many bullets as your pockets can bulge with.
Finally, if it's less a case of place and more that you just want to get away from it all - and by all, we mean other humans, too - then there's only one place to set your GPS for. The small Shropshire village of Yaughton might not be top of many travel agents' booking lists, but let us tell you: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is perfect for finding yourself in the serene silence of, well, an incredibly mysterious case of everyone else completely vanishing.
The local pubs are empty, so too the playgrounds, the community centre, the doctor's surgery and the holiday park. A few phones might disturb your peace and quiet while you're sauntering around the abandoned lanes and forest paths - but just ignore them, we reckon. What's the worst that could happen?
What's your own favourite in-game 'holiday' destination - be it real-world, historical or contemporary, or somewhere fantastical? The Hyrule of Breath of the Wild, perhaps? Maybe a kingdom or two from Super Mario Odyssey? Red Dead Redemption 2's sprawling landscapes? Or something older? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft, Square Enix, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Shin'en Multimedia