Seeing the world is great and all, but for a whole mess of reasons, it’s not always possible to pack up and fly to the Alps or take a tour of the Grand Canyon. But thanks to the powerful game machines we have sitting under our televisions, we can take virtual trips to incredible places and get a sense of what it’s like to see them firsthand. As a bonus, you get to play fun games while you do it.
Here are four games that can scratch your itch to see the world.
1. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 may take place in a fictional Himalayan region, but the developers spent time in real-life Nepal, soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells to make the most accurate digital version possible. The results are pretty amazing (even if the smells don’t come through).
The Himalayan Mountains shape the game’s environment, from the deep, river-threaded valleys to the snow-capped peaks high above the clouds. You get to see it all in the game, including villages, rickety outposts, and tons of wildlife. In fact, you have to watch your back as you explore the wilderness, because you never know when an angry rhino or elephant might charge at you.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim may not be a real place on Earth, but it’s one of the most realistically rendered environments ever created for a game. With all the dragons and other fantasy creatures inhabiting the realm, playing Skyrim is as close as you’re likely to get to exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
You can hike up snowy mountains to study magic at the College of Winterhold or delve deep into troll-infested caves in search of loot. The game is full of gorgeous sights to take in, from bubbling brooks and medieval castles to lush forests and arid plains. You might stumble into an underground sanctuary to discover a grove of trees, with a waterfall spilling through an overhead opening right next to a pillar of sunlight. It’s gorgeous stuff, and you don’t even have to leave your house to see it.
3. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Nathan Drake is a modern-day Indiana Jones who travels the world seeking adventure and priceless artifacts. He may get in more car chases and shootouts than your average explorer, but when fortunes are on the line, bad guys tend to get a little competitive.
In this collection, the whole PlayStation 3 trilogy has been updated and remastered to look great on the PlayStation 4. Drake is a regular globetrotter, and he’s seen a lot of places across these three games. You’ll travel to London, Istanbul, Columbia, Key West, Nepal, Norway, Indonesia, and other exotic locations. The settings range from rainforests and arctic landscapes to shanty towns and endless stretches of desert. If nothing else, this collection will get you caught up on the story for when Uncharted 4 comes out in March 2016.
Wyoming may be the tenth largest state in the country, but it’s also the least populated. That means it has enormous swaths of wilderness, much of which is owned and protected by the federal government. It has expansive forests, mountains, and lakes that are ripe for exploration.
But if you’re not willing to give up conveniences like air conditioning and pizza delivery to see it first-hand, you’ll soon be able to get a taste of Wyoming’s wilderness in Firewatch. This is an adventure game that puts you in the shoes of a man newly hired to keep a lookout for forest fires deep in the undeveloped territory. Your only contact with the outside world comes through a handheld radio you use to talk to your supervisor. Judging from the trailers, it doesn’t take long before things start getting weird. Look for this game on PC and PlayStation 4 by the end of the year.