Video game cities offer respite to the weary, tradable goods to the budding adventurer and an impressive amount of immersion for those looking to sink their teeth into a sizable experience. However, if there is one genre that truly nails a beautiful bustling city, it’s an RPG.

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Whether it's a faithfully recreated real-world city or an awe-inspiring fictional creation, cities in RPGs tend to be one-of-a-kind places. But while places like Winterhold may be fondly remembered by fans, it is the truly enormous spaces you can fully explore that are indisputably the best. After all, bigger is always better.

Updated April 23, 2023 By Ben Jessey: One of the best things about RPGs is they give players a chance to explore vibrant and exciting locations. Some of the most interesting ones are big cities, filled with distinct and interesting areas.

The idea a game could contain a large detailed busy city seemed impossible back when gaming first existed. But we've been treated to many of them since. And in this list, we shine a light on the best ones. Now, we've returned to the piece to add several more deserving of the spotlight.

13 Kirkwall (Dragon Age 2)

Dragon Age 2 Screenshot Of Protagonist In Kirkwall

One of the complaints about the second Dragon Age game is that it almost all takes place inside a singular city called Kirkwall. This means the environment lacks the variety of the first game. Yet, one positive is that it made the city a memorable and important setting.

Kirkwall is a place that contains several different types of people from different social classes. The wealthy occupy the bright and vibrant Hightown, while some of the more meager people stay within the darker industrial setting of Lowtown. As for those really struggling, they live in the dingy Darktown. Each area has its own distinct atmosphere that makes it feel unique.

12 Bowerstone (Fable Series)

The town of Bowerstone in Fable

Bowerstone features in all the main Fable games. However, a lot of time passes over the series, meaning the place goes through a lot of changes. In the original game, it's more of a simple town. But in the second and third games, it's a bustling city.

In Fable 2, Bowerstone is separated into different districts. There is the Bowerstone Market, Old Town, and Fairfax Gardens. While each place varies a bit visually, it's all pretty vibrant. This is not the case in Fable 3, as the city has become more industrial, which has made several areas look less colorful. Every version of Bowerstone, though, is packed with personality.

11 Holy Capital Argene (Harvestella)

The temple in Holy Capital Argene, Harvestella.

Square Enix's first foray into the farming sim and RPG combined genre, Harvestella has a number of locations for you to explore, from the cherry blossom wonderland of Nemea to the quiet seaside town of Shatolla. However, Holy Capital Argene is one of the biggest and charming places you'll visit.

The city is perpetually covered in a blanket of snow, and you can practically feel the frosty air all around. It's home to two looming temples that guard the outskirts of the city, as well as smaller nooks and crannies for you to explore. It's certainly a departure from your humble stead in Bird's Eye Brae, and feels alive thanks to all the side quests available from NPCs here.

10 Ding Dong Dell (Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch)

Ding Dong Dell Ni No Kuni

As the renowned Studio Ghibli played a part in the production of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, namely animating the 2D cutscenes, it comes as no surprise that the game's locations remind you of the company's iconic movies. Ding Dong Dell, the first big city you visit in the game, is distinctly reminiscent of the Spirit Realm in Spirited Away, particularly because of the greenery and moss covering some of the structures.

The city also takes inspiration from medieval and fantasy cities — you'll find a majestic castle located towards the rear of the city, protected by a moat and imposing wall. Many of the residents of Ding Dong Dell are Grimalkin, cat-like people who appear just as adorable as felines in real life.

9 Shibuya (The World Ends With You Series)

The Scramble Crossing in Shibuya, The World Ends With You.

Both The World Ends With You and its long-awaited sequel NEO: The World Ends With You take place solely in Shibuya, Japan. Though technically Shibuya is part of Tokyo, it's large enough to feel like a city all on its own. Here, it's recreated in loving detail, and you can visit iconic landmarks including the Scramble Crossing and the Hachiko Statue. Throughout both games, the city feels like your own personal playground as you attempt to survive the Reapers' Game.

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Shibuya truly shines in NEO, though, thanks to the updated graphics on the Switch in comparison to the Nintendo DS. The game's stylish graphics make the city feel vibrant and alive, and from the moment you set foot in it, you're eager to explore every inch and learn all of its secrets.

8 Yokohama (Yakuza: Like A Dragon)

Yakuza Ichiban Kasuga looking over the water at the Yokohama skyline and Ferris wheel

Most of the Yakuza games are action-adventure titles set in the fictional city of Kamurocho. But Yakuza Like A Dragon is different in that it's a turn-based RPG that takes place in Yokohama. The place is based on the real city of the same name, which is located in the south of Tokyo. It's a great re-creation of the real thing.

The whole place is separated into distinct districts, such as Chinatown, Koreatown, and the Commercial District. Each one of them looks and feels a bit different. However, one thing most have in common is a bunch of people walking around, as it truly feels like a living city.

7 Midgar (Final Fantasy 7)

Final Fantasy VII remake midgar opening scene

First introduced in Final Fantasy 7, Midgar has become one of the Final Fantasy series' most iconic locations, in part due to its sheer size. The city is split into nine sectors and is known as the "pizza" by its residents, thanks to its shape. The Shinra Building sits in the centre, cementing itself in a place where it can be seen at all angles by the residents.

In Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Midgar's potential as a huge city is fully realised. It's sprawling, almost overwhelming, and full of people as far as the eye can see. Within the city, in both the original and Remake, Aerith's house in Sector 5 is a place of reprieve — compared to the dull and dreary slums, Aerith's flower garden is colourful and hopeful.

6 Paris (Assassin's Creed: Unity)

a wide angle shot from Assassin's Creed: Unity of a large crowd holding French flags gathered outside of an ornate building

While Assassin’s Creed: Unity may not be the most fondly remembered game in the series, it is hard to argue that its faithful recreation of 18th century Paris is nothing short of masterful.

This unbelievable city is a genuine joy to explore as it is filled to the brim with life. Hopping across the Parisian rooftops, bursting through buildings in a desperate escape, or simply walking among the huge crowds milling about beneath a smoke-filled sky is an entirely immersive experience. There’s nothing quite like it.

5 London (Assassin's Creed: Syndicate)

a wide shot of smoke rolling off London rooftops in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate with a view of St Paul's cathedral in the distance

Whether it was Ubisoft’s love of crumpets and tea or the fact that setting your game within a city is an amazing concept, the follow-up title to Assassin’s Creed: Unity was set entirely within London. While contending with the occasional bobby or top-hat wearing gang can be a tad unpleasant, the ability to explore 19th century London is — especially for Brits — amazing.

What makes Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate’s London special is just how enormous it is. Coming in at 3.70km² — roughly around 1.4m² — there is so much to see and do within London. While of course Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate doesn’t have the biggest map in gaming — or even within the Assassin’s Creed series — it does feature one of the biggest and most impressive cities in video games.

4 Novigrad (The Witcher 3)

A high angle shot of Novigrad from The Witcher 3

It would be difficult to discuss enormous, impactful cities in video games without mentioning The Witcher 3’s Novigrad. While its beauty pales in comparison to that of Beauclair, it is a truly impressive sight to behold. Packed full of bustling street life, this fantastical fantasy city offers a glimpse into what it would truly be like to live within the Witcher universe. Yeah, not very pleasant.

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Of course, in comparison to CD Projekt Red’s next game, Cyberpunk 2077, Novigrad seems like small potatoes. However, once you actually enter the gorgeous yet seldom happy city, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed by its impressive sense of scale. Novigrad feels truly tremendous, filled with branching alleyways, huge crowds of people and objects populating the streets. It is a technical marvel and easily one of the best cities in an RPG.

3 Tokyo (Ghostwire: Tokyo)

Ghostwire Tokyo: Shibuya Crossing wide shot of eerie and empty Shibuya Crossing at night time

Ghostwire: Tokyo is easily one of the most distinctive open-world games available. If you fancy tackling yokai that look suspiciously like Slender Man — he’s probably taking a much-needed holiday from his creepy forest — and dealing with a chatty spirit living inside of you, then you’ll almost certainly love it. However, even if you’re not into the more horror-focused elements of Ghostwire: Tokyo, you may still get a kick out of this one, as it is set in a faithfully recreated Tokyo.

Despite being practically devoid of living beings, Ghostwire: Tokyo’s unsettling version of Tokyo is a gorgeous sight to behold. An unprecedented amount of detail went into capturing the essence of the city, ensuring that everything from haunted alleyways to Shibuya Crossing is represented perfectly. Of course, while the depiction of Tokyo is as faithful as it is stunning, it has swiftly become one of the creepiest cities in gaming.

2 New LA (Xenoblade Chronicles X)

a wide shot of New LA from Xenoblade Chronicles X showing a female character overlooking the city with towering buildings looming in the distance

The Xenoblade series has always offered some truly incredible cities. From Torigoth in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to Colony 9 in the first Xenoblade Chronicles, these fairly sizable areas provide safe spaces from which you can escape that level 90 Gorilla that seems to terrorise each game in the series. Seriously, what’s up with that guy? Just leave us alone. However, by far the biggest city in the series — and one of the biggest in RPGs, period — is New LA from the lesser-known Xenoblade Chronicles X.

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You’d be forgiven for not quite knowing what Xenoblade Chronicles X is, as Nintendo seems hell-bent on trapping it within the Wii U. However, for those who have enjoyed this enormous adventure, you’ll likely remember the sense of awe you get when you first visit the gargantuan New LA. This city is seriously huge, so big in fact you need a mech suit to feasibly travel across it in good time. With a range of unique districts, including one that more closely resembles the LA we know and love, there is so much to see and do here.

1 Night City (Cyberpunk 2077)

A screenshot showing Night City in Cyberpunk 2077

Night City is easily the biggest city in gaming. Its huge and varied districts span practically the entire game world, giving you an insight into a truly horrific vision of the future. What makes it such a special city is its attention to detail and attempts at capturing the diversity commonly found in real-world places.

Of course, while there is beauty scattered throughout — especially in the extremely colourful Japantown — its towering skyscrapers and rampant crime make it an extraordinarily suffocating place to explore. However, despite the gang violence, poverty, mind-numbingly irritating adverts and impressively bad drivers, Night City is absolutely a fictional city we’d all like to live in. After all, who doesn’t want to grab a bite to eat at Tom's Diner?

NEXT: RPGs With Amazing Character Stories