The 9 Best Skies In Gaming
The debate happens constantly on if games are art, and it's a bit of a silly question. Art is incredibly wide, designed to make you feel something, to have something of creative input. And of course games achieve this, and in more ways than one. But an oft-forgotten one is how much a gaming sky can make you feel.
History has assigned so much meaning to the sky and the stars, be they guides or stories or gods of a bygone age. It's that great expanse that the whole world sees and realizes we're all connected. The lines might be thin, but they're there. A sky can evoke so many emotions, and give a world a true sense of union.
9 Red Dead Redemption 2
True joy in life can be to simply stare up at the night sky and contemplate, gazing at long-dead stars shining their brightest right by the end, and putting the minute scale of life into perspective. But in a world overrun by industry, it can be even harder to get that clear view, and Red Dead Redemption plays on that knowledge.
The world of Red Dead is one that is constantly on the verge of mass industrialization. The final vestiges of the American wild being demolished for factories and smoke; a life in unison with nature exchanged for fire and metal. So when you roam the wilds, day or night, and you see that clear sky, it's a reminder that it too is coming to an end.
When Destiny is talked about, it's usually some new piece of content Bungie is releasing, a big new lore revelation, or maybe Telesto is just broken again. And though people do indeed praise the wonderful design of Destiny's worlds, one of the less acknowledged elements of all these are its skies.
No matter where you are, the sky tells a story. For example, you're in the Cosmodrome. The sun mixes with the clouds to give a hopeful elation as it rises, the scale of Jupiter as it hangs over the moon of Io, dwarfing it in scale, the stars lingering at the edges of the Dreaming City's thick clouds. The sky encapsulates the themes of each planet.
7 No Man's Sky
The release of No Man's Sky came with many promises, but the one it truly succeeded in was the scale of its universe. A basically endless amount of planets, each and every one of them unique, and its many updates have only brought that further. But the sky of each and every planet is unique.
You land on a planet, its environment too hostile for you to survive. Maybe there's a storm whipped up obscuring your view. So you leave, and land on its neighboring moon packed with life. And there, hanging in the sky is that very same planet in orbit, and cutting over the horizon is the dynamically moving sun. Every view is unique to the planet you're on.
6 Majora's Mask
Usually, when we talk about the greatest aspects of games, it can be the beauty of their worlds and the wonderful feelings they elicit. But the strongest thing can be that feeling of unison of a sky, and Majora's Mask handles that great. Because, the sky is no longer a part of life, but the end of it.
Unlike most games, Majora's Mask demands you pay attention to the sky, watching the moon draw closer with each passing day. It's not a thing of inherent beauty, but horror. And the whole land over, it lets you know what everyone feels: fear, and the end of all they know. It's a constant reminder to everyone.
Skyrim has achieved a great many things in its tenure as a premier open-world game, many of which future titles still struggled to adapt themselves. Endearing characters, a world with a real sense of history, and a land that feels lived in. Skyrim has a real feeling of cultural spread, and one sky to tie it all together.
For Skyrim, the sky is more than something pretty (though it is truly pretty). Stars dot the sky forming constellations, and those same constellations are your skills; your gaze is drawn upwards to level up. But a wondrous realization of the lore is looking up at the clear night sky and seeing its two moons gazing down wrapped in the aurora.
Originally revealed in 2018, Sable finally launched in 2021 after much anticipation. And though reactions varied, one thing truly stood out: that it was a game designed for introspection, both for its character and its players. Not in any heavy-handed way, but a loving one. It's not telling you to get better, but to take the time to find yourself.
You travel the world on your bike, searching for yourself while helping the surrounding people. And the one constant companion on that journey is the open sky. The land is wide open, laid bare for you to see. And normally, a clear open sky like that would make you feel tiny. But in Sable, it feels like a possibility, knowing there's a whole world of individuals out there, and you're one of them.
3 The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is a game that needs no introduction at this point, being the crowning achievement of CD Projekt Red's library, conditions of its development aside. A heartfelt story with well-realized characters and the fantasy of playing expert monster hunter, The Witcher 3 excels especially in its world.
A world that constantly feels in motion, shaking trees and whistling winds. Taking the moment to stop and admire the sky is a reward in itself. Every region has something unique. The red and purple that capture the clouds of Velen's sunset, the thin clouds and abundance of stars of Skellige, or the painterly blues of Toussaint.
2 Breath Of The Wild
For the longest time, Nintendo's series have determined so much of gaming's growth as a medium, and Zelda is no different. That hub area that stretches outwards, its intricate dungeons and character quests that intersect. And though Breath of the Wild abandoned plenty of traditions, it spawned new ones.
Hyrule is finally open to you like never before, one singular land to explore at your pace. And by all means, is the sky a part of that. It's an incredibly clear sky, brushstroke clouds barely concealing the immense blue weight above you, and the night sky's shooting stars that dynamically fall to earth for you to track down.
1 Elden Ring
Let there be Elden Ring. In what many people are calling the biggest innovation to open-world games since Breath of the Wild, Elden Ring indeed has big shoes to fill, and they seem to fit pretty damn well. The world of Elden Ring is seemingly almost too big, more and more of the world revealing itself during your travels.
And though each region has its own unique aspects, their own shared feature is the sky. But it revels in its fantasy setting, with clouds taking twisted shapes, the sky dyed colors it should never be, and the Erdtree towering over without cease. Though Caelid's sky may be slick with red, it still holds the Erdtree in view, and maybe the stars if you're lucky.
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