Winter is coming — or if you live in northern Ohio like me, it’s basically already here. Personally, I love the cold weather. All my best clothes are meant for this time of year, but more importantly it’s an excuse for me to stay inside and play video games.
In honor of this great season, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite snowy places in video games so that you too can celebrate the holidays by locking yourself in your room and pretending to be cold instead of going outside and actually being cold.
5. Star Wars: Battlefront II – Hoth
This is one of those games I used to play when I didn’t feel like playing anything else, and this is the level I spent most of that time in. The Hoth battle sequence in Empire Strikes Back is undoubtedly one of the most famous scenes in the Star Wars saga, and it’s lovingly recreated for everyone’s interactive pleasure in this game.
Every aspect from the movie is here: snowspeeders, AT-ATs (incidentally I learned from this game that the AT-AT’s neck is its weak spot), tauntauns, and even yetis.
As a huge Star Wars dork, I appreciate the level of detail that went into the game, which has cemented itself among my favorite childhood games.
4. Minecraft – Snow Biome
Minecraft has really taken the gaming world by storm in the past few years, starting as kind of niche game with a solid following, but growing into a phenomenon — so much so that some are calling children of this decade “the Minecraft generation” because of their addiction to the game.
One of the (many) great things about this game is its diverse environments, which are separated into biomes. One of the most common of these is the snow biome, where the player can shovel snow to make snowballs, create snowmen, or even an igloo.
The snow biome – especially compared to the others, such as plains or jungle – interacts with the player in such a way to enhance the gameplay. The snow opens up a plethora of new possibilities. Want to build an elaborate ice castle? Do it. Want to recreate the Wall from Game of Thrones? Go for it. In Minecraft, the only thing you’re limited by is time.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Snowpeak Ruins
The fifth dungeon in the first Zelda game on the Wii, Snowpeak Ruins is one of the most memorable parts of the entire game. Hidden in the dungeon is the ball and chain weapon, which is unique to Twilight Princess. This already sets the dungeon apart from the rest, but it also has one of the most interesting bosses in all the Zelda games: Blizzeta. Blizzeta is a female yeti possessed by an evil power. In the battle she attacks Link from above, and the player must use the reflections in the ice floor to dodge the attacks.
The dungeon also features slippery ice puzzles and evil creatures made entirely of ice. The environment working against the player is a common trope in Zelda games, but it’s especially apparent here. And I didn’t even mention the best part: snowboarding races against yetis!
2. Skyrim – The Throat of the World
I suppose Skyrim seems like the obvious choice for this kind of list: almost the entire game is pretty snowy. The Throat of the World – a ridiculously high, cold, snowy mountain – is a centerpiece of the game’s main storyline.
It also did something no other game has done to me: I felt cold. I felt chilly making the pilgrimage up the thousands of stairs to the mountain’s peak. The wind blows snow in your face, frost trolls lurk around the corner, and you can practically feel the cold nip at any exposed skin. It’s freezing.
The first time making that climb, I remember feeling the urge to put on my winter coat and gloves as I played in my heated bedroom. The world of Skyrim is a very chilly place, perfect for this time of year.
1. World of Warcraft – Northrend
Last up on this list is Northrend of the Warcraft universe. This snowy continent has appeared in both Warcraft III and the ever-popular World of Warcraft. Both times it has been home to lands of ice and snow, undead creatures — and the Lich King, one of Warcraft’s biggest bad guys.
Northrend is a place of much more evil than any of the other places I’ve listed here, and its significance in the Warcraft universe cannot be overstated. This is where the super-great-good-guy Prince Arthas changed to the horrible-evil-malevolent-bad-guy Lich King. In World of Warcraft, it’s home to some of the creepiest dungeons the game has to offer. Zombies everywhere, walking skeletons, giants, mammoths, the list goes on. Northrend is an incredibly diverse place, despite its chilly nature, and a joy to explore. Maybe it’s time to jump back in.
Joel Wallick is currently pursuing a degree in film studies at Bowling Green State University with an undecided minor. He has been gaming since early childhood, beginning with Pokemon Silver. Follow him on Twitter @SuperNerdJoel