Video Games
Video Games

The nine best winter areas in games

We’re now well into December, and for our money there’s no better time to be a gamer. Not only do the big releases all tend to stack up towards the end of the year, but there’s always been something magical about staying in your pyjamas all weekend, as cosy as possible while the rain, sleet, and occasionally snow batters the windows.
The nine best winter areas in games

We’ve put together a fun list of our favourite wintery areas in gaming - so make yourself a hot drink and grab the duvet as we explore the virtual tundra.

 

Snow Kingdom - Super Mario Odyssey

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How we haven’t got a Super Mario Odyssey sequel on the Switch yet is beyond us, with the game offering some the most ingeniously designed open sandboxes in the franchise’s long history.

One such location is the Snow Kingdom. When first touching down, a thick blizzard obscures Mario’s vision (and causes him to shiver uncontrollably). Teeth chattering, Mario enters himself into the Bound Bowl Grand Prix (by assuming the body of a native Shiverian).

This event sees competitors bouncing like balls around a track, and is sure to get players warmed up.

 

The Mountain - Celeste

Celeste’s entire campaign is one sprawling climb, a battle against the elements told through jumping and dashing.

Accompanied by nothing more than her own demons and the game’s glittering soundtrack, Madelyn vows to make it to the top of the mountain. Despite the game’s 16-bit art style, it’s clear just how cold (and treacherous) the path is.

Celeste captures a feeling of loneliness that is exacerbated by the mountain’s quiet emptiness - while also offering some of the most pixel-perfect platforming in gaming.

 

New York City - The Division

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A non-platformer, The Division takes place in New York City shortly after Black Friday. In this chilly metropolis, a virus known as “the dollar flu” has engulfed the population.

Gangs roam the streets, civilians need aid, and players act as sleeper agents activated to get the lights back on and the people fed. Of course, you’ll do that with fun cover-based shooting and a lot of loot, with The Division being Ubisoft’s first crack at the shared-world shooter market.

The sequel may be the better game, but every time we stroll through the streets of New York City we’re taken back to the game’s initial reveal - and every time we find ourselves playing for hours.

 

Throat of the World - Skyrim

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The region of Skyrim is a mountainous one, so there are plenty of peaks. None, however, are higher than The Throat Of The World.

Also known as the Snow Tower, there are apparently 7000 steps, and when the snow is swirling every one of them feels treacherous. You’ll want to make it, though - as it’s atop the mountain where you’ll learn to use Dragon Shouts.

On the way, you’ll find plenty of beasts out for your blood - so be prepared to swing a sword or make a run for it.

 

Shadow Moses - Metal Gear Solid

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The original Metal Gear Solid lives long in the memory, and its location is a big factor in that. Shadow Moses Island, just off of Alaska, is home to the events of the entire game, housing a secret military base developing a Metal Gear weapon.

Arriving at the island via scuba gear, Solid Snake makes his way to an elevator, before stepping out into the cold, snowy tundra that had us shivering slightly even on PlayStation 1.

This initial area may have been chilly (Snake could even catch a cold if you weren’t careful), but it felt like the game’s first real playground - and leading guards to follow our footprints in endless loops still hasn’t gotten old.

 

Hoarfrost Reach - Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Monster Hunter World was already one of the best games of the generation, but Iceborne builds on almost every aspect in some meaningful way.

Hoarfrost Reach is the expansions new location, and it changes the way players hunt. Its biting cold means players need to use peppers to brew hot drinks to maintain their body temperature, while thick snow can slow traversal significantly - and affect dodging.

You can practically feel the warmth when you enter Seliana, the new base camp in the region, and walking into the Smithy’s area with the furnace helps you feel nice and toasty before setting foot back in the Reach.

 

Assault on the Control Room - Halo: Combat Evolved

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The mission that arguably pushed Halo from a 9/10 to a 10/10 in the minds of many, this mission from the original title gave players seemingly every toy in the game to play with.

As Master Chief surges towards the control room of the Halo ring, he battles seemingly endless ranks of Covenant troops. It’s the only mission in the campaign where Chief gets to use the almost indestructible Scorpion tank, and a rare instance of the Spartan being able to pilot a Banshee.

Between its vast outdoor combat sandboxes and its tighter indoor areas, Assault on the Control Room is just as important to the first game’s campaign as the iconic Silent Cartographer mission.

 

Cliffhanger - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

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Kicking off Modern Warfare 2’s campaign with a bang, Cliffhanger sees Roach and Soap clambering up a cliff face before infiltrating an airbase.

The frigid cold of the mountains of Kazakhstan are barely visible with a snowstorm raging, but the mission is clear - recover a satellite module and escape. Things are complicated after Soap is held at gunpoint, but one sizeable explosion later and both characters hurtle away on snowmobiles.

The elation of making a huge jump at the end of the snowmobile chase is one that stays with us today and is an underrated memory within such a rollercoaster of a campaign.

 

Hoth - Star Wars Battlefront 2

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Ok, we’re cheating a little here - Hoth naturally originates from the Star Wars movies, but there’s something about the portrayal of the planet in 2017’s Battlefield 2 that makes it a pleasure to explore.

Maybe it’s the impressive graphics, or the small details like cables running across the floors, walls and ceilings of the Rebel’s makeshift base. Maybe it’s the fact that it feels so cold it’s almost worth standing near a lightsaber-wielding character just to get a bit of heat.

Whatever it is, it’s the most “true to film” version of the planet we’ve seen - although we still can’t say we’d ever want to visit.

 

Have we missed any chilly areas in games? What are some of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below!