You know me- I’m all about that single player experience. My favorite games tend to be story-driven RPG’s with immersive open worlds. Ever since I was a child I have been drawn to fantastical settings and I think the best speculative worlds are those that feel real, imbued with the atmosphere of being lived-in. Personally I have always been particularly fixated on the small details of world building- the mundane minutiae that lends a place its atmosphere. So I thought it would be fun to list my favorite taverns, cantinas and watering holes that are featured in some of my favorite games. Let me know in the comments where you would like to get a cold one after a long day murdering NPC’s!
#5 The Satyr Lounge
Game: Bioshock Infinite – Burial at Sea Part 1
What’s on offer: Cocktails! I imagine no expense is spared in this classy establishment that caters to Rapture’s upper class.
Best time to visit: Literally any time before New Year’s Eve 1958.
Trivia: This is the only place on this list that is inaccessible to the player. But I included it because it just looked so damn nice. Located in Rapture’s Market Street strip, this lounge and bar oozes class, opulence, and intimacy with its Art Deco vibes and stylish noir atmosphere.
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#4 Nightgate Inn
Game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Location: The Pale
What’s on offer: Ale, Argonian Bloodwine, Black-Briar Mead, Honningbrew Mead, Milk, and Nord Mead make for a solid list of drinks. If you are feeling peckish then Hadring can prepare you some Seared Slaughterfish, as well as traditional Skyrim pub favorites such as Cooked Beef, Baked Potatoes, Bread & Butter, Leg of Goat Roast, wedges of Eider Cheese and Honey Nut Treats!
Best time to visit: The inn is situated on the road that goes from Dawnstar to Windhelm, and makes most of its income from travelers and merchants making the journey between the two cities. The Nightgate makes the ideal halfway point where you can stop for the night and sleep in a warm bed. Best time to visit would be before sundown, so you don’t freeze to death or get beaten senseless by a Frost Troll’s erect cock.
Trivia: For some reason, out of all of Skyrim’s many taverns, this one has always been the most memorable for me. I find the atmosphere here to be super-cozy in that haunted, spooky kind of way. It makes me think of folk tales and scary stories, and is located in the valley between two mountain ranges.
#3 Entertainment Module 081 Cantina
Game: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
Location: Telos Citadel Station
What’s on offer: The droid that tends the bar offers a range of food and drinks from a plethora of worlds. This cantina has more of a cabaret feel, and patrons can enjoy the Bith musicians, dancing Twi-Leks (probably the most sexualized species in the Star Wars canon. Believe me if this game were developed by CD Projekt Red they’d all be getting their tits out), swoop racing, and a designated Pazaak Room!
Best time to visit: I’m sure a place like this is open all night long. Just know however that the doors get magnetically sealed when genocidal Sith Lords in hockey masks show up…
Trivia: This may not seem like the obvious choice, given that both KOTOR 1 and 2 are filled with all sorts of interesting cantinas. There’s Javyar’s Den on Taris and that place with the funky music on Onderon, to name a couple. But I remember my 13-year old dork self being quite enthralled by the design and atmosphere of the Citadel Station in general, and its lively cantina always had lots going on.
Game: Mass Effect
What’s on offer: This place has a bar area, a casino, and a nightclub all in one! Whatever you want, it’s got.
Best time to visit: When you know an important public figure- an admiral or a diplomat- is present, so you can eavesdrop on all the latest political gossip.
Trivia: Flux presents a much more wholesome, classy place to drink than its seedy counterpart Chora’s Den. I’ll always remember Flux because it was featured in the gameplay demos Bioware uploaded to Youtube months before the game’s release. This was my first ever look at Mass Effect. One time before we left for football/soccer training, my friends and I gathered at my house and I showed everyone this little dev diary. I remember specifically this shot of a woman sitting on a man’s lap and my friend screaming “LOOK WHERE HIS HAND IS. LOOK!”
#1 Cunny of the Goose
Game: The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
Location: Grassy Knoll
What’s on offer: Mahakaman Spirit, Dijkstra Dry, Temerian Rye, Redanian Herbal and Nilfgaardian Lemon if you like the stronger stuff. If not, you can always get yourself a frothing tankard of Viziman Champion, Redanian Lager, Rivian Kriek or Kaedweni Stout.
Best time to visit: The evening- you can watch the sunset over the lake and hope inside for a bit of drinking, dancing and whoring before it gets cold!
Trivia: The name of this tavern is hilarious. It gets my top spot because I love its scenic location. Like everything else in the Witcher 3 it’s beautifully rendered. Ultimately I’d feel real comfortable having a drink here, contemplating life in the glow of the dock’s lamps, amid the silence of the lake at night.
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