Every RPG has to have an inn or tavern, and mystery games usually involve a trip to a dive bar. They’re a mainstay of adventure games and open-world crime games too. Like bars in real life they might have minigames to play, like darts or pool or finding a local for Geralt to beat up, but they’re also places where you can get to know the locals, whether you’re scrounging for clues or recruiting new party members. And, of course, you can just get blitzed and watch the graphics go blurry.
Which videogame bar do you wish you could visit?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Christopher Livingston, Features Producer: Being a Blade Runner fan, and with the (apparently very bad) remaster of the Blade Runner game (opens in new tab) so recently out, I guess Taffey Lewis’ bar, the Snake Pit, immediately leaps to mind. It’s a crowded, smoky joint where you can enjoy a drink, see a lady dance with a snake, make an expensive local phone call, and watch the worst stand-up act in history (opens in new tab) before getting clubbed over the head by a cop. (Worth noting that the game also misspells Taffey as Taffy.)
I guess that doesn’t really sound much like a cool place to hang out, but it has historical value. It’s the spot where crack detective Rick Deckard interrogated Lewis by asking him two whole questions before getting drunk off free drinks and then shooting a woman in the back. Wait… am I a Blade Runner fan? That all sounds terrible!
Lauren Aitken, Deputy Guides Editor: Definitely Afterlife from Mass Effect 2. OK, technically it’s a nightclub, but I would be there every weekend.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Driftwood’s Black Bull Tavern in Divinity: Original Sin 2. I just really enjoy game tavern songs and the lively tune playing in Driftwood’s bar over its crowd ambience is a personal favorite. Oh, there’s a haunted ship captain hanging out there too and people-watching is another good tavern activity. There are also great songs in The Witcher’s taverns but you could not toss me enough coins to hang out in one, thanks.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: Vampire: the Masquerade—Bloodlines has some great bars: weird little raver clubs full of absurdly dressed NPCs dancing like cybergoths (opens in new tab). Santa Monica’s The Asylum, run by vampire scions Jeanette and Therese Voerman, is great, but if I could only visit one it’d be Confession (opens in new tab) in downtown LA. This nightclub in a spooky gothic church is, bizarrely, the least vampire-connected business in the game until you come along and take joint ownership. The vibes are impeccable and I’d just love to go there and party like it’s 2004.
Tyler Colp, Associate Editor: I just want to hang out with a skeleton in Grim Fandango’s Calavera Café (opens in new tab). It’s technically not a bar by name and it’s also full of snotty rich people and rigged roulette tables, but it would be rad to sit down and see what unfolds. The weirdos in Rubacava surely pass in and out of there and they’ve surely got stories to tell. I want to sit down in one of those fancy booths, sip on something smooth, and hear what they have to say.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: This is a tough decision. I am top of the darts leaderboard at Seventh Heaven in Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which I can’t say about pubs like STIJL from Yakuza, despite the hours I spent there. I’m terrible at Yakuza’s version of pool as well.
I hear there are hotels in Baldur’s Gate as clean as an elven arse, which seems like a solid recommendation—even more so in editions of D&D where all high elves know at least one cantrip, presumably prestidigitation, which lets you magically clean “an object no larger than 1 cubic foot”. D&D’s rules remain oddly silent on the size of elven buttocks, however.
Instead, I’ll go with the Abyss Bar from Deep Rock Galactic. It’s got a killer jukebox, a friendly robotic bartender, is well-stocked with Skull Crusher Ale, and you can play Barrel Hoop. That’s a game where you kick barrels into a hoop, which makes them explode.
WoodenSaucer: Definitely The Ragged Flagon on Skyrim.
Slasken: I’d go to The New Port in Skellige from Witcher 3. Seems like a nice place.
Brian Boru: Not many bars in games I play, so I guess the Spread Eagle in the town of Fall’s End in Far Cry 5. Once liberated, the town is a safe haven, so it’d be nice to have a cold one and catch up with Mary Mae.
mainer: Chora’s Den on the Citadel in Mass Effect 1, so I could watch the Asari dancers.
Frindis: I would be visiting The Prancing Pony in The Lord of the Rings Online. There I would have tried to get some latest rumors out of Mr. Butterbur, while at least having a couple of ales and perhaps even getting to bump into Strider or Gandalf.
Zloth: Tron 2.0’s “The Progress Bar”! Programmers are treated as gods there. I’m in!!
ZedClampet: I don’t know the name of it, but there was a bar in Fallout 3 with a friendly ghoul as a bartender. He always called me “drunky”. As long as I didn’t have to stick around in the Fallout 3 world, I’d go to that bar and hang out with the bartender.