Friday, May 20, 2022

The most unique cards in the game

One of the most common functions in games since its inception has been cards. Sometimes they are there to give us orientation and to make sure we don’t get lost. At other times, they’re like a treasure map that lets us write down the various things that we might want to return to. They are an invaluable tool.

RELATED: The Biggest Open Worlds In Video Games Ever, From Smallest To Biggest

But while most games include cards as a standard tool, some will go out of their way to make cards a more common tool, or just invest a little more time making actual use of the card a unique experience. Not every game can or must do it, but for those who have tried it is always a rewarding experience.

10 Dead space

Isaac looks at the 3D map of the main laboratory

Dead Space was a big game for the industry, coming during the zombie game renaissance in the 2000s. Originally conceived as the new System Shock, after the success of Resident Evil 4 it was reconfigured to bring the same kind of tense horror into a science fiction setting, a place where no one can hear you scream.

The game’s user interface is a standout feature. It’s everything around you, your health, ammo, and of course your card. Instead of pausing the game and opening it in a separate window, the map instead appears in front of you in 3D and you can rotate it around you to orient yourself. Navigation can be a little clunky, but it also adds tension in tight spaces.


9 Minecraft

A player holding a map in Minecraft

Minecraft is a phenomenon that at this point in time has subsumed completely in culture, your own digital world of creation. You know what Minecraft is. However, one of Minecraft’s first promises was a near-infinite world, all procedurally generated. How can one naturally map a seemingly endless world? Cards of course!

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The maps created by Minecraft are simply hand-held and fill in parts of the area as you explore. Once this card is filled out, create another one and fill it out as well. There is a real sense of exploration, really having to map the world around you and referring to maps over and over again to get your bearings.

The world maps of A Link Between Worlds and A Link To The Past put together side by side

A Link to the Past is a little different from using cards, which by today’s standards are almost more traditional. The game is paused, a map comes across the screen and shows the whole world, depending on whether you are in Hyrule or the Dark World (Lorule in A Link Between Worlds). However, this was a relatively new design for the time and plays into the core loop of the game.

Central to Zelda games are usually a central area that branches off to the various temples. But in Link to the Past, you can properly visualize this in-game and progress at your own pace and schedule instead of tripping over them. And in a Link Between Worlds this is expanded so that you can also mark the map and offers more freedom in exploring and tracking.

7th Dead resurrection

The in-game mall map used to navigate Dead Rising

Another great horror game that hit the market during the zombie boom, Dead Rising took an over-the-top approach where you run through a mall making weapons out of whatever you can find. It’s an inventive system seen in newer games like Dying Light.

RELATED: Dead Rising: Series Best Easter Eggs

But the use of cards was a fun twist too. Everything you pick up and use is part of the mall, including the map. Instead, instead of having an accurate map, you’ll need to refer to the various maps of the malls in the area to guide you. They are well-designed maps with good clarity, but fun to use their setting to improve gameplay as well.

6th Bethesda’s fallout

Fallout 3 National Guard Depot Card

While Bethesda may not have been the creators of Fallout (that honor goes to Black Isle Studio, now superseded by Obsidian), they had their own vision for the games, as you move from isometric games to 3D ego open world -Games can switch. Immersion was key to the games and the Pip-Boy’s use of the user interface is a great example of this.

Most of the game’s menus are physically navigated through the Pip-Boy, from your inventory and status to the map. The map itself isn’t functionally terrific, but they use the Pip-Boy to display it and need to be navigated from the small screen. There are design constraints, but they force you to feel like you are using the actual technology.

5 Nobody’s heaven

A star system highlighted with many others in the background on the galactic map of No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky has received a lot of attention since its release, both positively and negatively. Nevertheless, the game has taken an incredible turn in the years since then, far exceeding all promises to create a wonderful universe full of things that are endless to discover.

RELATED: To Boldy Go: Best Space Exploration Games

However, the galaxy map is in the game from the start. Well, it’s not quite your average card. You cannot set a course on planets or even within a launch system. Instead, it’s the entire galaxy that you navigate through. It’s a completely open 3D space that you can explore forever. Every star you see is a system to travel to.

4th Metro exodus

Artyom holds the map of a region with various discovered locations

4A Games has built a reputation for incredibly immersive gaming at this point. Even in the original Metro games, although they didn’t include a map to navigate yourself with, loading screens showed actual maps of the Russian Metro and where you were on it. For Exodus, which is mainly above the earth, this approach had to be changed.

Now Artyom is using a real physical card that he is holding in his hands. However, every part of it is designed to be physical. Objects are marked by being found with binoculars and updated on arrival. There is a small light in the corner to illuminate the map at night and a compass embedded in the corner. Turn it over and you have your journal. It feels like a cobbled together card.

3 Hollow knight

The knight sits on a bench and looks at a partially filled out map of the Forgotten Crossroads

You can’t write about cards in games without mentioning Metroidvanias. Changed the way maps are displayed, Super Metroid has become an indispensable tool for navigating, giving you little clues to secrets that you can come back to later. Most Metroidvanias took a very similar approach until Hollow Knight.

Hollow Knight has many unique aspects, but its card is one of the best. Instead of just having it and filling it in as you explore, Hollow Knight buys a rough map that only fills in when you rest and scribble in new places. In addition, you will not appear without a spell on it, so you must be careful of your surroundings in order to survive.

2 Death stranding

Death Stranding - A look at the standard order screen

Death Stranding does a lot of things that are atypical of the average triple-A game, and makes a massive game that is actually about the walking instead of travel being simply a by-product of the world. Every step has to be calculated from the risk of slipping, how much you bring with you, etc. And so the map becomes an equally important tool.

The map looks pretty normal. However, it can also be tilted in all directions for a better sense of scale. You can also draw lines between markers to draw routes, and then follow those routes with the compass. The map is a survival tool here, more than just a guide.

1 Skyrim


Skyrim is the game that refuses to die. And while it’s known (lovingly or hatefully) for an almost checklist game of its locations, it undeniably has an incredibly unique way of presenting it on the world map. It’s an impressive feat that few games have tried to recreate.

The world map of Skyrim is completely in 3D, although it is not a 3D replica, but the actual live world, scaled down. The time of day around you is reflected, the weather in the area is visible, and you might even see kites. It is a beauty to see Skyrim’s actual scale as the map shrinks from your location to show the whole world.

NEXT: The strangest open worlds and their most unusual feature

John Terry NFT
Continuing to be the worst husband ever, John Terry has his wife Monkey NFT dress up as him

Nothing says love like getting your partner an NFT.

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