The open-ended worlds of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption 2 can arouse the housebound traveller’s sense of adventure
There is only one entrance to the city of Solitude. Its gates are set in a colossal stone wall that lies across the summit of a steep stone path amid a forest of fir trees. Arriving this way suggests nothing of the grandeur beyond. If you approach via the Karst river to the south or its swampy delta to the east, a mandible of buildings is visible, stretching high across an arching stone bridge. To the right, flashes of sunlight reflect off the windows of the Blue Palace. A cluster of sloped roofs, a windmill and turreted towers lie along its breadth. Far left and higher still, mountains covered in snow and pine trees spire into the clouds.
The city of Solitude hugs the far north-west coast of the fictional region of Haafingar, a land in the video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Like the rest of Skyrim, it is a place created to wander and explore at the pace of your choosing. Inhabitants initiate conversation, sometimes leading you to quests, other times just enriching your experience. Despite being nearly a decade old, the game still hosts millions of players a year, and remains one of the most beautiful and intricately detailed destinations accessible from the couch.