Welcome to the Overworld. This is the neutral unifying setting in a Video Game
. It's where you are when you aren't Dungeon Crawling
or visitng the Adventure Towns
In action games and platformers that don't follow the Overworld vs. Underworld
format, the Overworld is sometimes referred to as a Ground Level. It's the "basic" themed Video Game Setting
as opposed to the more specialized levels, or stages that employ special mechanics like swimming
. It usually overlaps with Green Hill Zone
or the Plains, it can also be determined by the overall setting. Well lit, safe streets if the setting is confined to one city, or the thinnest part of the Jungle if the whole thing takes place in the tropics.
In Adventuring games the Overworld may be a fully explorable world, like a Dungeon
or an Adventure Town
only much larger with less monsters or NPCs
. It will not follow the progression of a Dungeon but will have its fair share of puzzles, mooks
, hidden items, passable
and impassable obstacles
and occasionally a miniboss.
It's a good place to explore in between levels.
the Overworld may be a World Map
, see Overworld Not to Scale
, used solely for progressing from one Dungeon or Adventure Town
to the next. Certain areas that require more nuance or have plot elements around them may shift it to an adventure like format. Crossing a certain bridge or a trekking up specific mountain path may zoom in to be drawn to scale and have more opportunities to explore and solve small puzzles. Always expect random encounters to happen here.
The Overworld will typically play a rendition of the game's main theme. Especially in older games, the song may become Bootstrapped into the main theme just because it's the one song everyone is guaranteed to hear when they play. Often over and over if there isn't a save feature and you always start from the beginning.
A type of World Map
. In terms of size and activity it is on the scale of Playable Menu
(small, interactive list of places to go) Hub Level
(mid size, warps you to other locations) and finally the Over World
(large, environment physically/geographically connected to other places)
to Overworld Not to Scale
. Compare Green Hill Zone
and Hub Level
- Hyrule Field for The Legend of Zelda, possibly the Trope Maker for the Adventure-style overworld.
- In The Wind Waker it was The Great Sea, an interesting take on the concept being that you had to traverse by boat. There are small islands that have nuances you can explore but, its mostly just open seas.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess features the largest, most detailed, overworld of any Zelda game to date; featuring varied terrain, scores of enemies, and secret grottos. In fact, it was so massive that the game gives you Epona early on, otherwise, getting around could take awhile....
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword it's the Sky, which you have to traverse by giant bird. Similar to the The Wind Waker there are small floating islands strewn out among the clouds.
- Metroid Prime:
- Tallon Overworld in the first game has elevators to all but one of the other zones. True to form, it also plays the main Metroid adventuring theme.
- Temple Grounds in Metroid Prime 2 doubles as the Hub Level.
- Bryyo Cliffside in Metroid Prime 3.
- The Shinshu and Ryoshima plains in Ōkami.
- The Elder Scrolls series boast some of the largest Overworlds in gaming
- Shadow of the Colossus has one shrine in the center of the map and then an expansive overworld with 16 bosses in it. That's it. And it's beautiful.
Non-Video Game Examples
- Xenoblade's overworld is utterly massive. It has 20 maps, each of them absolutely sprawling landscapes teeming with wildlife, landmarks, sidequests, and hidden areas. It's a telling sign when the game enables a "quick travel" function from the start and even awards EXP simply for exploring the world map!
- Resonance of Fate takes place entirely within one tower. This tower is big enough to warrant having a hex-grid-based world map to travel between cities and dungeons. You can also activate terminals on the world map to give yourself bonus effects in combat, if you connect it to a dungeon or, better yet, the arena.
- Pokémon has the various Routes inbetween cities and caves. Unlike most overworlds that are extremely expansive with points of interests scattered, the Routes are more like connect the dots, each being a straight shot to one other place. Also Random Encounters only happen in Tall Grass.There are typically a few different Route themes. The early ones are more bouncy like you're out camping, as it progresses they get more noble as you're now on a true adventure.
- Earthbound Has the Eagleland overworld, which actually has roads, just like in Real Life! You sometimes get to ride in the tour bus with a local band down them, but otherwise you walk like in other RP Gs
- Neverwinter Nights 2 got one in its second expansion, Storm of Zehir. Previously the game had you fast travel between locations.
- Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden parodies the Overworld Not to Scale type, with an overworld that only becomes accessible right before the end of the game, and only contains two locations, the place where you need to go, and the city where you've spent the entire game so far.