Created By: acrobox on December 12, 2012 Last Edited By: acrobox on June 1, 2013
Troped

The Overworld

The neutral, often largest, area. Usually the first level or a go between for other locations

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.

In RPGs 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)

Super Trope to Overworld Not to Scale. Compare Green Hill Zone and Hub Level.

Examples

Action Adventure
  • 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.

Platformer

RPG
  • 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.

Non-Video Game Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • December 12, 2012
    shimaspawn
    World Map isn't a trope. It's a disambig page.
  • December 12, 2012
    acrobox
    That is true.
  • December 12, 2012
    shimaspawn
    You probably shouldn't be treating it as a trope or linking to it. You might want to tweak that. Otherwise, it's a good start.
  • December 12, 2012
    StarSword
    • Neverwinter Nights 2 got one in its second expansion, Storm of Zehir. Previously the game had you fast travel between locations.
  • December 12, 2012
    Cider
    Not to be confused with the Overworld of Kid Icarus.
  • December 12, 2012
    StarSword
    Compare Hub Level.
  • December 20, 2012
    acrobox
    bump
  • January 1, 2013
    SunnyV
  • January 1, 2013
    Stratadrake
    ^ How so?
  • January 2, 2013
    acrobox
    So this is basically like Overworld Not To Scale, except it is to scale? If so, would following examples count:

    • In The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind, the Vvardenfell island is a single continuous explorable location, dotted with countless entrances to smaller dungeon and indoors levels.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion is similar to Morrowind, except that entire cities are also rendered as smaller sub-levels accessible from the overworld.
  • January 13, 2013
    troacctid
  • January 21, 2013
    MiinU
    • 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....

    • However Xenoblade's overworld utterly dwarfs the one in Twilight Princess. 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!
  • January 22, 2013
    CrystalGamma
    • Metroid Prime has Tallon Overworld, an area that has direct elevators to all but one of the zones in the main game.
  • January 22, 2013
    CrystalGamma
    Oops, didn't see it in the examples section. :D
  • January 23, 2013
    acrobox
    all good
  • January 23, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Useful to note that just because something is labelled an "overworld" does not make it an Overworld. I'm not sure whether or not Metroid Prime counts in this manner.
  • January 24, 2013
    troacctid
    I guess the question is to what extent can this overlap with Hub Level.
  • January 24, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Tallon Overworld, at its least, is not a Hub Level.
  • January 25, 2013
    acrobox

    • There's the Overworld, which is expansive and large and part of the game world where the point is that you travel from one area to the next.
    • The Hub Level which is smaller, and disconnected from the rest of the game world, usually operating through warpzones, portals, and magic doors that take you to different areas.
    • The Playable Menu which is even smaller than the Hub Level and pretty much a menu screen where the character is the cursor with some or all of their abilities, but nothing to do but interact with buttons.

    For example, Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess is an Overworld, The Comet Observatory from Super Mario Galaxy if a Hub Level. White Space from Sonic Generations is a Playable Menu.
  • January 25, 2013
    acrobox
    and of course with all related tropes there can be some fuzziness flexibility and overlap.
  • February 10, 2013
    StarSword
  • February 11, 2013
    shoruke
    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.
  • February 11, 2013
    Desertopa
    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.
  • April 23, 2013
    Arivne
    Added Namespaces and italicization to work names.
  • April 23, 2013
    acrobox
    thanks
  • May 31, 2013
    acrobox
    bump, i think this one was pretty close a while ago. only needs one more hat
  • June 1, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Did a slight bit of cleanup and organization for the Metroid examples. I didn't strike anything, I swear!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cn6s6ma5i68v25e0cdcg810r&trope=TheOverworld