aka: Capital City
The city in games that you keep coming back to. This is usually where The Empire or other important political entity makes its headquarters. The center of politics, commerce, religion, culture, and/or crime, you'll find all sorts of subquests and side-plots here, but you may or may not find the best stuff here, thanks to the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness. Has an obscene amount of NPCs, sidequests, shops, vendors, and usually Minigame Zones as well. Generally appears in the first half of the game, but players will probably have to return here often. This is the one place most likely to get upgrades and evolving content as the plot progresses. Compare with Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe and Big Applesauce, when everything takes place in Tokyo or New York. See Merchant City for the capitalist version, and Holy City for the religious equivalent—either one could overlap. Often has shades of Shining City. May also be a Hub Level. Not to be confused with Hub City from The DCU, which is a poster-child for Vice City.
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- It's not primarily from a game, but Coruscant in the Star Wars universe fits this trope well. The entire planet is a big city and inevitably important for any galactic civilization - it was the Republic's capital four thousand years before the movies, the Empire kept it and renamed it Imperial Centernote , the New Republic took it back and restored the name, the Vong took it, terraformed it, and renamed it again, on and on. It is described in the Star Wars Expanded Universe as a world that can only rule or die, as it has an enormous population, has to import everything but people, and in effect exports only politicians, soldiers, and laws.
- Trantor in Isaac Asimov's Foundation saga, which was the primary inspiration for Coruscant.
- Despite the local axiom that all roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork, especially if you run fast enough and are determined enough, events on the Discworld all seem to start or get resolved here. for a city which cultivates a deliberate air of being poor, shabby and broke, it is the largest human city on the Disc and is getting bigger almost by the day.
- The Manticore system (especially Manticore A) serves as this writ large for the Honor Harrington series. The location of the largest known wormhole nexus (with six, later seven, connections), several of which are in relatively close proximity to other, smaller networks, means it serves as the hub for truly staggering amounts of interstellar traffic.
- Sigil (City of Doors), in the Planescape setting for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Similar cities crop up in other campaign settings: Forgotten Realms has Waterdeep (City of Splendors), for example, Eberron has Sharn (City of Towers) and Greyhawk has...well, Greyhawk (City of...hey, the setting's named after it; what more did you want?).
- Cymril in the Talislanta game setting.
- Sharn, the city of towers, in the continent of Khorvaire and Stormreach in Xen'drik in the setting of Eberron act as this. It's worth pointing out that Stormreach is the one city by which all traffic to Xen'drik transits, and most of that traffic usually leaves from Sharn. Before Cyre blew up, it's capital city, Metrol, used to be the largest Metropolis, in no small part thanks to hosting the HQ of the most powerful Dragonmarked House.
- Legend of the Five Rings has several candidates. The original capital of Rokugan is Otosan Uchi, but the city is mostly based around supporting the Imperial Court than being a functioning city. A better candidate is Ryoko Owari Toshi, commonly called the "City of Lies." It is a major economic hub and center of intrigue (hence the name). Both cities were detailed in boxed set supplements.
- The Citadel in Mass Effect certainly counts, and it's even the capital of interstellar politics.
- It was even the capital of the Protheans's empire fifty-thousand years before the games. Of course, it was designed by the Reapers so that every galactic civilization would make it their capital, so the first strike of their invasions would immediately take out the nerve center of the strongest galactic power and give them full access to all military and political data as well.
- Hyrule Castle Town, usually, from Zelda games. Other examples from this series include The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask's Clock Town and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past's Kakariko Village.
- Happy Garland in Steambot Chronicles.
- The cities of Celadon, Goldenrod, Lilycove, Jubilife, Castelia, and Lumiose from the various Pokémon games.
- When modeling Kanto after the real Kantō region of Japan, Game Freak split Tokyo into two cities due to its size and influence - Celadon for the culture, Saffron for the commerce.
- Johto's Goldenrod is an expy of Osaka. Incidentally, Johto itself matches the name of a ward of said city.
- Castelia is notably based on Lower Manhattan.
- Lumiose City is based on Paris. If the Eiffel Tower expy didn't tip you off, maybe the fact that it's the biggest and most important city in a France-based region will.
- Final Fantasy does this a few times:
- In a variation, Final Fantasy VII makes this the First Town, but Midgar is still the Capital of the planet (Shinra's HQ is located here, natch).
- Deling City (though Esthar is far bigger) in Final Fantasy VIII.
- The Grand Duchy of Jeuno in Final Fantasy XI, although nowadays Al Zahbi/Whitegate is busier.
- Rabanastre from Final Fantasy XII, also the first town. Archadia's capital Archades is also quite large, but not on the same scale and not as friendly.
- More importantly, there aren't nearly as many places to go in Archades due to its taxi system and being impossible to get around otherwise, cutscenes show it to actually be quite large.
- Eden is considered the capital of the planet Cocoon in Final Fantasy XIII (with the notable fact that parts of it are made up of living creatures,) and the driving force of the characters' wanting to go there is at first to get help to remove their l'Cie brands, and later to bring it crashing out of the sky.
- Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, and Ul'Dah of Final Fantasy XIV, which are also the starting points of the game depending on your starting class.
- Similarly, Kingdom Hearts has a few for most of the games:
- World of Warcraft has capital cities for almost every race, but only two on each side are ever visited in any large numbers: for the Alliance there's Stormwind (the Human capital) and Ironforge (Dwarves and Gnomes), and for the Horde there's Orgrimmar (Orcs and Trolls) and the Undercity (Undead). The other racial capitals are rarely visited unless a player is questing, due to their remote locations (though some players prefer the less popular capitals if they're running on a slower system, especially during peak hours). As a result, the new races in Cataclysm will simply be given districts in existing cities: Darnassus (the Night Elf capital) for the Worgen and Orgrimmar for the Goblins.
- Sizable neutral cities also exist, notably Shattrath, Dalaran, the Temple of Earth, and most Goblin cities, with Ratchet and Booty Bay being the most popular.
- The extended palace complex in the Vale of Eternal Spring offers services to both factions in their own areas, access to high-level quests, and the final raid of the expansion.
- The former capital of the fallen nation of Lordaeron used to be either called Lordaeron or the Capital City prior to its destruction by the Scourge. Ten thousand years ago, the capital of the Night Elves was Zin-Azshari, which was swallowed by water during the Sundering. Thanks to a Deal with the Devil, the city was not destroyed but sank to the bottom of the sea intact.
- For reference, the other major current capitals are Exodar (Draenei) and Gilneas City (Worgen) for the Alliance and Thunder Bluff (Tauren), Silvermoon (Blood Elves) and Bilgewater Harbor (Goblins) for the Horde.
- The Elder Scrolls series gives us several examples:
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the largest city on Vvardenfell island (where the main game takes place,) Vivec. It's made up of several massive cantons and you'll be visiting it repeatedly throughout the main quest as well as most faction quests. Balmora also qualifies as the 2nd largest city on the island, and the first big city you visit if following the main quest. Subverted with Mournhold, the actual capital of Morrowind which you visit in the Tribunal expansion. You're unfortunately limited to only a small part of the stated-to-be massive city, where the King of Morrowind (Helseth) and Almalexia take up residence. As far as the Imperials are concerned, the technical capital of Vvardenfell is Ebonheart. However, it amounts to not much more than a couple of Imperial-style buildings housing the Imperial-appointed Duke and some consular services, across the waterfront from Vivec City.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion partially subverts this by starting the main character out at the Imperial City prison sewer exit. While this does place the character closest to the Imperial City on the main map, the usual progression for a first-time player is to follow the first quest, which immediately takes you to Weynon Priory, just outside the city of Chorrol. The Imperial City is available to travel to at any time, though.
- Also semi-averted in the form of Kvatch, which is nearly as large as the Imperial City and even has an arena. It's only a semi-aversion because the city gets razed to the ground by the Daedra before the player ever gets to see it.
- Played straight in the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion, in that the divided city of Bliss/Crucible, capital of the Shivering Isles, is not available until you've finished the introductory quest. Until then, you're restricted to the village of Passwall.
- Skyrim actually muddles this trope. Whiterun ultimately fits the description best as it is the Hub City of Skyrim due to it's central location. However, due to the Civil War, the political hub cities of Skyrim are Solitude (for Imperial-aligned) and Windhelm (for Stormcloak-aligned) and both are large cities with port access to the other side of the country. Add into this the fact that all the Hold Capitals are Hub Cities for their holds... well, it's complicated.
- Whiterun ultimately is this city for players though because it contains much of the main plot, Boring Yet Practical layout, 2 blacksmiths, the Companions, and is hub for most of the quests in game.
- Not to mention Breezehome which is usually the first house you get and the one filled with all your stuff.
- Every country in eRepublik has a capital, certain actions can cause them to move, hence why the capital of the eUSA is Florida.
- Koorong in SaGa Frontier, the only city in the game from which you can travel to all of the others; the others only have a handful of destinations. Manhattan probably has more people, but you only have to visit there in a couple of the quests, and there aren't nearly as many buildings to go into.
- Freelancer has four Capital Cities, each one of the capital planet of the Houses: Manhattan, New London, New Tokyo and New Berlin. In terms of where the player can actually go, however, they have the same four locations as every other planet, station and outpost in the game: the Landing Pad, the Bar, the Ship Dealer, and the Trader.
- Dragon's Dogma has Gran Soren, which is oft described by Pawns as "the beating heart of all Gransys". It's the royal capital of the realm and has several amenities, including an inn where you can rest and handle your vocations, a Pawn Guild, bulletin boards with job listings, and a fair number of stores and venders.
- Varrock, Falador, and Ardougne in Runescape.
- Presumably to save on memory, Jade Empire only has one city and a few villages, and the city's not very big at all.
- In the Paper Mario games, Toad Town, Rogueport, Flipside, and Decalburg serve as a combination of this, the First Town, and the Hub Level.
- Meltokio in Tales of Symphonia and Midgard in Tales of Phantasia.
- Baldur's Gate was rather unusual in that the eponymous city didn't appear until very late in the game, and didn't even have all that much directly to do with the plot in it—though it was huge, composed of six areas where every other town in the game was no more than two screens if one was generous. Baldur's Gate 2, on the other hand, starts you off in Athkatla (not only several hundred miles south but in a completely other nation), which you'll be returning to more than once. Throne of Bhaal, the expansion to the sequel, didn't really have a capital city, though it did have your pocket plane as a home base.
- BioWare did more or less the same thing in Dragon Age: Origins: Denerim is the largest city in the game (which isn't saying much), but you're discouraged from going there until later by a Beef Gate or two. Justified in that the Evil Chancellor is there at the centre of his power. It is full of sidequests and critical sequences of the main quests, and The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. In Awakening, it's Amaranthine and in Dragon Age II, it's Kirkwall, seeing how there aren't any other cities in either game.
- Summoner featured Lenele, the city of the gods. To say that Lenele was immense would be a mild understatement (Unfortunately, Lenele is the only large city in the game that's still populated, although there was originally going to be another huge city next to Lenele, but it was scrapped midway through development).
- Most of the action in City of Heroes takes place in Paragon City, while most of City of Villains takes place in the Rogue Islands. Occasionally the two sides cross over.
- Despite the fact that the entire game takes place in cities, each one has a Hub District that fits this trope. Atlas Park for heroes, Cap Au Diable for villians, and Imperial City for for Praetorians.
- Jibral Castle Town in Blue Dragon.
- Vizima in The Witcher.
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has Tarant.
- Sort of subverted in the Thief series, because the only city in the game is The City, and it's the only place (sans some immediate environs) where you ever are or visit.
- Bowerstone from the Fable games. Partially subverted in both games in that the player visits Bowertone fairly early on.
- Perfect World International has Archosaur — so huge that after 19th level (in particular after what's generally called the "FB 19" dungeon for the respective race) everyone goes there and has more or less the same quests for at least the next ten levels, and thus go to the same areas; it's so huge that you can actually teleport within the city, to a teleport area in the north, west, and/or south. On the Heaven's Tear PVE server this player has seen the area immediately inside the west gate perpetually filled with players.
- Guild Wars has three of these, one for each continent. Lion's Arch in Tyria, Kaineng Centre in Cantha (Which is only the administrative centre of Kaineng City, which covers roughly half of Cantha, making Kaineng the best example of this trope in Guild Wars), and Kamadan, Jewel of Istan in Elona. these three places are the centres of player trading and chat in their respective campaigns, and are distinguished by being the places you have to go to have access to travel to the other continents.
- Lion's Arch continued to enjoy its Hub City status in Guild Wars 2, now as a neutral city populated by all races rather than a human capital. (It's a long story.) It contained portals to all racial cities, as well as PvP and high-end PvE content, dungeon gear vendors, and crafting stations. Then, in a subversion of Status Quo Is God, it was destroyed at the end of the Living Story season one and left a depopulated ruin. The player hub and all services were temporarily moved to Vigil Keep until the city was deemed safe enough for them to return.
- Neverwinter Nights, set in Neverwinter, is a relatively large city. Not only is the first entire section of the game set exclusively in the metropolis, but one comes back to it for the final battle.
- Hordes of the Underdark, meanwhile, subverts it: you start off in Waterdeep, which plays this role to the setting... with only a (small) city block available for exploration, and not that much to do; the main part of the chapter is about exploring Halaster's Undermountain.
- Prontera from Ragnarok Online.
- Britannia from Ultima Online and other Ultima games.
- EVE Online has Jita, which is so busy that it has it's own dedicated nodes to run it and special rules to manage the traffic. Other market hubs include Amarr, Dodixie and Rens.
- Putting some numbers to this, Jita regularly tops 1000 people. It usually has about 2% of the entire active population at any given time, while there are some 7500 other systems.
- Tolbi from Golden Sun.
- Big Ape City from Donkey Kong Land.
- Pretty much any city from Mount & Blade, but you'll find the place that your leader hides out will be the most commonly visited because sucking up to him is a great way to keep your place in your faction.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online takes place mostly in the city of Stormreach (see below) The game was even called "Stormreach" before it became an Allegedly Free Game. As you level up, you move through the city's different districts. It helps that the game takes place almost exclusively on Xen'drik, which doesn't exactly have other major civilized areas.
- Liberty City and Vice City in the Grand Theft Auto series - the former of these is played more straight in GTA3 and Liberty City Stories, where the action is more self-contained (Alderney in GTA4 is treated by the Libertonians as a separate city, despite sharing the same conurbation zone - not quite unlike New Jersey to New York City IRL). As for San Andreas, it's an odd case because the action is rather equally split between Los Santos and San Fierro, with a smaller part of the action being set in Las Venturas.
- Not even an RPG, Sonic Adventure has Station Square. This is where you start out (with most characters), and it has two full Action Stages in it (the former of which is quite large) - Speed Highway and Casinopolis.
- It varies in each Fallout game. Fallout 1 had The Hub as the largest population and trade center of the wastes. New Reno got all the developer love in Fallout 2, but the New California Republic's capital city was also very important in terms of the story since it belongs to the largest faction in the game universe, and there are much more shops there. San Francisco was pretty important in the last quarter of the game as their shops offer many end game high-tec equipment that you can't get from anywhere else. Fallout 3 was more decentralized, with no real cities. Megaton and Rivet City were the biggest, with Rivet City being bigger and having a better market, while Megaton had more plot and player housing. Like in the second game, the Citadel was big after The Waters of Life. In Fallout: New Vegas, the eponymous city is in almost all ways. While it's only the center of political power for Mr. House and the Families, all the major factions have an interest in it.
- The huge, multi-layered Ceres City seems to take up nearly half the game in Alter Aila Genesis.
- In the original, the Slums serve as a hub for most routes; among other benefits, technological genius Tinder lives there.
- Killingrad in Heavy Weapon is the capital city of the Red Star forces, and the Disc One Final Level. It's also the level where you first fight against some of the commies' deadly machines such as the Kill Sat and Bulldozer, both of which can One-Hit Kill you.
- Ponyville in My Little Pony Rise Of Vicis, which is somewhat justified by its presence as the home of the mane 6.
- Wolfenstein has Isenstadt, in which the player can interact with various resistance groups, buy weapon upgrades, and tangle with random Nazi patrols between missions.
- The Deus Ex series features these heavily. Each game is basically a series of hub cities, linked by story missions.
- Millenium City in Champions Online is this, as well as a City of Adventure. The trope mostly focuses on Renaisance Center, which is the one stop shop for pretty much everything in the game. Other zones have conveniences as well, but nothing comes close to Ren Cen.
- In Borderlands the town of New Haven is the closest thing to civilization you'll find, and you'll frequently return there for new quests or to buy/sell loot. In Borderlands 2, there's the much more prominent hub of Sanctuary, which serves as the Crimson Raiders' base, as well as your own, as well as the largest concentration of vendors, certain respawning NPCs, a buttload of quests, and several unique vendors (including the slot machines and Crazy Earl's Black Market). It's pretty much your home on Pandora. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has Concordia, which functions much like Sanctuary but with a few new additions like a Grinder that can be used to make new gear as well as cocktails that imbue temporary buffs though unlike Sanctuary you stop needing to go back to Concordia mid-way through the story.
- Most Artix Entertainment MMOs have one of these: AdventureQuest has Battleon, Dragon Fable has Falconreach, MechQuest has Soluna City.
- Slightly averted in Ravenmark Scourge Of Estellion. While the political center of the Empire of Estellion is the city of Atium, where the Obsidian Perch (The Emperor's throne) is located, the economic and social hub of the Empire is most definitely in the Twin Cities of Whitewater and Istoni (connected by bridges across the Deverra river). This is where the four Queens (think of them as department heads) rule. There are other fairly-sized cities in the game, although you only know that from the in-game Codex: East Isle (a rebellious recently-conquered island city), Halfling Quarter (a Jackdaw city built into a huge crack in the ground), Silvergate (capital of the Commonwealth of Esotre), New Carsis (capital of the Kaysani), Redemptor’s Watch (a smaller Kaysani city; HQ of the Redeemers).
- Ys series:
- Minea in I and IV
- Rance in II
- Redmont in III
- Xandria in V
- Port Rimorge in VI
- Altago City in Seven