The Overworld

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 visiting the Adventure Towns.

In Action Games and Platform Games 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, but 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 Fantasy 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. When crossing a certain bridge or a trekking up a specific mountain path, the camera may zoom in for the section to be drawn to scale and have more opportunities for exploration and solving small puzzles. Always expect random encounters to happen here.

The Overworld will typically play a rendition of the game's main theme. 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, especially if there isn't a save feature and you always start from the beginning.

A type of Fantasy World Map. In terms of size and activity it is on the 3-part scale of Playable Menu (small, interactive list of places to go), Hub Level (mid size, warps you to other locations), and finally The Overworld (large, environment physically/geographically connected to other places)

Super Trope to Overworld Not to Scale. Compare Green Hill Zone (the most common type of Overworld) and Hub Level.


Action Adventure


  • 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 RPGs.
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy had the overworld until X, where they started to replace it with tube-like "road" locations.

Wide Open Sandbox

Non-Video Game Examples