It’s America’s birthday tomorrow! The first 242 years have had their ups and downs, but I think we’d all agree that one of the best things to come out of the United States of America was video games, especially free-to-play video games. They were all made in America, right?
Maybe that’s not the case – and kudos to our non-American gamers and developers – but for this Fourth of July, let’s celebrate not free-to-play games made in America but free-to-play games set in America. Those are few and far between, with so many games set in fantasy worlds or distant sci-fi horizons, but we were able to sift through our list of games and come up with a fivesome of titles that are set in the good ol’ US of A.
OK, maybe these games are set in fantastic versions of the USA – there aren’t any zombies in the real world, unless you count 16-hour-a-day Path of Exile players – but our list should get you in the American spirit, with guns, beer, and lots and lots of explosions. That’s what the Fourth of July is all about, isn’t it?
Did you know that Team Fortress 2 is set in America? According to the game’s official lore – mostly revealed through comics and video shorts – Englishman Zepheniah Mann purchased land in the U.S., which he then passed on to his sons when he died. Those sons, Blutarch and Redmond, were shocked to learn that the supposedly lucrative land was mostly dusty and barren, but that hasn’t stopped the brothers – leaders of the BLU and RED teams – from fighting over it for over a century.
While today’s warriors are the nine classes that everyone’s familiar with, the original BLU team comprised of such American icons as Billy the Kid, Abraham Lincoln, John Henry, and Davy Crockett. There were a few non-Americans in the mix, like Alfred Nobel and Fu Manchu, and even the modern-day teams have a German, Russian, and Scotsman. I wonder if they all have their green cards.
Early in H1Z1‘s development, John Smedley talked about it being taking place in a typically American setting. Apart from all the signs being in English, other ways to tell it’s in the United States is the presence of a restaurant called “Greasy Joe’s” – let’s face it, only Americans would eat at a place like that – and lots and lots (and lots) of guns lying unsecured all over the place. The apocalypse may have taken the people, but the Second Amendment remains.
It’s not actually real America, but DC Universe Online‘s main open-world areas are set in the cities of Gotham and Metropolis, which are modeled after Chicago and New York City, respectively. Instanced areas include Area 51 (Nevada), Smallville (Kansas), and several locations on Earth-3, in which a reverse Revolutionary War resulted in England gaining its independence from America. So maybe this list should be about F2P games set in England.
Defiance (and Defiance 2050) is the only game on this list to be set in an unquestionably real U.S. city: San Francisco, in this case. It’s post-apocalyptic San Francisco, sure, but at least there are a few landmarks, like the Sutro Tower, the TransAmerica Pyramid, and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are also a few dive bars, which should make any big-city-dwelling American feel right at home. Just think of the hellbugs as bigger versions of cockroaches.
Secret World Legends
SWL‘s opening zones are in the United States, with Solomon Island’s three zones – Kingsmouth Town, Savage Coast, and Blue Mountain – being set firmly in Maine. From there, your adventures take you all over the world, to Egypt, Transylvania, Japan, and elsewhere, before you come back for a big raid in New York. But for my money, I’ll just wander the streets of Kingsmouth all day, which has that nice, American, small-town feeling, even if you have to put up with the walking dead. “They’re not zombies, just tourists.”
Fun side note: This is the only game on this list made by a non-American company, as Funcom is based out of Norway (with another office in North Carolina). Then again, Norwegian settlers were the first Europeans to set foot in North America, so maybe we’re all Americans, after all.