Banjo-Kazooie is a unique game for so many reasons, one of them being that the main antagonist’s lair is the main hub world. Guntilda’s Lair connects to all the other worlds in Banjo-Kazooie.
There are also plenty of things to grab in this hub world, like jiggies and extra lives. A fun aspect of this hub world is that if you activate things called witch switches in the separate game worlds, you gain access to secret jiggies.
It’s unique that things you do within the game can affect the hub world and lead to more secrets.
Banjo-Tooie also features Guntilda’s Lair but it has changed quite a bit from the first game. Everything is a mess and you can’t get to a lot of the same areas from the first game.
The only real reason to go to the lair is to visit Cheato, Gruntilda’s magic spell book that actually gives you cheat codes to help fight Gruntilda. Good luck finding him though!
One small aspect about this hub world that makes it unique is the fact that it actually has enemies in it, whereas most hub worlds are considered “safe zones” for players.
Banjo-Kazooie is a game that is filled to the brim with charm. From its characters, music, and art-style, the world gives off a cohesive atmosphere with game design that was well thought out.
Gruntilda’s Lair exemplifies all of these qualities perfectly.
Astera – Monster Hunter World
If you have ever played Monster Hunter World, then you have spent a lot of time in Astera eating meals, upgrading your weapons and armor, and just running around waiting for your friends to accept your quests.
One of the best things about Astera is that it’s very lively. There are lots of NPCs that look like they’re trying to get somewhere and do something. You feel like you’re a part of a colony that just landed in a new continent.
There is always lots to see and do like planting herbs, buying equipment from the various vendors or even chilling out in your room (that you can slightly customize).
The armory is always forging something new, the cooks making something delicious-looking, and the handler is always… doing nothing… as usual. The world feels very alive, besides the handler, she is useless.
You can also visit the Gathering Hub to hang out with other players or even your party members while you accept quests or do certain events. And hey, if you get bored, there is even an arm wrestling mini-game you can play.
The Heroes Guild – Fable
From a boy, until you become the hero of Albion, you’ll spend a lot of time at the famous Heroes Guild in Fable. This is where the main character learns how to swing a sword, shoot a bow and arrow, and cast magic spells.
Once you leave the guild however, you only really return to level up and get some more quests, so you’re basically in and out in a flash. Or hey, if you want to stick around and punch the Guild-Master a few times because you’re sick of him telling you that your health is low and to drink a potion, you’re welcome to do so.
The castle itself is pretty massive, and even holds a few secrets for you to discover. You can gather various books from the library, find Avo’s Tears (the legendary sword), get drunk at the tavern, and once you beat the game, a new demon door (a door that usually requires you to solve a riddle or fulfill a requirement) appears right outside the main gate.
There is another demon door at the guild (the riddle it gives you is very easy though) and even a silver key chest that you can come back for once you gather enough keys! It gives you the Murren Great-Hammer, which is once beast of a weapon.
The guild is a great introduction to the world of Albion, a place you can restock, get drunk, find new missions, and uncover some secrets.
The Normandy SR-2 – Mass Effect 2
Although there isn’t much to do on the Normandy SR-2, it’s all about the people! You can talk to various crew-mates and other inhabitants of the ship, and it’s always really fun to see them converse with each other.
New rooms do eventually open up once you progress through the story. I’m sure you’ll be spending some time in the guest quarters, trying to befriend, or even romance some of your crew mates!
A lot of the game’s most touching moments happen in the Normandy. Mass Effect may be a third-person shooter RPG, but what really makes the series special is the emphasis on player choice, and how it affects the relationships you have built throughout the series.
The Normandy is a perfect example of how you associate memories and emotions with a certain place/setting and how the two can become inseparable.
Not only might Shepard befriend and fall in love with some of your crew mates, but so could you, as the player. You grow so attached to them that you associate the Normandy with friendship and love, which is why it has earned a place in our hearts.
Inkopolis- Splatoon 1 & 2
Have you ever wondered what New York City might look like if aquatic creatures with an obsession for paint had taken over? Well, that’s basically Inkopolis.
There are tons of billboards and huge statues of other animals and it makes it feel like it’s a real city. If you play Splatoon then you know that other players’ characters can be seen around Inkopolis, and they sport some pretty interesting messages since players can show off their own drawings.
It’s too bad Splatoon 2’s last splatfest is over because the community is still going very strong. I’ve honestly seen some horrifying things over the years.
Yea, you can buy some equipment and do different game modes, but I’d rather look at other players’ drawings of their existential crisis. Is Nintendo sure that this is a kids game?
The Hunters Dream – Bloodborne
Even though Bloodborne is a game designed to make the player uncomfortable, the Hunter’s Dream could not be more soothing. There is no one there besides the doll, an NPC that is an animated doll that levels you up and does nothing but stare off in the distance.
The Hunter’s Dream is a great contrast to the actual world of Bloodborne. In Yharnam, it always feels like there is something just around the corner trying to kill you, while the Dream feels very lonely.
The quiet background noise of a simple church choir fits perfectly with the limbo state-like world. Some people weirdly think this game doesn’t deserve a sequel? Blasphemy.
You only come to the Dream to level up and tinker/buy equipment, but I can bet that you often walk around the gardens, swing your weapons around, and even stare off the edge of the world, just like the doll does.
Sanctuary – Borderlands 2
After hearing about Sanctuary so much in the first Borderlands game, it felt like a real accomplishment to finally reach it in Borderlands 2.
Sanctuary is where Roland and the Crimson Raiders have made their home base, but it’s basically just a town, topped off with its own mechanic, doctors office, weapons dealer and even a pretty cool bar.
You usually only come here to get new missions, but you might find yourself staying for a bit to play the slots at Moxxxi’s bar, or maybe to try the golden key chest.
Perhaps the best part about Sanctuary is that it’s fun to explore. You can easily get up on the roofs and find all sorts of hidden caches of money and items.
If you’re playing with friends, Sanctuary is a great place to test out some new guns you may have gotten by dueling each other. Catch a ride!
Garreg Mach Monastery – Fire Emblem Three Houses
Fire Emblem Three Houses may be a newer title, but it’s quickly captured the hearts of old and new fans alike. With its school setting (check out our review here), the Garreg Mach Monastery closely resembles Hogwarts but with more than just witches and wizards.
The monastery is both a place to socialize with students and other professors, as well as train your students for battle. You can eat meals with students, go fishing, do some gardening and engage in tournaments to win good weapons.
After every chapter battle, you can walk around and talk to various students and see what new dialogue/opinions they have about the battle and events that have occurred. Side characters have a much bigger role in Three Houses than they have in past Fire Emblem games, and it makes the monastery feel much more like home.
Once you get far into the game and have done multiple playthroughs, doing your daily tasks around the Monastery really isn’t that interesting anymore, but it’s a really great setting for a Fire Emblem game!
The Tower – Destiny 1 & 2
The tower is much more of a social hub when compared to the other games on this list. There’s plenty to do and plenty to see when you walk around the tower.
Like getting quests, purchasing items, storing your gear, receiving rewards from the quests you do, decoding engrams and so much more. You can even play mini-games! You can play soccer, do the lava challenge, or do the ball puzzle. Soccer is our favorite.
With so much to do, so many people to talk to, and so much to see, the Tower is quite the hub world. Especially when you consider just how much time you will spend in it because Destiny is such a grindy game.
But hey, you have one hell of a view of the reawakened Traveler.
Princess Peach’s Castle – Super Mario 64
From the moment Mario pops out of that iconic green pipe, you’re introduced to the openness of the courtyard to Princess Peach’s castle. Back in the day, this was a great way to introduce a 3D space to gamers who had only played Mario in 2D side-scrollers.
The courtyard is also a great area to try out all of Mario’s moves like the triple jump, long jump, somersault and diving. The castle itself is where the real fun begins.
The paintings within the castle transport Mario to different worlds so he can collect power stars. These stars eventually open more rooms. Then you can fight Bowser and get keys to unlock even more rooms!
There are lots of secrets to find around the castle, which is probably the best part, especially for first-time players. The music, and overall choice of which rooms you want to tackle in whatever order, makes the game and hub world very memorable. Let’s-a-go!
Fire Link Shrine – Dark Souls 3
You’re first introduced to the Fire Link Shrine in the first Dark Souls game, but once you finally return in Darks Souls 3, the shrine is a completely different place.
Fire Link in the first game is just some ruins with a bonfire in the middle, but in Dark Souls 3, it’s an actual temple with people (if you can call them that), shops, and plenty of rooms, corridors, and secrets for you to find.
Dark Souls has always had a huge emphasis on exploration and even the hub world exemplifies this. There are lots of NPCs that you can totally miss if you don’t explore, and even some events and shops that you won’t get to experience unless you meet some requirements.
Just like the Hunters Dream in Bloodborne, the best part about Fire Link is the atmosphere. Even though it has multiple residents, you still have a very somber feeling of loneliness.
It reeks of decay and despair, as the thrones for the Lords of Cinder are all basically empty; the only lights come from the bonfire in the middle and various other small candles.
It would be off-putting if it wasn’t for the subtle music that plays in the background (very similar to Bloodborne) and the clangs from Andre striking hammer against an anvil. Fire Link is easily one of the best places in video game history to just hang out and explore.
Rogueport – Paper Mario The Thousand-Year Door
When Mario first gets dropped in Rogueport, you can tell that it’s not your typical Mario game setting. Rogueport is a rundown town that is described as being full of thugs and thieves –it can be quite a dangerous place. The first thing you see when you walk into town is a noose! A noose in a Mario game!
It’s filled with all kinds of creatures from the Mario universe like Goombas, Koopas, Piantas, and even Yoshi-like creatures. Rogueport is considered a hub world because it’s where Mario goes back to whenever he finishes a chapter, and it’s where the famous Thousand-Year Door is.
The best part about Rogueport is that there is so much to do and discover. Any time Mario gets a new ability or partner, you can access new parts of the town or secret areas. The game also rewards you for remembering secrets you might have found early on and return to.
The Rogueport Sewers are also below the town, which are full of its own secrets and enemies that you fight. There’s plenty of shady characters, things are always getting stolen and lots of dark corners and alleyways.
It’s a really fun place to explore with lots of secrets to discover. We think this game deserves a true sequel!