Ah, summer! Everyone is taking selfies of themselves on getaways while you’re stuck at home. Worry not though, you can still pretend you’re on holiday by visiting these in-game beaches.
15. Stardew Valley
Digital farming is hard work, what with all of the turnip-planting and weed-pulling to take care of on your plot. Sometimes you just need a little break, and the beach just south of Stardew Valley (opens in new tab) is the perfect spot to do that. It’s a simple and quiet place where you can listen to the sound of the waves gently crash on the seashore and even poke around in rock pools to find corals to sell. It’s also an excellent date spot if you’ve got your eye on the romantic village hunk Elliott. He even has his own beach hut to visit, though it is full of spiders, so maybe not...
14. Tropico 5
The good thing about islands is that they’re literally completely surrounded by beaches to go make sandcastles on while eating ice creams. You’ve also got complete and utter control over all of them so you can build all of the resorts and swanky apartment complexes with sea views your heart desires. Or, if you really wanted to in Tropico 5 (opens in new tab), turn them into a revolting cesspit so no other citizens can use them – selfishly keeping one pristine bit just for yourself. Hey, you deserve a break in a private spot to relax – being a dictator is hard work.
13. Dead Island: Riptide
If you look past all of the rotting flesh and the zombies who want to eat you, there are some really delightful spots to set up a parasol or volleyball net here in Dead Island: Riptide (opens in new tab). There’s also the added benefit of not having to compete for the best sun loungers with other tourists, what with them all being too busy barricading themselves indoors to avoid being devoured by hordes of the undead. True, you might have to make sure you grab a mean baseball bat and wrap up a shotgun in your towel when packing for the trip, but that’s a small price to pay for a day out in the sun.
12. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Fancied a trip to the lurid stateside city of Miami but wasted all of your money on things like magazines (cough) instead of saving up for plane tickets? Then this will have to do. Enjoy the sight of polygons rollerblading down the promenade in weirdly angular bikinis and basking in the baking sun on empty sands (this was an Xbox game after all). If the heat gets a bit much you can always return to the Ocean View Hotel for a quick rest and save. You never know when you might need to restart your break.
11. Banjo Kazooie
Not every getaway needs to be swish and modern, sometimes you just want an old-school caravan holiday overlooking the sea. That’s what visiting Treasure Trove Cove in Banjo Kazooie (opens in new tab) is like – all the sights may be a bit old and creaky, and there’s not all that much to do, but it’s still got bags of charm. You can even take some waterfront style advice from Banjo himself – bright yellow shorts are so in this year.
This one is all about perspective – sure the coastal biomes might just look like just a bunch of yellow blocks to some, but others can see the swish resorts, grand sandcastles, tiki huts and theme park piers just waiting to be built. The beaches in Minecraft (opens in new tab) are whatever you want them to be if you’re willing to put a little effort and imagination into things. Heck, you could even travel back inland placing sand to extend your beach back until it covers your entire map and the world is nothing but one giant beach party. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
9. Fallout 4
When travelling the unforgiving wastelands of a post-nuclear apocalypse all that doom and gloom can get a bit wearying, so don’t feel guilty if you just need a bit of a holiday. Thankfully Fallout 4 (opens in new tab)'s Nordhagen Beach is the perfect spot for relaxing, and comes complete with a small settlement to spend your time in. Okay, the water might be irradiated so it’s not absolutely ideal for going for a leisurely paddle, but you can still enjoy rooting out scrap from the sand for your various crafting projects. You’d be surprised what you can knock together with some driftwood and a discarded can.
8. Just Cause 3
Being set on a Mediterranean island, there are some truly spectacular hidden coves and beaches in Just Cause 3 (opens in new tab)'s Medici. You can also get up to more adventurous pursuits than spreading yourself all over the sun loungers and doing puzzle magazines – why not find yourself a jet ski and take it on a little tour...? Or you can always use your holiday to terrorise some locals by using your grappling hook to slingshot yourself from a boat and into a crowd of General Di Ravello’s goons, letting off a load of explosives, and then neatly gliding away. Those are memories that will last a lifetime.
7. Final Fantasy 15
You encounter the stunning Galdin Quay relatively early on in Final Fantasy 15 (opens in new tab) – it’s a beautiful cove with a luxury hotel and restaurant at the end of a pier, and if you can’t afford that then there are caravans to rent nearby instead, for a more ‘rustic’ experience. It’s also an excellent fishing spot for Noctis and there’s even a tiny cat to make friends with if you bribe it with fish – it really is the perfect vacation spot, but it does come with one huge caveat. Whatever you do, don’t trust the flouncy dude in the fedora with the weird arm-cape thing. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
6. The Witcher 3
A beach doesn’t need to be quiet to be relaxing. Sometimes it’s fun to get lost in a new city and become one of the locals, and The Witcher 3 (opens in new tab)'s Novigrad is perfect for that. Not only is it one of the greatest locations in gaming history, it’s also got a bustling port full of ships and charming characters to talk to. Plus, it has a wild night life if you’re after some companionship. Not that we’d know anything about that – our bedtime is no later than 9pm.
5. Dragon Age Inquisition
Sometimes it’s not sunshine you want, it’s imposing landscapes and giant waves that crash fiercely before you that make you feel like you’re truly out in the wild. Dragon Age Inquisition (opens in new tab)'s Storm Coast is particularly spectacular for any geology fans out there, with its impressive cliff-faces and caverns. It’s also a good nature spot as the wildlife is very easy to find, what with both giants and dragons being residents of the area. Also, learn from our experience and don’t try to feed them, they both get a bit too keen and will take your arm off along with whatever you try to get them. Mmm, extra protein.
4. Grand Theft Auto 5
Los Santos is home to two excellent beaches complete with plenty of palm trees and sunbathing spots in GTA 5 (opens in new tab). There’s even a pier with a ferris wheel to separate them for when you want an ice cream or fancy a quick bout of wanton destruction. Our favourite is Vespucci Beach because it’s easier to recreate our fantasies of being featured in a Baywatch episode, with all of those lifeguard towers dotted around. It’s also a good spot for stealing SUVs and jet skis for all of your recreational needs.
3. Halo Combat Evolved
Sometimes it’s not about the place, but the time that you were there that makes it special. Halo (opens in new tab)'s Silent Cartographer beach landing is one of those fond memories that is forever in our hearts as it’s the perfect snapshot of Halo at its absolute best. From that initial drop and surge of music you know you’re in for something special as you fight your way across the golden sands, feeling epic every time you take someone out. There are rescues to be made, Warthogs to be driven and even a pair of massive Hunters to skilfully take down. You’ll never be able to forget this beach once you’ve visited.
2. Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 (opens in new tab) all starts off so well. You’re on an actual vacation with your mates on a beautiful tropical island, having an absolute blast and enjoying the feeling of the sand between your toes, but it all goes horribly wrong after you get a bit cocky, skydive into some pirates, and end up with a taste for killing. You do make good friends with the locals though, some more closely than others, and get to try some recreational drugs while you’re there – so it’s pretty darn good as far as holidays go. There are also lots of craft projects to try if you like skinning animals and turning them into handbags, and you even get to keep a fancy knife as a souvenir from your travels. You couldn’t plan a better trip.
1. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
What’s better than going to the beach? Going to a place that’s nothing but beaches as far as the eye can see in Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag (opens in new tab), which you get to visit with your very own pirate ship. There are so many remote spots with crystal-clear waters to dive into and pure white sands, plus ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼you don’t have any crowds to deal with. There’s nothing quite like setting your anchor down in a quiet little bay then eagle-diving off the top mast into the sea ￼￼￼for a little swim. You could go visit one of the local cities if you’re in the mood for making use of your hidden blades, but there’s something magical about ignoring all that and just taking in the sea breeze and the sound of birdsong from the shady palm trees. Bliss.
This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here (opens in new tab).