Largest computer game cavern system?

Recently I’ve been playing Minecraft (parallel threads here and here) and I’ve discovered the largest, vastest, most labyrinthine & massive cavern I’ve ever explored in any video game, ever. It consists of at least ten separate levels, all connected to a gigantic central void, with twisty little passages (all alike) burrowing in every direction imaginable. I’ve spend the better part of the last two weeks exploring this vast space and still I’m finding dark passages everywhere, leading God knows where. (And this is just one single cave, in a game with a map size equal to 8x the surface area of the Earth!)

Anyway, it’s inspired me to create a list of the largest video game caverns ever designed. My list so far (feel free to add or comment):

(1) The Abyss (Ultima Underworld): If you count all eight levels as a single cavern system, this is the largest one I can think of. Still, I would judge it as being about equal to the size of my Minecraft cavern…that’s right, one single cave in Minecraft is the size of an entire GAME!)

(2) Hythloth (Ultima IV): I remember this one as being pretty damn huge – probably 1/3 to 1/2 the size of The Abyss. Lots of maze-like, intersecting rooms that you had to pass through several times to reach the end. (Never played Ultima V, but I’ve heard that game’s underworld was pretty damn big, too.)

(3) The Old Way/Lost Catacombs/Hall of Epochs (TES IV: Oblivion): The maze of tombs and tunnels comprising the final Thieves Guild quest was, taken all together, orders of magnitude larger than any other cave system in Oblivion; but even if you include the Imperial City sewer system leading up to it, it’s only about 1/5 the size The Abyss…probably smaller.

(4) Urshilaku Burial Caverns (TES III: Morrowind): At first I was planning to nominate Ilunibi Caverns or Lost Kogoruhn, but I completely forgot this gigantic, vertical tomb system you have to raid to get that stupid bow for the main quest. Seven separate levels, all connected to a vast central shaft with waterfalls down the middle – hard to judge, but I’m guessing this one’s 1/5th to 1/6th the size of The Abyss, depending on how you scale it. (Most of the very large caves/tombs in the Elder Scrolls would count as “small” or “medium-sized” in Minecraft.)

(5) Colossal Cave (Colossal Cave Adventure): While it must be mentioned for history’s sake, this one’s actually downright puny. (Just don’t get eaten by a grue!)

Any others I’m missing?

The whole of the Avernum series of computer games takes place in an underground cavern system; some of the games are pretty huge, but the caves don’t feel all that cave-like.

Hmm…we should probably restrict this poll to caverns which are inherently hostile, as opposed to a safe, underground settlement. (I haven’t played Avernum, but judging by screenshots it appears to be more of the latter, not the former.)

It’s not entirely safe - more on the lines of a traditional RPG town-and-wilderness model, with the wilderness full of nasties but the town not so much.

Hm. Nethack is about 50 levels deep, fully hostile, and includes a lot of mining-related activities.

I’m a little confused about this. Are we counting games like Angband which are ridiculously deep randomly generated dungeon complexes?

I think we need to define our criteria a bit more.

Since that’s basically what Minecraft is, then yes.
However, it’s probably a good idea to separate games based on random generation (Minecraft, Nethack, etc.) from pre-constructed caves that remain static in the game.

There’s also a big difference between 2d games like Nethack, Angband, and various RPGs and 3d games like Ultima Underworld or Minecraft; even if Angband is technically bigger, that Minecraft humongo-cave you found probably FEELS a lot bigger.

This is true, especially since the MC cave hasn’t been fully mapped out yet; in addition, I’m discovering that some areas of twisty, turning passages can be entirely torn down to form a single, medium-sized room, which of course makes the whole place feel incrementally smaller. As for 2d games, or ultra-primitive 3d games like Wizardy, it’s quite difficult to judge the scale of their dungeons, since you’re never actually inside them.

The way you describe Angband makes me wonder if it should count at all – it sounds like a standard overland RPG world that just happens to be located underground. Am I right?

Ancient Dungeons of Mystery (aka ADoM) had an infinite cavern of which nobody ever reached the bottom, so theoretically that could be your winner. Of course since it was the same cavern just rerolled over and over again with increasingly more difficult monsters–although amusingly their forms stayed the same so at extremely deep levels you could find newts more powerful than the end boss of the entire game–maybe it shouldn’t count.

Some of the versions of NetHack did feel like a dungeon rather than just another overland RPG…you could mine for gold or gems, or you could have the whole dungeon collapse on you if you kicked the staircase repeatedly. But you’re right, they didn’t have the claustrophobic feel of a cavern…not that a 2D game ever could really.

I think you mean Avernum, which I’d say would qualify in the same category as the Ultima IV/V dungeons; though it doesn’t feel very cavern-y, there are underground areas linked to multiple parts of the “main” level in ways that I wouldn’t expect from a typical above-ground fantasy world.

Reaching the bottom of Underwurlde was quite a journey.

Angband is basically infinite as well, since every time you change level, the map is regenerated. That non-persistence makes it not really feel like a proper dungeon to me - the distance to town feels abstract given there’s no way to retrace your actual steps.

Love the game and its variants, nevertheless. :smiley:

Right, Avernum. :smack:

I’ll have to check a Let’s Play or something to be sure, but from your description I’m thinking that it shouldn’t count – or, at least, it shouldn’t count as one gigantic cave system. The auxilliary caves, yes, as long as they “feel” like caves – that’s one rule that should apply, the cavern in question should at least feel like a cavern.

Another distinction, perhaps, should be made between natural caverns and hand-carved caverns. This one is tricky, because it’s not always possible to easily tell the difference. For instance, the Ayleid ruins in Oblivion were all carved out by a lost elven race, but they definitely feel very cave-like (in many cases, they feel more spooky and claustrophobic than a natural cave!) On the other hand, places like Fort Sutch don’t feel very cavern-like at all, even though it is built underground and has definite cave-like areas. Should that one count?

Yeesh, this is turning out to be far more complicated than I’d expected…it’s all good, though. :smiley:

'Cause if you do, you’re obviously in the wrong game.

On a side note, in Zork Zero it was revealed that the original Dungeon Master was responsible for bringing grues into the GUE. The amusing thing is when the event that triggers this takes place, the “death from lack of light” mechanic changes from a pit (which was a tribute to Colossal Cave) to the now famous grue.

This one is console, not computer, but Lufia 2 had a randomly-generated 99-level dungeon called the Ancient Cave that I spent hours and hours trying to master when I owned that game. It was actually one of the better games on the SNES.

One of the AD&D “Gold Box” computer games had a random generation cave/dungeon thing under Shadowvale, IIRC.

Lots of great suggestions guys, but…any chance we could focus on the pre-built, static caves in games? I think we have enough randomly generated examples for now. :wink:

Not caves but close: in City of Heroes Going Rogue, the three new city zones of Praetoria each have an underground complex of tunnels and rooms.

If you want to check it out, all of the games have really huge demos (roughly 1/8th of the whole game) which should be more than enough to get a sense of the feel; I agree that it’s an edge case.