Capital City

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The city in games that you keep coming back to.

This is usually where The Empire or other important political entity makes its headquarters. The center of politics, commerce, religion, culture, and/or crime, you'll find all sorts of subquests and side-plots here, but you may or may not find the best stuff here, thanks to the Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness.

Has an obscene amount of NPCs, sidequests, shops, vendors, and usually Minigame Zones as well. Generally appears in the first half of the game, but players will probably have to return here often. This is the one place most likely to get upgrades and evolving content as the plot progresses.

Compare with Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe and Big Applesauce, when everything takes place in Tokyo or New York. See Merchant City for the capitalist version of the Capital City, and Holy City for the religious equivalent—either one could overlap. Often has shades of Shining City. May also be a Hub Level.

Examples of Capital City include:

Anime and Manga


  • It's not primarily from a game, but Coruscant in the Star Wars universe fits this trope well. The entire planet is a big city and inevitably important for any galactic civilization - it was the Republic's capital four thousand years before the movies, the Empire kept it and renamed it Imperial City, the New Republic took it back and restored the name, the Vong took it, terraformed it, and renamed it again, on and on. It is described in the Star Wars Expanded Universe as a world that can only rule or die, as it has an enormous population, has to import everything but people, and in effect exports only politicians, soldiers, and laws.


  • Ankh-Morpork from the Discworld. Word of God says its primary inspirations are London, New York and Seattle.
  • Trantor from Foundation by Isaac Asimov. The entire planet is one city, the capital of the Galactic Empire.
  • Minas Tirith from The Lord of the Rings.
  • The Star Trek Novel Verse has quite a few. Among the recurring locations are the following capital cities (with the planet they serve as capital for in brackets): Laibok and later Lor'vela (Andoria), Cardassia City (Cardassia), Ki Baratan/Dartha (Romulus), vosTraal (Mestiko), New Samarkand (Alpha Centauri), Ashalla (Bajor), Medara (Betazed), Leran Manev (Trill), Keelee-kee (Tezwa), Iaron (Damiano), Federation City (New Mirada), Shi'Kahr (Vulcan), hiLeyi'a (Pacifica).
    • The capital of Romulus has two names; which one is used is based on era. In Star Trek: Vulcan's Heart, the capital was given the name Ki Baratan. It had previously been called Dartha, but that was a century prior. Later novels used the time gap for a reasonable Retcon: the capital's name changes as new regimes come to power. Now, books set in the 22nd or 23rd centuries use "Dartha", those set in the 24th use "Ki Baratan". The name change is explicitly mentioned in the first Star Trek: Titan novel.
    • San Francisco seems to be capital of Earth, although Paris is the official capital of the Federation.
      • Both Starfleet Academy and Starfleet Headquarters are in San Francisco. Since most Trek characters are in Starfleet, it's only natural that many of the earthside references one encounters will be in that region.
  • Chasm City on the planet Yellowstone from the Revelation Space universe.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons has big hub cities crop up in campaign settings:
    • Planescape has Sigil ("City of Doors")
    • Forgotten Realms has a choice of such places spread through various regions, mostly major trade centers. Neverwinter for North campaigns, Waterdeep (City of Splendors) for North and Sword Coast, Baldur's Gate and Athkatla (the capital of Amn and a Holy City of the goddess of trade) for southern Sword Coast, Scornubel the "Caravan City" in Western Heartlands, Westgate on the south-west of the Sea of Fallen Stars...
      • Ravens Bluff north-east on the Sea of Fallen Stars is a location of its own sub-setting Living City.
      • Al-Qadim has Huzuz "the City of Delights" - a center of trade, learning, religious activities and also the seat of the Grand Caliph.
    • Eberron has Sharn (City of Towers) in the continent of Khorvaire and Stormreach in Xen'drik. It's worth pointing out that Stormreach is the one city by which all traffic to Xen'drik transits, and most of that traffic usually leaves from Sharn. Before Cyre blew up, it's capital city, Metrol, used to be the largest Metropolis, in no small part thanks to hosting the HQ of the most powerful Dragonmarked House.
  • Greyhawk has... well, Greyhawk (City of...hey, the setting's named after it; what more did you want?).
  • Cymril in the Talislanta game setting.
  • Legend of the Five Rings has several candidates. The original capital of Rokugan is Otosan Uchi, but the city is mostly based around supporting the Imperial Court than being a functioning city. A better candidate is Ryoko Owari Toshi, commonly called the "City of Lies." It is a major economic hub and center of intrigue (hence the name). Both cities were detailed in boxed set supplements.
    • Its spinoff Legend Of The Burning Sands is almost entirely based around Medinat al-Salaam, the City of Peace. Travelers from all over the world eventually find their way here.

Video Games

  • The Citadel in Mass Effect certainly counts, and it's even the capital of interstellar politics.
    • It was even the capital of the Protheans's empire fifty-thousand years before the games. Of course, it was designed by the Reapers so that every galactic civilization would make it their capital, so the first strike of their invasions would immediately take out the nerve center of the strongest galactic power and give them full access to all military and political data as well.
  • Hyrule Castle Town, usually, from Zelda games. Other examples from this series include The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask's Clock Town and The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past's Kakariko Village.
  • Happy Garland in Steambot Chronicles.
  • The cities of Celadon, Goldenrod, Lilycove, Jubilife, and Castelia from the various Pokémon games.
    • When modeling Kanto after the real Kantō region of Japan, Game Freak split Tokyo into two cities due to its size and influence - Celadon for the culture, Saffron for the commerce.
    • Johto's Goldenrod is an expy of Osaka. Incidentally, Johto itself matches the name of a ward of said city.
    • Castelia is notably based on Lower Manhattan.
  • In a variation, Final Fantasy VII makes this the First Town, but Midgar is still the Capital of the planet (Shinra's HQ is located here, natch)
  • World of Warcraft has capital cities for almost every race, but only two on each side are ever visited in any large numbers: for the Alliance there's Stormwind (the Human capital) and Ironforge (Dwarves and Gnomes), and for the Horde there's Orgrimmar (Orcs and Trolls) and the Undercity (Undead). The other racial capitals are rarely visited unless a player is questing, due to their remote locations (though some players prefer the less popular capitals if they're running on a slower system, especially during peak hours). As a result, the new races in Cataclysm will simply be given districts in existing cities: Darnassus (the Night Elf capital) for the Worgen and Orgrimmar for the Goblins.
    • Sizable neutral cities also exist, notably Shattrath, Dalaran, and most Goblin cities, with Ratchet and Booty Bay being the most popular.
    • The former capital of the fallen nation of Lordaeron used to be either called Lordaeron or the Capital City prior to its destruction by the Scourge. Ten thousand years ago, the capital of the Night Elves was Zin-Azshari, which was swallowed by water during the Sundering. Thanks to a Deal with the Devil, the city was not destroyed but sank to the bottom of the sea intact.
    • For reference, the other major current capitals are Exodar (Draenei) and Gilneas City (Worgen) for the Alliance and Thunder Bluff (Tauren) and Silvermoon (Blood Elves) Bilgewater Harbor (Goblins) for the Horde.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion partially subverts this by starting the main character out at the Imperial City prison sewer exit. While this does place the character closest to the Imperial City on the main map, the usual progression for a first-time player is to follow the first quest, which immediately takes you to Weynon Priory, just outside the city of Chorrol. The Imperial City is available to travel to at any time, though.
    • Also semi-averted in the form of Kvatch, which is nearly as large as the Imperial City and even has an arena. It's only a semi-aversion because the city gets razed to the ground by the Daedra before the player ever gets to see it.
    • Played straight in the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion, in that the divided city of Bliss/Crucible, capital of the Shivering Isles, is not available until you've finished the introductory quest. Until then, you're restricted to the village of Passwall.
    • The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind has Vivec, the biggest city in the entire Vvanderfell island, divided in several "cantons" or neighborhoods, each one within a given building. Since the entire game is a Wide Open Sandbox, you can go over there any time you want.
    • The actual Capital City of Morrowind, however, is Mournhold, City of Light (and don't forget the magic) - although it doesn't initially seem as big as Vivec. King Helseth has his home here, as does Almalexia. The Tribunal expansion takes place in the city.
      • Meanwhile, the technical capital of Vvardenfell (the province where the main part of the game is set) is Ebonheart, which amounts to not much more than a couple of Imperial-style buildings housing the Imperial-appointed Duke and some consular services, across the waterfront from Vivec City.
  • Every country in eRepublik has a capital, certain actions can cause them to move, hence why the capital of the eUSA is Florida.
    • Like, the state?
  • Koorong in SaGa Frontier, the only city in the game from which you can travel to all of the others; the others only have a handful of destinations. Manhattan probably has more people, but you only have to visit there in a couple of the quests, and there aren't nearly as many buildings to go into.
  • Freelancer has four Capital Cities, each one of the capital planet of the Houses: Manhattan, New London, New Tokyo and New Berlin. In terms of where the player can actually go, however, they have the same four locations as every other planet, station and outpost in the game: the Landing Pad, the Bar, the Ship Dealer, and the Trader.
  • Varrock, Falador, and Ardougne in RuneScape.
  • Presumably to save on memory, Jade Empire only has one city and a few villages, and the city's not very big at all.
  • In the Paper Mario games, Toad Town, Rogueport, and Flipside serve as a combination of this, the First Town, and the Hub Level.
  • Meltokio in Tales of Symphonia and Midgard in Tales of Phantasia.
  • The Grand Duchy of Jeuno in Final Fantasy XI, although nowadays Al Zahbi/Whitegate is busier.
  • Baldur's Gate was rather unusual in that the titular city didn't appear until very late in the game, and didn't even have all that much directly to do with the plot in it—though it was huge, composed of six areas where every other town in the game was no more than two screens if one was generous. Baldur's Gate 2, on the other hand, starts you off in Athkatla (not only several hundred miles south but in a completely other nation), which you'll be returning to more than once. Throne of Bhaal, the expansion to the sequel, didn't really have a capital city, though it did have your pocket plane as a home base.
    • BioWare did more or less the same thing in Dragon Age: Origins: Denerim is the largest city in the game (which isn't saying much), but you're discouraged from going there until later by a Beef Gate or two. Justified in that the Evil Chancellor is there at the centre of his power. It is full of sidequests and critical sequences of the main quests, and The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
      • Obviously in Awakening, it's Amaranthine and in Dragon Age 2 it's Kirkwall, seeing how there aren't any other cities in either game.
  • Summoner featured Lenele, the city of the gods. To say that Lenele was immense would be a mild understatement (Unfortunately, Lenele is the only large city in the game that's still populated, although there was originally going to be another huge city next to Lenele, but it was scrapped midway through development).
  • Most of the action in City of Heroes takes place in Paragon City, while most of City of Villains takes place in the Rogue Islands. Occasionally the two sides cross over.
  • Jibral Castle Town in Blue Dragon.
  • Vizima in The Witcher.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura has Tarant.
  • Sort of subverted in the Thief series, because the only city in the game is The City, and it's the only place (sans some immediate environs) where you ever are or visit.
  • Bowerstone from the Fable games. Partially subverted in both games in that the player visits Bowertone fairly early on.
  • Perfect World International has Archosaur—so huge that after 19th level (in particular after what's generally called the "FB 19" dungeon for the respective race) everyone goes there and has more or less the same quests for at least the next ten levels, and thus go to the same areas; it's so huge that you can actually teleport within the city, to a teleport area in the north, west, and/or south. On the Heaven's Tear PVE server this player has seen the area immediately inside the west gate perpetually filled with players.
  • Guild Wars has three of these, one for each continent. Lion's Arch in Tyria, Kaineng Centre in Cantha (Which is only the administrative centre of Kaineng City, which covers roughly half of Cantha, making Kaineng the best example of this trope in Guild Wars), and Kamadan, Jewel of Istan in Elona. these three places are the centres of player trading and chat in their respective campaigns, and are distinguished by being the places you have to go to have access to travel to the other continents.
  • Deling City (though Esthar is far bigger) in Final Fantasy VIII.
  • Rabanastre from Final Fantasy XII, also the first town. Archadia's capital Archades is also quite large, but not on the same scale and not as friendly.
    • More importantly, there aren't nearly as many places to go in Archades due to its taxi system and being impossible to get around otherwise, cutscenes show it to actually be quite large.
  • Neverwinter Nights, set in Neverwinter, is a relatively large city. Not only is the first entire section of the game set exclusively in the metropolis, but one comes back to it for the final battle.
    • Hordes of the Underdark, meanwhile, subverts it: you start off in Waterdeep, which plays this role to the setting... with only a (small) city block available for exploration, and not that much to do; the main part of the chapter is about exploring Halaster's Undermountain.
  • Prontera from Ragnarok Online.
  • Britannia from Ultima Online and other Ultima games.
  • EVE Online has Jita, which is so busy that it has it's own dedicated nodes to run it and special rules to manage the traffic. Other market hubs include Amarr, Dodixie and Rens.
    • Putting some numbers to this, Jita regularly tops 1000 people. It usually has about 2% of the entire active population at any given time, while there are some 7500 other systems.
  • Tolbi from Golden Sun.
  • Eden is considered the capital of the planet Cocoon in Final Fantasy XIII (with the notable fact that parts of it are made up of living creatures,) and the driving force of the characters' wanting to go there is at first to get help to remove their l'Cie brands, and later to bring it crashing out of the sky.
  • Big Ape City from Donkey Kong Land.
  • Pretty much any city from Mount & Blade, but you'll find the place that your leader hides out will be the most commonly visited because sucking up to him is a great way to keep your place in your faction.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online takes place mostly in the city of Stormreach (see below) The game was even called "Stormreach" before it became an Allegedly Free Game. As you level up, you move through the city's different districts. It helps that the game takes place almost exclusively on Xen'drik, which doesn't exactly have other major civilized areas.
  • Not even an RPG, Sonic Adventure has Station Square. This is where you start out (with most characters), and it has two full Action Stages in it (the former of which is quite large) - Speed Highway and Casinopolis.
  • It varies in each Fallout game. Fallout 1 had The Hub as the largest population and trade center of the wastes. New Reno got all the developer love in Fallout 2, but the New California Republic's capital city was also very important in terms of the story since it belongs to the largest faction in the game universe, and there are much more shops there. San Francisco was pretty important in the last quarter of the game as their shops offer many end game high-tec equipment that you can't get from anywhere else. Fallout 3 was more decentralized, with no real cities. Megaton and Rivet City were the biggest, with Rivet City being bigger and having a better market, while Megaton had more plot and player housing. Like in the second game, the Citadel was big after The Waters of Life. In New Vegas, the titular city is in almost all ways. While it's only the center of political power for Mr. House and the Families, all the major factions have an interest in it.
  • The huge, multi-layered Ceres City seems to take up nearly half the game in Alter AILA Genesis.
  • Killingrad in Heavy Weapon is the capital city of the Red Star forces, and the Disc One Final Level. It's also the level where you first fight against some of the commies' deadly machines such as the Kill Sat and Bulldozer, both of which can One-Hit Kill you.
  • Ponyville in My Little Pony: Rise of Vicis, which is somewhat justified by its presence as the home of the mane 6.

Western Animation