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If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Perhaps equally important, who would you bring along for the ride? One of life’s greatest joys is the pursuit of adventure and new experiences. Video games offer hints of such excitement and escapism through immersive characters, worlds, and narratives, but no matter how realistic a game is, there’s something innately more rewarding about the experience in real life—seeing something with your own eyes, feeling it with your own hands. With that being said, there’s no reason we can’t ponder just how cool it would be to travel the world with a super-powered explorer or an epic hero. This is part one of a three-part video game travel guide.

Part One: Traveling the Grand Canyon with Aloy

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Creative Commons | Paul Fundenburg

Few locations on Earth can match the rugged grandeur and natural splendor of Arizona’s coveted landmark, the Grand Canyon. Measuring over 227 miles long, the steep-sided gorge offers a rare time-lapsed glimpse at the landscape’s amazing transformation over 6 million years. Formed through a process of gradual erosion by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon’s massive scale, distinctive rock layers, and its historical, geographical and geological significance mark the locale as one of the world’s premier natural attractions—drawing 5 million visitors per year.

Despite popular sentiment, the Grand Canyon isn’t just something to see in your lifetime, it’s something to do. There is skydiving, rafting, hiking, helicopter tours, mule rides, camping and much more. Casual sightseeing is just the tip of the rocky iceberg, and there’s no fictional character I’d rather experience the Grand Canyon with other than Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn.

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Expert archer, rock climber extraordinaire and robot whisperer; Aloy is the perfect companion for an epic Grand Canyon adventure. Hailing from the southwestern United States—albeit a very different version of our own—Aloy’s familiarity with the region and its harsh landscape would grant us an edge on our hypothetical trip. As Zach Braff once said, “The best way to travel abroad is to live with the locals.

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Creative Commons | Matt Machin

Boasting a fearless disposition, Aloy would be right at home partaking in the most daring activities the Grand Canyon has to offer. Beyond seeing the sights from the South Rim, trailblazing tourists can get up close and personal to the Grand Canyon’s natural beauty by hiking or traveling via mule down to the canyon floor due to Aloy’s rider skill set. With her ability to scale cliffs, you can imagine just how much is waiting to be discovered off the trodden path, granted she could hoist you up the steep rock face.

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Creative Commons | Aftab Uzzaman

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Not only is she an accomplished outdoorsman, Aloy is a survivalist with all the skills you would need in an emergency: first aid, making a fire, camping, and perhaps her greatest skill set, hunting. When you’re used to battling behemoth robot dinosaurs and laser-toting automaton, catching or defending against a real life critter would be no sweat. She’s like a vacation bodyguard and tour guide in one!

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Creative Commons | kishisaka

If extreme activities like jumping from a plane, hiking down a cliff, or staring down the sights of a bow aren’t your thing, there is also fossil hunting. Thanks to its unique formation, the Grand Canyon is a literal cross section into our archaeological past. The canyon is littered with fossil specimens dating back over 740 million years. With Aloy’s Focus—her wearable scanning device—you won’t have to strain your eyes too hard to spot all the hidden treasures.

For the outdoor-lover, the geology-buff and the adventurous traveler, the Grand Canyon is a marvel of nature, no matter what era you’re from, and so I reintroduce my earlier premise to you, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? If you could invite any fictional travel buddy, who would you choose for the trip of a lifetime?

I’ll have another imaginary journey for you all next week.

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  • I would go to Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon with Nancy Drew! We could take the gondola up the mountain and feed the chipmunks at the top, and take photos of the lake from way above. We could paddle board in the lake, and keep an eye out for Wally, the Wallowa Lake Monster. After having a picnic, we could go hiking in the woods, gathering more pictures for our photo albums.