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BOOM: the best explosions in video games

Hot on the heels of Halloween and my post about creepy gaming urban legends, yesterday saw the UK celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. We burn bonfires and light fireworks, to remember Britain’s most notorious traitor after he planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

Whether we’re celebrating Fawkes’ execution or honouring his attempt to do away with the government, I’m not entirely sure; but what better excuse to write about the best explosions in video games? With a big thank you to my blogging buddies for their suggestions for the following list, let’s get ready to light the fuse…

Warning: some spoilers are included below so if you haven’t played a title, you may wish to skip forward to the next entry.

Dragon Age: Inquistion

Suggested by Athena from AmbiGaming: “The Conclave explosion on the menu screen of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Also sort of thematically appropriate..?”

By the end of Dragon Age II, the tense situation between the Templar Order and mages had descended into rebellion. But here are both groups marching side by side towards the building in the distance in the title screen for Inquisition, indicating that perhaps a treaty has been reached. Things aren’t so simple however: as soon as ‘New Game’ is selected, a huge explosion sends the scene into chaos. Players then take on the role of the lone survivor of this catastophy and embark on a storyline that starts from the first press of a button.

Fallout 3

Suggested by Rob from I Played The Game!: “Obvious suggestion is obvious: Megaton in Fallout 3.”

In ‘The Power of the Atom’ side-quest in Fallout 3, players are given the choice of disarming or detonating an atomic bomb and therefore deciding the fate of an entire town and its inhabitants. Mister Burke will give you the ‘honour’ of pushing the detonation button if you choose the latter and head to Tenpenny Tower after rigging the device. Blowing up Megaton is considered one of the most evil acts in the game and instantly lowers your Karma by 1,000 points – you might end up with a guilty conscience but damn, is that explosion pretty.

Just Cause 3

Suggested by Chris from OverThinker Y: “You can make a lot of crazy explosions in the Just Cause games (I was particularly proud of the explosives I put in a boat, which I tethered to a plane, which I flew over the sea and jumped out of, hit with an RPG on the way down and then detonated the explosives).”

I spent a number of evenings watching Ben stream this game when it was released back in 2015, many hours of which involved him being kicked by elephants, yelling ‘Eagle!’ or getting attacked by honey-badgers (good times). But what was just as entertaining were the explosions: planning them, making them, watching them and then being thrown into the air by them. Just Cause 3’s iconic brand of destruction is nothing short of beautiful, as can be seen from the video selected by Chris above.

Mega Man

Suggested by Kevin from The Mental Attic: “Best explosions are clearly the Mega Man ones that happen when you die.”

If your time has come, what better way to face it than in a blaze of glory? Mega Man’s death explosions may have evolved since the first title was released, as can be seen from the video above, but one thing has remained consistent throughout the past thirty years. He’s always shown us that a true hero bows out in style (and generally in a pattern of blue flashing orbs).

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Suggested by Luke from Hundstrasse: “I think I’d have to go with the destruction of Raccoon City at the end of Resident Evil 3. Mostly because it wiped out what had become an iconic gaming location.”

Towards the end of Resident Evil 3, former Special Tactics and Rescue Service (STARS) member Jill Valentine learns that the US government is planning to launch a nuclear missile into Raccoon City to eradicate the T-Virus infestation. Regardless of the actions taken by the player and the final ending received, our heroine narrowly escapes by helicopter before a thermobaric missile strike vaporises the entire place and its infected populace. The zombies never knew what hit them.

Split/Second: Velocity

Suggested by Lucius P. Merriweather from A Most Agreeable Pastime: “Best explosions in gaming? Has to be Split/Second – blowing up the airport is phenomenal.”

Now I have to admit, I’d never heard of Split/Second before Lucius suggested it for today’s list but this arcade racing game looks pretty cool. Players take part in a fictional reality-television program where participants race for money and glory, and their ‘power play’ metres can be built up by performing stunts or precision driving such as drifting. Speed around the airport terminal and you’ll have to keeps your wits about you while driving through the destruction caused by a plane crash.

Star Fox 64

Suggested by Imtiaz from Power Bomb Attack: “Star Fox 64 boss explosions where great, pretty big, cool sounds, and then the victory music with the team checking in.”

Known in Europe and Australia as Lylat Wars, Star Fox 64 was released 20 years ago and was the most successful entry in the franchise; it was even given the honour of being named as 45th greatest game of all time by the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition in 2009. We gamers enjoy watching the bad guys go ‘boom’ and this title features some of the best boss explosions: big, fiery spheres of destruction followed by epic victory music.


Suggested by Ethan: “Oh my lord! Holy moley! Operation SpecialEffect Mountain Removal was a success. I repeat: the operation was a success.”

For the past few years my stepson has participated in GameBlast with us, a gaming marathon to raise awareness and funds for SpecialEffect. This year he did something extra special for the charity: for every £1 donated, he placed a block of TNT on a tower in his Minecraft world. A number of hours of gaming and 872 blocks later, the video above shows the resulting explosion. I dread to think what he’s going to come up with for 2018’s event…

Hope you guys had a great Guy Fawkes Night yesterday!   💥

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

16 thoughts on “BOOM: the best explosions in video games Leave a comment

  1. I still really enjoy the explosions in GTA V, but there are so many games that have got explosions “right” these days. It really helps with immersion when the sound is as accurate as the visuals are fast becoming.

    My current favourite is probably Destiny 2, but the cars in Fallout 4 are definitely a close second, I remember the first time I saw one go off, I was a bit too close! How do they compare to Fallout 3 I wonder.


    • You can’t beat a bit of GTA action… someone mentioned Niko in a comment last week, and since then I’ve been wanting to get out IV! 😀


      • I’m ten hours in, it’s janky in places but the GTA V and newfound mad controller skills are kicking in nicely. Graphics hold up nicely but I really miss the weapon wheel, which I think first appeared in Red Dead Redemption?


        • I think part of the reason we love GTA IV so much is because it’s janky in places! I must admit that I haven’t actually played very much of V, so that’s probably something I should rectify as soon as possible.


          • I have played a, erm, fair bit of GTA V, although 95% of that is GTA Online. If you’re not into all that, the single player is definitely worth doing, it’s a huge refinement over IV. It’s the only GTA I’ve completed actually, so far…


            • My brother lent me his copy a few years ago and I played it for a couple of hours… but I was halfway through Diablo III and wanted to get back to it! I might have to pick up the game in the Christmas sales. 🙂


              • Out of curiosity which version would you get? I own it on PS3, Xbox One and PC. The PC version has been by far the best, I’m biased because that’s where the people I play online with are lol. I play with a controller though.


                • Oh now I’m torn… going by your feedback, I’d opt for the PC version (also with a controller). But I have friends who used to play it on PS4 so I could potentially rope them into playing with me! What to do… 😉


                  • Well I don’t recommend lining Rockstars coffers by getting multiple versions of it like I did 🤣 we block firewall ports on PC, to play in public sessions without any goobers, the community is just too toxic.


                    • I read some stuff about it being bad, and I seem to recall Ben experiencing few problems when he played online a few years back… stick to the single-player then?


                    • It put me off buying it for a while, but there are ways and means of avoiding the trouble… I couldn’t possibly recommend sticking to single player, there’s so much fun to be had in Online. These days you’ve got 4 years of free DLC too when you start, it’s all worth doing at least once, like the story. Some people get caught up in the grindfest to buy all the toys, I made enough GTA$ last December to get me through the entire year, so I just play for the fun of it, like blowing stuff up 😎 or to help others make $.


                    • And who doesn’t like blowing stuff up? I guess you’ve just got to accept the fact you’re going to encounter a certain amount of idiots when playing online – hell, I’m currently playing TESO and at least one person tries to set me on fire every night. 😉


  2. Ah yes, that Fallout 3 explosion… I remember the first time I played that game years ago (of many, many runs since then), and I sided with Tenpenny for some reason. Boy, it looked far more realistic than I ever imagined and I felt _terrible_ about it. Just a testament to how great Fallout 3 is!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it when a video game tugs at your conscience and makes you question whether you took the right decision… and people say they’re nothing more than mindless entertainment. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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