I’m chasing holiday vibes extra-hard this year. In a world that’s anything but, I want to feel cozy and safe sitting by a fireplace. There’s something so comforting about the popping and cracking of a warm fire, maybe with some softly falling snow just beyond the window.
In lieu of an actual fireplace, I’m turning to YouTube and video games — sometimes both! — in search of these cozy atmospheres. It’s the Yule log — a holiday tradition that began in 1966 when New York’s WPIX-TV aired a looped video of some logs in a fireplace. Since the station revived the tradition in 2001, there’s been absolutely no shortage of Yule log videos that tie in with popular franchises, whether it’s Star Wars, Marvel, or even Hades.
But sometimes you don’t simply want to watch. A video game Yule log gives you an experience you can play. A lot of video games have campfires, and I’ve rounded up the best of them. Here’s my collection of in-game firesides you can sit beside or even build yourself.
You ever just fall asleep at a campfire? Good thing you’ve got a shovel to put out the embers the next morning.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
In Skyrim, there are options. Not feeling Christmas-y and looking for a warm-yet-creepy atmosphere? How about some burning skeletons?
Of course, for those looking for cozier medieval winter feelings, Skyrim has that, too — plenty of them.
Fortnite’s got an in-game Yule log this year, with a challenge available for players who want to sit and chill for a bit. You’ll find it in the Cozy Lodge, where there’s a tactical Santa sitting by a fireplace and a Christmas tree. The best news? You can open gifts, too.
Bonfires in Dark Souls act as checkpoints, which means they’re pretty important and prominent in the game. They’re also a perfect place to just sit and watch a sword burn. Now that’s holiday spirit! Firesides are not only the original Dark Souls, either. They’re all over the franchise.
Outer Wilds honestly has the best fireside to chill at in-game. It doesn’t necessarily have a holiday atmosphere, but it’s still extremely good. There are both fireside songs and marshmallows to toast.
Spoilers for the end of Outer Wilds appear in this second video, which features a fireside moment that’s just sublime.
Undertale’s got a very good, cozy fireside. It’s simple but perfect. Who doesn’t want to be read a story in front of a warm fire?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
If you’re the creative type in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you may as well set up a cozy winter scene there. You might also find yourself wanting to linger next to it, letting your Nintendo Switch create the perfect atmosphere.
The playable Yule log
Developer Ice Water Games has a digital Yule log where you can build the fire yourself.
Called Yule Log (naturally), the game begins with a small glowing block to start a fire, with logs falling from the sky. It’s a nice little animation to watch, but it adds a little something extra now that you can actually tend to the fire.