If you found yourself dropped into a random location on Earth, would you be able to use clues about the vehicles, vegetation, landscape, buildings, and signs to figure out where in the world you have been placed?
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GeoGuessr is an online game that uses Google Street View to provide 5 locations for you to work out where you are, sometimes it’s easy, say being dropped in the centre of a large city with plenty of recognisable landmarks and street names, however being dropped on the Mongolian Altai alpine meadow with no recognisable structures is way more challenging (hint, yurts a good sign that you are in Mongolia). Like Geocaching this game increases your awareness of the ordinary world as you become more conscious of different writing systems on signs around the world, or styles of building, vehicles, dress even road markings sometimes provide a clue and to where you are.
The scoring is different by game but consistently a “perfect” guess is worth 5000 points with descending scores depending on the size of the map and eventually decreasing to 0 for being at the point on Earth’s surface diametrically opposite to the target (antipode). A typical game lasts five rounds, so 25,000 points would constitute a perfect game score.
There are various Modes available,
Daily Challenge – only one go at this allowed per day with 5 rounds, each with a 3-minute limit to get as close to the Landing point as possible. There aren’t any formal rules for the Daily Challenge or GeoGuessr, like Geocaching you set your own rules, to us Googling somehow seems to be cheating and we avoid that.
Explorer mode – Pick a country to play from the map or the list and explore. This is single player mode with unlimited time to explore, medals are awarded for high scores, with the goal of a gold medal for each country available.
Country Streak– this can be played either as a single-player or challenge mode where players can compete against each other. The simple objective in this mode is to guess the country you are in rather than guessing the specific location. There are several options for this where you can restrict movement, panning and/or zooming and if that isn’t enough pressure a time limit can be set as well. Players are challenged to attempt at scoring as many correct guesses as possible in one attempt, the game finishes when the player guesses a country wrong.
Battle Royale – compete with others, where one by one player are eliminated until only the winner remains.
There are many other options such as ‘famous places’, ‘urban worlds’ and even a ‘dumb test’ with ultra-easy maps to explore.
Free vs Paid
In 2019 Google increased its prices for using Street View and Google Maps forcing GeoGuessr to limit the free play game. Charges are kept at a minimum with the present cost of pro membership being $1.99 per month or $23.88 per year. Pro members get unlimited maps access to Daily challenge, Pro Leagues where you can set up your own league with your friends. Games are scheduled automatically, and notices sent to your fellow explorers. Also making and sharing your own maps is available at this level.
This is an addictive game in both the limited free and pro versions, it’s a substitute for actually being there and exploring and well worth the subscription fees as a replacement for Geocaching whilst we are ‘locked down’