It’ll soon be three years since the beginning of this console generation, and even though we’re only just now getting to a point where new releases are deciding to skip PS4 and Xbox One versions, of the few current-gen exclusive games we have had, a large proportion of them have been visual stunners. Obviously, with the new consoles still being young hardware, we’re not yet at a point where developers are fully beginning to take advantage of it and show off what it’s capable of, but there have certainly been more than a handful of games that have offered a glimpse of what that will look like, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. Here, we’re going to talk about a few such games.
RATCHET AND CLANK: RIFT APART
Ratchet and Clank games have always looked incredible for their time, and Rift Apart is no different in that regard, to the extent that it may very well be one of the best-looking console games we’ve ever played. Its bright, vivid, and colourful worlds are filled with an incredible level of detail, and that permeates through the entire experience, right down to the tiny little twitches and animations for enemies and NPCs.
When it comes to how it plays, the Dead Space remake very smartly sticks to the script of the original, and it benefits from that massively. On the flipside, on the technical and visual side of things, it’s a massive step up, and it obviously benefits from that massively as well. Without changing the visual identity of Dead Space, the remake ups the ante on the technology side of things to bring the Ishimura and the horrors it houses to life in an incredible way. It looks the way you remember Dead Space looking, but compared side-by-side, the gap is shockingly wide.
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR
Three years on from its launch, Microsoft Flight Simulator still remains one of the most visually impressive games we’ve ever played. Achieving photorealistic visuals is something games have been trying to do for years, but it’s hard to point at any example that comes this close to actually doing that. It wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to say that, at a glance, Flight Sim screenshots can at times even pass for real-life images. There’s a reason most PCs still find it hard to run this game (or at least run it well).
THE LAST OF US PART 1
The argument that The Last of Us did not need a remake because the original still looked great (especially the PS4 remaster) was made countless times in the lead-up to Part 1’s launch, but regardless of how needed the remake is or isn’t, there’s no doubting that graphically, it actually ends up being a much bigger leap than many would have anticipated. Yes, the impact is obviously dulled, because as we mentioned, the original still looks good, but that doesn’t lessen any of the remake’s visual accomplishments.
HELL LET LOOSE
Originally developed by an indie team in Black Matter, Hell Let Loose is one of few examples in recent years of games providing that you don’t need Hollywood budgets to make something that looks great. The multiplayer World War 2 shooter genuinely looks good enough to rival some of the biggest names in the genre, and constantly impresses with the level of detail it exhibits in everything from its weapons and vehicles to the environments and, of course, what the action itself looks like.
Speaking of games that look excellent in spite of being developed by smaller teams- here’s another one. Scorn finally launched last year after years of development, and while the jury’s out on whether or not it lived up to the long wait, the one aspect of the experience that no one can take anything away from is the visuals. Its horrifically disgusting setting and brand of grotesque body horror are made significantly more effective by the level of fidelity the game exhibits across the board.
Games You May Like
Lies of P
Platforms:PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Developer:Turn 10 Studios
Platforms:Xbox Series X, PC
FINAL FANTASY 16
We tend to expect visual excellence from Final Fantasy games at this point, and Final Fantasy 16 certainly doesn’t disappoint. It helps, of course, that its world is brimming with wondrous, breathtaking sites that are brought to life through incredible art, but even if you’re just looking at it from a technical perspective, there’s a lot to be impressed by. Especially when the game is in the middle of one of its excellently produced cinematics, it hints at just how much better games in general will look in the coming years.
STAR WARS JEDI: SURVIVOR
The fact that very few publishers in the industry have shifted away from cross-gen games the way that EA has has been a surprising one, and from a visuals perspective if nothing else, they’ve very much justified that switch. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a graphical showpiece without a shadow of doubt, and represents a surprising leap over its already great looking predecessor. Of course, the caveat of the technical issues the game launched with is worth keeping in mind, but evem so, it’s a game that is more than capable of producing gasps with how good it looks.
Similar to the Dead Space remake, which we spoke about earlier, Bluepoint Games’ remake of Demon’s Souls is as much of a jump visually as it is a conservative recreation of the original’s gameplay and design. The original Demon’s Souls wasn’t exactly a technical marvel when it first launched, but the remake certainly is. Of course, the excellent art design also does a lot of the heavy lifting for Demon’s Souls’ dark fantasy setting and the monstrosities you encounter in it.
Given the fact that this was Housemarque’s first ever proper 3D game, much less the studio’s first ever AAA production, one can’t help but be impressed by just how gorgeus Returnal looks. Its creepy, desolate environments, the alien things and creatures you find on Atropos, and of course, the attack on senses that is its combat with all of its bullet hell action- every aspect of the experience is elevated by its incredble visual achievements.
Everspace 2 is yet another example of a game that might not be a AAA headline-grabber but still manages to impress with its visuals. From its vast expanses of space to the level of details it boasts when it comes to its ships, Rockfish Games’ space-faring shooter can be quite the looker. The fact that it maintains its visual fidelity across what’s quite a sizeable open world only makes its achievements that much more impressive.
HORIZON FORBIDDEN WEST: BURNING SHORES
Honestly, the base game itself would easily have grabbed itself a place on this list if it weren’t a cross-gen title. Its expansion, by virtue of being PS5 exclusive, is doing that in its stead though. All of the obsessive detail and visual splendour that Horizon Forbidden West boasts is not only present and accounted for in Burning Shores, it’s been elevated even further, and that shows in everything from the environments to the Machines to the way the characters animate and so much more. One can only imagine what the series’ next full-fledged franchise will look like.
A PLAGUE TALE: REQUIEM
Asobo Studio took many by surprise with just how excellent A Plague Tale: Innocence looked when it launched in 2019, and though Requiem obviously doesn’t shock in the same way, simply by virtue of being a sequel, it does constantly impress with its stunning graphical prowess. Beautiful, detailed visuals to bring characters and environments to life are sort of a pre-requisite for games trying their hand at the Naughty Dog formula, and A Plague Tale: Requiem boasts that in spades.
Regardless of whether or not Bloober Team’s games resonate with you on a narrative or gameplay level, they’re bound to impress you with the way they look. The Medium, like the studio’s past titles, sees its graphics doing a great deal of the heavy lifting. Both of the realms that you explore are stunning to behold, displaying a level of visual fidelity that is not all that common. It may not have been a horror masterpiece, but it was an excellent early look at the visual improvements we can expect from this current generation of consoles.
LAYERS OF FEAR
Bloober Team’s most recent game deserves a special mention as well. In fact, the new Layers of Fear is easily the studio’s best-looking game to date. Built on Unreal Engine 5, the psychological horror game is constantly flexing with its graphical capabilities, with its lighting, environmental detail, and more. Again, mileage will probably vary on the gameplay and the story, but as an audio-visual experience, Layers of Fear deserves its roses.