Video games do not have to have pretty graphics, dazzle every 10 seconds with technological special effects, and boastfully display character models from hundreds of thousands of polygons in the foreground. But games, like any type of visual art, will never be hindered by an external technological gloss and a stylish wrapper that can become one of the main advantages of the project and harmoniously complement the narrative and gameplay aspects. Today, we propose to draw a line under the past decade and consider the most beautiful games over the past 10 years, which combine technological graphics and stylish design.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Already from the first trailer back in 2013, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt graphics pleasantly surprised, clearly demonstrating why it is worth waiting for the Next-Gen consoles to be released. Subsequent videos of "The Witcher" were one more beautiful than the other, showing in places almost a CGI picture. But the miracle did not happen and the final version of the game turned out to be simpler than the early demonstrations. However, even in this form, the visuals of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt fascinated from the first frames, from the views of Kaer Morhen hidden in the rocks and up to the final credits.
Developers from CD Project managed to create a world that, with all its off-scale cruelty and coldness, did not want to leave. Medieval aesthetics with rural huts, artsy fortresses and cold lands Skellige already looked like the best place for a New Year's holiday in itself, but together with realistic wind simulation and magnificent sunsets, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt manages to remain one of the most beautiful games after 5 years on PC and consoles.
Games in the Metro series never boasted impressive budgets in comparison with Western competitors, but at the same time they always managed to please the eye with technological, detailed entourage of the Soviet post-apocalypse. Last year's Metro Exodus was no exception, which only reinforced the status of developers at 4A Games as immensely talented programmers and artists.
Literally every meter of the game world almost screams about how much effort the developers have spent on working out the environment, showing extremely realistic mud, snow and rich in detail interiors. And what is most surprising, with a manic approach to detailing in Metro Exodus, a pseudo-open world is implemented, which, with its size and variety, makes you once again amazed at the skill of Ukrainian developers.
Horizon Zero Dawn
The exclusives created by Sony's internal studios for the Playstation 4 can be treated in different ways, but what cannot be taken away from them is definitely high-quality graphics, which, by the forces of advanced programmers, squeezes all the juices out of 7-year-old iron, giving out one of the best pictures in the game industry. It is expected that in our selection of the most beautiful games of the decade there will be several such projects at once, but first of all I would like to mention Horizon Zero Dawn.
Guerilla Games' version of post-apocalyptic America boasts volumetric global illumination, reflective environments, detailed textures and wind simulation that bring nature to life and make every leaf flutter believably in the wind. But the main advantage of the Horizon Zero Dawn picture is still not in technology, but in a unique style that successfully combined the consequences of a man-made disaster, futuristic robots and primitive tribes.
Dishonored 2's lead artist, Sebastian Mitton, has repeatedly said that all he wants to do is art. Looking back at the magnificent art design of Dishonored 2, we have to admit that Sebastian was not cheating at all and that his work in the game not to be called real art would be simply a crime. Taking as a basis the gloomy style of Viktor Antonov with baroque interiors and steampunk elements, Mitton developed the ideas of the original game and, together with a company of talented artists, filled the game world with a dozen impressive and different locations.
Karnaka in Dishonored 2 has a truly magnetic property and causes a strong desire to hit the keys with unceasing speed in an attempt to capture as much of the game world as possible in screenshots. We also note that the outstanding art design is echoed by equally impressive technologies, which, due to volumetric lighting, fill the picturesque scenery of Dishonored 2 with life.
God of War
Another Playstation 4 exclusive in our selection of the most beautiful games of the decade and another confirmation that in the right hands, even on outdated hardware, you can create impressive graphics. First of all, it should be said to the artists Sony Santa Monica, who, inspired by Norse landscapes and Scandinavian works of art, made God of War a real excursion into Scandinavian mythology. Created a world rich in detail, in which even lonely frescoed stone walls can tell stories.
Separately, the artists deserve praise for their desire not to dwell on 50 shades of gray when drawing entourage, instead deciding to saturate the game world with colors and diversify the habitually harsh northern nature with bright color contrasts. And the cherry on top is top-notch graphics with impressively detailed textures and character models.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
The Czechs from Warhorse Studious, when developing Kingdom Come: Deliverance, set themselves the goal of creating an extremely realistic and reliable game in all aspects: from the central characters of the plot to the surrounding spaces, many of which repeated Czech landscapes. Copying real landscapes is always an excellent approach in art design, because wildlife is better than any artist capable of painting breathtaking views.
The extreme realism and advanced graphics capabilities of the CryEngine 3.8 engine have endowed Kingdom Come: Deliverance with not only beautiful but also extremely charming pictures. It's hard not to fall in love with the local impassable forests and birch groves, complemented by the atmosphere of a sultry forest and warm sunsets. Especially when there are snowdrifts outside the window and for trying to look outside for a second, winter painfully stings the face with cold.
Death Stranding is a rare game in which the main opponent of the player is nature itself. Tens of kilometers of practically lifeless, Icelandic expanses, which, with an abundance of rocks and turbulent rivers, will try to do everything so that Sam Bridges could not bring all the packages to the settlement safe and sound. Considering hiking as the basis of the gameplay and the blockbuster status of the project, it becomes obvious that Hideo Kojima's team simply could not help but make the surrounding landscapes of Death Stranding as picturesque as possible.
For these purposes, Kojima Productions received the Decima engine, which proved itself in Horizon Zero Dawn, and more than a hundred specialists from Guerilla Games, who brought the technical state of the game to perfection. As a result, we got photorealistic landscapes that, in synergy with melancholic music, seem to plunge into the atmosphere of the lifeless world of Death Stranding. Also noteworthy is the design of characters and armor by Shinkawa Yoji, who was able to skillfully combine stylish futurism with apocalyptic spaces.
Released in 2013, Irrational Games' masterpiece Bioshock Infinite, for obvious reasons, cannot compete on an equal footing in terms of technology with other projects from our top of the most beautiful games. But even taking into account, by modern standards, some technical backwardness of Infinite, the game is still capable of delivering truly breathtaking pictures. The case when art design for graphics means infinitely more than technology.
Due to the delightful work of artists and the unique concept of a flying city, the views of Colombia are still impressive even today, almost 7 years after the game was released. Steampunk has never been more frighteningly beautiful than in Bioshock Infinite.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
The Uncharted series has always been a kind of console benchmark, demonstrating what Playstation consoles are capable of. Uncharted 4, as expected, was no exception, and already in 2016 achieved a picture that still remains an unattainable ideal for almost all modern video game developers. But the technologies used are only a small part of the visual brilliance of the game. To be honest, by modern standards, technically Uncharted 4 and Lost Legasy are lagging behind most projects, but thanks to the special approach of Naughty Dog, Drake's final adventures still amaze with a picture.
The secret of the approach lies in the insane elaboration of the smallest details that bring the picture to life and phenomenal work with light and shadows. It is thanks to the manual and maniacally scrupulous approach of the developers that the game manages to produce almost photorealistic landscapes.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Let's finish the top of the most beautiful games of the decade on a really high note - Red Dead Redemption 2. Creating its magnum opus for 7 years, Rockstar has made a tremendous amount of effort to make the world of RDR 2 look not just a reflection of reality, but real poetry in visual form. Art inspired by 19th century American landscape painters. Pink sunsets, sunbeams playing in the dawn haze, an all-consuming fog and a barely visible rainbow after rain - Red Dead Redemption 2 looks like a delight to the eyes at any given time.
Another secret of the game's visual appeal lies in Rockstar's approach to game creation, which is broadly similar to that of Naughty Dog: an obsessive elaboration of every little detail that gaming curiosity can reach. As a result, we got a real colossus and the most beautiful game on PC and consoles, which looks as great in general plans as when meticulously examining the smallest details.
Read also the TOP 10 most anticipated PC games of 2020.
The Topic of Article: The most beautiful games of the decade: perfection in style and technology.