It’s a little over eight months since the release of the PlayStation 4 in North America; the launch window has come and gone. Since then, players have gawked at some gorgeous games. However, one can’t help but think that the PS4 has plenty more to give in the graphical department.
Fortunately, for those with a passion for polygons, the second half of 2014 has plenty of slick looking titles in store. Here are a few games that are set to push the PS4’s GPU to the limit over the next four and a half months.
Bungie has a lot to live up to when it comes to visual fidelity and general 3D prettiness. The first Halo blew us away on the original Xbox; creating a beautifully realized world with a sky split by a single strip of land mass that maintained a sense of place at any given time. Destiny looks to continue this trend of creating worlds on a truly massive scale with a level of detail we’ve never seen in the MMO genre.
Likewise, character models continue the game’s high level of polish while allowing the depth of customization that many have come to expect. Despite the game including more weapons than any Bungie game before it, even the armaments are both lovingly crafted and utterly distinct.
Some of the most beautiful video games don’t aim to represent life with accuracy but instead give players a more impressionist version of reality. Alien: Isolation is not one of those games. Lovingly recreating one of cinema’s most terrifying settings, developer Creative Assembly is finishing work on a Nostromo that fans of Ridley Scott’s Alien will be happy to call home.
From the footage we’ve seen so far, they’re doing a truly astonishing job. From the off-white décor of cathode-ray computer screens, to the psychedelic Hendrix posters that litter the crew’s cabins, the game looks amazing. The stunning visuals play no small part in bringing the abandoned space station to life.
Those lucky enough to have had time with the game seem duty bound to describe just how engrossing Alien Isolation is. This is of course once they’ve stopped complaining about newly acquired heart problems.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age fans are overdue a great addition to the franchise, and after 2011’s relatively high scoring but generally unengaging Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition looks set to put the franchise back in order, especially from a visual standpoint. The same fast, fluid animations that divided fans in Dragon Age II have made a return here but with some slight variation.
Actions look at once beautiful and devastating, and the game’s ability to pause time gives players the extra bonus of being able to get the best possible view of the destruction. The locations we’ve seen in action so far have been pretty much restricted to lush forests and little else, but the grand vistas on display seem a million miles away from the claustrophobic streets of Kirkwall. The rolling hills and open plains have me itching to explore. It’s just a shame we have to wait until November.
Driving games have always been at the forefront of what’s possible when it comes to photorealism, and Sony’s long awaited rubber burning exclusive is nudging at what’s possible with every bit of the PS4’s horsepower. Procedurally generated sunsets glisten, reflected off of newly formed puddles and compacted snow alike. When it rains, tiny water droplets cloud your vision while larger ones form on the bonnet of your car.
As dynamic weather environments go, this is certainly one of the prettiest. But what’s good is the beauty of nature without a Mclaren P1 to fly past it in? No good at all, as Evolution Studios would surely attest, so it’s fortunate that the developers have gone above and beyond with their research, giving the cars a tactility and accuracy that’s unlike any car game before it. Petrol heads take note: This one’s going to look great.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always pushed the visual envelope: Whether reconstructing the winding streets of Damascus, or fabricating the wild frontiers of a fledgling America. The most recent game in the series, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, was the series’ first appearance on the next (current) generation consoles. While Ubisoft’s vision of the West Indies was impressive, it was held back by the generation change over.
Assassin’s Creed Unity, on the other hand, is due to appear exclusively on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and as a result, looks amazing. The streets of Paris are full of the tiny details of a living city and the crowds of rioters that fill them appear in numbers that would have been impossible on the PlayStation 3. What’s more, the game’s updated Anvil tech allows for lighting and particle effects that bring a new level of realism to the franchise.
Far Cry 4
At first glance, Far Cry 4’s visual improvements over Far Cry 3 seem iterative, rather than revolutionary. Character animations have the same slightly exaggerated feel, weapons and vehicles keep their rusted and worn textures and the bushes and shrubs that players spent so many hours in, still look lush and overgrown. But Far Cry 4 has three major improvements over its predecessor: Detail, verticality, and a beautiful new location.
With the power of the brand new consoles behind them, it would have no doubt been tempting to make a map several times the size of the last game’s. However, by putting bragging rights to one side, Ubisoft Montreal kept the same real estate size and added depth and detail instead. Textures appear crisper and areas seem fuller, making Far Cry 4’s world seem full of life. It also seems to have allowed for more diversity, providing areas of large open plains along with magnificent mountains to scale and admire. The sheer scale of the Himalayan mountains gives a huge amount of contrast to the vistas that place them apart from the verdant jungles of the previous games. There’s no visual revolution here but with Far Cry 4, the devil’s in the details.
What did I miss?
There’s plenty of pretty still left in store for 2014, more in fact than has made it into this top six. If you’ve noticed a gorgeous looking game on the horizon in 2014, or think that some of my choices got hit by every stick on their way down the ugly tree, leave us a comment below.