The most visually stunning games of 2018.
The twilight years of a generation are usually when we start getting the games that get the most out of the hardware that they’re on, and 2018 has seen some game with absolutely stellar visuals. Though history has taught us that how good a game looks is only going to get better right now, in this moment, games in 2018 have looked better than they ever have before. Here, we’re going to recognize fifteen games of the year that were nothing short of technical marvels, and produced some of the best visuals this industry has ever seen.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE NOMINEES ARE…
GOD OF WAR
God of War games have always managed to squeeze every last drop of juice out of whatever hardware they release on, and God of War (2018) is no different, sporting what are among the very best visuals we’ve ever seen on the PS4. Everything in the Nine Realms is created with an incredible attention to details, from the large-scale stuff like the hulking form of the World Serpent, to the tinier details, like the strands in Kratos’ beard. This is a game that has lofty ambitions, and every aspect of it works its ass off to achieve the heights that it aspires for, graphics included.
Spider-Man may not be the most stunning game you will ever see in terms of pure visual fidelity, but the work that it puts in in the visuals department deserves all the commendations it can get. The island of Manhattan is brought to life with sharp, clean visuals, and character models for all the main players in the story bear an impressive level of detail – which looks even more in motion impressive thanks to the game’s excellent facial capture. By the time you’re done with the game, it’s hard to feel slighted by the lack of puddles.
Say what you will about DICE’s games over the past couple of years, throughout its history the studio has always been known for creating some of the most technically impressive games out there. Battlefield 5, powered by the Frostbite once again, continues that tradition, with best-in-class graphics all across the board, from the environments, to the character models, to the gorgeous lighting, to the effects that make the game’s action come to life in truly impressive ways.
FORZA HORIZON 4
That Forza Horizon 4 is an absolutely gorgeous game is a surprise to no one- but not many would have predicted that it would be so gorgeous. Those playing on high-end PCs and the Xbox One X obviously get a breathtaking visual experience, but even on less powerful hardware, Forza Horizon 4 is a visual treat. It consistently displays a level of technical prowess and detail throughout its open world, and in the stars of the show- the vehicles themselves. Forza’s love for cars and everything to do with them isn’t something that needs to be explained a great deal, but if you do need an explanation, just marvel at the game’s cockpit view for a few seconds.
DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN
Quantic Dream games have a knack for producing the kind of graphics that can take your breath away, and Detroit: Become Human had been promising to do the very same thing for years before it even launched. When it did launch, it blew even those lofty expectations out of the water. While a setting that is fascinating on paper is obviously a strength for any game, Detroit puts that strength front and centre by cramming every single environment you visit full of intricate details. And, of course, there are the faces in the game, which continue the trend of each Quantic Dream game pushing the envelope with its facial models.
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Remake masterminds Bluepoint pulled no punches when they brought this masterpiece to the current generation. Shadow of the Colossus’ large, desolate world is a constant visual delight, with beautiful art that is backed up by absolutely stunning tech. The colossi themselves are the perfect illustration of that- as you climb up their bodies, you can see individual strands of their fur swaying furiously in the wind as they try to shake you off. Shadow of the Colossus was a breathtakingly beautiful game when it first launched on the PS2 back in 2005, and its remake is a similar achievement in 2018.
YAKUZA 6: THE SONG OF LIFE
Over the couple of years, Yakuza games have successfully managed to permeate the mainstream in the west. Prior to 2018, though, one of the complains that were still levelled at the series every so often was that it just didn’t look very good. It didn’t look bad, but there was a lot of room for improvement. Yakuza 6 was the first game that Sega used that was powered by their all new Dragon Engine, purpose-built for the PS4, and all those criticisms were instantly laid to rest. From the excellent lighting to the incredibly detailed facial models, from the way the puddles glisten on the street to the way the streets of Kamurocho come alive at night with blaring lights and neon, Yakuza 6 is a truly beautiful game from start to finish.
“Clean” is a word that best describes the visual design of Hitman 2. Throughout the course of its six episodes, the game takes you to several different locations, each with their own distinct style and look, and though they all exhibit great art design, the game’s technical backbone is also strong enough to do that art justice. In the more crowded levels, seeing vast throngs of NPCs milling about is very impressive, while in the quieter locations, simply walking around and taking in the crisp and sharp visuals of the surroundings we find ourselves in is similarly enjoyable.
ASSASSIN’S CREED ODYSSEY
Assassin’s Creed games have often been among the leaders of the industry in terms of beautiful art and eye-popping visuals, and Odyssey continues that tradition. Ancient Greece is vast, and it is also incredibly beautiful. Various landscapes and sights are scattered across its sea and islands, and every single one of these places is brought to life by exceedingly impressive graphics. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey suffers from the kind of technical bugs that open world titles are so commonly associated with, but it manages to keep these instances at a very impressive minimum, which makes its overall beauty that much more appreciable.
DRAGON BALL FIGHTERZ
Given the beautiful art that is so faithful to the property’s anime origins, it’s easy for Dragon Ball FighterZ’s technical accomplishments to get swept under the rug, but that would be a disservice to those achievements. Games with less than stellar technical aspects can often get away with such deficiencies if they have a strong art design, but FighterZ doesn’t take easy way out. The character models look sharp and richly detailed, and the very same goes for the stages as well, and you only need to take one look at any of the characters’ finishing moves to Dragon Ball FighterZ doesn’t try to hide behind its art for one second.
SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY
It’s never easy to remake an old classic, especially when it comes to graphics- as the developers try to modernize a game’s look, how do they also make sure that they’re true to the source material’s aesthetic as well? Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a shining example of how to do just that. From the flames that shoot out of the iconic purple dragon’s mouth, to the beautiful environments, to the tiny little details one can spot in the animations for all the character models, each of the three games in this collection of remakes is a testament to the amount of love and work that developers Toys for Bob have put into it.
EA SPORTS UFC 3
Sport simulators, more than most other genres, have an obligation to look great, because one of the fundamental aspects of any game in the genre is strong production values that imitate the flair and panache of the real-life sport they try to emulate. UFC 3 is a game that has many issues, but when it comes to its visual aspects, it is very nearly flawless. It is a treat for fans of MMA, from the way the arenas are represented, to the way the fighters are modelled, right down to the way their bodies react differently to each hit that lands on them.
MLB THE SHOW 18
Sony San Diego’s MLB The Show is a rare example of a sports franchise that consistently gets better with each new release, barring very few exceptions, and the one area that’s truer than in any other is the visuals. MLB The Show 18 is a game that you can gawk at endlessly, regardless of how much affinity you have for the sport itself. Every single pixel in the game exhibits the level of detail that the series has come to be known for, from the stadiums to the crowds, to the pitches, and everything else.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
Red Dead Redemption 2’s technical accomplishments are immediately apparent the moment you boot up the game, but as you play more and more, you come to realize that they’re far beyond anything that has been done in the open world space of the industry till now. This is a game that relies heavily on attention to detail, which is clear to see in every corner of its world. Fields of grass sway ripple in the wind, light filters through fog and thick canopies beautifully, snow gets deformed permanently as you walk through it, mud-baked roads glisten with moisture after a spate of rain, and forks of lightning pierce the sky in the distance as storms roll in. Red Dead Redemption 2 is full of such moments that drive home the fact that an open world game doesn’t have to be beholden to the clearly false belief that sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve a larger scale of world.
FAR CRY 5
Far Cry games have always had a history of sporting very impressive visuals that are displayed quite consistently in its open world settings, and that’s not something that changed with Far Cry 5. Taking us to the relatively more urban yet still quite rural setting of Hope County, Montana, Far Cry 5 was a game that has the typical open world Ubisoft shine. Barring the odd visual bug here and there, the game managed to boast impressive visuals almost constantly.
AND THE WINNER IS…
DETROIT: BECOME HUMAN
Detroit: Become Human is, to put it simply, a visual marvel. We’ve already waxed lyrical about things such as its wonderfully detailed environments and its impressive use of lighting, but these are things that simply cannot be praised enough. Even more impressive are the facial models in the game- often these are things that games just cannot do well – or well enough – but the faces of every single character in Detroit: Become Human are overflowing with an unbelievable amount of detail, which is propped up by some of the best facial capture we’ve ever seen in a game. The game obviously has the advantage of being much smaller in scope than a lot of the other contenders this year, but Detroit: Become Human uses that advantage in the best way possible, to produce an experience that is constantly stunning.