Some genres have always emphasized technical and visual enhancements more than most others, and in that group, very few have delivered graphical stunners as consistently as first person shooters have. This is a genre that has often been the showcase for advances in visual technology, and that continues to be the case to this day. Here, we’re going to talk about some of the most graphically stunning first person shooters we’ve ever played.
The Metro series has always prided itself on pushing the envelope with its visuals, and Metro Exodus certainly didn’t disappoint on that front either. From how spectacularly it realizes all of its many post-apocalyptic environments to how thoroughly it immerses players in its world with its diegetic and detail-oriented aesthetic, Metro Exodus is still one of the best-looking games out there, over four years on from its launch.
There aren’t a lot of studios out there who can boast an equal level mastery over both game design and technology as convincingly as id Software can, and DOOM Eternal is a perfect example of that. Not only are its hellish battle arenas a veritable attack on the senses in the best way possible, the game also excels at making every combat encounter feel breathtakingly explosive in a way that very few of its peers are capable of.
Crytek is no stranger to developing visually spectacular first person shooters, but Hunt: Showdown in particular deserves a special mention. The game boasts all the technical polish and obsessive attention to detail that you’d expect from a Crytek joint, but on top of that, it’s also uplifted by some of the strongest art design we’ve ever seen in a shooter, allowing its dark fantasy horror world to come to life in spectacular fashion.
RAINBOW SIX SIEGE
Rainbow Six Siege might be nearly a decade old, but that just makes its technical accomplishments that much more impressive. From the destructibility and dynamics of its environments to the impressive coat of polish that encases every inch of the experience, there’s so much about this game that can still easily be described as best-in-class, several years on from its initial release.
Even when Cyberpunk 2077 was as broken as it famously was in the immediate aftermath of its launch, it was still easy to see how impressive it was on a visual level. Now, with three years of updates and improvements under its belt, it’s nothing short of a graphical masterpiece. No matter where you are in Night City, it’s hard not to be taken aback by how gorgeous it looks and the painstaking attention to detail it exhibits on a consistent basis.
Witchfire launched in early access earlier this year after years of anticipation, and instantly impressed the masses in more ways than one- its visuals being chief among them. The dark fantasy aesthetic of the setting alone is enough to elevate Witchfire’s visuals in and of itself, and the fact that the game has the technical chops to be able to properly back its artistic ambitions only makes it that much more an impressive graphical ride.
VR may not have managed to permeate the gaming mainstream the way many had hoped it would, but in Half-Life: Alyx, we do have at least one major game that truly demonstrates just what a AAA VR megaton can look like. Not only does the game look excellent on a consistent basis, it’s also crammed full of a level of interactivity and attention to detail that you would think would have necessitated some technical sacrifices in a virtual reality game. That Half-Life: Alyx so confidently has its cake and eats it too probably doesn’t get enough credit.
For all the problems DICE’s games have launched with over the years, one area that the studio is pretty much always guaranteed to excel in is the visuals. Take Battlefield 5, for instance- a game that divided fans upon release, but in spite of its issues, stands as one of the best-looking shooters you’ll ever play. From the snow-encased Norvik to the war-torn ruins of Devastation to the wide, open spaces of Panzerstorm, every map in Battlefield 5 is gorgeous to behold.
It’s fair to say that Starfield has plenty of rough edges on the visual and technical fronts, but for all of its many typical Bethesda flaws, it’s still a game that’s capable of taking your breath away with its graphics. Whether you’re looking at the futuristic city of New Atlantis stretching out in front of you or standing on a desolate planet and watching the sun rise over the horizon, from time to time, Starfield showcases just how incredible it can look when it isn’t being bogged down by technical issues.
WOLFENSTEIN 2: THE NEW COLOSSUS
It’s hard to believe that Wolfenstein 2 is over six years old at this point, because even it certainly doesn’t look its age. Though perhaps not as much of a visual stunner as something like DOOM Eternal, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is still a gorgeous game. From the detailed character models to the explosive and gleefully violent combat, there’s plenty about this game that still stands out on a technical level.
FAR CRY 6
Ubisoft has got the balance between scope and visual fidelity down to a science by this point, and Far Cry 6 illustrates that point perfectly. You’d expect that a game as massive and sprawling as this one would have to make significant cutbacks in the graphics department, but that most certainly isn’t the case here. The level of detail and fidelity that Yara’s many biomes boast is partly why exploring Far Cry 6’s enormous map is as engaging as it is.
You don’t need a massive budget of dozens of millions to make a visually impressive shooter, as evidenced so convincingly by GTFO. Made by indie Swedish studio 10 Chambers, the co-op horror shooter flexes its technical muscles almost constantly, immersing you in is terrifying reality that much more. GTFO’s impressive visuals alone making it worth checking out, even if its uncompromising approach to difficulty might turn some people off- though of course, for many that’s exactly what makes the game as good as it is.
RESIDENT EVIL VILLAGE
The Resident Evil franchise has always been associated with cutting edge visuals, especially in its RE Engine era, and Village, like all of its siblings, demonstrates the series’ graphical mastery every step of the way. Whether it’s the varied and horrific environments of the titular village and the areas surrounding it or the many monstrosities you clash horns with throughout the experience, there’s no shortage of things in Resident Evil Village to remind you of just how impressive a AAA flagship Capcom release can look.
As a game that’s over six years old, Destiny 2 maybe doesn’t have the wow factor that many of the other games on this list do, but the fact that it is still comfortably earns itself a spot here is testament to just how good it looks. On a technical level, the looter shooter is one of many fine examples of Bungie’s mastery and knowhow, but it’s with its stellar art design that the game really cements itself in your memory.
Arkane Studios’ games have never really been leaders of the pack with their graphical ambitions, but even though Deathloop isn’t the most technically impressive game you’ll ever play, it’s hard not to be impressed by how good it looks. A lot of that is obviously down to its unique art style and aesthetic, but the game is no slouch on a technical front either. The end product is one that looks significantly better than you’d expect from an Arkane game.