2020 is going to be big when it comes to game releases, and we’re soon to see some awesome and beautiful titles hit the gaming scene. Between the neon lights of Night City, an abandoned research facility in a USSR-dystopian Russia, and the lush sprawling mountain regions of Calradia, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be struggling to choose where to immerse ourselves this coming year.
But with these gorgeous and gargantuan worlds comes a hefty price, and I’m not talking about how much these games will likely set you back. Forget the proverbial hole in your wallet, I’m talking about the literal hole they’ll melt through your GPU, because these games are going to stretch your system hardware to eye-watering limits…
If all that talk of holes and stretching is getting you a tad hot and bothered, then you best grab a fan and try to keep cool, because today we’re counting down 2020’s 5 most hardware-intensive and graphically demanding games… and the pennies in your piggybank…
(Before we begin, I will just clarify that this list is based off of RECOMMENDED and PREDICTED requirements, rather than MINIMUMs, since half the appeal of these games is playing them on good to high-end settings at a smooth framerate, for the full immersive experience - don't @ me)
No. 5 – Watch Dogs Legion
Wot choo lookin’ at you filfy scrubb? Eyein’ up ‘er Majesty’s corgis are ya? Duz they butta your crumpet?
You better believe they do – Watch Dogs Legion will be set in the fictionalised near future of our beloved capital, London. A great looking game in just about every way, graphics and gameplay alike, this title is definitely one of the lighter games on our list when it comes to hardware demands. But even so, it’s still looking fairly bulky compared to other upcoming titles, probably thanks to their new-fangled recruitment system, which’ll see every NPC in the game as a potential candidate for your rebellion antics.
CPU: 2.66 GHz Intel® Core2 Quad Q8400 or 3.0 GHz AMD Phenom™ II X4 940
RAM: 6 GB RAM
GPU: 1024 VRAM DirectX 11 with Shader Model 5.0 or higher*
CPU: 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7-3770 or 4.0 GHz AMD FX-8350 or better
RAM: 8 GB RAM or greater
GPU: 2048 VRAM DirectX 11 with Shader Model 5.0 or higher*
*Supported video cards at the time of release:
Nvidia GeForce GTX460 or better, GTX500, GTX600, GTX700 series;
AMD Radeon HD5850 or better, HD6000, HD7000, R7 and R9 series
No. 4 – Atomic Heart
One of the less aggressive titles in this list (ironically), Atomic Heart sits firmly in the No.4 for us, and it looks like it’ll be a real stunner. Set in an alternate dystopian world where Russia succumbed to the USSR, this title will give you all sorts of familiar vibes – imagine if someone threw Fallout, Bioshock, Metro, Nier: Automata and Stalker into a blender. That bloody, deranged, industrial paste – that’s the aesthetic this game is painted with.
Here’s what you’ll need to play this crisp looking piece of communist eye-candy, according to the developers themselves:
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-4460, 2.70GHz or AMD FX™-6300 or better
RAM: 6 GB
GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 760 or AMD Radeon™ R7 260x with 2GB Video RAM
CPU: Intel® Core™ i7 3770 3.4GHz or AMD equivalent or better
RAM: 8 GB
GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 with 3GB VRAM
(If you’re looking to upgrade, why not go straight for the RTX 2060 – it’s just plain better)
No. 3 – Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord
Set in the hills and valleys of the mountainous Calradia, Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord will be another game this year that you’ll certainly want to check out. An RPG/Medieval strategy/management/sim/sandbox, Bannerlord gives players a massive world to explore and conquer, with a sort of world-view for grand strategy, and, similar to Total War titles, an RTS mode for battles, skirmishes and sieges. The key difference being that you don’t just oversee the battle, but lead the charge yourself.
Building on the original gameplay and core mechanics of the first Mount and Blade title, Bannerlord will be bigger and better in just about every way. Although we’ve not yet got a full title to play with (Bannerlord will be released later this year in Early Access), we do have some baseline expectations of the hardware we’ll need:
CPU: Intel® Core™ i3-8100 / AMD Ryzen™ 3 1200
RAM: 6 GB
GPU: Intel® UHD Graphics 630 / NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 660 2GB / AMD Radeon™ HD 7850 2GB
Additional Notes: Integrated GPUs require additional 2GB of system RAM.
These estimates may change during final release.
CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-9600K / AMD Ryzen™ 5 3600X
RAM: 8 GB
GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 3GB / AMD Radeon™ RX 580
Additional Notes: These estimates may change during final release.
(Again, if you’re looking to steer clear of end of line products, check out the RTX 2060)
But of course, as far as we can tell, this is just based on the Early Access build, so chances are this isn’t completely representative of the full release, whenever that may be…
No. 2 – Cyberpunk 2077
Welcome to Night City! Where neon lights won’t just burn out your retinas, but your GPU too! All jokes aside, this game looks absolutely phenomenal, which isn’t surprising for a 2020 title coming from CD Projekt Red. Not only looking to deliver what should be some of the greatest gameplay and most gripping narrative of the year (both things this industry-giant is famous for), but they’ll certainly be serving up some stellar visuals too. The only worry, and a fairly widespread one at that, is whether anyone on a PC sporting less than £900+ worth of GPU and CPU can actually play it…
When the developers showed off their first demo back at E3 2018, they were using a fairly beefy rig:
CPU: Intel i7-8700K @ 3.70 GHz
RAM: 16 GB
VIDEO CARD: GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 4 GB
(If you’re using these specs as a guide, we’d recommend upgrading from the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti to the RTX 2080)
Not only that, but all this was achieving no more than a steady 30fps. Now, let’s not forget that this wasn’t an optimised special demo version of the game, it was very much a still-in-development version and one that is now a year out of date. It is almost guaranteed that there have been many, many more optimisations since then, and in theory, the game will be playing smoothly (probably capped at 30fps) on consoles, so I’d like to think they’ve not neglected PC optimisations either.
Seeing as the title was supposed to be landing in April, but has now been postponed until sometime in September, I think it’s apparent that CDPR are doing their best to make sure the game we get will be one we can all play, regardless of platform – though whether or not that game looks anything like the expectations we currently have, remains to be seen…
No. 1 – Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
So what’s the only thing that could out-do Cyberpunk 2077? How about a flight sim with 1-1 scale (down to 3cm), 2 PB of texture data – yes, 2 Petabytes of data – and possibly the most photorealistic planes, landscapes, skyboxes and, well, everything frankly, that we’ve ever seen in a videogame to date? Oh, and it’s also a simulator so accurate that you could probably use it to learn how to fly IRL…
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what kind of super computer you’ll need, and whether you'll have to re-mortgage your house in order to get it, but you’ll be surprised to find that you’ll only need to rent out a few rooms for a couple of months. So not too bad in the scheme of things. We’ve got no official specs yet, but people have been making some educated guesses based on what we know so far, which are looking something along the lines of the below:
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570 or AMD FX-8370 or better
RAM: 8 GB
GPU: Radeon R9 380 or GeForce GTX 960 or better
DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 2048 MB
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K or AMD Ryzen 7 1700 or better
RAM: 12 GB
GPU: Radeon RX 470 or GeForce GTX 1070 or better
DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 4096 MB
(Source: System Requirements Lab/Can You Run It)
(Once more, we’d recommend upgrading from the GeForce GTX 1070 to the RTX 2070)
Quite honestly, it’s not as beefy as we might expect, but that seems to be more to do with the fact that the game will be a streamed service (since no one has the capacity for 2 PB of data…) meaning your bandwidth will actually be the main concern when it comes to playing this simulation. That said, there's been mention of the specs used in the machines that ran a pre-alpha version of the sim at a recent premier, specifically of an RTX 2080 Ti, which makes more sense to me. For more on this and an in-depth look at the game, go have a read of our full article on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.
And that wraps up our top 5 hardware-intensive and graphically demanding games of 2020.
If you’ve been counting those pennies in your piggybank and are thinking you may well invest in some upgrades before these games drop, take a look at our Reign Gaming PCs – they’ll eat these titles for breakfast.
What would your top 5 hardware-demanding titles of 2020 be? Are there any games you think we’ve missed? Which are you hoping to play? Let us know in the comments.