We all strive for the best-looking experience when we game. After all, a game’s graphics have the power to realistically immerse us into realms of fantasy and space, peril and excitement, through 4K resolutions, Nvidia features, intricately designed physics, and -- essentially -- a powerful graphics card. Why settle for standard console graphics when you’re a PC gamer?
To experience the shiniest and most demanding new gaming releases means investing in a graphics card capable of powering your PC to the levels required for ultra-settings and 4K resolutions. But don’t be deterred. We’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful and demanding games to challenge the heaviest gaming rigs and trigger some serious considerations for you to upgrade your GPU to experience these games at their full potential. Prepare to have your eyes widen and your graphics cards pushed to the limits.
Far Cry 5
The beauty of Montana’s landscapes is done virtual justice at a graphically intensive cost in Far Cry 5. A wide open-world requires huge graphical power, especially when you throw in the high-octane madness that is a Far Cry game. Those rolling hills don’t just create themselves!
Discover the stunning recreation of Montana through the lens of Ubisoft’s brilliant Dunia Engine. As players unearth more of the map, from the finely tuned details of apocalyptic buildings to the game’s amazing elemental physics, your system must render vast areas quickly in great detail and demands huge amounts from the GPU to take full advantage of what the Dunia Engine has to offer.
Although graphically demanding, it is a wonder to behold. Atop having to render these wide areas, when you add in the madness of Far Cry 5’s firefights and explosions you will discover that the game becomes a realistic insanity simulator.
All of this is displayed with realistic lighting and jaw-dropping effects that will make you duck every time an explosion echoes out within the game. But it comes at a price. If you set those graphics settings to max, be prepared for your system to potentially struggling juggling all the insanity and beauty that is Far Cry 5.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Running Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at max settings for 4K resolution will make Crysis seem like Minecraft for your system. But is it worth it? Play Deus Ex for yourself and discover some of the most detailed art styles in the entire industry. Pair that with game’s intricately designed visual touches, from atmospheric gun smoke to Adam Jensen’s gloriously realistic floating coat, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided stands tall beside most modern games.
Remember, you’re going to need some heavy hardware in order to see any of this game at its full potential in ultra-settings. Is it worth the investment for a AAA game? Most definitely.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Not every developer builds their own engine just for a game, but Crystal Dynamics did exactly that for Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015. In Lara Croft’s latest sequel, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we continue to be amazed by the power of these games as characters and landscapes load with vivid realism. Prepare to discover stunningly detailed jungle environments unlike any other.
If you are really looking to test your system or run every graphical capability that you can, then give Shadow of the Tomb Raider a spin. With real ray-tracing capabilities combined with abilities such as volumetric fog and particle effect tricks that transcend how dynamic lighting can be used in gaming, it's hard not to be awed. If you can afford Nvidia’s latest graphics cards, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the game to check out to test the RTX-exclusive innovations.
Project Cars 2
Boosted to ultra-settings, Project Cars 2 is one of the best-looking games out there. But it’s not an easy feat to achieve. Developers Slightly Mad Studios worked tirelessly to heavily modify the Madness Engine for Project Cars 2, and it shows. When racing with a dozen other cars on the race track, it’s hard not to get lost in the realism of the game’s roaring graphics and dangerous physics.
It’s not new news that a Metro game will push your GPU to its limits because of the game’s insane graphics. Metro Exodus is certainly no exception and it shows in our recent benchmarks with the 2080 Ti. If you want to see Metro Exodus in all its grungy post-apocalyptic aesthetic glory, you’ll need the most powerful graphics cards available on the market, including the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2080 Ti. Since this is the first Metro game to take us to the surface of the radiation-ridden world, it's pretty obvious why this is the biggest game in the series yet.
Not every game has an Internet meme made around the very ability to run it on your PC. In 2007, “But will it run Crysis” was hot on our screens, and for good reason. Crysis required massive GPU power and since then, every game in the series has continued to up the ante. Crysis 3 is one of the most graphically luscious games ever designed, even to this day.
If you give Crysis 3 a try on moderate settings, it shouldn’t be any real struggle for your PC. But if you are ready to experience Crysis 3 at a decent frame rate, 4K, and every setting maxed to ultra, then you better say a little prayer for your system first.
Final Fantasy XV
100GB is a lot of space for just one game (although Gears of War 4 with all its DLC is 350GB). Final Fantasy XV justifies this by being the most stunning in the series to date. The open-world game has some of the best physics and character designs in the medium, including realistic hair and skin tones. Want to be transported to another realm of kick-ass fighting and world-building? Beef up your system now and put Final Fantasy XV on ultra-settings and 4K.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V can actually be surprisingly stable on normal settings. But switch up the graphical settings to their maximum range and GTA V is turned into a hyper photorealistic simulator full of the familiar violence and madness that we have all dived into a million times before. With additional modding options that can turn the game from a fever dream into prettier than real life, GTA V is a must have if you are willing to upgrade your GPU and discover true 4K gaming.
Authors Note: Remember, Rockstar are particularly touchy about modding on GTA V and may ban you if you attempt to use mods online. Keep the modding to the comfort of your single player adventures.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 is the quintessential action RPG. Using the advanced REDengine 3, the sophisticated game allows advanced settings for realistic physics, depth of field effects, and ambient occlusion. Because of the size of the game, roaming the lush countryside’s and medieval settlements come at a fair price – a graphical cost. With a powerful graphics card, you’ll start to forget that this fantasy is in fact not reality.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Crytek’s CryEngine has always been known to punish your system’s hardware, and this is certainly true for playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance. If you are looking to play Deliverance on its highest settings, you’re going to need the latest and most up to date hardware. Seriously, just look at those graphics. Everything in this game looks like it can be found outside in reality. The spectacular detail still makes my jaw drop and is making me seriously consider a system upgrade every time I see a gameplay video.