Up until a point a good few years back, all those eyeball-melting E3 game reveals were real graphical showcases. Without fail we were shown games that looked better than anything we’d seen before. Games like Half-Life 2, Crysis, Tomb Raider and Metro 2033 seemed to push the very boundaries of what our graphics hardware was capable of. Then mulled over the last three years of E3 and realised there wasn’t really anything that had pushed the boundaries since. I can’t be alone in thinking that today’s AAA games look roughly as good as 2015’s AAA games. The likes of GTA V, The Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight look every bit as good as Resident Evil 7, Prey, and Mass Effect Andromeda.
I think we’ve hit a visual fidelity wall, and not because we haven’t got the graphics cards and assorted gaming hardware that could do it. Instead, anyone and everyone has become preoccupied with hitting 4K. Radeon RX Vega wasn’t revealed alongside a graphical showcase of what it could do that the RX 500 series couldn’t. All we got was the exact same games, running at the exact same settings, at a higher resolution.
We’re now stuck in a rut where we’re chasing more pixels rather than better pixels. You only have to look at the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X to see this. They’re both practically useless unless you have a 4K TV, and yet they’re four times as powerful as their predecessors. Rather than making games look insane at 1080p, everyone seems to be happy with them look exactly the same yet at a higher resolution.
All that extra graphical firepower is purely being spent on pushing more pixels. For those of us not at the bleeding edge, who don’t have 4K monitors, there’ aren’t really many advances out there to be excited about. We’re going to find ourselves at a comparative standstill until we hit a new standardised resolution that everybody’s happy with. It’s an achievable goal for those willing to spend $600 on a graphics card, but there’s a long way to go until the entry level GPUs are comfortable at 4K.
I haven’t really been hit with the resolution bug myself, and never felt the pressing urge to go beyond 1080p. I think there’s heaps on untapped potential still waiting at 1080p and it seems a shame to miss out on that for the sake of a crisper image. Perhaps I’m alone on this front though, and 4K resolution really is preferred beyond other graphical niceties. The counterpoint is that perhaps the graphical advances are being made at just as fast a rate, yet diminishing returns makes it hard to distinguish genuine change.
What are your thoughts? Have gaming graphics not advanced much lately? Is making 4K the standard the next priority? Let us know your thoughts!