We're fortunate in PC gaming that no matter how great a game looks and how badly it performs, if we throw enough hardware at it, we should be able to get a great gameplay experience. For some of us, the more demanding games may not be playable on our systems until years after launch. But eventually, we'll get there. Playing the most demanding games on PC takes some considerable firepower, but we're rewarded with the best graphics in gaming. If you want to put your PC to the test, here are the 10 most demanding games in the world, 2017.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
A very pretty, yet fairly innocuous game, for the most part, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s demanding performance really comes into its own during the notorious Geothermal Valley segment. This secluded area demands some incredible pixel pushing performance thanks to a combination of dense woodland, flowing rivers, an AI-filled village and a vast draw distance. No matter how well folks can run Rise of the Tomb Raider up until that point, everyone, without fail, will need to pull up the graphics options and drop a few settings.
We maintain that no game is a sterner test of CPU horsepower than Planet Coaster. Frontier’s management sim can obliterate even the hardiest processors and large parks can swiftly slow the game to a crawl, even at lower graphics settings. It’s no slouch on GPU demands either, and even with a GTX 980 Ti and an Intel Core i5-4690K, most of the larger parks are off limits for me.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
As with Rise of the Tomb Raider, it’s the hair effects that prove most demanding in The Witcher 3. Turning this on is a stern test of even the most powerful graphics card. The rest of The Witcher 3 doesn’t look too shabby either, comfortably earning its place as one of the best looking open-world games of all time. Dynamic weather conditions layer on additional complexity and the swamps, in particular, can be a nightmare for stable performance.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
One of the few games in this list that truly challenges both the CPU and the GPU, Ghost Recon Wildlands can often be a gorgeous spectacle, complete with vistas that stretch out for miles before you. From cocaine powder top mountains to the muddy swamps, Ghost Recon Wildlands is a visual tour de force. Up close and personal it lacks a little in detail but it makes up for it when viewing the big picture.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Yes, there has been a newer Assassin’s Creed game (Syndicate), but Ubisoft seemed to learn its lesson after Unity and toned everything down a bit. Assassin’s Creed Unity was the ultimate next-gen graphical showcase for the franchise and it really shows. No open world game has looked better but it proved to be absolutely crunching in terms of performance. The crowds of people hundreds-strong don't help, yet getting AC Unity running smoothly and it really is a sight to behold. Shame about the rest of it really.
Comfortably the oldest game on this list, the Crysis series has long been known for its graphical excellence. Arguably Crysis has always been about graphics above all else, and you’d struggle to get a better showcase of this than Crysis 3. Even now, four years later, it really hasn’t been surpassed. Its jungle ruins can look thoroughly gorgeous but expect it to really put your graphics card to the test, particularly at higher resolutions.
Batman: Arkham Knight
A launch that appeared to be masterminded by the Joker himself, I had to wait almost a year after Batman: Arkham Knight’s launch before I could even play it on my GTX 970. No AAA launch has been more embarrassing than Batman: Arkham Knight’s. It was so bad, Warner Bros temporarily removed it from sale. How it ever got the green light to be launched we don’t know. After several patches Batman: Arkham Knight did become a much-improved game but it’s still a huge memory and VRAM hog, while all but the most powerful of gaming rigs will experience intermittent hitching. One to be endured rather than enjoyed. A great shame as it’s otherwise an exceptional game.
Forza Horizon 3 was going to edge into this list prior to getting a butt load of updates, yet now Project Cars is the more demanding racing sim. FH3 is remarkable for the sheer scale of it all but Project Cars exhibits an insane level of attention to detail, alongside some of the most realistic weather effects we've eve seen.
ARK: Survival Evolved
When a game is hideously demanding, it’s always preferable that it at least looks nice. ARK: Survival Evolved is the game you buy if you want to prove that spending $4000 on a PC perhaps wasn’t the great idea you thought it was. ARK is an unoptimised monstrosity, although it should be getting fixed soon now the final game’s out. It’s hard to get a gauge on just how good your gaming PC is while playing ARK, just let it be known that are definitely going to struggle.
A bit of an oddity this one, Star Citizen stands out on its own as one of, it not the most demanding game in existence. We’re sort of inclined to let it slide as it’s still 87 years from release, but fans have been able to pay for play it for a good few years now. Originally created in the Crytek engine, Star Citizen moved to Amazon’s Lumberyard spin-off, while Vulkan support is also important. Star Citizen looks gorgeous, ambitious and humongous, but it’s also capable of crippling a GTX 1080 Ti at 1440p.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided