It’s undoubtedly true that improvements to gaming visuals have slowed down a whole lot since the rush for 4K really took hold. The general consensus has been to prioritise a higher resolution over additional graphical detail or, in the case of the consoles, frame rate. But soon enough we’re going to be at the 4K standard. Single-GPU 4K solutions can be yours for $600, while for the next-generation GPUs it’s feasible to this figure could come down as low as $300-$400.
At that stage, we will have arrived. 3840 x 2160 will be the new 1080p. We’ll be at a crossroads - where to head next? The choices are pretty simple; they are the three pillars of graphical fidelity: resolution, frame rate and detail.
The absurd choice would be to keep chasing the resolution bump. 4K desperately needs to be standard for a good few years if we want to notice any other major improvements. The higher we creep with resolution, the more diminished the returns. Apple’s already out there touting its 6K monitors and the such of course, but it seems a bad idea to shoot for quadruple the horsepower of 4K and aim for 8K.
The second choice would be to target high frame rates and refresh rates at 4K resolution. As it currently stands, even those with the mightiest gaming rigs are probably only aiming at a maximum of 60 frames per second at 4K, but it’s only a matter of time until we start to see 144Hz monitors become commonplace.
Lastly, there’s visual detail, which concerns everything such as texture and model quality, draw distance, AI, lighting, shadows, particles, etc. This is an area which has moved a little slowly over the last three or four years. Assassin’s Creed Unity is still one of the best looking open-world games out there, for example.
Ultimately, as a PC gamer, you have the ability to choose between whichever three of these you which, with the obvious limit usually being the detail, which is maxed out at Ultra in any game. Soon enough we’re probably going to see a change in focus from resolution though, but what area would you like to see your gaming hardware focus on next? Are you keen for even higher resolutions? Or would you rather developers hold fire and start focusing on visual detail, or improved frame rates? Let us know below!