After a fairly fun gaming year so far, I started thinking about the sorts of games I had played in 2018. One thing struck me. New graphics cards, with ever increasing performance and prices were being released, but this continued trend did not seem to equate to an increase in massive game visuals. There just dont seem to be the big hitting graphical improvements that there once were.
When I was younger, before the internet, I used to walk down to the shops and pick up a copy of PC Gamer or PC Zone and I used to head home and begin flicking through this world of wonder. Games were coming out that were going to be 3D! I still remember magazines used to occasionally come with a fuzzy VHS containing footage of upcoming games and I’d marvel at how amazing they looked.
I can even clearly recall playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the first time and thinking - ‘This is it. Graphics cannot get better than this.” Or when I played GoldenEye and had two particularly mind-blowing moments; using a sniper rifle to zoom in for long shots, and being able to shoot the lights out and drop the level into darkness. It absolutely blew me away. I’d wander around for hours shooting out lights.
These aren’t one-offs either. I had the same experience with Grand Theft Auto III, the moment where 3D open-worlds really became a reality. And in Half-Life 2 with the physics systems and the insane gravity gun.
The history of gaming is littered with these moments. Big hitting instances that changed gaming forever. Part of it was down to the growth of 3D games. It stands to reason that the biggest advances would take place during the early stages of a technology.
However, and I don’t think I’m alone on this, these moments don’t seem to happen that often anymore. There are games that wow me from an artistic viewpoint, but on a technical level, I’ve become almost desensitized. If you look at all of the games revealed at E3 this year, there wasn’t really anything that pushed the visuals of games forward in any momentous way. Not that I can think of anyway, unless Cyberpunk 2077 happens to be that way.
But we are still being sold ever increasing amounts of graphical horsepower. The graphics card prices are still very high and so it is starting to feel like the increase in graphical improvements in games are falling behind the constant stream of expensive graphics cards on offer. Perhaps a case of diminishing returns when it comes to graphical improvements. We know they’re happening but when games already look as great as they do, these graphical jumps are being lost in the mix. When everything looks fantastic, nothing stands out.
I remember when Crysis was clearly the new graphical benchmark and then Battlefield 3 turned up using the Frostbite 2.0 engine with exploding terrain, ahh the possibilities those visual and technical improvements represented.
The counterpoint is that we’ve been lost in the race to 4K for the last three or four years. We’re chasing a resolution bump rather than graphical fidelity, and something’s got to give.
Or I could be totally wrong. Maybe I’ve just spent too many years looking at game reveals and the visual impact has just worn off for me. I’m certainly more impressed by an eye-catching art-style than an off-the-scale polygon count.
So a few questions on the subject of game graphics improvements I would love to hear answers to from you guys.
1. Are we seeing less big blockbuster games pushing graphics technology forward?
2. From your gaming past share your magical moments where a game or gaming blew your graphical doors off?
3. Are there any new games coming out that you feel will be the next graphical revolution?
Let us know in the comments section below and we will share our favourite responses.