Up For Debate - In the last few generations, which games made the biggest leap in graphics?

Written by Chad Norton on Fri, Apr 2, 2021 5:00 PM
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Next year in November will mark the 50th anniversary of everyone’s favorite tennis simulator and the OG video game Pong. Now 50 years may seem like a long time ago, longer than some of us have been alive even, but since then we have come a long way in terms of graphics and pixel resolution, creating some of the most stunning and beautiful looking video games we’ve ever seen.

But there’s a lot of video games out there, and every now and then one of them becomes the spearhead for the next leap in graphical quality. Almost every new generation of games has seen a new title come out with a radical new approach to graphics and image rendering. Back in the day it was a lot easier to spot because going from 2D to 3D was a very obvious change.

But now as games get even more realistic, it gets harder to notice those significant changes. Ray tracing is arguably one of the biggest leaps in graphical quality recently, paving the way for ultra-realistic lighting. But it is also quite hard to spot in games in most cases (apart from the perfectly clear ray traced reflections of course, those are pretty obvious).

Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 - both created by some of the biggest AAA developers around - have led the charge on stunning environments and an unprecedented amount of graphical and world detail. But are they really some of the biggest leaps in graphical quality?

Enough of our rambling now, it’s time to pass it over to you! So what do you think? In the last few generations, which games made the biggest leap in graphics? And in what way? Was it the level of detail, graphics features like ray tracing, animations, motion capture, effects etc.? Let’s debate!

At what graphics quality do you normally play games at?

How important is graphics for immersion to you?

Have you noticed a significant improvement to graphics in the last generation?

Do you think games will eventually become indistinguishable from reality?

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17:15 Apr-05-2021

Detroit: Become Human on PC.

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07:09 Apr-04-2021

In my opinion graphics have largely stagnated since The Witcher 3. That is not to say there haven't been major improvements since then. The enviroments geography in Death Stranding was truly incredible. Even on a humble PS4 with a 1080p signal stretched out to a 4k display the game looked sublime. However, character details, object details, and even just the simulated physics of the game have largely stagnated in comparison to the groundbreaking TW3.
One game that has given me significant hope for the near future is Capcom's Resident Evil 8. So far it looks to be one of the most photorealistic action-horror games I have ever seen, and I seriously cannot wait to get my grubby little hands on it!!!

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14:03 Apr-03-2021

To be fair, I was probably the most impressed by the graphical fidelity of Detroit: Become Human on PC - and that is in large part due to how realistic and detailed the character models and mocap performances were. Humans always look jank in most video games, so that's where the experience gets a definitive "yep, that's a video game..." most of the time. If/when we eliminate that - the "photorealism" in graphics won't matter as much because the world will feel believable just on the quality of human characters.

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10:37 Apr-03-2021

Good graphics in games really depends on the genre of the game itself. Some games are helped mechanically by the enhanced graphics when it comes to the overall experience (adventure games & Horror games). Some games just dont need it even though its great to have. Then you can also have games that can look good by just the aesthetics and art style to make it look more timeless.

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00:22 Apr-03-2021

Good graphics is very important to me, but at the same time I love old games. Especially Infinity engine or Fallout 1/2 graphics. It's like an art with lot of details.

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21:41 Apr-02-2021

The truth is that since Crysis the graphics have been improved of course but only by a little. I hope that now with the new consoles the graphics will improve. However i am pessimistic. 4K and ray-tracing are very demanding let alone with photorealistic graphics. We'll see... good optimization can do miracles.

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21:05 Apr-02-2021

I usually follow good old saying that "ultra is for screenshots, high is for playing", because more often than not, that last bump takes huge tax in performance, but offers minor visual improvement. And graphics aren't the most important thing, it is more nice to have top end graphics, but at some point you do get to good enough territory. And personally I don't necessarily need it beyond that.

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21:09 Apr-02-2021

As for jumps, I do feel that jumps in quality are getting smaller, still nice to have, but dunno if that is just me or not. As for indistinguishable from reality... I guess we will see, I mean probably eventually we will have capability, but dunno if gaming won't stop at close enough, since as is with movies, some parts are deliberately not done realistically, since goal is entertainment.

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01:04 Apr-03-2021

yeah there are always low hanging fruits (graphical settings) for better performance, i usually turn off motion blur, vignette, sometimes depth of field and sometimes anti aliasing but only because at 4k its not as needed as for 1080p or 1440p. If the performance is still not good i usually turn down one setting down for shadows

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20:20 Apr-02-2021

rdr2 blew me away with its realism!

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01:00 Apr-03-2021

Yeah i heard this many times about rdr2 i only benchmarked it for my youtube video but i will definitely try it out once i clear my backlog of games, currently playing risen 3 and finishing whole gothic and risen franchise, it was fun. I usually play whole franchises or only one game at the time and go for another when i finish the previous one.

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20:12 Apr-02-2021

i remember when pes 08 came out...
i was shocked haha

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19:09 Apr-02-2021

Cyberpunk, bugs aside it is one of the most beautiful games i have ever played, RDR2 is there too

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18:31 Apr-02-2021

I have to admit im sucker for good graphics but i appreciate old games as well in their original state and i dont like old games being modded to make lazy attempt to "modernize" them, it never works. It just makes game look cheap imo.

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18:25 Apr-02-2021

For all it's flaws I'd go with Cyberpunk 2077. Has a very detailed big open world, super detailed models, super sharp textures and a lot of crazy ray tracing options. There isn't anything that really compares.

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17:45 Apr-02-2021

This is the main problem of gaming today.Every company is aiming towards graphics and not stability,optimization and making game fun to play.

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17:47 Apr-02-2021

AAA titles are going for Ray Tracing and they are lazy and they say ah game is demanding because of RT,in reality they don't even bother to make it optimized.

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17:11 Apr-02-2021

For me I never noticed a huge leap in graphics until I tried RDR2 last June on High + Some stuff on Ultra that game is amazing.
Note: Game did run great on my pc maybe at launch it was worse but when i played it it was good Vulkan not DX12

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17:10 Apr-02-2021

in terms of graphics games are already better looking than real life but in terms of whole experience, never

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17:40 Apr-02-2021

never say never!

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17:47 Apr-02-2021

unless Neuralink VRMMO happens like SAO i don't think games will "feel" like real life

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