The best looking games on PC | PCGamesN

The best looking games on PC

Best looking PC games

What are the best looking games on PC? We’re a bit spoiled for choice, aren’t we? It’s gotten to the point, now, where the ambitions of developers are exceeding the hardware most players have crammed into their rigs. And even multiplatform games, be they ports or titles redesigned specifically for PC, have the potential to make eyes pop out of skulls.

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It’s not just graphical fidelity that’s becoming increasingly impressive, either; there are an abundance of PC games that leverage the skill of artists to get us drooling all over our keyboards. You don’t need a fancy new GPU to treat yourself to some eye candy. 

Below, you’ll find a mix of 20 games that are striking, gorgeous, and technically notable, from ports to PC exclusives. 

Rise of the Tomb Raider

best looking games Rise of the Tomb Raider

Lara’s latest archaeological-but-really-it’s-about-killing-lots-of-dudes-and-saving-the-world adventure is a rather excellent reminder of how much games have advanced, in terms of fidelity, in a short space of time. The last Tomb Raider was visually arresting game, but Rise of the Tomb Raider demolishes it. And the places you can explore! Byzantine ships trapped in underground ice caves, ancient forgotten temples, even dingey Soviet military bases – they are all eye-wateringly beautiful. Also, Lara has lovely hair. 

Want more? Here's our Rise of the Tomb Raider review.

Elite: Dangerous

best looking games Elite: Dangerous

Space is a bit of alright, isn’t it? And it’s looking particularly dapper in Elite: Dangerous, one of the few games where you could conceivably feel like you’ve made good use of your time after just getting from A to B and taking several hours doing it. Who cares if you missed an important deadline? Think of all the handsome screenshots of suns and black holes and rings and planet surfaces that you’ve taken. There’s a lot of other things to do, of course, but simply travelling across the stars, lonely though it may sometimes feel, is impressively rewarding when the sights are this noteworthy. 

Want more? Here's our Elite: Dangerous review.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

best looking games The Witcher 3

The Witcher series has always delighted squishy orbs of sight, but the third and most recent installment, Wild Hunt, has proved to be the most striking, helped in great part by a mostly open world that allows players to explore its gorgeous nooks and crannies at their own pace. From haunting marshes to intimidating mountain peaks, the Northern Realms is one of the most beautiful fantasy realms that you should definitely explore, and it’s full of memorable and often hideous beasties to slay, to boot. It’s also a bit of a treat if you give two hoots about videogame fashion, because it boasts an exceptional selection of absurdly detailed armour.

Want more? Here's our Witcher 3 review.

Crysis 3

best looking games Crysis 3

The Crysis series is cursed to be the thing we remember as very pretty and not much else, which is a shame, because the first Crysis is flipping amazing. Its sequels, less so, but damn does Crysis 3 look wonderful while not being all that impressive elsewhere. The setting offers a lot of variety, with urban, post-apocalyptic or gorgeous wilderness environments, and all of them benefit from stunning lighting that manages to make even a simple scene leap out of the screen and make sweet, sweet love to your eyes. And afterward, you’ll just want to lie down in that lush, wild grass. 

Ryse: Son of Rome

best looking games Ryse

Hey, it’s another Crytek game that will only really be remembered because it looks incredible. It really does, though. Ryse is a mediocre action game with a plot that makes Xena: Warrior Princess seem historically accurate, but the game looks so delicious, the battlefields so alive and the enemies so lifelike that you’ll forget that it’s complete nonsense. Bonus points for Crytek going above and beyond in creating Marius Titus’ armour, which not only looks real enough for you to pluck out of the game and wear, but was actually forged by a real blacksmith.  

Total War: Attila

best looking games Total War: Attila

This one was a toughie. Shogun II’s extremely strong art style and elegant samurai duels made it a strong contender, so let’s just cheat a little and say that you can imagine that it’s in the list too. Total War: Attila is actually in the list, though, because it’s a marriage of style and a level of fidelity that is yet unmatched in the genre. Where Shogun II was all cherry blossoms and noble warriors, Attila is beards and blood and savagery and fire. It’s an apocalyptic game of dirt and brutality, where even the campaign map gets burned down. 

Want more? Here's our Total War: Attila review.

Grand Theft Auto V

best looking games Grand Theft Auto V

It took blooming ages to come out on PC, but all that extra time made GTA V one of the finest looking open-world games. Everything from the animations of the masses of NPCs to the cars and buildings makes it feel like you’re a tourist in a real city, assisted by the surprisingly immersive first-person mode that comes with its own animations and visual magic, like sunglasses changing the screen tint. The difference is so dramatic, it makes buying it twice almost completely justifiable. Simply wandering the streets of Downtown Los Santos, chilling out on the beach, or taking a trek up Mount Chiliad becomes almost as compelling as stealing a chopper and going on drug-fuelled murder binge. 

Want more? Here's our Grand Theft Auto V review.

Project Cars

best looking games Project Cars

The cars look real, and it looks like they’re sliding, speeding and screeching down real racetracks during gorgeous sunsets and striking rainstorms. Even in a genre that prizes realistic, high fidelity graphics, Project Cars stands out, particularly when you’re viewing it from behind the wheel. If you’re banned from racing high performance cars on famous tracks, then this is a pretty good alternative. 

Ori and the Blind Forest

best looking games Ori and the Blind Forest

It’s hard to imagine a 2D platformer more soulfully beautiful than Ori and the Blind Forest. Every second of it is an absolute treat, where each level is rich and lively with a kaleidoscope of colour, each scene blessed with a depth that makes you want to dive through your screen, each area another fantastical realm, diverse and memorable, stitched together with a rare and exceptional eye for composition.

Want more? Here's our Ori and the Blind Forest review.

Metro Redux

best looking games Metro Redux

Doom and gloom and unrelenting grimness can sometimes look quite nice, when you’re not stuck in it. That’s what the Metro series teaches us, along with: don’t wander down haunted post-apocalyptic subway tunnels, don’t get captured by Nazis, and try to stay away from monsters. The remastered versions of the two shooters, 2033 and Last Light, combine a rich but oppressive atmosphere with incredible fidelity and chilling scenes of a unique post-apocalyptic setting. It’s not somewhere you’d want to stay, but it’s nice for a visit. 

Arma 3

best looking games Arma 3

If you’re going to give yourself a stress disorder by spending your days in a tense, incredibly detailed military sim, it might as well be a very pretty one. Arma 3 has you covered. The game’s fictional Greek islands are frighteningly realistic, making the conflict within them feel unnervingly real at times. This isn’t the jingoistic, cinematic flashiness of the American military shooter, but rather a calculating, cold sim set in a paradise where the sound of a single shot echoing across a field creates just as much tension as a Bay-inspired set piece.

Want more? Here's our Arma 3 review.

Star Wars Battlefront

best looking games Star Wars Battlefront

It’s paper-thin and quite expensive and probably a bit cynical, but bloody hell does Star Wars Battlefront look shockingly authentic. Playing Battlefront is like admiring the best Star Wars replica that you probably shouldn’t have bought because you’re only going to stare at it, but gosh you’re glad you did. Everything from the sparks crackling out of explosions to the analog tech that serves as window dressing in X-Wing hangar bays has been recreated with obsessive levels of detail. It’s a beautiful thing to admire, even when you tire of the unimaginative gameplay. 

Want more? Here's our Star Wars Battlefront review.

Assassin’s Creed Unity

best looking games Assassin's Creed Unity

Poor performance and a mountain of bugs unfortunately marred Assassin's Creed Unity at launch, and for quite some time after, and that’s a shame, because though it’s one of the weaker Assassin Creed games, its facsimile of Paris is one of the most breathtaking, ambitious game spaces ever created. The city is a gargantuan, sprawling, lively place where even the mud on the streets and the dust lingering in the air within grotty little alleys is given an absurd amount of attention. Ubisoft Montreal even saw fit to lavish it with plenty of interiors, making it feel more like a tangible place than the backdrop of a goofy play. It was too ambitious, unfortunately, and its sequel, Syndicate, was scaled back, though the latest game is undeniably an improvement almost everywhere else.  

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux

best looking games The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Photogrammetry is wonderful, and it’s what makes The Vanishing of Ethan Carter look eerily tangible. Boulders, statues, trees – almost everything in the game world is actually a real object or based on a real object, photographed and measured and then transposed into the adventure game. Coupled with the lonely, haunting atmosphere and the juxtaposition between the magical and the mundane, this hyper-realism can even be a bit disconcerting, evoking confusing dreams and playing into the game’s intriguing themes.

BioShock Infinite

best looking games BioShock Infinite

Every BioShock game is laden with exceptional art direction and stop-in-your-tracks fidelity, but BioShock Infinite's Columbia, the floating all-American city in the sky, with its vibrant colours, jaw-droppingly beautiful skies and incredible set pieces is the most alluring. It’s also more conventionally pleasing to the senses compared to the more claustrophobic, derelict art deco environments of Rapture, though perhaps less cohesive. The good news is that, thanks to the Burial at Sea DLC, Infinite gives you both cities, and together they offer two of the most fascinating game worlds you could hope to explore. 

Want more? Here's our BioShock Infinite review.

Homeworld Remastered Collection

best looking games Homeworld

Homeworld Deserts of Kharak might have been a looker, but the space setting of the original Homeworld games, now remastered, is just too hard to forget. Those tiny little ships suspended in that vast abyss, the quiet elegance of the way they shoot through the infinite void, the engine trails! There’s this sense of scale and vulnerability, but also the romance of space, and it’s hard to imagine another RTS evoking as many feelings through art and atmosphere. 

Want more? Here's our Homeworld Remastered Collection review.

Child of Light

best looking games Child of Light

In between the multitude of open-world sequels, Ubisoft have quietly been releasing some truly imaginative, playful adventures with strong, memorable art, from Valiant Hearts to Grow Home. It’s Child of Light, however, that stands as the prettiest of the bunch. With a handcrafted, children’s book aesthetic, this unconventional fairy tale RPG is a sumptuous feast for hungry eyes; a floaty dreamscape of achingly beautiful backgrounds and creative character design, from the delightfully whimsical to the nightmarishly monstrous. 

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

best looking games Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Even when Final Fantasy is rubbish, the art stands out. It’s the most consistently beautiful RPG series you'll lay your eyes on. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, however, is not rubbish, and it’s no slouch in the art department either. Everything is  Eorzea is ridiculous and huge and designed to make you drool. Enemy designs, cities, the countless zones where you’ll slaughter probably innocent animals and monsters – it all makes you wonder why you’re getting busy fighting when you could just be taking pictures. Oh yeah, it’s because the combat is spectacularly flashy as well.

Want more? Here's our Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn review.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

best looking games Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

With the Fox Engine firing on all cylinders, Kojima’s final Metal Gear is also drop-dead gorgeous. Photo-realistic details; inspiring, wide vistas; day and night cycles and weather than dramatically change the world; Snake’s sexy stubble – it’s nice to have all this to stare at while you’re memorising enemy patrols and waiting for the right time to strike. While the series was, for years, restricted to consoles, there’s no doubt that the ultimate version of The Phantom Pain is the PC edition.

Want more? Here's our Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain review.

Broken Age

best looking games Broken Age

Whimsical and dreamy, Broken Age might not have as bold a style as, say, Grim Fandango, but it sure is easier on the eyes. The puzzles might be forgettable, but the places you find them in certainly aren’t. From a spaceship that looks like a giant toy to a wispy land of clouds and strange shoes, Double Fine’s Kickstarted adventure game is a delightfully silly place to explore, abundant with striking, hand-drawn art.

And that’s your lot! 20 treats for the eyes. Do you think we missed any? Let us know in the comments.

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LordCrash avatarFraser Brown avatarAnAuldWolf avatar
LordCrash Avatar
2 Years ago

Unravel + The Division?

Fraser Brown Avatar
2 Years ago

The Division doesn't come out until March and yarn is ugly. Nobody likes yarn. Well, maybe my gran.

AnAuldWolf Avatar
2 Years ago

I think there's too much stock put into fidelity. I still think that, say, Beyond Good & Evil is one of the best looking games on PC. Looking at older games you can see the ones that really shone through and didn't age, and they hold that magic through art direction and sheer talent.

Those games today which hold themselves up purely on fidelity are going to look terrible thirty years from now. And yet, I can still play Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction and be amazed by the framing. I feel that the games that 'look the best' are those able to take the concept art and stay as true to it as possible within the video game, almost to the point where one feels one is walking around in concept art.

Human Revolution is going to last a long time. Not because it has fidelity -- in that respect it looked aged even before it was released. No, it has talent behind it, there were architect nerds involved (somehow!) and that pleased me no end. Oh, and the clothing fashions being somehow contemporary and yet reminiscent of Renaissance clothing in a way that would be believable as a near future fashion. That was quite remarkable, too. It was a passion project. I dug it.

I mean, there's an album on imgur celebrating the bloody ceilings of Human Revolution. THE CEILINGS. I love that. It's something that's supposed to be mundane, yet they put an entirely fantastic spin on it by doing things so odd and sometimes even unsettling that you couldn't call it mundane any more than you might call a unicorn so.

Here! Here:

Just look at the things.

That's how you make a good looking game.

CEILINGS. Well, no. Excellent art design. And having people on board who actually both know and care about their art.

And then there's Ori & The Blind Forest. Strike a bloody light. Have you seen that thing? It's amazing. There's just so much love that's gone into every pixel of that game. Every pixel.

Trine's quite nice, too. Can't forget Trine.

You have your touchstones too, like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, all good. And there's even how an artistic developer can bring something brilliant to even a more dull franchise. Platinum, people responsible for the enchanting and enthralling Okami, went on to make Revengeance. There were bits of it in that. In the animations, the design of bladewolf, and how over-the-top it is.

Honestly, though? There are examples I've forgotten that I'll kick myself for, later. I just feel as though we should be celebrating more what a game does to make a world feel alive, vibrant, cohesive, and beautiful, without relying on fidelity.

Sure, you can have a texture with a resolution so high that the human eye can't make out the details, but what's the worth in that versus something that makes your heart soar?