Ratchet and Clank
Releasing in April this year, Ratchet and Clank rebooted the Lombax and Robot’s series of adventures onto current-gen consoles in style. Exclusive to the PS4 and largely retelling the same story as the very first game, Ratchet and Clank saw the duo explore beautifully vibrant, colorful worlds as they aimed to take down the evil Supreme Executive Chairman, Drek.
This wasn’t some half-measures attempt to bring a PS2 game to the modern era, though. Ratchet and Clank on PS4 had been completely rebuilt from the ground up and oh boy did it show. The game quite literally looked like an animated TV show, both during cutscenes and the in-game action. Ratchet and Clank proved you don’t need hyper-realistic graphics to be one of the prettiest games on current-gen consoles.
Firewatch was an experience to behold upon its release in February this year. As we explored the stunning scenery of the Wyoming wilderness, we uncovered the secrets of the forest and got ourselves further tangled into an atmospheric and emotional storyline. Though the voice acting and music certainly helped with the immersion, it was Firewatch’s beautiful environments that made this game particularly memorable.
Admiring the sunset in the distance as we made our way back to our watch tower, or wandering through the forest as the sunlight burst through gaps in the canopy above us were poignant moments. Not because something particularly interesting in the game was going on, but because it reminded us that, although there were some creepy goings on, the wilderness was still a beautiful hub of nature. And if that wasn’t enough, you could even pay to get proper print out photos of your in-game screenshots.
Uncharted 4 was a masterpiece of a game. The action was great, the story was a fitting end to Drake’s adventures, the voice acting was as always excellent, and the attention to detail was sublime. It was this last point that helped Uncharted 4 to be one of the prettiest games of the year so far.
Naughty Dog quite literally thought of everything when creating Uncharted 4, from the detail in the characters’ watches, to the way that Nathan Drake bites his lip, this game dripped with beauty from every one of its pores. From these tiny details, all the way up to stunning landscapes, Uncharted 4 is a sight to behold, and anyone who owns a PS4 should pick this up to see what their console can really do.
Blood and Wine
While The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine isn’t a new game, however, the expansion was hefty enough and changed the art style of the game that much to warrant its place on this list. Releasing at the very end of May, Blood and Wine sent Geralt on his next quest to the new land of Toussaint; a fairytale world where real-life fables were actual people, and vampires wreaked havoc.
These changes in the world were reflected in the art style too, no more dark and drab colors for Geralt. His surroundings exploded with bright green pastures, and the vivid red of house roofs. CD Projekt Red poured so much time into making Toussaint a completely new area that Blood and Wine manages to be even prettier than the base game it released for. Witcher fans, call Roach and prepare to embark on your adventure to Toussaint. You really should go.
The Witness’ environments are as beautiful and colorful as the language we uttered when we got stuck on some of its toughest puzzles. Dropping you on an island filled with over 500 puzzles, The Witness lets you choose what to do when you want to do it, all within a watercolor-styled world.
Its artstyle provides a calming, relaxing, and beautiful backdrop, to the brain-bending, challenging and sometimes infuriating puzzles of The Witness. At least you have some really pretty sights to admire during that three-hour stint on one puzzle.
Dark Souls III
Dark Souls III was a terrifying, yet picturesque return to the world of challenging combat and huge boss fights. It may not have used a vibrant color pallet, but it certainly made sure that its enemies would lurk in your nightmares for a good few months.
Each of Dark Souls III’s enemies had been beautifully crafted during the development process to ensure that they really looked like they could rip you in half. Combining this with some moody landscapes to really bump up the atmosphere, and Dark Souls III was one of the prettiest games so far this year. Even if it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of our list.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
Though it doesn’t necessarily change its art direction all that much from its predecessor, Catalyst does really sharpen up its minimalist visuals and makes the Shard a more beautiful place to explore. Horizons are filled with a range of different buildings, the sunlight glaring off of reflective surfaces and making the blue tinge of windows really contrast against the white of the world.
It may be a simplistic art style, but it’s particularly effective and equally as nice to admire as you’re sprinting, jumping, and rolling your way from rooftop to rooftop.
Far Cry Primal
Few games have dared to venture into the prehistoric era, so when Far Cry Primal went and did just that in February, fans were intrigued to see how it would pan out. What they were greeted with was an enjoyable, typical Far Cry experience, wrapped up in a world of dense flora and fauna.
Not only was this particularly useful for stealthing your way to victory during missions, but it also provided some rather impressive views for when you wanted a break from the chaotic, primal combat. Sunlight burst through trees, long grass danced in the breeze, animals bore thick coats of fur, and water glistened and moved freely as it danced downstream. While it’s difficult to admire when just about every animal in the game wants to maul your face off, if you find a moment, you’ll be surprised at just how beautiful this prehistoric world is.
While Yarny had won over many players just from his reveal at E3, featuring the rather nervous Martin Sahlin, many were still intrigued at just how his game would be. When Yarny’s adventure was finally released in February this year, one of the most notable aspects of Unravel was its stunning art.
The stars of the show in Unravel were its near-realistic backdrops. As Yarny overcame the seemingly gargantuan obstacles that stood in his way, the environment in the background provided further context for the game’s story, and some truly picturesque moments within the game. Oh, and don’t forget the way that you could actually see stray fibers of wool as Yarny unraveled himself through the levels. Here’s hoping we’ll see Yarny explore some new environments soon.
Taking place in one of the most iconic cities in the world, The Division ambitiously went all-out to make one of the best recreations of New York City ever seen before in a game. Fortunately for developers, Massive Entertainment and Ubisoft Reflections, The Division’s New York didn’t disappoint.
The Brooklyn bridge looked stunning as we caught glimpses of it as we looked down streets, iconic buildings received an insane level of detail, and the snowy weather helped to really bring that true New York Christmas feeling to life. Combine this with some stunning lighting effects and detailed character and weapon models, and you have yourself a seriously pretty game. If you’ve always wanted to explore New York but can’t make it over there, The Division is probably your best bet to do so in a video game.
What do you think has been the prettiest game so far this year? Let us know in the comments down below.