It's not unusual for RPGs to boast imaginative escapes full of varied, visual delights. Places that are equally unrealistic and beautiful. Fantasy titles can easily lean on unnatural locales to add to the experience. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is not of that ilk, though. The world of The Witcher is visually dense and surprisingly detailed, but it is also one that embraces the grittiness of the real life. From its environmental design, to animation, and special effects, it is clear that the focus of The Witcher 3's visuals is believable beauty.
The creatures may be fantastical and Geralt's exploits epic in nature, but everything you see on screen fits the world. This supernatural world feels true to life, medieval almost. As with the many events in our hero's journey, it is grimy, gritty, and glum. That degree of realness may not be to everyone's taste, but it certainly is captivating.
We could talk at length about the resolution or the visual consistency that 30 FPS lends it. That's all superficial though. The technical elements of polygonal fidelity are ultimately irrelevant. What makes this game special is its approach to its visuals. The developers clearly have poured a great deal of effort into crafting a world whose beauty rings true. That's respectable and should be recognized.
One of the things that stood out about Xenoblade Chronicles was its excellent visuals, particularly its stunning locales and setting design. Its follow-up, Xenoblade Chronicles X, carries on that theme with a new assortment of impressive vistas on the planet Mira. From the plains and rock formations of Primordia to the colorful forests of Noctilum, and the spectacular volcanic landscape of Cauldros, Mira is a delight to explore purely for the views on offer. It's also impressive how much life each zone appears to have, including the bustling New Los Angeles, and the action coming from battles including the new Skell combat, Xenoblade X deserves the plaudits for its graphics.
The first time you step into Ishgard, the sheer scale and majesty of the new zones introduced in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is clear. From towering cathedrals to crumbling ramparts, everything looks terrific. Set out into the wilds, and you'll discover snowy mountain ranges, floating sky-islands, and even the bizarre flying ruins of a dead, futuristic research facility. Final Fantasy XIV was already beautiful to begin with, and Heavensward manages to surpass it.
by Trent Seely, Alex Fuller, Adriaan den Ouden