At some point, folks…we’re gonna have to stop caring about how beautiful a game looks.
Seriously, we’re at a point now where games look damn good. No longer are we in the age of 8-bit, no longer are we in the age of pixelated 3D garbage, we are now in an age of graphic quality that is more than acceptable. Almost every major game coming out nowadays looks fantastic, there’s very few occasions where a Triple-A game comes out looking like a giant pile of shit.
So I think it’s about time that we stopped as gamers and fans, as well as game developers, worrying so much about how beautiful our game looks in 1080p or 4K, which I really don’t give a flying fuck about right now, 4K’s not cheap enough to justify it in terms of console gaming just yet. The cheapest 4K TV right now is $600 in Canada and that’s a 40″ TV. Until that price drops under $500, I don’t see why there’s a huge rush in terms of the gaming fanbase to push for 4K gaming, how many of us can actually afford that, especially when for half the price you can get 1080p, which is just fine!
This screenshot was taken of the JRPG game Trails of Cold Steel II and this is also the PS Vita version (I play on a PS TV). I don’t know about you guys, but for a game that’s not even on the current console generation (released on PS Vita/PS3), it looks pretty damn good! Granted, the anime art style enhances that a little bit and lets the game get away with a little more, but then again, did Call of Duty 4 look terrible on Xbox 360? Did Mass Effect look bad on PS3? No! And they still don’t now!
The problem is that we’re currently in a generation where people will immediately reference the highest graphical quality game they’ve seen as the only acceptable standard now, whereas the reality is that games that are 5 years old are still more than acceptable today. We’re also allowing PC gamers to influence the overall opinions of graphical fidelity a little too much.
Take John “TotalBiscuit” Bain for example. I’m a huge fan of his work on YouTube, but if there’s one thing I get a little bothered by, it’s when he goes through a game and talks about what I perceive as minor things like close-up texture quality and things like that. Framerate, I’m behind him on 100%, but for the smaller things, they don’t bother me as much and I think that honestly the expectation that every single object in the game should look like the real thing, have zero blurry textures in the entire game, all that jazz…they’re way too fucking high. You are more than welcome to call a developer out when they’ve clearly half-assed their character models and haven’t optimized things properly, but something as miniscule as being right next to a brick wall and you can’t see every single tiny chunk that’s eroded over 100 years, that might be a tad bit much.
I think it’s about time that we pull everyone aside and have a bit meeting and simply say that it’s time for us to focus on the gameplay again rather than focusing on how good our game looks in a screenshot. How many games in the current generation have come out and we’re praised before its release for being a gorgeous looking game, but then got poor reviews cause the actual game was boring, garbage, all that jazz? Think games like The Order: 1886, Knack, The Crew, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dead Rising 3, Tom Clancy’s The Division and the recently released No Man’s Sky and ReCore. They were all pretty looking games, yet had little to no substance game-wise, maybe they came out a broken mess, there’s a lot of things with these games that happened to cause it to be a poorly reviewed game, but before the game came out, everyone was talking all day long about how beautiful the game looked.
And that’s the key here, at the end of the day, a video game is a game. The focus should be on the game, or the gameplay, not about wowing audiences at E3 with pretty landscapes, horizons, all that shit. Sure, it does look fantastic, but haven’t we learned over these past few years that a lot of the best games haven’t been award-winning in terms of graphics? Shovel Knight, Overwatch, Bloodborne and of course the various Nintendo games that have never been known for having the best graphics, they were all solid GAMES. Granted there are games like Uncharted 4 and Metal Gear Solid V that look incredible graphic-wise, but more of these stunningly beautiful games end up falling into the “It’s all right.” category more often than Game of the Year levels of quality.
Too many games come out these days lacking a core part of what makes a video game so interesting. In the search for obtaining the title of “Best Looking Game at E3”, so many games end up being released a broken mess, missing an engaging and interesting story with interesting and diverse characters, they’re missing core gameplay mechanics, the music is terrible and so much more. I’m so sick and tired of games coming out and not being all that fun, but they look really good guys! Isn’t that amazing?!
So for the love of god, folks…relax a little bit on the graphic quality stuff. We have reached a more than acceptable point in technology that we can easily pump out games that look pretty damn good. So let’s stop focusing on new graphic engines and start going back to our roots, making good fucking games!
And I think it’s about time we go back and look at the Super Nintendo once again, specifically a game like Final Fantasy VI.
Over two decades old and it still looks pretty damn good, doesn’t it? If 20+ year old games can still look pretty good, maybe we can still find ways in the present day to make games that aren’t just good-looking in the present day, but will be good looking years from now.
Just a thought.