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2017 Was the Year Graphics Became Less Important Than Ever

STARTING SCREEN | 2017 saw the release of the "most powerful console ever," but tech hardly seems to matter anymore.

Feature by Kat Bailey, USgamer Team, .

From a technical standpoint, Horizon Zero Dawn was one of 2017's most impressive games. It was consistently cited as an example of "4K and HDR done right" and held up as the main reason to buy a PS4 Pro. It was nominated in several categories at this year's Game Awards before being unceremoniously swept by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild—a game that could have probably been released on the PlayStation 3.

We're at the point where we're okay with graphics being "good enough."

Breath of the Wild's supremacy is closely tied to the blockbuster success of the Nintendo Switch, which is one of the great stories 2017. In designing their new console, Nintendo bet that portability and a large library of indies and first-party exclusives would be enough to keep them afloat. So far that bet has paid off hansomely.

The Switch is part of a broader trend that has been going on for some time now. Steam and mobile developers have been making hay for years with 2D pixel art. Blizzard realized a long time ago that great art and smart design always trumps the best graphics. With tech providing ever-diminishing returns, attention has increasingly turned to what matters: design.

You wouldn't know it from watching Sony and Microsoft, though. With consoles now being viewed as premium products almost on par with gaming PCs, both platform holders are hellbent on wringing every last drop of power from their respective machines. This year Microsoft released the Xbox One X, a console they touted as "the most powerful ever made." Both Sony and Microsoft are aggressively pushing 4K and HDR as the future of console gaming.

PUBG: Good game? Yes. Best looking game? No.

For these two platform holders, old habits die hard. While Nintendo has long since peeled off in the pursuit of the "blue ocean," Microsoft and Sony are still determined to sell themselves on their tech. They are egged on by hobbyists obsessing over minute changes to the framerate and graphical fidelity, as well as developers who want a home for showpiece games.

But for all that, Microsoft's most important console exclusive may be PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds—a buggy PC port with some major tech issues. In less than a year, PUBG has roared to the forefront of console shooters with its innovative "Battle Royale" concept. It's not what you would call ugly, but no one is calling it the most beautiful shooter of the year.

The success of PUBG only serves to highlight the diminishing returns offered by graphics today. We've now reached the point where most games look "good enough," with meaningful improvements being much harder to parse with the naked eye. 4K graphics consume massive amounts of computing power, but I'd wager that the average person can't tell the difference between 4K and 1080p.

It's a far cry from even 10 years ago, when the leap from the PlayStation 2 to the Xbox 360 resulted in spectacular games like Call of Duty 4, BioShock, and Gears of War. The transition from the SD to the HD era was the last time graphics took a really major leap, and short of VR actually fulfilling its promises, I doubt that we'll ever see anything quite like it again.

These days the most important thing is to imbue your game with personality. Mario Odyssey is a splendid example of how little details can transcend graphical fidelity, from the way he'll shiver at night to Bowser's comments on his various outfits. On my flight home from the UK, I played a load of Darkest Dungeon on my iPad, and I was reminded of how much its terrifying narrator adds to the atmosphere. In 2017, a great sense of style can more than make up for lower graphical fidelity.

Meanwhile, the push for ever greater graphical fidelity is proving to be like quicksand for major developers. Spiraling development costs are forcing publishers toward unsavory business models; finicky engines are killing projects before they're ever released, and development is becoming enormously complex multi-studio affairs. Even indie developers are feeling the pinch as they try to keep up with the ongoing arms race.

Sony and Microsoft want to make the second half of this generation about 4K. It's not.

If anything, the push for better graphics can be a detriment. The better the graphics, the longer it takes to design high-quality and assets, which makes big-budget projects naturally conservative in their aims. Horizon Zero Dawn is a prime example of this dynamic, being a painfully conservative open-world game wrapped in a beautiful packaging. Game development is hard in any case; but the second you commit to top-tier graphics, you can't help limiting the scope of your ambition. There are always tradeoffs.

As we were reminded this year, great graphics aren't a end in themselves. They're a good way to get noticed in a very crowded market, and they're certainly fun to argue about. Nevertheless, a year that was supposed to be all about 4K "super consoles" was dominated by the Switch, PUBG, and offbeat low-budget action games with multiple endings.

We'll still be arguing over tech and comparing the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X in the new year. Tech is part of gaming's DNA, after all. But with everything from Fortnite to NieR: Automata selling millions of copies, the arguments hardly seem to matter anymore. And I'm kind of okay with that.

Looking Ahead to the Rest of the Week

Everything is super-busy here at USgamer. We're taking the last laps on the games that are contenders for our Game of the Year list and deciding what's going to take the top spots this year. All that will be appearing on the site over the course of the next few weeks. This week though, here's what's you can expect.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Full Release: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds on PC is going 1.0 to close out the year, bringing with it 3D replay and a Killcam. You can expect our review as well!

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Finale: Life is Strange's prequel concludes with its third and final episode this week, finishing off the events that take place several years before the original game. Caty is planning to review the entire season before heading off on vacation.

Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Rito Village from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Though the Zelda series' main theme is its most recognizable piece of music, there are a number of beloved tunes that have become iconic across several games. "Zelda's Lullaby" is one example. "Gerudo Valley" is another. So is the theme belonging to the series' birdlike Rito race.

We first meet the Rito in Wind Waker for the GameCube. Their home is built up the side of a volcano, atop which a dragon roosts (hence the name "Dragon Roost Island"). The jolly, tropical tune representing Dragon Roost quickly became a fan favorite, and I was chuffed to hear it make a return in Breath of the Wild.

The Rito theme is calmer and quieter in Breath of the Wild compared by Wind Waker. It might be a reflection of Breath of the Wild's slower pace, though Breath of the Wild's shivering strings also work as a nice audio representation of the Rito village's cold climate. Listening to it, Breath of the Wild's take on the tune does remind me of those late October mornings when the sparse sunlight is barely enough to thaw the frost in the air. Brr. I'm glad Link's the one who has to climb Hebra mountain and not me.

Caty’s AltGame Corner

I haven't seen anything else quite like Witchball this year. The latest game by game designer S.L. Clark, Witchball is a "post-reality" high-speed race on foot, while two players fling a glass buoy (or witch ball) back and forth like Pong until one scores (or crashes into the environment). Points are gained in both aspects of the game: in who can navigate their lap quicker, and who can score the ball to the opposing side.

Visually though, Witchball is much more than just a clever tweak on Pong. The almost-chaotic game marries lo-fi, glitchy aesthetics with what seems to be highly textured pixel art (at least, sometimes). In essence, Witchball looks like a Commodore 64 game that a ghost has made its new home. There's something inherently gloomy and eerie about how it all comes together, from its art direction to its sound; but it's all the more hauntingly beautiful for it. In just the game's captivating trailer, as a Lily and Horn Horse song plays, Witchball's aura crystallizes. Almost like the glass orb you're flinging back and forth within it. Witchball is available for $5 on PC on itch.io.

Mike's Media Minute

So, Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out last week. I'm not sure if you noticed.

The film premiered to an opening weekend take of $220 million domestic and $450 million worldwide. Those numbers put it right behind The Force Awakens. Assuming the film continues to perform like other Star Wars movies, the domestic tally is estimated to hit around $750 million on the low end. That's probably good enough for at least $1 billion worldwide, even with the fact that Star Wars isn't necessarily as strong in the rest of the world.

A Star Wars film making money isn't really interesting news at this point. What is interesting is how divisive the film is. Some enjoy it because the film blows up some expectations and ideas of Star Wars canon; these are likely the same folks who found The Force Awakens to be a bit cookie-cutter. Some find it flawed, with one subplot being called out as bringing down much of the film.

More importantly, on certain platforms, the audience score is wildly diverging from the critic scores. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, The Last Jedi has a 93 on the Tomatometer, with an average rating of 8.2/10 from critics. The audience score is down to 56, with an average rating of 3.3 out of 5. Once again, the surface information isn't the interesting here; critics and audiences not agreeing happens.

The interesting touchpoint is those reviews aren't matching the audience reporting from at-the-theater polling. ComScore's PostTrack polling of actual theater audiences had 68% that rated the film "excellent", 21% as "very good," and a total of 82% said they would "definitely recommend" it. That's not the only metric that's showing the general audience as enjoying the film.

So why the difference there?

Some have pointed to potential review bombing. A number of random TJL audience reviews had ended up on Jumanji and Coco, with some suspecting this is a bot that is operating in error. Either way, we essentially have to wait until next week. The numbers for this weekend improved day-to-day, which doesn't point to poor word-of-mouth. Next week will be the real touchstone. If TJL holds on, it's a very small, but very vocal group of fans who were dissatisfied. If it doesn't, then the RT audience score was just there before the general audience was.

We'll see. For my part, I enjoyed The Last Jedi. I still enjoy The Force Awakens and Rogue One. They are three very different films that do very different things, so I enjoy them for different reasons.

This Week's News and Notes

  • Lots of people seem to have opinions on The Last Jedi. It seems to be about as polarizing as everything else in 2017. Here's my opinion.
    I wish I could address some of the more specific criticisms, but I don't want to get into spoiler territory. But suffice it to say, I like the whole thing. Yes, even the casino scene. It's the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back.
  • Porgs, though...
  • I always have big ideas about playing through a bunch of games when I fly. This time around, I brought a Switch fully loaded with Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Mario Odyssey, and even Skyrim. The game I ended up playing the most? Darkest Dungeon, which came out almost two years ago. I did get some quality time in with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but then I remembered that I left my power cable in my suitcase, and my Switch died about halfway through the flight. I guess my backlog will have to wait a little while longer.
  • Speaking of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I received plenty of advice from helpful listeners on how to get maximum value out of the battle system after the latest episode of Axe of the Blood God. It's funny: The battle system isn't actually that complex, but it's hard to parse all of the systems with the way that it displays its information. I'm getting it now, but it still feels like there are two or three things about it that I really need to master. Still, I like it.
  • It's the final week before we all head for vacation, which means its time for a bunch of 2017 retrospectives. This week we'll be posting Top 10 lists from each of our writers, which Nadia kicked off earlier today. We'll also be hosting a two part Game of the Year podcast, as well as picking our 20 Best Games of 2017 and the Console of the Year.
  • This piece was born from a discussion that Caty and I had over drinks last week. At one point we were talking about how Destiny 2 is a pretty solid podcast game because you don't need to think about it too much, and it got us to thinking about other games we like to play with the headphones. My current podcast game: Darkest Dungeon.
  • We're wrapping a successful year here at USgamer. We'll be off starting Friday, and we'll be back January 2nd. Thank you for supporting us over the course of a very busy 2017, and we look forward to another great year!

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Comments 33

  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #1 donkeyintheforest 7 months ago
    speaking of Zelda BotW having good music... it made one of the top best music lists in the year end issue of Art Forum. Art Forum!
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #2 LBD_Nytetrayn 7 months ago
    Personally speaking, game graphics became "good enough" to me in the Dreamcast/PS2/Xbox/GameCube era. Not that I haven't appreciated what's come since, but sanding off the rougher edges of the PS1/N64/Saturn era of 3D was all I really needed.

    Nintendo did try to stem the tide of spiraling development costs with the Wii, but no one was having it, and so here we are.
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  • Avatar for AstroDemon #3 AstroDemon 7 months ago
    I play games for immersion and expression as well as fun game mechanics. I think games that have the fun gameplay loop, but are not immersive or they fail in their expression or story leave me a fun but forgettable experience, because the game didn't invoke much emotion for me. I don't get into mobile games at all, but handheld games on the 3DS and Switch can captivate me at times, and I think this is partly due to the 3DS and Switch having more capability.

    I think that pushing the graphics and processing tech forward continues to allow for better emotion to be expressed more consistently throughout a large experience, which is part of why I think Horizon was so successful. Motion-capturing everyone you talk to, no matter how short the side quest, was kind of amazing in my opinion and it kept such a high standard throughout the game, even if the actual writing wasn't always successful. In fact, I think some of the dialogue was very dry, but the facial expressions on the characters was usually enough to give it a pass, so I keep thinking to myself: what if Guerilla injected a lot more personality next time?

    Prey was another game this year that had a lot of immersion and f'ed up things happening in it, and I thought it was highly effective on the PC. It looks amazing in 4K, and it really made the experience of floating in zero G (and 1 G) terrifyingly fun.

    I'm all for keeping the tech coming since I play on all consoles and the PC. My Switch is great, but for my immersive-type games, I really want a high-end machine.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #4 TheWildCard 7 months ago
    I don't have much interest in seeing it but I'm pretty intrigued at the fan reaction to Last Jedi. Critical reaction seemed to be pointing toward the usual "it's fine" Marvel-esqe crowd pleaser, but the intensity of the backlash goes beyond usual sour grapes griping. Really weird complaints too, can't say I expected to see "really awkward attempts at humor" post-Lucas.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #5 TheWildCard 7 months ago
    Kat might be underselling high end graphics a bit (4K and HDR looks really nice) but it certainly true it seems that when some says a game looks good they usually mean art direction not necessarily the technical stuff. Funny how much that's changed compared 15-20 years ago when having the most advanced graphics was a BIG DEAL.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #6 WiIIyTheAntelope 7 months ago
    I feel like at theatre polling is pretty much the worst possible metric for judging a Star Wars film. If you would have asked me while I was walking out of the theatre of opening night for The Phantom Menace I would have given it pretty high marks. If you would have asked me 2 days later after I had time to process it, I would have told you it was a big steamy turd. I specifically remember sitting in the parking lot at the theatre talking to the friend I was with and we were trying to justify to ourselves why it was good. "if you just ignore all the JarJar crap........"
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #7 Monkey-Tamer 7 months ago
    It was the year of the frame rate for me. I don't care about the graphics so much as I care about keeping a triple digit frame rate while the action is going on. It has made games like Vermintide and Doom more enjoyable.
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  • Avatar for franciscovillarrealh #8 franciscovillarrealh 7 months ago
    The big meme out of E3 this year was interrupting a speech about the X Box One X's impressive specs with "u throw ur hat at the frog and ur the frog". That pretty much says it all.

    I saw The Last Jedi on opening night. I'll likely see it again with my family when they visit for Christmas.
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  • Avatar for docexe #9 docexe 7 months ago
    I’m in the camp that doesn’t see much advantages to 4k outside of HDR, which admittedly can make images look quite vibrant. Still, I don’t think the tech arms race will ever stop as its pretty much an inherent part of the videogame medium.

    Even then, I can’t help it but wonder if the quixotic pursuit of photorealism in graphics has not stifled game development in other areas that would have benefit from the same advancement in technology, like more advanced IA or the possibility of bigger, more varied and more interactive game worlds.
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  • Avatar for docexe #10 docexe 7 months ago
    @TheWildCard Frankly, I think The Last Jedi is destined to become the most controversial and polarizing movie in the entire Star Wars franchise, even more polarizing than the prequel trilogy. The reactions I have seen online are pretty varied, yet I understand where both camps are coming from, both the people that loved the movie as well as those who hated it.

    I myself don’t know yet on which camp I fall after watching it. There are several things that I found incredibly cool and thought provoking about TLJ, but also several things that I really despised. Furthermore, some of the best parts of the movie go hand in hand with some of its worst.
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #11 mattcom26 7 months ago
    Not to mention Sony and Microsoft both sell a host of related products and technologies that benefit from the perception that power = better. Nintendo has very wisely read the market and bet on a sea change in this mindset. I’m all in for great art direction and inspired game design over the latest in HD eye candy.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #12 touchofkiel 7 months ago
    I think this was last year, when the technically unimpressive Overwatch (a current-gen game on PC and current consoles!) became the hottest item of the year. But really, stable framerates (I don't require highFPS, just stable) have become more important than graphical fidelity.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #13 chaoticBeat 7 months ago
    I think I dug the last jedi. It was so weird and took so many chances. It was also HELLA long.

    That point about graphics being not so important is well taken. Graphics got good enough. The only thing I would miss on the Switch is the next From Software joint so the ps4 still has a place in my home (that and Bloodborne exclusivity of course). I think that their Switch project is a Dark Souls trilogy but I could be wrong.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #14 MetManMas 7 months ago
    I totally agree, good game and art design* matters a whole lot more than how many Ks your console can push out. When the PS4 Pro was announced, my gut reaction was "What the hell are you doing Sony you already have the high ground this gen I don't even know what a 4K TV is" when it was confirmed; for the Xbox One X it was "Desperate much, Microsoft?"

    The console wars have never been won by who can push out the most graphics, they're won by the console with the most support and highest adopt base.

    Anyway, unless Sony pulls something really stupid I'm sure the PS4 will remain in first place, or at least a close second next to the Switch. The Sony suits may not wholly understand why the system is popular and successful, but it's still got a lot of great third party support from Japanese and indie devs.

    * This is also why I'm more excited about a remaster of a cartoon skeleman game than any of Sony's other upcoming first party titles. I long lamented the (non-Nintendo/non-Sonic) mascot genre's comatose state not because the games were great, but because they had wondrous imaginative art direction.

    Speaking more about art direction, I think devs could learn a lot from seriously analyzing Square's PSone output. Company released some amazing shit on that console.
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  • Avatar for InsertTokenz #15 InsertTokenz 7 months ago
    I know I mentioned this before (I believe in response to a community question of the week), but I was already seeing graphics technology in gaming to be diminishing returns since HD was originally shown off. Sure, visuals were made sharper, but unlike the shift from 2 dimensional to 3 dimensional games stretching from the 1990's through the early 2000's, there was little residual impact on actual game design to make the tech feel as important or exciting. No new game genres were really birthed from the advent of high definition visuals, and they barely lead to any major revisions on existing gameplay mechanics/systems (L.A. Noire might be the best example I can think off with the more detailed facial animation tech serving an important part of the unique interrogating gameplay, and to a lesser extent Dead Rising with it's initial ability to host massive mobs of enemies on screen at the time). It's doubtful if we will ever see another crazy period of advancement like the 2D-3D shift again as it was simply a one time event that could never be replicated, short of video game technology getting some radical overall (like divorcing itself from televisions entirely to adopt some other form of visual media perhaps).

    Apologies if I come across like a broken record/potentially ranty at this point (It wasn't the intent). I know not everyone might be looking at video game graphics in the same sense and that they might simply want "prettier" games at the end of the day. It's just hard for someone like myself who grew up with such changes happening back then to look at what's happening now and being as excited when it comes to that facet of the medium. Just my 2 cents. :)Edited December 2017 by InsertTokenz
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #16 riderkicker 7 months ago
    The past 10 years of gaming have all about between the graphical arms war between Microsoft and Sony led to the constant need to patch and we're paying for it through lootboxes and DLC Season passes.@LBD_Nytetrayn is right about graphics being good enough by the early 2000s. For once I'd like to play a PS4 game, even the Golf one, that didn't take up 4 minutes of my life with load times.

    Tell me Rey wears a casino dress like Niijima.Edited December 2017 by riderkicker
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  • Avatar for DrCorndog #17 DrCorndog 7 months ago
    Seeing TLJ tonight. Rogue One was the best SW since Empire for me, but we'll see how TLJ stacks up. TFA was soulless garbage.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #18 Number1Laing 7 months ago
    I've been reading "we are reaching the point of diminishing returns" thing for the past 20 years. I remember people commenting that the HD in the 360 wasn't giving us anything significant. I remember reading the "art is more important than tech" arguments over and over. Yet for some reason more powerful hardware keeps getting released and the extra capabilities keep getting embraced. Play a game that really uses 4K and HDR - AC Origins, GT Sport, Gears 4, Horizon Zero Dawn are four good ones - and it's actually tough to go back to 1080p.

    I love BOTW, but it would have been even better on more powerful hardware. It's why people like putting old PS1/N64/PS2/Cube games through emulators. Nobody has ever said "hey you know what's better than powerful hardware? Weak hardware." They didn't say it 10 years ago and they're not saying it now.Edited December 2017 by Number1Laing
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #19 cldmstrsn 7 months ago
    Good. Graphics are never a factor for me. Hell I think the height of this craft was in SNES/PS1 era with pixels so thats where I'm coming from.
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  • Avatar for Talraen #20 Talraen 7 months ago
    It's interesting to see how everyone (myself included) tries to categorize who loved and hated the Last Jedi. I've seen people put categories such as "hardcore Star Wars fans," "people who liked Rogue One more than Force Awakens," "people who thought Force Awakens was a ripoff of A New Hope," and more on both sides of the debate. As someone who loved Force Awakens (but didn't think it was too much like A New Hope) and also loved The Last Jedi (though I acknowledge it has a ton of problems), I kind of contradict Mike's generalization here.

    From reading internet comments, it seems two factors correlate most highly to hating The Last Jedi: 1.) having strong preconceptions about the answers to mysteries presented in The Force Awakens or 2.) people who think Rey is a Mary Sue.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #21 Kuni-Nino 7 months ago
    I didn't like The Last Jedi. Like TFA, it's pretty much a story of characters I don't particularly enjoy that sort of destroys the legacy of the franchise and banks on nostalgia to get by. Seriously, how many of those subplots in TLJ felt like they were retreads of Return and Empire? The movie has nice visuals but i was mostly bored for 2 1/2 hours.

    I hear the movie is supposed to be a deconstruction of sorts but that never crossed my mind. It felt like regular old Star Wars to me with even more bullshit like Luke projecting a clone millions of light years away. And Leia's silly revival.

    I honestly think I'm too old for these movies. They don't register the same way they used to.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #22 yuberus 7 months ago
    I adored Last Jedi - it fell in right after Empire for me in the Star Wars movie scale. My only gripe was the lack of Lando - I love the subversion of expectations and opening the door to an unexpected ending in the next movie.

    I do also agree with Kat that the race for visuals died at the last generation of consoles. I've seen things that looked prettier on the new systems, sure, but i was totally fine with the creaky Xbox 360's capabilities. Art direction deserves to take its rightful place back atop the game dev pantheon - maybe that'll help right the absurd imbalance of development-costs-to-price.
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  • Avatar for discohospital #23 discohospital 7 months ago
    From the proper perspective (developer or player), it’s always been a question of aesthetics (form and function, with function having obvious importance in a game), and what is done within given constraints (as opposed to what can be done, or rather, can’t) and how that communicates visually - not of graphical prowess as an absolute. It’s technological “limitation” (or just technology) as a canvas and a tool, not an impediment. An 8-bit (or 16, 32, etc) game’s visual design can of course be of equal aesthetic validity to a high-resolution photograph, or an oil painting - and not just in retro-fetishistic hindsight.

    So it's about the intersection of form and function, and how that emerges and manifests and works towards the experience of the game. With that in mind, graphical fidelity as an arbitrary or primary value can just about be tossed out the window.

    A problem in perception and discussion throughout the history of video games has been the conflation or confusion of graphics from a technological perspective and aesthetics or visual design, with the term “graphics” often being used as a catch-all for anything relating to the visual aspect of a game, often to the point of obfuscation and distraction. I can’t help but wonder if where we’ve been with the single-minded push towards exalted technological prowess might have something to do with that tendency both in perception and discussion, and how those influence each other.

    As an aside, and back to hindsight - the presentation and medium older games were designed for can’t be ignored, but often is when we judge and compare. We’re often playing older games on HDTVs or watching footage or looking at screencaps on the internet, when many games from the pre-HD era were designed with CRT televisions as their intended and sole medium for presentation, and as such tend to fare poorly on anything else. And with PS2 games, there’s also the black level (“RGB level”) mismatch that often comes into play with videos and screenshots online, looking washed-out when they’ve been captured incorrectly, which happens very frequently, but would never have been an issue on most televisions they were originally played on. Fire up Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne on a good, properly set-up CRT and watch some of the cutscenes at the beginning of the game. Or a PS2 Final Fantasy, or Xenosaga.

    With that said, I can’t help but see the first generation of HD consoles as not that massive an advance over the preceding generation, with resolution being the primary differentiating factor to my eyes (which is going to turn heads, granted, but will have the advantage of an HDTV or display being its native medium and with the difference in graphical fidelity of anything older perhaps appearing exaggerated on the same). I kind of feel like a bigger technological jump was made between that and the current generation, all told. But perhaps I’m looking at the wrong games.

    In any case, I can’t really appreciate the technical difference between something like Horizon: Zero Dawn and NieR:Automata (although I take it there is one) when I’m much more drawn to the latter’s subtle aesthetic precision and style, and can't really find a major flaw in how its technical presentation and gameplay converge.
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #24 SuperShinobi 7 months ago
    When the PS4 started massively outselling the Xbox One even without a big exclusives lineup, even the skeptics had to admit that graphical power does sometimes matter. But even though it does matter to a degree, history has shown that it's usually not the decisive factor. Games matter more, so even if the Xbox One X is the most powerful console right now, it's unlikely to outsell the others due to issues with its games library, the console's pricing and the slow adoption of 4K displays.

    Horizon may have been overshadowed by BotW in the game awards partly due to the long-standing pro-Nintendo sentiment among U.S. gaming critics, but it's been both commercially and critically a hugely successful and important exclusive for the PS4 in 2017. It's a brilliant, defining game for the PS4 as a console and will help it break the 100M sales barrier.
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #25 donkeyintheforest 7 months ago
    @docexe I agree with your sentiment about TLJ. I think it has some issues here and there, but for the most part it just tried its best to remedy some of the bad choices they made with TFA (well really with what happened between RotJ and TFA).
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #26 Kat.Bailey 7 months ago
    @SuperShinobi "When the PS4 started massively outselling the Xbox One even without a big exclusives lineup, even the skeptics had to admit that graphical power does sometimes matter."

    There were so many factors at work there: The horrible PR leading up to its launch; the wrongheaded decision to focus in on the Kinect; the fact that Titanfall fell flat as a major third-party exclusive; its far superior indie lineup... etc etc... Yes, the PS4's superior tech played a role as well, but Sony started with an advantage and it snowballed from there.Edited December 2017 by Kat.Bailey
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #27 MetManMas 7 months ago
    @Kat.Bailey Oh yes, definitely. Microsoft made many mistakes with the Xbox One's announcement and launch and hasn't really managed to get much in the way of system selling exclusives* under its wing.

    This year, Microsoft had Cuphead and PUBG's buggy beta as its most notable exclusives. I think a Forza was in there, too. Sony's got NieR: Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Yakuza 0, Nioh, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Yakuza Kiwami, Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Edition...I could go on and on.

    * Or rather "exclusives" since so many games also tend to show up on PC via Steam.
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #28 Vonlenska 7 months ago
    Hey, I have to say. The "main" portion of this feature usually gets all the attention/discussion and I usually enjoy it in itself, but I really appreciate the other sections, too! Especially Caty's AltGame Corner; I've been introduced to a ton of really unique titles I probably wouldn't have found otherwise, which is an awesome thing. Witchball looks insane.
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  • Avatar for Megamoppy #29 Megamoppy 7 months ago
    You wouldn't believe the size of my grin when I heard the strains of Dragon roost island in rito village. It was beautiful.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #30 jeffcorry 7 months ago
    The main reason I upgraded to PS4 was because of the games. The PS3 was working just fine for me. It just didn't have the new games coming out. It's graphics are/were great.
    The Switch is great. Zelda on Wii U and Switch looks excellent. It seems like I will play that game forever. It is ultra satisfying...now...if we could get some DLC that allows us to rebuild Hyrule Castle and Castle Town -that would be awesome.
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  • Avatar for januaryembers19 #31 januaryembers19 7 months ago
    I gotta say that I disagree to a certain extent. I feel like 4K and HDR truly did help elevate Horizon above other similar games. It had it all: art direction, gameplay, and graphics. I felt so immersed in the world because it was just so flipping beautiful.

    I think most people can agree that Aliens is an infinitely better movie than Alien Resurrection, and if I had to choose between watching Aliens on VHS or Alien Resurrection on 4K blu-ray, well, its not much of a choice; I would obviously rather watch Aliens on VHS. HOWEVER! It doesn't have to be either/or. Give me Aliens in 4K and just do it all. Does anyone really think that if the Switch had been more powerful and BotW ran in 4K it would suddenly suck? No. I'm sure it would have taken longer to make, but so what?Edited December 2017 by januaryembers19
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #32 Flipsider99 7 months ago
    @januaryembers19 I think you're missing the point, it's not really an argument of which is better. Sure, having good art direction, gameplay, AND graphics would be nice. But that's usually unrealistic.

    The real question is: are fancy things like 4K worth the gigantic expense. And I think the answer is no. It's just too minor of an upgrade.
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  • Avatar for januaryembers19 #33 januaryembers19 21 days ago
    @Flipsider99 I feel like the answer is yes. Hence why I said "I feel like 4K and HDR truly did help elevate Horizon above other similar games."
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