Best Graphics By Year

cthulhuiscool

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I made a thread very similar to this back in 09, figured I'd bring it up to date. It's kind of interesting to explore the progression of graphics through the years, if nothing else to feel that 550$ gpu purchase was well spent ;)
List is hardly set in stone, so if you see something you disagree with, or think another game should be considered, by all means post. I am weighing technical side of things far more than artistic, though artistry can certainly be a tie breaker.
(note if anyone can tell me how to hyperlink the images with this new editor, that'd be highly appreciated)

2000: Giants Citizens of Kabuto
Giants-Citizen-Kabuto-mac-screenshot-3.jpg

2001: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
2863876-return_to_castle_wolfenstein.jpg


2002: Unreal Tournament 2003
7_1.jpg


2003: Deus Ex Invisible War
0000001646.600x338.jpg


2004: Far Cry
latest

or
Half Life 2
half-life-2-screenshots_15.jpg


2005: FEAR
FEAR_3.jpg


2006: Oblivion
screenshot1.jpg


2007: Crysis
gSbq6z4.jpg


2008: Crysis Warhead
latest


2009: Arma 2
1454527-arma2oa_demo_2010_07_23_18_05_50_43.jpg


2010: Metro 2033
maxresdefault.jpg


2011: Battlefield 3
battlefield2.png


2012: Max Payne 3
maxresdefault.jpg


2013: Battlefield 4
mood6_1.jpg

or
Crysis 3
hMJIble.jpg


2014: Ryse Son of Rome (pc release)
mood9_1.jpg


2015: Witcher 3
witcher-3-111.jpg


As you can see, we've come quite a way in just 15 years. Here's to what things will look like in 2030 (y)
 
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KazeoHin

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I made a thread very similar to this back in 09, figured I'd bring it up to date. It's kind of interesting to explore the progression of graphics through the years, if nothing else to feel that 550$ gpu purchase was well spent ;)
List is hardly set in stone, so if you see something you disagree with, or think another game should be considered, by all means post. I am weighing technical side of things far more than artistic, though artistry can certainly be a tie breaker.
(note if anyone can tell me how to hyperlink the images with this new editor, that'd be highly appreciated)

2000: Giants Citizens of Kabuto http://paulthetall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Giants-Citizen-Kabuto-mac-screenshot-3.jpg

2001: Return to Castle Wolfenstein http://static1.gamespot.com/uploads/original/1536/15366587/2863876-return_to_castle_wolfenstein.jpg

2002: Unreal Tournament 2003 http://www.oldpcgaming.net/wp-content/gallery/ut-2003/7_1.jpg

2003: Deus Ex Invisible Ware http://www.nvidia.com/docs/io/4421/de2_large4.jpg

2004: Far Cry http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net...Cry0022.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140211205959

2005: FEAR http://www.tweakguides.com/images/FEAR_3.jpg

2006: Oblivion http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/images/loved/2010/09/12/screenshot1.jpg?maxWidth=800&maxHeight=600

2007: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2008: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2009: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2010: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2011: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2012: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2013: Battlefield 4 http://www.notebookcheck.net/fileadmin/Notebooks/Sonstiges/Games/Battlefield_4/mood4_1.jpg

2014: Battlefield 4 http://www.notebookcheck.net/fileadmin/Notebooks/Sonstiges/Games/Battlefield_4/mood4_1.jpg

2015: Witcher 3 http://cdn.wccftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/witcher-3-111.jpg

Fixed that for you.
 

Conman

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2003 Deus Ex Invisible War? The universally hated dumbed down Xbox port?
 

gamerk2

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As you can see, we've come quite a way in just 15 years. Here's to what things will look like in 2030 (y)

Compare 2000 to 2008. Now compare 2008 to 2015. The initial improvements in 3D rendering were due to simply driving up Polygon counts. We're at the point though, where polygon counts are "high enough" where even exponentially increasing the amount of polygons gives only minimal improvement to visuals. Why else do you think both AMD and NVIDIA are focusing so much on new AA modes, GPU compute, VRR displays, and VR/3D? Because they understand that graphically, we're basically in a rut, and have been for almost a decade now. Throw in the end of huge GPU performance improvements through increasing transistor count (only two-three die shrinks left before physics becomes a problem), and I predict we'll only be getting very incremental upgrades until we have GPUs powerful enough for real-time Ray Tracing.
 

lilbabycat

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2014 Dragon Age? Eh. Vanishing of Ethan Carter (had the neat 3d photo capture tech) or PvZ: Garden Warfare (same engine as DA:I) imo

Inquisition had some good still images but when playing nothing fit together well at all. Play-doh looking
 

Youn

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2013: what about Ryse: Son of Rome?

many consider it to have the best graphics... I just haven't played both this and tittiefield back-to-back to confirm...
 

Armenius

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Fixed that for you.
Close...
I made a thread very similar to this back in 09, figured I'd bring it up to date. It's kind of interesting to explore the progression of graphics through the years, if nothing else to feel that 550$ gpu purchase was well spent ;)
List is hardly set in stone, so if you see something you disagree with, or think another game should be considered, by all means post. I am weighing technical side of things far more than artistic, though artistry can certainly be a tie breaker.
(note if anyone can tell me how to hyperlink the images with this new editor, that'd be highly appreciated)

2000: Giants Citizens of Kabuto http://paulthetall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Giants-Citizen-Kabuto-mac-screenshot-3.jpg

2001: Return to Castle Wolfenstein http://static1.gamespot.com/uploads/original/1536/15366587/2863876-return_to_castle_wolfenstein.jpg

2002: Unreal Tournament 2003 http://www.oldpcgaming.net/wp-content/gallery/ut-2003/7_1.jpg

2003: Deus Ex Invisible War http://www.nvidia.com/docs/io/4421/de2_large4.jpg

2004: Far Cry http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/farcry/images/c/ce/FarCry0022.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140211205959

2005: FEAR http://www.tweakguides.com/images/FEAR_3.jpg

2006: Oblivion http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/images/loved/2010/09/12/screenshot1.jpg?maxWidth=800&maxHeight=600

2007: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2008: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2009: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2010: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2011: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2012: Crysis http://i.imgur.com/gSbq6z4.jpg

2013: Crysis 3 http://i.imgur.com/hMJIble.jpg

2014: Crysis 3 http://i.imgur.com/hMJIble.jpg

2015: Crysis 3 http://i.imgur.com/hMJIble.jpg

2016: Crysis 3 http://i.imgur.com/hMJIble.jpg

As you can see, we've come quite a way in just 15 years. Here's to what things will look like in 2030 (y)
 

cthulhuiscool

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Compare 2000 to 2008. Now compare 2008 to 2015. The initial improvements in 3D rendering were due to simply driving up Polygon counts. We're at the point though, where polygon counts are "high enough" where even exponentially increasing the amount of polygons gives only minimal improvement to visuals. Why else do you think both AMD and NVIDIA are focusing so much on new AA modes, GPU compute, VRR displays, and VR/3D? Because they understand that graphically, we're basically in a rut, and have been for almost a decade now. Throw in the end of huge GPU performance improvements through increasing transistor count (only two-three die shrinks left before physics becomes a problem), and I predict we'll only be getting very incremental upgrades until we have GPUs powerful enough for real-time Ray Tracing.
Ya this makes sense, the first x amount of resources will be dedicated toward the most noticeable improvements (model quality and texture size) and as the amount of resources to use goes up, you shift to less immediately obvious things. I suspect that the the next 15 we will be see just much much more things on the screen at once, as opposed to individual object fidelity increase
 

Domingo

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IMO, the list illustrates large gaps where things didn't improve much if at all. I don't think it's a coincidence that the major sea changes occur right around the time a new console hits.
 

lilbabycat

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Polygon counts are most certainly not high enough, and various techs to circumvent it haven't helped. 4kx4k texture on a 20poly boulder still looks like trash.
 

Krixon

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As far as 2016 goes, Doom is the best looking game on my rig so far - but I have a feeling that will change once Deus Ex comes out.
 

Domingo

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Doom looks absolutely killer in motion because it's so fast. In stills, it looks "meh." That's also a deciding factor - especially on the consoles. It isn't too crazy to make a game that looks ungodly but runs like a slideshow. Uncharted 4 might be the single best looking game of all time, but it runs at 30fps with some of the heaviest motion blur I've ever seen.
 

KazeoHin

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Compare 2000 to 2008. Now compare 2008 to 2015. The initial improvements in 3D rendering were due to simply driving up Polygon counts. We're at the point though, where polygon counts are "high enough" where even exponentially increasing the amount of polygons gives only minimal improvement to visuals. Why else do you think both AMD and NVIDIA are focusing so much on new AA modes, GPU compute, VRR displays, and VR/3D? Because they understand that graphically, we're basically in a rut, and have been for almost a decade now. Throw in the end of huge GPU performance improvements through increasing transistor count (only two-three die shrinks left before physics becomes a problem), and I predict we'll only be getting very incremental upgrades until we have GPUs powerful enough for real-time Ray Tracing.
I have to step in when I hear people pining for realtime raytracing. It will never happen. Our video cards can do realtime raytracing NOW. the compute performance is there. Why don't we see it, then? Because it looks like trash compared to using that same compute power into using forward or differed rendering.

Yes, the realtime raytracing that can be done today looks much better than the graphics we had 15 years ago, but the traditional tequniques look much better again. This will never change. In 15 years, GPUs will be so powerful that they can perform realtime raytracing that make our graphics today look like trash, but using that same power for forward/approximated lighting will make raytracing look like trash. This will NEVER change.
 

MavericK

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Where's Crysis 3? That still looks better than most games nowadays even do.

I would say Metro probably deserves to be on that list somewhere as well.
 

MavericK

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Polygon counts are most certainly not high enough, and various techs to circumvent it haven't helped. 4kx4k texture on a 20poly boulder still looks like trash.

Yeah I was going to say, I keep seeing a LOT of low-poly assets in brand new titles. It's like...come on guys, we have playable tessellation now, let's get it together.
 

Flogger23m

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I'd say Half Life 2 looked a good bit better than Far Cry. Textures looked much better, water, animations, facial animations, and whatnot. It was smaller in scale but it looked a good bit better.
 

KazeoHin

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I'd say Half Life 2 looked a good bit better than Far Cry. Textures looked much better, water, animations, facial animations, and whatnot. It was smaller in scale but it looked a good bit better.

Yes and no... In a way, the water was better in HL, in another, the actual beach and foliage was much better in FC. Overall, once you got to the interior sections, however, the game set itself apart:

gffx5900-farcry-nobug2-1.jpg

g4wartww3tdu4pruffzy.jpg
 

cthulhuiscool

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I'd say Half Life 2 looked a good bit better than Far Cry. Textures looked much better, water, animations, facial animations, and whatnot. It was smaller in scale but it looked a good bit better.
HL2 may be my all time favorite game, and I loved the graphics and design of its world. I personally did not include it due to lake of any real lighting or real time shadows (at time of release). Doom 3 had best lighting at the time, but the objects and textures look like putty to me. IMO Far Cry is the middle ground of the two, but I can certainly see why someone would lean toward HL2 or DOOM.

Where's Crysis 3? That still looks better than most games nowadays even do.

I would say Metro probably deserves to be on that list somewhere as well.
Idk do you guys really think it looks better than BF4 at ultra? When deciding myself for the list I side by sided images of the two games and BF always seemed to win to me.

As for metro, I think you're right on that one. Certainly beats Bad Company 2 for best of 2010.
 

Betaboy1983

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Nice.. It really is amazing how far games have come. Here we are thinking about maxing out HBAO (for example) when not long ago we were playing some of these older titles.
I just fired up the new Doom demo and in between blood flying everywhere; it really did make me think back to the first time I loaded up the original Doom.
It was awesome as hell!! ;)
I still kick back with some fun old school games (even though I sometimes try get a graphics mod if I can) and they are a blast to this day.
 

Comixbooks

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I like when games have a Clean look to them without excessive Textures like in Bloodborne which has lots of textures. Or the clean look of Overwatch.
 

KickAssCop

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I think in 2016 we have Rise of Tomb Raider and possibly The Division as best graphics. Maybe even Homefront Revolution since it is on CryEngine.
On consoles it could be Uncharted 4 as having best graphics and possibly Witcher 3 Boner and Wine.

I also think any Uncharted game was best graphics in the year of release.
 

KazeoHin

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I think in 2016 we have Rise of Tomb Raider and possibly The Division as best graphics. Maybe even Homefront Revolution since it is on CryEngine.
On consoles it could be Uncharted 4 as having best graphics and possibly Witcher 3 Boner and Wine.

I also think any Uncharted game was best graphics in the year of release.

ughm, Doom!? DOOM looks and runs better than most ANYTHING.

20160525140544_1.jpg


20160524215304_1.jpg


20160525133838_1.jpg
 
D

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I have fond memories of stuff before even 2000, like GLQuake (with the first true 3D accelerator from 3Dfx, the Monster 3D), and then of course what I consider to be the best looking game of all time, Unreal. The first time I played that game - on a Matrox G400, holy crap what visual quality that offered, just beautiful stuff - and left the 1st level of the prison transport ship where you get outside of it and take that long walk to the edge of the cliff overlooking that iridescent almost neon colored waterfall so far off in the distance, simply jaw dropping on so many levels. Then to fire off a weapon round and watch it as it flew over the edge of the cliff, over the water below, on and on and on till like 15 seconds later you saw (with no zoom needed) the energy burst hit the wall of the enclosed area, wow, that's when the sheer visual and geographical scope of that game really took hold.

I honestly can't think of much since that's interested me in a purely visual sense or even with jaw dropping graphics which is odd in some respects. I would like to think that - since I already know this for a fact - things have improved by leaps and bounds as far as graphics technology goes, I guess I just think the focus is more on gimmicks than actually making the games look really great. Personal opinion of course but that's how it goes.

Might have to fire up Unreal soon, I purchased it recently from GoG and grabbed all the Quake stuff again too just to have it for the future. I gave away all the physical media for the few games I've owned over the past 20-ish years, nowadays with GoG all the classic stuff is a single file installer, no DRM bullshit, no hassles so much easier. ;)

And just for the record I actually did enjoy Giants: Citizen Kabuto too. :D

As far as providing direct image links, you can just use the img brackets before and after the URL you're pasting, that's what I do. I've had issues using the new forum software since the changeover in terms of image links and direct URLs so, I just type the necessary brackets then paste whatever URL I'm working with then close the bracket as required, that's what works for me. So, for an image link you'd type (removing all of the extra spaces of course):

Code:
[ i m g ] (then the URL then) [ / i m g]
 
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N4CR

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If you won't include HL2, which I personally rate as very good graphics for the time, then at least Lost Coast. Sure Doom3 was better lighting, but overall for an outdoor game, HL2 looked great and the textures were decent.

And I think Witcher 3 is a little overrated. In some specific areas it's fine, but often there are some rather underwhelming and nasty land/foliage/terrain change boundaries. Was not impressed on a Ti SLI rig after all the hype.. What I've seen of Doom4 further cements this.

And for earlier RTS, Tiberian Sun and Total Annihilation.. really good looking games.
 

cthulhuiscool

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If you won't include HL2, which I personally rate as very good graphics for the time, then at least Lost Coast. Sure Doom3 was better lighting, but overall for an outdoor game, HL2 looked great and the textures were decent.

And I think Witcher 3 is a little overrated. In some specific areas it's fine, but often there are some rather underwhelming and nasty land/foliage/terrain change boundaries. Was not impressed on a Ti SLI rig after all the hype.. What I've seen of Doom4 further cements this.

And for earlier RTS, Tiberian Sun and Total Annihilation.. really good looking games.
lost coast came out in 05, better than fear?

and also not considering '16... yet
 

N4CR

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lost coast came out in 05, better than fear?

and also not considering '16... yet

Fair call. But I still think you should include HL2, it was praised for its' graphics. For an outside game it did very well. Doom looked better indoors and was not so impressive in larger areas.. horses for courses.
 

yourgrandma

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Graphics are a bit more then what you get in screenshots, Physics and animations add to the visual presentation as well which is why i think half-life 2 won its year.

I also vote for mirrors edge 2008, i remember crysis warhead maps looked considerably worse then crysis did.
 

Domingo

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Graphics are a bit more then what you get in screenshots, Physics and animations add to the visual presentation as well which is why i think half-life 2 won its year.

Agreed. Animation and smoothness matters a lot. It's why most console games look borderline PC-like in stills, but when you see them actually running they're night and day.
In addition to physics and animation, Half-Life 2 did a really good job of capturing a realistic urban blight look, both inside and outside. Far Cry had more pure eye candy, but the vegetation never looked truly real while Half-Life 2 did at times.
 

Krenum

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No HL2?..... It should have a spot just for facial animations alone.
 

KazeoHin

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2008... Unreal Tournament 3? never mind, it was late 2007.

Also, please use [ img ] [ /img ] tags in your OP, as it would be really swell to see the shots side-by side without opening 12 tabs and clicking between them.
 

Youn

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I don't see a problem picking 2 or 3 games for each year... and go back to 1972 or somethin'...
 

cthulhuiscool

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I don't see a problem picking 2 or 3 games for each year... and go back to 1972 or somethin'...
Ya I was thinking that, I didn't really start gaming til 2000 (parents worried I'd do the next columbine or something if I did, bleh) so I don't really know the landscape before that, but if people wanna pitch in I'll add to the list.


Also img'd the pics for easier use. not sure if I like the layout so lmk what you think.
 

Revdarian

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The gameplay might be weak, but if this thread isn't PC Only then 2015 should consider The Order 1886. Can't deny the level of the graphics there.

edit to add:

AKDH1wD.jpg


VUz4ZYM.jpg
 
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