Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? Right. Still, we do, and in the world of video games, the same can be said about how good (or bad) a title stacks up in the visual department. It doesn’t matter if it’s a story-driven RPG or a mindless action-shooter, gamers love a looker, and while graphics don’t make a game, we’re not going to be so disingenuous as to suggest that looks don’t matter at all to a video game—they do, and that’s why we’re here honoring Best Visuals of 2015. Fortunately, this year has been a treasure trove of sumptuous visual splendor, whether it be the immaculately-crafted Victorian architecture of The Order: 1886, the majestic fantasy landscapes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, or the futuristic battlegrounds of Star Wars Battlefront. While many gamers have pulled their punches in the visual department this year, there was only one game that really made our eyes bulge….
Winner – The Order: 1886
Developed by SCE Santa Monica Studio and Ready at Dawn, The Order: 1886 may have left many disappointed from a gameplay perspective, but if you’re looking purely for eye-candy, you won’t find a better looking game on PS4 this year. From the meticulously realised facial animations, grotesque enemy designs, to the smoggy streets of 19th century London, The Order’s pixel-perfect graphics create a palpable atmosphere and gritty realism that is pretty much unmatched by contemporary action-adventure games. In addition, the developers have also complemented the gorgeous scenery with some buttery-smooth animations, making even menial tasks such as reloading a gun or running down the street look stunning and positively oozing with technical sophistication. Make no mistake, if you want to impress your PS4-less mates, then this is the game to do it.
Runner-up – Star Wars Battlefront
From the very first trailer, it was always a given that Star Wars Battlefront would be one of the best looking video games of the current hardware cycle. Indeed, DICE’s sci-fi shooter didn’t disappoint visually when it finally hit shelves in November, giving fans of George Lucas’s iconic movie franchise a reason to hit the roof with its exquisite in-game representations of classic Star Wars locations and characters. From the chilly wastelands of Hoth to the glorious, sun-baked plains of Tatooine, Battlefront is pure eye-candy, while the game’s cast of classic heroes and villains such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader look the business, right down to the wrinkles on Palpatine’s force lightning-ravaged mug or Han Solo’s boyish good looks. In short, it’s a fanboy’s dream.