Update: Our latest entry is the fast and furious shooter Overwatch in at #15.
The 4K revolution has arrived on PC, and if your eyes haven’t yet dined at the table of Ultra HD gaming, we’ve tracked down the best 4K games sure to give them a visual feast.
Packing four times as many pixels as common 1080p displays, 3,840 x 2,160 pixel-resolution “4K” monitors can make newer games breathtakingly immersive, and those extra pixels can even help pump life back into older titles using high-resolution texture packs and mods.
Of course, in addition to a 4K monitor, you’ll need a beefy gaming rig with a powerful graphics card (or three) to do them justice – because even gorgeous visuals soon wear thin if your frame rate matches your shoe size.
Whether you’ve already made the leap or are about to, click on to view our best 4K games screenshot gallery. We’ll be adding to it as we go along, so drop us a comment below if you’d like to see a particular game make the grade.
While console gamers are still arguing over whether the latest Witcher 3 patch dialled down the game’s graphics, members of the PC elite have been firing up CD Projekt’s epic third-person adventure in a blaze of 4K glory.
Rendered natively, The Witcher 3’s highly-detailed environments look nothing short of incredible in 4K – from Novigrad’s sprawling architecture to its red sunlit fields, not to mention its spiny Echinops, grotesque Bloedzuigers and veiny Cemataurs. Having your face ripped off has never looked so beautiful.
Nitpickers may point out that Wild Hunt’s backgrounds and foliage don’t match up to what was shown in pre-release promo shots, something that’s increasingly becoming par for the course for PC gamers, but even so it’s still one of the best-looking games out there.
It may be creaking a bit in the tyres, but DiRT Showdown is still one of the best-looking arcade racers out there and its Destruction Derby-style thrills are even more heart-pumping on a 4K monitor. While fans of Codemasters’ racing series may point to DiRT 3 as the all-round meatier title, Showdown’s over-the-top approach – from the flame jets that light up indoor tracks to its spectacular chassis-contorting crashes and colourful art style – make it the more visually appealing title.
The latest entry into the Call Of Duty franchise, Advanced Warfare aims to banish all memory of the muddy textures that plagued its scarily ugly predecessor, Ghosts. After three years in development it appears to have succeeded: Warfare’s high-octane firefights are nothing short of stunning in 4K thanks to its sharp visuals, Exo-llent (sorry) character models and highly detailed weapons. Another nice effect of playing in 4K is having an eye-poppingly crisp HUD, which is the closest you’ll get to wearing an Exo Suit (short of strapping on an Oculus Rift, anyway).
Nominated for several ‘Best Graphics’ and ‘Best Art Style’ industry awards upon release, Dishonored wasn’t exactly a bad-looking game in 2012. Crank up the pixels, however, and Dunwall’s retro-future-industrial aesthetic is elevated to a whole new level of dystopian beauty.
Taking time to admire its convincing water effects, Orwellian-era buildings like the Hound Pits Pub, and bizarre Pandyssian wildlife, ogling Dishonored’s visuals in 4K can prove a welcome distraction to clearing your name of murder.
A punishing title that demands serious GPU power for the best experience (especially if you want to ramp up the draw distance), Dying Light in 4K has you smelling the breath of the Zombie hordes while watching blood ooze from their rotten, bashed-in craniums.
The level of detail is phenomenal – from the game’s leafy suburbs to its blood-splattered weapons and NPCs’ facial expressions. Standing on a roof watching flames lick the hood of a burning car while plotting your escape from the army of undead never has never felt so real.
BioShock Infinite came out in 2013 and wasn’t designed for 4K monitors, but you wouldn’t know it. Irrational Games’ third shooter in the BioShock series, Infinite looks still jaw-dropping in Ultra HD thanks to its highly-detailed textures, illuminating lighting effects and Columbia’s neoclassical-styled architecture.
When not stopping to admire its buildings, you’ll likely be checking out Booker’s glistening weaponry or staring into the vacant eyes of Monument Island’s many enemies. Infinite’s high-speed firefights up in the Sky-Lines are particularly engaging in 4K, not to mention its four weird and wonderful boss fights.
While the Redux version of Metro: Last Light features slightly tweaked graphics compared to the original (it goes in slightly heavier on smoke and lighting effects), both games feature some of the best visuals around with the resolution dialled up to 4K. Skulking from shadow to shadow in Last Light’s post-apocalptic Russia in a bid to avoid the Vichukha is even more tense in Ultra HD, and if you’ve got sufficient graphical grunt, its weapon and particle effects give firefights an extra dose of pretty.
If you’re waiting patiently to ogle Rise of the Tomb Raider’s gorgeous visuals, maxing out the current game in the series isn’t a bad way to pass the time. Cranking up the resolution along with texture, anti-aliasing and high precision settings unlocks a ton of hidden detail in Tomb Raider, which boasts atmospheric lighting, dancing shadows and hair textures that wouldn’t be out of place in a shampoo commercial. (Not when Lara’s caked in mud, mind.) Huge draw distances and polygon-smoothing tessellation effects all help the fictional island of Yamatai shine in 4K.
Forget trying to drive well during your first few Assetto Corsa races – it just won’t happen. The driving simulator’s graphics are so tasty in 4K/Ultra that you’ll be too busy ogling the sun’s reflection on your car’s bonnet from five different camera angles. The racing action looks best in the game’s first-person in-car view. If you’re not fixated on the the creases in the driver’s gloves, you’ll be mentally running your fingers over the rubber-coated dashboard’s dimples and smelling the freshly-cut grass outside. If you’re pining for a realistic racer to show off your new 4K monitor, forget Project Cars – Assetto Corsa is the real deal.
Whether you agree that Star Wars: Battlefront is a war simulator with no heart, or not, it’s undeniable that EA’s online shooter is a visual feast fit for a wookie. From the forest of Endor’s leafy vegetation to Hoth’s snow-capped mountains and Tatooine’s sunlit rock faces, Star Wars has never looked so good.
Ever wanted to peer up Gareth Bale’s nostrils rendered in pixel-perfect 4K? Now’s your chance, you oddball. Graphics haven’t traditionally been Fifa’s strongest suit, which means that EA’s latest footy sim particulalry benefits from the the extra pixels afforded by Ultra HD. While we still get the feeling that EA could make the beautiful game even more beautiful (in the graphics, rather than free-following-attacking-football sense), Fifa 16 is easily the best-looking installment in the series to date.
The most anticipated game of the year isn’t the prettiest out of the box, which is forgivable given Fallout 4’s sheer size and scope. Still, even without loading up on of the many beautifying mods out there – such as the Wasteland graphics mod and the Texture Optimization Project – Fallout 4 is still a sight to behold. Cranking up the resolution and notching up the settings to Ultra results in some particularly mesmerising outdoor environments as the sun’s rays flicker through the trees.
The best-looking brawler around bar none, Mortal Kombat X’s gore-some visuals make you wince at every ribcage-snapping, skull-crushing-eye gouging move. MKX gives you a wide ranging, but not extensive selection of tweakable graphics settings – ranging from antialiasing, anistropic filtering, shadow quality and texture quality to bloom, depth of field, motion blur, ambient occlusion and particle density. You’ll need a high-end graphics card to whack everything up to 11.
Few games look as photorealistic as Lara’s latest outing. Rise of the Tomb Raider was the first game to utilize Nvidia’s Voxel Accelerated Ambient Occlusion (VXAO) technique, which adds depth and realism to scenes by calculating shadows using a scene’s surrounding geometry, rather than what’s visible to the camera. And then there’s physically-based rendering, reactive water and more hair swishing than a shampoo advert. Simply put, Rise of the Tomb Raider had the works and shines in 4K. From the Uncharted-esque opening sequence that takes place atop a snow-capped mountain to the sunlit tombs that follow, the attention to detail has you panning the camera to soak up the surroundings as often as you’re actually – you know – raiding tombs and stuff.
Standing still to appreciate a game’s architecture in, say, Rise of Tomb Raider is fine. In Blizzard’s fast-paced shooter Overwatch, however, it’s not such a good idea if you want to avoid adding to your growing death tally. The team-based strategy FPS is organized chaos and beautiful to boot – especially if you own a gaming PC with more graphics muscle than Reinhardt’s right arm. If you’re playing in 4K, remember to flick the Resolution Scale setting to 100% to render Blizzard’s new game engine in all its glory.