Warning: Some of the video games listed below are not suitable for younger viewers. Please use caution and check each game’s ESRB rating before allowing children to play it, especially those rated M for Mature. M-rated video games may contain content that is inappropriate for children and/or unlabeled content that exposes younger players to explicit messages and themes.
As video games have grown in scope and become more graphically impressive over the years, the technology in gaming PCs has followed suit. The primary driver is to keep up with the demand of new games, as developers continue to up the ante when it comes to graphics. Landscapes are more realistic, non-playable character models are more lifelike, and worlds are bigger and more full of life. This helps create a more immersive experience for gamers, which in turn, helps games reach new heights.
With that in mind, we put together a list of the best modern PC games when it comes to graphics, all of which you can enjoy on higher end gaming desktops and laptops.
1. Far Cry 5 by Ubisoft
If you have visited Montana, you know it’s one of the most beautiful areas in the United States, as well as one of the least settled. Seizing on that opportunity, the developers at Ubisoft set the latest Far Cry game in the state’s rugged mountains. The game itself uses this lush setting to highlight a fictionalized separatist movement in American society, and it emphasizes the state’s role as one of the last frontier areas of the continental U.S.
To capture the natural, wild beauty for their game, the development team at Ubisoft actually visited Montana for several weeks to totally immerse themselves in the environment. In doing so, they were able to render the landscape with incredible realism. To achieve this, Ubisoft developed and used the Dunia Engine, an altered version of the CryEngine.
The original CryEngine was developed by German developer Crytek, best known for the Crysis
series. During its heyday between 2007 and 2012, this series raised the bar on what was possible graphics wise in PC gaming, and Far Cry 5
continued that tradition by relying on a modified version of the CryEngine graphics engine.
Aside from rendering the Montana landscape in stunning beauty, this first-person shooter
also goes the extra mile with hyper-realistic fire fights, explosions, and NPC character models. This serves to make it one of the most graphic-intensive games available on PC. The Dunia Engine helps the game render large swaths of land on the fly and in extreme detail, but it also requires a large amount of processing power and a high-end graphics card to run at optimal levels.
Specs needed for gameplay
At a minimum, Far Cry 5 requires an NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 670 or AMD R9 270 video card to run on PC, although it is recommended that you use a PC equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 or AMD RX Vega 56 in order to render the game in stunning 4K. This will allow you to get the full effect of the Montana landscape as well as the action surrounding you.
To achieve this graphics capacity, we recommend using the HP OMEN Desktop PC - 880-160se
. This PC exceeds the graphics requirements to run Far Cry 5
, and also comes equipped with an Intel® Core™ i7 processor. Plus, it has liquid cooling
to help make sure PC doesn’t overheat even during the wildest sections of this game.
2. Shadow of the Tomb Raider by Eidos Montréal
Next on our list of high graphics PC games, we have the follow-up to 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider
, Shadow of the Tomb Raider
, which finishes out the rebooted Lara Croft trilogy started by developer Crystal Dynamics.
For those unfamiliar with the Tomb Raider franchise, you assume the role of Lara Croft, an English archaeologist who serves a role similar to Indiana Jones. As Lara, you explore ancient tombs and discover lost civilizations around the world. However, the rebooted franchise has emphasized the character's backstory and trauma as the most recognized female video game character, according to the Guinness Book of World Records .
Unlike the previous two entries of the rebooted franchise, Eidos Montréal assumed primary developer duties, with Crystal Dynamics providing additional support. This support was particularly centered on the graphics of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which are rendered on the studio's proprietary Foundation Engine.
This engine displays the environment in stunning detail and shows off everything from the way that the lighting interacts with the foliage to the varying reflections off of water. The texture quality also gives the NPCs a level of realism that is seldom seen in other action-adventure titles.
Specs needed for gameplay
All of this comes together to make Shadow of the Tomb Raider one of the most graphically-advanced games available on PC. However, this means that you will need a PC capable of rendering such detail. To run this game properly, you'll need an NVIDIA GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 graphics card. However, if you want to view the graphics as intended, consider a PC with an NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB or AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB graphics card.
If you are looking for an HP computer that can effortlessly run Shadow of the Tomb Raider
, look no further than the HP OMEN 15t laptop
. This laptop can make all the particle effects and the fog come to life with its powerful specs and 15.6-inch diagonal Full High Definition display.
3. Battlefield V by EA
may not be as demanding in terms of its graphics, but it’s still one of the greatest-looking games on PC and continues the Battlefield franchise's focus on gritty realism.
DirectX ray tracing
Set in World War II, this FPS is notable from a graphics point of view due to the use of DirectX ray-tracing and NVIDIA Ansel. DirectX ray-tracing allows games to render ray tracing in real time, which produces incredible light effects and makes it so that the light in the game interacts directly with the game world. This is a significant advancement that makes Battlefield V the most realistic and graphically advanced FPS to date.
NVIDIA Ansel is a new type of photo mode that pushes the boundaries of what is possible to capture. This is primarily used in the single player campaign called War Stories, and allows players to set up and create customized cinematic screenshots in real-time with a free-moving camera. These two innovations push Battlefield V beyond other shooters in the graphics department.
Specs needed for gameplay
While you can enjoy this game with a lower-tier graphics card and processor, those two key features are only available on higher settings. As such, we recommend that you use a PC equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or an AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB graphics card to experience the game with its ultra-tier graphics glory.
If you’re searching for a PC with such an advanced graphics card, consider the HP OMEN 17t gaming laptop
. This laptop is perfect for serious gamers who play a lot of multiplayer games online and who want the most advanced graphics possible.
4. Kingdom Come: Deliverance by Warhorse Studios
This game is unlike the others on the list in that it is a historically-based action RPG set
in the Kingdom of Bohemia, an imperial state of the Holy Roman Empire. The game is focused on total immersion in the time period, and aside from its historically-accurate gameplay and story content, the graphics are also period accurate and hyper-detailed. Although Kingdom Come: Deliverance
released with some technical bugs, developer Warhorse Studios has smoothed them out since its early 2018 launch.
Ultra high preset for lighting effects
The game is known to punish the most high-end gaming PCs, and its ultra-high preset allows players to access some extremely high-end graphics effects. These include blended shadow effects created by light coming through the windows in the game world, which mimics the same kind of shadowing you would see in real life. Additionally, the ultra-high preset creates a global illumination system that uses advanced technology to make light bounce off objects, which brightens interiors more vividly and makes the colors appear richer.
Specs needed for gameplay
To access these types of graphics, you'll need an NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti graphics card. You’ll also need to cap the frame rate at 30 frames per second. This is because Kingdom Come: Deliverance
is built to be used with future technology, and no graphics card on the market as of this writing can adequately run the game at ultra-high settings. Because of this, we recommend using the HP OMEN X desktop PC - 900-260XE
. It’s our highest-end gaming PC and is best optimized to upgrade with future graphics tech.
5. Control by Remedy Entertainment
Previously best known for Quantum Break
and the Alan Wake
series, developer Remedy Entertainment made a big splash in 2019 with Control
. This third-person action game allows players to wield powerful supernatural abilities and a shape-shifting gun.
Control was built using Remedy's proprietary Northlight Engine, which was also used on their previous title, Quantum Break. This game engine provides Control with totally destructive physics and highly detailed motion capture and facial technology for character models. It also allows for particle lighting, a global illumination system, and physically based rendering.
Real time ray tracing
However, Control has become best known for how it utilizes ray-tracing. Unlike Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which entirely replaces maps with ray-traced versions of the map for those playing on ultra graphics settings, Control is holistically able to enhance shadows and make them more dynamic. As players move the camera angle or the main character herself, the shadows act naturally instead of staying static. Plus, the game even uses tiny shadows for smaller objects to allow for more even more detail.
Specs needed for gameplay
In order to get the full effects of ray-tracing within Control
, you'll need an AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card in your gaming rig. Luckily, the HP OMEN X 15-inch 2S Laptop
easily fits the bill here, and it will allow you to interact with other apps while playing such as Twitch
and Discord with its proprietary second screen.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.