Revealed: 10 Games with the Most Realistic Graphics

11 minutes read

Throughout the development of gaming culture, one important feature that has always been highly sought-after by devs and gamers alike is photorealism. When we boot up our favorite games, we want to be immersed in the story on offer.

Often, the most effective way to do this is to ensure realistic games, or games with the most realistic graphics as possible.

This is why some of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling titles of the past decade are those that can boast truly photorealistic graphics that can transport the player into the heart of the story.

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Of course, we're not saying that flash games do not have their merits, as these can often be superior to even the most realistic video game in the world.

However, there is a lot to be said for a game with graphics so sharp and clear that it feels like you really are shooting your way through a zombie apocalypse, or racing a supercar through the streets of Manhattan, or colonizing the vast reaches of outer space.

So, here are the most realistic games to ever be released:

1. Ghost of Tsushima

The contender for the top spot might seem obvious to some, given how this game blew pretty much everyone away with its cutting-edge graphics.

"Ghost of Tsushima" is a PS4/PS5 game exclusive that takes place in 13th century Japan, on the dreamy island of Tsushima. You play the role of a battle-hardened Samurai who must cross the vast expanse of the island to wrest back control from invading Mongol forces.

This is a game that brings the beautiful natural setting alive in vivid technicolor, while also rendering human movements and sounds that are more realistic than anything that has been done before. This is what makes this title the most realistic game in the world today.

2. Red Dead Redemption II

The sequel to the smash-hit RDR1 and one of the best-selling games of all time, RDR2 is a masterclass in games with the most realistic graphics. This is probably the most realistic video game because of the sheer scale of it all.

RDR2 is a western epic set across one of the most ambitious open-world environments ever created, and every single plant, animal, and human is unique and appears to be just as real as anything you would outside of the game.

RDR2 is a game that brings its enthralling environment to life like no other game before or since has achieved, which is why it remains a top contender for the most realistic game in the world.

It only makes sense that RDR2 would be the first of multiple Rockstar titles to make it onto this list. The production team, which has offices and studios in several countries, has attracted global renown for its ability to painstakingly recreate realistic and convincing digital environments.

One of the main ways in which Rockstar approaches its open worlds, including the vast expanse of New Hanover, is to develop an animation for literally everything.

This means that every flower, every cloud, every bird's wing - all of it has its own animation to ensure that it moves in its own way, just as it would in the real world.

Another tactic that Rockstar uses to great effect in RDR2 is the player avatar itself, which will be impacted by everything the world throws at it:

Step in a puddle and expect muddy boots. Eat some stew in the pub late at night and you'll run around with a stain on your duster for days. Bump into the same NPC more than once and expect them to give you a piece of their mind.

It is this commitment to detail that sets Rockstar, and Red Dead Redemption 2, apart from their peers.

3. Call of Duty Mobile

What is the most realistic looking game? Many often cast their minds to next-gen console titles.

However, sometimes credit is due to developers that can use the limited resources of smartphone GPUs to produce a game that is more photorealistic than the vast majority of console content out there.

We are talking of course, about Call of Duty Mobile, an award-winning FPS that demonstrates just how far iOS games have come, and how many of the best games around can now be found on mobile.

This is an online first-person shooter that pushes the hardware limits of smartphones to the absolute maximum, with gorgeous results.

4. GTA V

No list of realistic games would be complete without mentioning Grand Theft Auto V, which is probably one of the most commercially successful console titles to ever be released.

Although there are other open-world games out there with arguably more realistic graphics, few others can bring the modern world to life like GTA V.

Anyone who has strolled the manic and bleak streets of Los Santos (a somewhat exaggerated version of 2010s Los Angeles) will testify to the ability of this game to capture the essence of contemporary urban life in a way that few others before or since have achieved.

This is what realistic games have the power to do.

5. Death Stranding

A haunting, unusual game that probably deserves the award for being the most timely video game ever released, Death Stranding is one of the few games that genuinely appears to be actual video footage.

Every skin cell, hair follicle, and clothing wrinkle is painstakingly rendered, making this a game that feels like anything but. The subject matter also makes for a sobering experience.

Released in spring 2020 and set in the near future, the player steps into the shoes of a courier who must deliver vital resources to isolated, cut-off communities across a post-apocalyptic world, where plague and aliens make venturing outside dangerous.

If this sounds like something you could use more of in your life, then give Death Stranding a try.

What really sets this game apart is the Herculean efforts the production team went through to ensure movie-level graphics and visuals.

Kojima Productions, the developer, meticulously scanned real-world objects such as cellphones, weapons, and furniture to ensure totally realistic renderings. Meanwhile, skin and materials have been rendered with dozens of layers to bring every crease and fold to life, all of which are powered by the seriously powerful Decima engine.

All of this makes the star-studded cast of the game - which features A-listers such as Léa Seydou, Mads Mikkelsen, and Norman Reedus, among others - feel like they are right there in the room with you.

6. Control

A sleeper hit from a Finnish game studio that is emerging as something of a cult classic, the 2019 game Control shows us all how even supernatural stories can be transformed into realistic games.

The setting is the mysterious Federal Bureau of Control, a windowless skyscraper in Manhattan that houses a vast universe of telekinetic monsters and terrifying phenomena.

You must explore this 50s-era building and use your own telekinetic powers to tear it apart inch by inch in the hunt for your missing brother.

Again, this is a game that offers unparalleled immersion into a truly unique environment, one where every single bootprint on the shiny marble floors makes the game feel more and more realistic.

The setting is brought to life through the use of ray tracing, an emerging technique that uses rendering algorithms to digitally reproduce light and shadows in hyperrealistic ways, making it one of the most realistic games to date.

As of 2022, Control is one of only a handful of games in existence to have used this technique to bring a photorealistic environment to life, using ray tracing to add texture to the brutalist environs and shine to the metallic surfaces of the FBC.

7. Cyberpunk 2077

This might seem like a controversial entry, given the enormous problems experienced by the players and the overworked devs of this famously buggy game.

However, for people playing Cyberpunk on a souped-up gaming PC or a next-gen console, most of the bugs have been ironed out and what is left is the truly immersive and photorealistic future city that the developers originally intended.

Sky City is a beauty to behold, when everything is working correctly. It is something that feels in equal measure outlandish and eerily plausible as the future of urban living, which is exactly what makes Cyberpunk one of the most realistic games we have ever played.

8. The Last of Us: Part Two

Just when we thought the first one couldn't be topped, out comes the sequel that scooped up every gaming award in existence and was immediately subjected to a bidding war over movie rights. The Last of Us: Part Two, has all of the same great ingredients as its predecessor.

A terrifying post-apocalyptic world filled with fungus-infected zombies, hauntingly believable characters, and unforgettable vistas of a world that went suddenly, horribly over the cliff edge.

What makes this sequel stand out, even more, is the unprecedented realism it offers. The graphics and the haunting world that it renders are unlike anything we have ever seen, which only adds to the pure terror of this stealthy survival horror.

This series is produced by Naughty Dog, which is fast rising as a competitor to Rockstar for its commitment to rendering photorealistic in-game worlds, and ensuring only the most realistic games made it out of the studio.

TLOU2 makes extensive use of motion capture technology from the cast hired to play the actors, meaning that pretty much every movement you see in the cut scenes is a real one.

Meanwhile, Naughty Dog actually decamped to Seattle (where the game is set) and spent months there before beginning development, capturing every building and surface to ensure a most realistic depiction of the city as possible.

9. Forza Horizon 5

There are plenty of driving games that have gone down the realism approach, but very few have succeeded.

It takes some very skilled developers to get the right balance between vivid racing, photorealistic graphics, and realistic driving mechanics that are not too difficult to learn.

Fortunately, it seems like there was no shortage of talent in the team behind Forza Horizon 5, the game that manages to deftly pull off all of these. If you have never played a racing game before, make sure it is this one.

It is the closest most of us will ever come to racing a souped-up Bugatti around the rim of an active volcano.

What really stands FH5 apart from competitor titles is its ability to render stunning real-world racing environments both up-close and at a distance, all while your car does 200 miles per hour.

The developer, Playground Games, achieves this through the extensive use of a technique known as photogrammetry, which involves recording, measuring, and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and collecting as much data as possible on individual objects.

This is a painstaking level of attention to detail that makes this one of the most realistic games in the driving genre to date.

10. Microsoft Flight Simulator

Sometimes, realistic gaming requires a genuine commitment to the physics and technical requirements of the real-world environment you are trying to emulate. That is why the 2020 Microsoft Flight Simulator is such a worthy addition to this list.

Used widely for real-life pilot training around the world, while also being enjoyed by leisure players of all stripes, this is a game that takes one of the most amazing things a human can do - take flight - and brings it straight into your living room in photorealistic detail.

This game mimics pretty much everything about what it is like to take control of a real-life aircraft, which is exactly what makes it such a joy to play, even if it is pretty difficult.

These are the most realistic games that you can play in 2022. Whether you're looking to bring a real-world location to life or experience a fantasy that can only ever be rendered in the virtual, these are the games that will allow you to do it!

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