Even with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X making the rounds, PC remains the platform to play on if you’re looking for the best in terms of visual quality for your gaming setup. With features like Nvidia’s deep learning super sampling and DirectX 12 ray tracing, gaming PCs have the features and horsepower needed to push games with the best graphics to their limits.
We selected 10 games that show off the power of a fully tricked-out PC gaming setup. You’ll need a hefty rig to run most of the titles below, let alone run them at optimal settings. If you’re just getting into PC gaming or are an avid PC gamer looking to improve your rig, make sure to read our roundup of the best gaming desktops. If you want to build a computer yourself, read our guide on how to build a PC and where to find the best graphic card to boost your gaming experience.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human may be the most graphically demanding game you can currently play on PC. You’ll need at least an RTX 3080 to play the game at 4K, and that’s before turning on any of the ray tracing. You’ll need to use one of the built-in supersampling methods — the game supports AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), thankfully — to play the game at all with most rigs, and if you want to turn ray tracing on, Dying Light 2 can bring even the most expensive hardware available today to its knees.
Although Dying Light 2 is probably the most demanding game around today, you can optimize it. Make sure to read our Dying Light 2 PC performance guide to get the highest frame rate and the best image quality.
Forza Horizon 5 is a deceptively beautiful game. It looks just as good as Dying Light 2 — and even better in some cases — while not being nearly as demanding. It’s a highly optimized game with several unique environments, and simply driving around the massive open world is enough to show off the power of most gaming PCs. And we mean most gaming PCs. Forza Horizon 5 looks its best with all of the sliders cranked out, but it’s a really flexible game. You have a lot of bandwidth in the graphics settings, allowing the game to run on much less powerful hardware.
As we cover in our Forza Horizon 5 PC performance guide, the game looks great at various graphics settings, too. Like most Microsoft Game Studios titles, Forza Horizon 5 includes a dynamic resolution option as well, so you can turn up the graphics settings while still maintaining a target frame rate.
Hitman 3 pushes your graphics card and your processor hard. It’s a beautiful game, with fantastic lighting and reflection techniques to bring a high level of realism to each of the game’s levels, and it has a lot of complex simulation going on — physics simulations, complex AIs, and everything in between. Most games lean heavier on one component or another, but Hitman 3 stresses everything. It’s not just demanding for the sake of it, either — IO Interactive includes a wealth of graphics options to optimize your performance.
The game supports DLSS and FSR now, too. Along with them, Hitman 3 supports ray tracing, but you should probably leave it turned off. The game looks great on its own, and ray tracing doesn’t add much.
Sony is slowing bringing PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 titles to PC, and God of War looks the best out of the lot. It’s a stunning game even on consoles, and the PC version includes increases graphics options for higher resolution textures, more complex lighting and shadows, and supersampling options like FSR 2.0.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is still using the AnvilNext 2.0 engine that Odyssey and Origins used, and on PC, the three games are very close when it comes to overall visual quality. We’re giving this slot to Valhalla not only because it’s one of the best Assassin’s Creed games — as well as the most recent — but also because it offers a nice setting change from the games that preceded it.
As expected from a modern, open-world Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla looks great, but it’s the game’s snow-filled setting that makes it stand apart from Origins and Odyssey. Valhalla doesn’t have ray tracing or many of the visual features that other games on this list will showcase (Valhalla is using an engine from 2014, after all). Despite that, Valhalla remains a visual powerhouse that can go up against any of the games on this list, especially with HDR turned on during gameplay.
Godfall isn’t a great game, but it sure is a pretty one. There’s almost nothing interesting about Godfall from a gameplay perspective. It’s a self-proclaimed “looter-slasher,” and sure enough, the game revolves around slicing and dicing baddies to earn better loot. It’s not that this system is bad — just look at Borderlands 3 and Destiny 2 — it’s just that Godfall doesn’t do anything to further it. If you’re a fan of action RPGs, you’ve played Godfall before.
You haven’t seen Godfall before, however. With ray-traced reflections and enough particle effects to make you sick to your stomach, Godfall is a game that goes beyond just being visually impressive.
Although Godfall might not hook you for hours like Borderlands 3, it’s still a fun time in short bursts. And that’s when it looks best, too. Godfall has a gorgeous visual design, even if developer Counterplay Games decided to reuse much of that visual design throughout the game.
From Max Payne to Quantum Break, Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment always pushes the graphics envelope forward, and its latest release, Control, is no different. Control is a perfect showcase for how ray-tracing can elevate an environment, with lighting bouncing off every possible surface inside The Oldest House. Although Control has a stark visual style, the environments themselves don’t have too much going on (outside of a whole lot of concrete, that is). With Remedy’s excellent lighting system, though, even concrete looks good.
The big reason we love Control’s graphics is DLSS 2.0 (a common thread throughout multiple entries on this list). The technical details behind DLSS are, frankly, a little dry. In short, though, DLSS uses machine learning to essentially upscale your games. If you have Control running at 1440p, for example, DLSS will render the game at 1080p and then upscale it to 1440p based off the references the A.I. has. The end result is simple: Games run with higher frame rates and resolutions with fewer system resources, and Control is an excellent showcase of that.
The dreaded “but can it run Crysis” question continues to this day, despite the fact that Crysis released in 2007. For PC gaming circles, the benchmark for computing power was quickly replaced by Metro 2033 when it was released in 2010, and the series has remained a pillar of PC performance since. The latest entry, Metro Exodus, is fit with all of the current graphical trends, including real-time ray-tracing, per-object motion blur, and liberal use of tessellation.
Metro Exodus is Crysis for 2022. Everything comes down to the rendering. Although there are quite a few low-resolution textures in the game, they rarely detract from the gaming experience given how much else it has going on. Metro Exodus is a visual masterpiece, and although seeing it running on consoles is nothing short of mesmerizing, the game looks and feels at home on PC.
If you want to see what your PC is made of, boot up Red Dead Redemption 2. Notoriously underoptimized upon launch, Rockstar’s open-world epic beat even the fieriest graphics cards into submission. Since launch, Rockstar has issued several performance patches, but you’ll still need a hefty rig to see Arthur Morgan in his full glory.
As is the case with most other console ports, the visual buff to Red Dead Redemption 2 comes down to two things: Higher frame rates and resolution. There also are some other not-so-obvious improvements, too. Draw distances, for example, are much better on PC, with fine detail even on distant mountains. The same goes for tessellation on trees and foliage, as well as global illumination and ambient occlusion. These environmental effects may not be the bread and butter that makes Red Dead Redemption 2 look so good, but they add a level of realism, and for a game focused entirely on that, there’s nothing better.
Cyberpunk 2077 is shrouded in controversy, with the base PS4 and Xbox One versions running worse than many Nintendo Switch ports. On PC, however, Cyberpunk 2077 is the game of the future promised to us by CD Projekt Red for years.
Aesthetically, the game is flawless, with high asset quality and texture detail. But that’s to be expected from a AAA open-world RPG released in 2020. It’s CD Projekt Red’s world design that makes Cyberpunk 2077 such a looker. Night City is a dynamic metropolis, from the rural Santo Domingo outskirts to the bustling city streets in Heywood. A series of surprisingly accurate highways connect Cyberpunk 2077′s locations. The incredible attention to detail makes Night City feel real; CD Projekt Red’s beautiful art direction is just the cherry on top.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a game from the future, and it also requires a PC from the future. Even on Nvidia’s latest 30-series graphics cards, Cyberpunk 2077 can absolutely slay your machine (especially if you turn ray tracing on). The game will continue to look better as PC hardware improves, and it’s just the game that PC gaming has been waiting for.