I wouldn’t say that 2017 was a year of technical innovation, but it was a splendid display of artistic direction. Resident Evil 7 has delivered some of the most deranged characters in video game history. Cuphead has brought the 40s cartoons atmosphere to our screens. Hellblade has managed to push the boundaries of motion capture for emotional effects within the confined limits of an indie budget. Total War: Warhammer II’s animations give a cinematic effect to its massive scale battles. And last, but not least, SpellForce 3 has brought an overwhelming amount of visual details to a world shared between RTS and RPG.
Unlike most games of 2017, Assassin’s Creed: Origins has managed to put together a beautiful artistic direction with some praise worthy technical qualities. Origins’ action takes place in Egypt at the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty during the Roman conquest. This setting has given to Ubisoft’s talented artists a ton of material to work with. The three cultures that clash at this set moment in time have left a mark over the land. The Egyptians have vivid cities with clumped up houses surrounding grand temples decorated with the signs of ancient gods. Paved roads form the easy to navigate Greek infrastructure surrounded by stone houses and beautiful gardens. The latest conquerors have brought the order of the Roman Empire with its tight defenses surrounding cities built with an eye for symmetry. In this blend of cultural variety we’ll find wonders of old like the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Great Pyramid of Giza, standing out as grand edifices of a world already filled with architectural beauty. But the efforts of the designers that built this impressive virtual world would not have been rewarded without an engine capable of rendering this beauty through technical means.
The graphics of Assassin’s Creed: Origins while not without flaws stand strong in a year when few developers have even bothered to try. The level of detail stands out the moment you step foot into the virtual desert. The strong particle effects blend through the play of lights and shadow to create an immersive atmosphere. And the fluid animations bring joy through every unexpectedly detailed motion. From the large cities to the lush oasis encased by vast deserts, riding through Egypt is an unforgettable trip back in time. A trip filled with exotic fauna and flora where sand storms can feel suffocating and mirages of the desert create a mystic intensity.
The time spent in Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ Egypt was mesmerizing, a truly immersive experience thanks to a great artistic direction and a dedication for visual details put together in a technically rewarding way. This is why Assassin’s Creed: Origins comes on top as the game with the best graphics in 2017.