When it comes to TV shopping, almost all marketing points toward one form of media: Movies. There’s no shortage of excellent 4K HDR movies to break in your TV, but there is a shortage of games that accomplish the same task. The standard for HDR in games is extremely low, with some implementations looking excellent and others that wash out the image into a flat mess. Thankfully, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you, nailing down the 10 best games for a 4K HDR TV.
Since the days of the Xbox 360 and the original Gear of War, Microsoft Game Studios and The Coalition have consistently demonstrated how good games can look when developed for a single piece of hardware. Gears 5 continues that trend, with stunningly high-resolution textures, consistent frame rates, and excellent visual effects. Plus, the game probably has one of the best HDR implementations we’ve seen.
Gears 5 gives you granular control over how HDR is used in the game, allowing you to tweak brightness for the lightest and darkest areas of each scene. This eliminates the often overly contrasty look of poor HDR implementations, leading to a realistic but never distracting experience. If you have the cash to spare, Gears 5 also looks great on an OLED.
Read our Gears 5 review
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Another gem from Microsoft Game Studios, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the first game we’d turn on to showcase HDR. Even without HDR, the whimsical art style has a way of bringing out the most contrast from a scene without clipping the whites or blacks. Even more impressive is the fact that developer Moon Studios is able to draw so much power from the Xbox One. The game supports 60 frames per second, with 4K resolution and HDR support for the Xbox One X.
Since launch, the game has received a number of patches, further improving performance. One major patch in May brought improved HDR on Xbox One, dynamic resolution scaling, and an FPS limit, ensuring that even in the most demanding scenes, the frame rate stays solid.
Read our Ori and the Will of the Wisps review
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the best Star Wars games ever made. It’s also a treat for the eyes. Seeing true particle effects on lightsabers and laser beams brings the world to life in a way that other Star Wars games never have, popping off the screen with HDR enabled.
The environments are incredibly varied, too. Fallen Order’s various planets each bring a unique aesthetic, showcasing the art powerhouse that is Respawn Entertainment.
Read our Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review
The Last of Us Part II
Unlike our first three entries, there are no particle effects here. The Last of Us Part II is a grim tale with visuals to match. However, there’s beauty among the destruction, with sprawling cityscapes overgrown with foliage and infected spores growing to begin to new life. It might make your PlayStation 4 Pro sound like it’s on its last breath, but The Last of Us Part II produces some stunning visuals.
For HDR, it’s all about the god rays. The Last of Us Part II’s tightly packed world produces lifelike streaks of light, breathing life into an otherwise dead world. The game isn’t a one-trick pony, though. The variety of set pieces leads to wildly different scenes, allowing your 4K HDR display to flex its muscles.
Read our The Last of Us Part II review
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn, released in 2017, still consistently puts the graphics of games being released today to shame. Put simply, it’s a visual feat. Developer Guerrilla Games has a long history of producing stunning graphics, dating all the way back to the days of the PS2. In many ways, Guerrilla defined the visual style that countless first-person shooters would use moving into the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation.
Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t a gritty shooter, though. It’s a beautiful open-world game full of color and life. The sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, looks better, but not by much. That isn’t to say the PS5 won’t produce amazing graphics — it will. It’s a testament to how much Guerrilla got right a few years back.
Read our Horizon Zero Dawn review
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Anime and HDR are a perfect pairing. Dragon Ball FighterZ isn’t a particularly demanding game — it even maintains stable frame rates on the Switch — but it’s still visually stunning. For this game, it’s all about the special effects. Punches send a flurry of colors across the screen, slams push up rubble from the ground, and special moves fill the screen with bombastic special effects.
More than simply looking good, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a great fighting game and stays true to the anime that inspired it.
Read our Dragon Ball FighterZ review
God of War
Like Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War is another visual treat from one of Sony’s first-party studios — in this case, Santa Monica Studios. The God of War series isn’t particularly known for its graphics but rather acclaimed for its visual style and animations. 2018’s God of War changes that. Incredible amounts of detail pop off the screen, no matter what kind of display you’re using. The experience is only further enhanced with a 4K HDR display.
God of War looks so good because Santa Monica took the time to make it look that way. The God of War series, for the most part, has stuck to a development cycle of no more than three years. God of War breaks that tradition, with five years of development under its belt. The extra time clearly shows in the visuals.
Read our God of War review
Tetris Effect is pure eye candy. That’s the point of the game, really. For the most part, Tetris Effect is just Tetris. Slide blocks into place, clear lines to increase your score, and if you ever reach the top of the board, it’s game over. Tetris Effect heightens the experience, though, with an endless barrage of particle effects that seemingly shoot out of a 4K HDR display.
That’s not to say that the gameplay is a poor point. In addition to core Tetris mechanics, Tetris Effect includes the “zone.” Once you’ve cleared enough lines, you can enter the zone. This will slow time, allowing you to carefully choose where to place each block. Of course, it’s a great way to get out of a tough situation, but a skilled Tetris player can use the zone to clear more than four lines at once — something that isn’t possible in any other Tetris game.
Read our Tetris Effect review
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The Assassin’s Creed series has always been known for high-quality visuals, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the latest in the series, only furthers that tradition. Much like The Last of Us Part II, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey isn’t trying to earn style points. Visually, it’s a game directed by color and art style, heightening the overall sense of realism.
Odyssey is also one of the best Assassin’s Creed games. Although titles like Assassin’s Creed II and Black Flag still rank at the top, the series’ push into a truly open world with Odyssey is surprisingly graceful.
Read our Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review
Devil May Cry 5
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey looks great, but we can’t end this list with a game that’s merely realistic. Devil May Cry 5 is all about style, not only in terms of combat but visuals as well. It’s a particle overload, with various colored projectiles flying across the screen with each strike. If you want to frantically see what your 4K HDR TV is capable of, Devil May Cry 5 is a great way to do it.
More than just looking great, Devil May Cry 5 is a showcase of next-gen tech. Powered by the RE Engine — the same engine behind the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 — Devil May Cry 5 is, for the most part, is a next-gen game that’s been optimized for current-gen platforms.
Read our Devil May Cry 5 impressions
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