Before I get into this age old debate and offer my own personal perspective. I just want to paint the picture of how/why I decided to tackle this subject to begin with.
I, like millions and millions of others, watched the official Fallout 4 trailer.
I was impressed, very impressed. In fact, for a while I’ve been reluctant of getting into the next generation of gaming for various reasons. One being there have been no games that make me want to jump into the next gen…until now.
Fallout 4 is the game that has sold me and I’ve been eyeing up both the PS4 and Xbox One over the last few days. I’ve still not made the plunge yet as I’m still not 100% sure which console to go for.
Anyway, the point is that my seeing this trailer has finally convinced me to get into the next gen of consoles.
I thought the game looked simply stunning but of course it’s not all about the graphics. Yet I was stunned to find there had been an interwebs “fallout” over the graphics of Fallout 4.
Seriously, I do not get it. The game looks amazing from a graphics point of view, yet there have been millions of comments about how bad it looks. Just do a Google search for “Fallout 4 graphics” and you’ll find plenty of sites doing their own reports on this very subject and so many people complaining that the graphics look bad.
It was all these sites and all these comments that made me want to throw my hat in the ring. Not only in defence of Fallout 4’s graphics, but in terms of graphics in general.
Before I get into that, I just want to say something in direct defence of Bethesda Softworks Fallout 4 trailer…
At least they are not lying.
My I bring up Ubisoft and Watchdogs?
Now again. Not talking of the game itself but just purely of the graphics.
Does nobody remember Ubisoft showing off Watchdogs at E3 2012? Well if you have forgotten, take a look at this handy comparison video of Watchdogs being shown at E3 2012 to the final game actually running on a high end PC.
It was pretty obvious that Ubisoft had given Watchdogs a graphical downgrade and were showing something at E3 2012 they just could not deliver.
Now back to Fallout 4. As I previously said, I think the game looks stunning and I personally do not get the “bad graphics” comments that have been popping up.
But even if I were to agree the graphics are bad (they are not), one could argue that Bethesda are not trying to pull a Ubisoft and actually showing what the game will look like…and I do not see that as a bad thing.
I’d much rather developers be honest than lie and deceive.
Even more so, this is an early trailer. There is a very good chance that game will look even better when released and the trailer is based on an older graphical style. As the game is not released until November 2015, that is quite a long time in the gaming world and a lot can change between now and then.
Anyway, I think Fallout 4 looks amazing as it is.
So lets get into the meat of this article and answer whether graphics are important or not…
You ask most gamers and they will say: “graphics are not important, it’s all about gameplay.”
I somewhat agree…but I can not say that graphics are not important. I personally think graphics are massively important part of a game, I mean without them…you wouldn’t have a game at all would you?
I’ve noticed an amazing amount of hypocrisy among gamers too. They will say graphics are not important, but then argue which has the better graphics; the PS4 or Xbox One? Then on top of that you’ll get the PC elitist brigade and their “PC is better than either” arguments.
But if graphics are not important…why do most gamers argue of which one has the better graphics so much, why are there so many comparison videos on Youtube?
Clearly graphics are important, otherwise these arguments and comparison videos would not exist.
Again, I point you towards the recent Fallout 4 graphical debate. Why does this debate even exist if it’s gameplay and not graphics that matters?
So for me personally, are graphics important?
Yes, very much so.
Now this does not make me a “graphics-whore” as I’m not saying that great graphics equate to a great game. That is a very different argument and one for another time.
But to dismiss graphics as not being important is just plain ignorant or stupid.
Graphics can set a style, tone and feeling for a game before you even play it. I’m going to bring up a handful of games people would consider have “poor” graphics on sight and explain why I feel they are quite the opposite.
I bring exhibit A.
Limbo, a very simple action/platform/puzzle game with even more simpler graphics.
As you can see for the screenshot, the game offered a minimalistic silhouette graphical style. Yet those graphics added so much depth and atmosphere to the game, it was amazing. I really do not think that game would have worked with photorealistic, 3D polygon, 18 million colour palette graphics.
The graphics of Limbo were simple and minimalistic…and they worked perfectly.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh, Minecraft. One of my favorite modern games in recent years.
I have played this in front of people that do not know what it is and the first thing they say is “this look crap”.
Does it “look crap”? I honestly do not think so, the blocky and pixelated visual style is just perfect. In fact, I have played Minecraft with various other skins from cartoon style to even more “realistic” versions and none of them work as well as the original graphics.
Minecraft is meant to look blocky and pixelated…it just works.
Retro City Rampage. If you have no idea what RCR is, allow me to educate you.
It’s a simple homage to the original GTA games with 100’s of gaming and film references done in a NES graphical style. Just looking at that screenshot above, would you believe the game was originally released in 2012?
Do the game’s graphics look bad? For me, not at all. The game is trying to emulate a very specific style and direction and these “simplistic” 8-Bit graphics are just perfect.
Those are just three examples (there are numerous others) of a game having what many would consider “poor graphics”, but what I consider to be amazing and very apt graphics for the games.
It’s this attention to the graphics that makes the graphics themselves just as important as the gameplay.
Yes, graphics are important, they are even hugely important I would say. Graphics can tell you so much about the game, they can set a tone and atmosphere, they can be emotive as well as pleasing to look at.