There are a lot of single-player titles that just blow me away as well. Recently I was absolutely transfixed by Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I stayed up late one night to finish it, and the graphics just kept getting better the entire time. Then there's The Wolf Among Us, a new title by Telltale Games, the same studio that made The Walking Dead series. It's made me remember just how amazing graphics can be without requiring a massive gaming rig.
Did you like the look of The Wolf Among Us as well? Here are some MMOs that feel similar.
I didn't love Champions Online's look when it was first released. In fact, I hated it. No matter what I did, I could not get the game to look good and run well. These days a basic gaming rig will run it just fine, and I have found that cranking every bell and whistle up to 11 has made the game really, really nice to look at. When I last took an official look at the game, I found the graphics to be so much better than I had remembered that I was almost ashamed to admit it.
Heavily stylized art is great because it suggests that at any moment, the game could freeze, and each individual part of the picture, separated by those thick, black lines, could be pulled out of the scene like a child's wooden puzzle. That solidity is so much more effective than more "realistic" graphics.
Stylized graphics can help a game feel fresh for much longer as well, something I noted during the first part of my livestream with Free Realms Producer Steve George. A stylized game relies more on a realistic feeling rather than an exact duplication of reality. There are very few games that look realistic enough to trick us, so stylized graphics can stay how they are, frozen in time.
Firefall is heavily stylized as well, complete with the thick black lines, "cartoony" characters, and exaggerated lighting. I'm still struggling to decide whether the game deserves a permanent place on my hard drive, but sometimes I log in just to be reminded how good a game can look. Though PvP has been temporarily disabled in the game, it was originally designed for competitive play, which makes its cartoony graphics even more valuable. Why? Players take games with a competitive element very seriously, so having that competition within a game that looks as cartoony as Firefall is unusual and fun.
There are many games that use a stylized look but don't go as far as The Wolf Among Us. Guild Wars 2 is an amazing-looking game. World of Warcraft was one of the first titles to use a heavily stylized look combined with very in-depth gameplay and immersive lore. Many gamers don't seem to mind how "cartoony" a game looks as long as it is fun to play.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!