Crafting all the necessary gadgets and gizmos to construct a visually stunning cityscape is perhaps one of the most important roles in video game development. Next to the gameplay itself, it stands tall as an enormous hurdle that only a small pocket of individuals can clear. But when landed, a mediocre game can pretty much outshine even the brightest stars, often reaching a supernova state.
Anyway, it's 2022, and the stakes are pretty high these days. Folks are ridiculously talented, and more and more creators are stepping up to forge their wildest creations for the video game medium. But behind the mounds of quality worlds and breathtaking vistas lies a select few needles. Remove the haystack altogether, and you'll see for yourself why they were given such an honorary title.
5. Elden Ring
It's practically impossible to traverse Elden Ring‘s wide open-world playground and not gawp at the glorious Erdtree that shrouds the sky with its luminous network of branches. As its spiraling arm of golden twigs cascade over the vast majority of the rich and vibrant landscape, it's clearly a dominant feature that beckons to be worshipped. And you know what? We're all for it.
Elden Ring is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best titles of 2022. With thanks to its coated barren wastelands and nexus of twisted trees, it is graphically on point, and a first-class example of how to design and execute a living, breathing world that revolves around one particular centerpiece. And so, for that, we're more than happy to give FromSoftware a well-deserved, albeit slightly delayed nod of approval.
4. Horizon Forbidden West
After treading the luscious landscapes of Zero Dawn's distant and almost post-apocalyptic Colorado region, we had nothing but high hopes for Forbidden West. Even if Guerilla Games planned to carry out nothing more than a spit shine and half-hearted rehash of the same world—it still would have won us over. But as it turned out, the 2022 sequel brought a whole new angle to the futuristic open-world setting.
Of course, it doesn't take much to figure out that Forbidden West is, bar a few natural disasters, a futuristic version of both California and Nevada. The two together, complete with ravenous machines and deprived tribespeople, latch together to form an alternate reality that virtually bleeds character and folklore.
3. GhostWire: Tokyo
After rifling through the suburban districts of modern Japan in Lost Judgement, I'd be lying if I said I, for one, didn't feel the need to venture deeper into its nexus of ultraviolet cities. But in a stroke of luck, GhostWire: Tokyo hit the market, and along came a futuristic playground that immediately put the likes of Cyberpunk's Night City to shame. Tokyo was painted—and it looked good.
From the neon skyscrapers to the cherry blossom arches, the dystopian version of the beloved Japanese capital effortlessly bled several layers of charisma and vigor. But needless to say, Tango Gameworks knew how to craft a quality product from the get-go. It just so happened that Tokyo was the subject for its creative infusions.
2. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
James Cameron's Avatar was a global phenomenon back in 2009, which went on to net almost three billion dollars at the box office. Its popularity, of course, stemmed from Pandora, the world on which the story took place in. And it's because of the breathtaking vistas and pastel backdrops that it housed, that a video game adaptation was quickly brought to life.
Turned out, of course, that the video game wasn't all that great. But with that said, Ubisoft did eventually reclaim the reins and take Pandora for a second spin. Lo and behold, Frontiers of Pandora was given the greenlight. Fast-forward a year, and it is now shaping up to be one of the most anticipated titles of 2022. Again, credit boomerangs back to the beauty that is James Cameron's visually stunning planet.
The Luminous Productions-led action role-playing game has been sitting adjacent to Frontiers of Pandora for a fair while now, holding its ground on our radars with its inviting yet mysterious world of clouds and nightmares. Although a fair ways off until its October launch, we have to admit—Athia does look like a genuinely inviting region; one that we can't wait to explore.
Based on Sony's pitch of the game, the world will revolve around fantasy and nightmare. Putting the two together, on paper, seems like a match made in heaven. But as far as concrete evidence of how the world turns on its axis—now that's another question. Either way, we're pretty thrilled to sample its waters later this year. And, judging by what we've seen so far, perhaps you should be too.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.