Was Horizon Zero Dawn ever bested on a visual level?

The Albatross

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,832
I'm really bummed how RDR2 photo mode comes out when you have HDR turned on in the game, but view the images on a non-HDR screen. These are ones uploaded to the social club... Tons of bloom, can barely see the night sky, so hard to see detail. It's part m,y shitty 1080p computer monitor at work, but also just seems to never capture as well as how it looks on the TV.
 
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The Albatross

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,832
My problem with RDR2 is that every screen from the open world look almost the same. The only difference is snow vs normal weather.
What? It has the most varied weather, ambiance, lighting, etc., of any major game I've played.

I get how people think characters look like "Rockstar characters" especially NPCs, but the environments are so varied.



















These are just my crappy screenshots. I don't have any of the snowy areas unfortunately, or driving rains, badd weaher, etc... I usually don'tt ake screenshots in those scenarios.

Although looking through the thread at all of the HZD photos, I get what some mean about the variety. RDR2 is generally try to mimic a world realistically (while still pushing some artistic license), while HZD is much more free flowing with showing fantasy worlds, fantasy lighting, etc.
 
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Jim2point0

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,943
It's RDR 2 and not even close.
Jim2point0's incredilble work.
Thanks for the random tag :P

I've played Horizon on PS4 Pro. Later played RDR2 on PS4 Pro. My opinion at the time was that RDR2 was the best looking game I've ever played... and that was only solidified further when I played it on PC. But to say it's not close... that's not true. It is close. Metro Exodus is also an incredible looking game. As is God of War. Horizon. Control. So many games look incredible these days and that's great. I don't know why we always gotta try and crown a king. Especially when games differ so much in scope and setting.

Anyways.

Environments are dense, full of atmosphere sometimes, with incredible lighting. It all comes together pretty damn well.


Nothing beats a good RDR2 sunrise :)



This volumetric lighting.... hhhnnnnnggg



This random ass elk that has no business looking this good


The fur really impresses me in this game.
RDR 2 hides its draw distance and LOD issues a lot better.
What issues?



I literally can not even tell where the grass stops drawing. Which is always painfully obvious in other games. Nothing in the distance looks bad to me.
 

The Albatross

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,832
These.



Granted I'm not pushing max settings so that could play part of it and also requires shot like this to really pop that LOD and draw distance drop off to vies.
I dunno, those areas in the near distance are regions on the map that don't have trees because they're rocky outcrops, or as in teh area on the right "the Great Plains."






Although in the second one, you can see one particular tree, which is a 'landmark tree' typical of Rockstar open worlds.


That's an aspect of Rockstar open worlds that I just love. From tons of places on the map you can spot natural landmarks to orient yourself. THey often use unique trees. In this case, this is a tree from RDR1 that returns in the same spot in RDR2 called "Broken Tree," and they did this a lot in RDR2 as well. For instance, in that screenshot the rocky outcrop on the left forms like a valley in between two cliff faces, which is right near your first camp. It's a landmark that you can see from most areas in the first few chapters of the game, so you can always orient yourself back to those visual landmarks to find where your camp is. They did this similarly in RDR1 with Broken Tree in the plains, it's very close to John Marston's house, so as long as you look towards that tree you can easily find your way back to the house. In RDR2 they really stepped it up with that too, the visual landmarks are all over the map so it can become possible to navigate without the minimap after a while.

(sorry the rest of this isn't really about graphical fidelity anymore, but tricks Rockstar does with natural landscape to help give you natural places that thye focus the view on to help orient you around the map... This is an unrelated tangent and I love it)

I love how Red Dead 2 does it, I want to create a thread about it one day if I have the effort, but if you look at that poster's pano shot above, this is from another area of the map (zoomed in, screenshot from a photo gallery so quality obv sucks), but I love how you can pick out the same landmarks even though it's a long distance from the other one:



Also there's one arrow on the right pointing to a tree on top of a clearing on a hill, that's the tree with the bottle's hanging from it, which is a visual marker that's used for a lot of the lower, eastern sections of the map, to orient yourself if you're travelling from Rhodes / St Denis (Two towns/cities on the SE corner) coming back to Valentine or your original camp (A town in the middle, which is near that rocky-outcrop gorge/pass). These three markers on the image are kind of like gateways to the rest of the map. If you position yourself towards the two in the middle, that's sort of the central area of the map, where your early camps are, near some early towns/cities. On the right it takes you to the SOuth East corner, on the left, it takes you into the deeper wilderness up north and to the coast of a river that wraps that section of the map.

Here's another view of it from closer by, but to the north, opposite direction of it. I'm spoiler tagging because it's a sc reen from a late game mission but it doesn't really spoil anything other than "You have a mission near there.":



Also if you notice on top of the far hill, the tree with the bottles hanging from it to orient you to where the lower southe/ast corner of the map is:


Another view from another angle, this time much further up in the north / central /east part of the map. If you look in the valley below you can see the screenshot above this one that I spoilered, and if you look in the far, far, far distance over the characters left shouilder, you can see the great plains with that tree standing up in the center. It's easier to see in game than in screenshots TBH. What's cool is this screenshot of mine is looking back towards where the first screenshot, the pano one, that the other person posted. Just really far off in the distance.



In a prior sn I highlighted how there was this large rock formation, and from other far reache sof the map you can spot that in the North East section:



And then this same rock structure looking up from a far distance in the lower plains



For most of the game you can orient yourself around a bunch of visual markers, except for a handful of spots in the game which kind of make those feel "Distant" and detatched... And it gives a sense of foreboading, claustrophobia. For instance, the swamp in the SOuth East corner that circles around the game's recreation of New Orleans, Saint Denis ... It's hard to get anywhere and look out of Saint Denis, there's a deep fog, you can sometimes make it out and see into the distance during clear days on top of a building, but not often.

Same with weather, weather will really hem you in. This screenshot is taken very close to the previous one, but as you can see it's really hard to make out any visual markers, despite being in mostly the same area (though I think looking in a slightly different)



They also use the visual detachment trick in the furthest South West areas of the map, which return from RDR1, near Mexico (which sadly is not in RDR2). You're very isolated there, in basically undiscovered desert save for one rough and tumble town.

I especially love how it handles night, especially in the far north east corners of th emap, where if you climb on a hill you often lose the visual markers that you've been using, and instead have to look for the lights of far off cities and towns:



Sorry this is a long love letter to how I love how RDR2 does open worlds.
 
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nDesh

The Three Eyed Raven
Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,144
Ehhh



































RDR2 is so much... more than HZD. The world is more massive, more varied, more expansive. These shots are just base PS4 pictures. To me this game was an unbelievable technical and artistic accomplishment.

Personally, until next-gen hits, I always find any comparison between RDR2 and another open world game to be absurd and unfair to the other developer. Everything about Horizon is smaller and lesser, because it simply is a game with a much smaller scope, budget and resources allocated to it.
And this is how this thread ends. RDR2 is just in another level.
 

Bedlam

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,849
Gotta agree with the OP. While not being exactly comparable in every aspect, H:ZD visually remains my favorite open-world game above RDR2, DS, TW3 and AC:O (which all look beautiful as well, obviously). There is just something special about its design aspect that lifts it above the others for me. Can't wait to replay it on PC.
 
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m_shortpants

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,128
And this is how this thread ends. RDR2 is just in another level.
It really is. I remember my mind being blown when I first stumbled into St Denis, it was night time and foggy. That city and it's smog, the surrounding swamp areas, all incredible. The environmental variety is insane and every are feels unique.

RDR2 was a watershed moment for this generation. The game looked incredible on my run through on PS4 Pro, and then I bought an Xbox One X just to play it again in 4k. On my LG C8 OLED it's unmatched.
 

silva1991

Member
Oct 26, 2017
6,454
RDR2 might be technically and graphically stronger, but Horizon was the last game this gen that blew my mind and dropped my jaw on the ground. The combination of advanced tech with fantastic and strong art direction was and still out of this world.
 

The Albatross

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,832
Ehhh



































RDR2 is so much... more than HZD. The world is more massive, more varied, more expansive. These shots are just base PS4 pictures. To me this game was an unbelievable technical and artistic accomplishment.

Personally, until next-gen hits, I always find any comparison between RDR2 and another open world game to be absurd and unfair to the other developer. Everything about Horizon is smaller and lesser, because it simply is a game with a much smaller scope, budget and resources allocated to it.
I think I'll steal your screenshots for a future "love letter to RDR2" thread :)

A problem I'm having lately is screenshots I take on my Xbox One X look noticeably worse than they did 18mos ago when I started RDR2 the first time. Not sure what I changed.
 

GoldStarz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,444
Is this about graphical power or aesthetics because like if it’s the latter, it was beat before it was even out.
 

Firefly

Member
Jul 10, 2018
2,318
Yes, they're all part of my rotation already :)
RDR2 and modded Witcher 3 are the crowning achievements for open world games visuals this generation.
 

Cloud-Strife

Member
Sep 27, 2019
815
Gotta agree with the OP. While not being exactly comparable in every aspect, H:ZD visually remains my favorite open-world game above RDR2, DS, TW3 and AC:O (which all look beautiful as well, obviously). There is just something special about its design aspect that lifts it above the others for me. Can't wait to replay it on PC.
This is the truth.. can't wait for the PC version.
 

MakgSnake

Member
Dec 18, 2019
608
Canada
It remains a technical marvel, but it was short, not very deep, and not always enjoyable.

That said, yes, I would like a sequel.
But it was also released in the early days of PS4... I still think it is a great game. But the game is forgotten so rapidly as if it was the worse piece of garbage. It wasn't. I love The Order and if they would have released a sequel, they could have fixed all the issues from the first.

Assassin's Creed 1 wasn't the best either with repetitive game play but now we get amazing AC games. Sony is harsh on their first party titles
 

Figboy

Associate Game Designer
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,549
Los Angeles, CA
Me too.

Gonna sound weird, but I actually found the first Red Dead Redemption more appealing visually than 2...

2 obviously has it beat on a technical level, but it never had me ooh and aah over the landscape like the first game did. Maybe because the first game was, I don't know, first?
I did as well. And I think the reason why for me, is that the original Red Dead Redemption has this really awesome "painterly" aesthetic, that actually has it age really nicely. It wasn't photo-realism, but reminded me of those old western paintings I'd see in museums or novel covers. RDR2 leaned more on realism, and that loses a bit of its appeal for me. It's still amazing looking, but I still get blown away by the vistas and sunsets in RDR1. Horizon is also a much stronger game than RDR2 in the art design department. It's this exaggerated, enhanced "realism" (in particular the color palette's you see during sunrise/sunset/nightfall), that I still don't think has surpassed it.

If you're talking about a game that is trying to nail realism, Death Stranding is incredible. It was kind of funny watching my buddy play the game, and his kid's older nanny came in and wanted to know what movie he was watching. She was blown away by the environments and how real they looked, and that it was a video game, and not a show or movie.

Artistically, I think HZD is better looking. It's mostly because I just love the art design so much. It doesn't take away from the other game's graphical accomplishments however, as many of the games listed in this thread are also phenomenal looking (Metro, RDR2, DS, etc). As someone who grew up playing video games in the 80's, I'm just perpetually blown away by how far visuals have come, so I don't generally get hung up on which game(s) have the "best" visuals. I only notice when the art design and visuals are truly poor. Visuals fitting the game are all that matter to me, more than being top dog in graphics.
 
Jan 21, 2019
1,421
Ehhh



































RDR2 is so much... more than HZD. The world is more massive, more varied, more expansive. These shots are just base PS4 pictures. To me this game was an unbelievable technical and artistic accomplishment.

Personally, until next-gen hits, I always find any comparison between RDR2 and another open world game to be absurd and unfair to the other developer. Everything about Horizon is smaller and lesser, because it simply is a game with a much smaller scope, budget and resources allocated to it.
To be honest, the only thing that blows me away about red dead is the (volumetric lighting) and the distance scale, the rest has been "better" in other games. (But the lighting is indeed I-N-S-A-N-E). Character models: DMC5, foliage: Horizon, HDR: resident evil 2, physics: control...

But again, all of these games have different scopes, different goals, different budgets, different teams and so on, it's almost absurd comparing them. It all comes down to preference. And here I will say, I enjoy all of them for different reasons. The lighting in Red Dead blows my mind and puts all day tracing hubbub to shame. The vibrance, colors and foliage in Horizon never ceases to amaze me and my jaw kept dropping during DMC5 whenever I saw Dante in cut scenes.
 

Cloud-Strife

Member
Sep 27, 2019
815
You play it on PS4 Pro or something?
I played RDR2 on PC and Horizon on the Pro.

The thing is that RDR2 HDR is really lackluster and fake.. you can tell right away and looks like modified SDR.

After that you play Horizon on the Pro with full real HDR and it's on another level.. colors really pop and you actually say "Oh.. so this is what HDR is about".

People is comparing here screenshots and gifs that don't take HDR into account. If you think the HZD screens look good you are still missing the HDR effect that takes them to another level. That's why I'm so sure that HZD is 1 step above RDR2.
 

headspawn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,620
I played RDR2 on PC and Horizon on the Pro.

The thing is that RDR2 HDR is really lackluster and fake.. you can tell right away and looks like modified SDR.

After that you play Horizon on the Pro with full real HDR and it's on another level.. colors really pop and you actually say "Oh.. so this is what HDR is about".

People is comparing here screenshots and gifs that don't take HDR into account. If you think the HZD screens look good you are still missing the HDR effect that takes them to another level. That's why I'm so sure that HZD is 1 step above RDR2.
I'll give you that the HDR thing is definitely a huge miss with RDR2, but I can't agree about HZD looking a generation better and that's even accounting for the HDR difference. I do agree that I hope people are considering that with the HZD screenshots, because it definitely looks better with it. That said, HZD is still up there in graphics and I do love the look, especially at night when HDR contrasts the most, the crazy moonlight over the grass and such, looks amazing.
 

Mr.Deadshot

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,525
I just finished The Order 1886 and think it might actually be the best looking game I've ever played. The cohesiveness of that world is on another level entirely. Nothing feels out of place, including the magical elements. It's unfair to compare it with open world games that render at higher resolutions, but just in terms of visuals I really think it might be the best looking game I've ever played. Like, to the point of distraction where I'm just in awe of it as I'm playing.


In case anyone needs a reminder of how good the game looked.
The Order was such a cool game but it came out at a time where the majority already decided that linear games are automatically bad or better said "last-gen". It wasn't a perfect game, for example the bossfights and stealth segments were pretty bad (but easy enough to mostly ignore). But I think otherwise it was a perfectly fine cover-shooter with a fantastic setting, good story and great cutscenes. The graphics are still some of the best. It's especially baffling because this is such an early PS4 game and all of this graphics are on base PS4. It certainly helps that it's a very narrow and linear game and that it has black bars, not using the full 1080p resolution. But it's still a technical marvel. I especially loved the character models and their uniforms. The clothes look so real.
 
Nov 20, 2019
425
Yeah people definitely underrate the graphics of The Order. They make weird irrelevant excuses about its freedom. But truth is, you have free motion in hours of linear gameplay, like many other games. It’s incredible and looks beyond anything else in fooling people out of seeing real gameplay.
It looks so good that i thought it was CGI when playing lol. the environments look next gen.