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Monster Hunter: World was easily one of the best looking games of 2018. It rocketed forward a series that had been doing its best on platforms with less powerful hardware for years, giving stunning animation and some of the best environments you’ll find in any game. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne continues this trend, with more monsters with incredible animation and new environments to experience as well. This is a game that can make an Xbox One X chug after all. It’s not just the monsters’ individual animations that shine, it’s the way they interact with the environment as well. Creatures scale environmental obstacles to reach players, fight other monsters they encounter, and more. It’s tempting to sit back and enjoy the show instead of paying attention to combat.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is a great show of what can be done with more advancement in animation and graphical quality, but isn’t fully reliant on just the technology. The attention to detail — be it in the hub town, the equipment, the environments, or the monsters themselves — amazes even after hundreds of hours of play. If players want to show off what their systems can do, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is an ideal title to do it with.
Video game fans have dreamed of Pixar-quality graphics ever since the first Toy Story came out in 1995. With Kingdom Hearts III, that dream is finally realized. The vibrant Disney-themed worlds feel as if they came straight from the big screen, especially those familiar areas such as Andy’s room from Toy Story. Seeing the updated Twilight Town with its extra polish makes players realize just how far the series has come graphically since the PS2 days. The combat also looks stunning with its dazzling magic effects and those gorgeous Disney ride summons that are a rainbow of color. Kingdom Hearts always nailed the Disney art style, but this entry brings that art style into the modern age.
While Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers doesn’t aim to break new technical ground — it makes sense for an MMORPG to not hamstring its player base after all — it remains at the pinnacle of outstanding visual design. The game uses the opportunity of a brand new world to create vibrant and varied locations from the splendour of Eulmore to the stunning flower fields of Il Mheg. The theme of light versus darkness is also applied superbly, giving some extra bonuses to all those locations after players first visit them. Taking in Final Fantasy XIV’s visuals remains a pleasure, and Shadowbringers adds plenty more pleasant cases.
by Michael Apps, Kelley Ryan, and Alex Fuller