High-end computers aren’t always required to play gorgeous games. Which titles look stunning on low-end PCs?
By Erik Petrovich
Published 23 hours ago
Beautiful gaming experiences were once a thing restricted to gamers with high-end PCs or the latest consoles. Not having top-line PC hardware isn’t as much of a limiting factor as it was in the past, though, thanks to the indie gaming boom of the last decade and the inclusion of in-depth video settings in most modern games.
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While most of the games that will run perfectly on low-end PCs are pixel-based or two-dimensional, there are a number of 3D games that run great no matter your specs. This is not to say that the?2D games have little to offer, though, as some of the best games of the last decade just happen to have few requirements.
Terraria recently celebrated its final update, Update 1.4: Journey’s End, which officially concludes development on major expansions for the game.?Terraria has never been in better form, though, and despite the final update being released is still becoming more popular with each day.
Perhaps it’s the game’s low cost of entry, or perhaps it’s the incredible depth to the gameplay (which includes complex building, exploration, crafting, and combat systems); whatever it is, Terraria?is?one of those titles where players can expect to reference the wiki constantly throughout a playthrough.
Hades is as beautiful in its artistic direction as it is brutally difficult in its combat. The multi-award-winning roguelike from Supergiant Games released in 2020 to rave reviews and was particularly praised for its fully-voiced narrative, its gorgeous art style, and its immensely satisfying gameplay.
The game does not have much in the way of a graphics menu aside from resolution, but it’s a relatively small download and runs perfectly well on most systems (unless you’re surrounded by exploding chariots, that is).
The roguelike Witch RPG physics game?Noita is a lot of things, and it pulls off each facet perfectly. Every single pixel in the game is simulated, which might make a new player think the game has high requirements. It actually runs relatively well on low-end PCs, as long as the player isn’t setting off too many explosions at the same time.
The game features some of the most gorgeous and original pixel art of the last few years, but don’t spend too long looking at the game’s style as it’s also one of the most difficult games to be released in the last few years.
Stardew Valley is pretty much a household name by this point. The most recent 1.5 expansion practically doubled the number of things to do in the game, which already had hundreds of hours’ worth of content.
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Stardew Valley?is a farming sim that takes a lot of inspiration from the?Harvest Moon and?Animal Crossing series, with a ton of unique charm hidden within the SNES-like style.
Braid is one of the many?indie games featured in the documentary?Indie Game: The Movie, alongside?Super Meat Boy and?Fez. While all three games are perfectly playable on low-end PCs,?Braid stands out for its incredibly beautiful hand-drawn art direction.
It’s a puzzle game with wholly unique challenges that will tickle even the most confident mind,?which when paired with Braid’s?gorgeous visuals makes for one of the most awe-inspiring gaming experiences of all time.
3D games aren’t exclusive to gamers with top-of-the-line setups.?Borderlands 2 is one example of a Triple-A game that runs perfectly fine at a lower resolution on low-end PCs. The game’s cel-shaded art style helps to keep things looking great even with the settings turned down.
Even at its highest allowed video settings, the graphical style of?Borderlands 2 doesn’t improve much, and low-end PC users – especially those using a gamepad on a connected TV – will barely notice the difference.
Bethesda is generally pretty good for releasing games that run well on multiple systems – the countless re-releases of a certain fifth entry in its popular fantasy franchise are evidence for this. The?Fallout series is especially good for this, and that includes?Obsidian Entertainment’s?New Vegas.
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The?Fallout series takes place in the post-apocalyptic near-future after nuclear war ravaged the planet.?New Vegas just happens to be simultaneously one of the least graphically intensive but also highly revered games since the release of the Xbox 360.
Blasphemous has been described by many as a souls-like platforming action game, and to a large extent that brief description is correct. The thing this game is most praised for, though, is its brutally intense pixel-art cutscenes and the nightmarish designs present in the world.
Gamers who don’t think pixel art has the capacity to be horrifying in its own way will be sorely shocked by?Blasphemous,?as it’s one of the darkest and most artistically metal games to come out in decades.
The platformer-puzzle game?Celeste is one of the standout platforming releases of the last decade. It has incredibly fluid and satisfying controls and intuitive-yet-challenging level designs all set in a vibrant, multicolored, detailed world.
Celeste?is surprisingly long, too, and has a loose story tying together the threads of each level together. It’s a true “gamer’s game” that feels as fun to play as it is gorgeous to witness.
Bethesda’s “latest” installment in the mainline?Elder Scrolls series is, of course,?Skyrim, released almost exactly a decade ago. The game was one of the most beautiful out there on release, and continual updates and community involvement?makes it one of the best-optimized open-world games of all time.]
As insulting as the term might be, even a potato PC can run?Skyrim, albeit on lower settings. There are a plethora of mods to further increase the game’s performance, too, as well as a special edition that is just as well optimized with even better visuals.
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About The Author
(247 Articles Published)
Erik Petrovich is a multimedia journalist based in Colorado but originally came from the United Kingdom, though his accent is fading with time. At Gamerant Erik explores subjects all across the spectrum of gaming, and while he loves games that challenge his creativity, he also has a bad habit of playing every World of Warcraft expansion.
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