Televisions with 4K and HDR functionality are more affordable than ever, but there’s still a lack of actual 4K HDR content to watch. Luckily, video game developers are constantly pushing the boundaries of new visual technology, and there’s no shortage of new games to showcase the power of modern displays.
Also known as Ultra HD, or UHD, 4K describes the display resolution. 4K images are 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, making them about about four times the size of an image at 1080p, the highest resolution currently offered by cable broadcasts. HDR is used to describe images with a high-dynamic range. As the name implies, displays with HDR have a higher contrast between lights and darks and a larger overall range of colours than older displays.
Video games are especially good for showing the effect of 4K and HDR due to their wide range of environments, dynamic animations, and dramatic shifts in perspective. From basketball courts and race tracks to ancient tombs and foreign planets, video games give the viewer the greatest control over what appears on their screen. They also have a higher frame rate than movies, meaning more images appear on the screen per second.
To play video games in 4K or with HDR, you’ll need a console or PC strong enough to output the high resolution graphics. Gaming PCs capable of 4K and HDR vary in specs, but you can certainly build your own to turn your TV into a full-fledged media center.
For those looking for a more standard 4K solution, there are two main console options: the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.
The standard PlayStation 4 costs $US299 and can output HDR images, but it’s not capable of 4K. A more expensive version of the console, the PlayStation 4 Pro, is 4K ready for $US399.
The Xbox One has more variations, but both the $US299 Xbox One S and the $US399 Xbox One X are capable of 4K and HDR output. Certain games on the Xbox One X, even those without 4K or HDR output, will have better visual performance and load times compared to the S model.
Unfortunately some of the best looking games were developed specifically for Xbox One or PlayStation 4, so it’s important to choose your console wisely.
Here are 15 of the best games to test your 4K HDR screen:
“Shadow of the Tomb Raider” (PS4, X1, PC)
The jungle environments of “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” are great for showing off the effect of HDR. Heroine Lara Croft makes her way through dimly lit caverns, sparkling canopies, and crystal clear water as she searches for ancient artifacts.
The game has added enhancements on Xbox One X, and the developers took great detail in rendering Lara’s hair and her acrobatic climbing animations. “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” and many of the other games on this list feature a camera mode to let players capture their favourite visuals from all angles.
“Middle-earth: Shadow of War (X1, PS4, PC)”
“God of War” (PlayStation 4 Exclusive)
“Forza Horizon 4” (Xbox One, Windows Exclusive)
The “Forza” franchise is specifically developed for the Xbox One, and features stunning replicas of more than 500 real-life car models.
With varying weather conditions and hundreds of miles of open road to explore between races, “Forza Horizon 4” offers a mix of true-to-life detail and bombastic colours that’s ideal for 4K HDR TVs.
“No Man’s Sky” (PS4, X1, PC)
“Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” (PS4, X1, PC)
“Marvel’s Spider-Man” (PlayStation 4 Exclusive)
“Marvel’s Spider-Man” is probably the most impressive-looking PlayStation 4 exclusive, offering an impressive recreation of Manhattan for the titular hero to explore.
Spider-Man’s signature swinging ability lets players explore New York City from all angles, and 4K resolution makes it even easier to see the skyscrapers on the horizon.
“Gears of War 4” (Xbox One, Windows Exclusive)
“Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” (X1, PS4, PC)
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
“Red Dead Redemption 2” is due out October 26th, but is already promising to be one of the largest open-world games ever. Rockstar Games spent seven years sculpting the landscape of the Wild West and its frontier towns, resulting in an astonishing level of graphical detail.
“NBA 2K19 (PS4, X1, PC)”
“Horizon Zero Dawn” (PlayStation 4 Exclusive)
“Resident Evil 7” (PS4, PSVR, X1 PC)
Contrasting the open plains of “Red Dead Redemption 2,” “Resident Evil 7” is a horror game set in a moldy, decrepit house in the bayous of Louisiana. Developer Capcom created a brand new engine for the game to take advantage of virtual reality development tools.
In order to create a compelling VR environment, Capcom added a host of enhanced textures to the game and updated models to appear more realistic even when the game is played without VR. Furthermore the added contrast of HDR makes the darkest areas of the game even more haunting.
“Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” (PS4, X1, PC)
“Final Fantasy XV (PS4, X1, PC)”
At base, video games make the most of the fine detail that 4K provides and HDR helps games feel more immersive. As movies and television work to catch up with new visual technology, video games will continue to be one of the best ways to explore ultra HD with the added bonus of an interactive experience.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.