The evolution of graphics in action RPGs

There are many factors that make an action role-playing game (ARPG) successful, a major part being how immersive the game feels. While the storyline provides the backbone of any title, it’s the graphics and design which bring the scenarios truly to life.
In the early days of action RPGs, even pixelated environments were able to evoke an immersive illusion in the player’s head where small grey squares turned into broad and vivid fantasy realms. With graphics continuously improving to a true-to-life design, modern action RPGs create worlds that look breath-taking and feel more life-like than ever before.

Pixelated simple beginnings
The origins of action RPGs are indistinct as genres always tended to overlap. One of the earliest most ground-breaking titles was the 1984 release Dragon Slayer that was developed by Nihon Falcom and designed by Yoshio Kiya.
Being nearly 40 years old, the graphics look extremely simple from today’s perspective. A plain two-dimensional surface, the background in a uniform but shrill blue and green colour palette, pixelated characters – and yet, the player felt like a real warrior, exploring dangerous dungeons while hunting down vile beasts.

More colours bring more immersion
The basic principle of Dragon Slayer-like graphics led to a similar iconic style. A prime example in this design is the 1993 game Secret of Mana by Square Enix which was created by Kōichi Ishii.
While it still employed a top-down perspective, the 16-bit look enabled more detailed and colourful environments and characters. The broader colour gamut as well as the more intricate character and item design elevated the genre to a new level of complexity.

First person perspective opens endless possibilities
While a top-down perspective allows players to keep an eye on everything at once, a first-person perspective truly lets you jump into adventures yourself. ARPGs such as The Elder Scrolls Arena by Bethesda from 1994 provided a whole new three-dimensional experience.
However, frames per seconds were still low, most worlds consisted of flat square walls, characters moved clunky and items were rather immobile and chunky. Developers continuously worked on all these aspects to make their worlds ever more complex and enjoyable. Nowadays, ARPGs are portals to stunning universes with believable heroes and villains, mind-blowing fantasy environments and an immersive atmosphere that captures the player once they enter these fantastic realms.

Cyberpunk 2077: Heralding a new era?
CD Projekt Red’s upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 arguably counts as the most anticipated video game in the past years. The studio received much acclaim thanks to their smash hit Witcher 3, which rose the bar on expectations for Cyberpunk. Not only can the new title revolutionize the genre in terms of story or gameplay mechanics, it could also elevate graphics to a higher, never-seen before level.
The game works with high polygon counts and advanced material rendering, that even gets applied to micro details. Textures look close to real-life objects, reflections add to the depth of the world, atmospheric effects underline the dystopian feeling. Overall, its graphics might very well herald the next generation of immersion.
So, if you want to dive into the universe of this new Triple A gem, make sure to have a medium that is able to display the game in its full glory and depths. The Philips 55” Momentum 558M1RY/00 4K-HDR-Display is the perfect choice for console players. Not only should your game display a futuristic scenario, your monitor needs to work for the next generation as well.