Leon Othenin-Girard is a Swiss freelance tech writer who specializes in gaming reviews. His reviews, roundups, news, and op-eds also appeared on Cultured Vultures.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Overall: God of War at Amazon
"A breathtaking game with abundant combat and a smart plot."
Best for Xbox One: Quantum Break at Amazon
"A time-bending, third-person shooter with an interesting core mechanic."
Best for PS4: Marvel’s Spider-Man at Amazon
"Uses the same temporal injection method as Insomniac used in Ratchet & Clank (2016), where a bit more than half the pixels are rendered and then injected into a 4K image."
Best RPG: The Witcher 3 at Amazon
"Few games are as expansive, with hundreds of sidequests, two DLCs that are almost as long as the main game, and even a card game that will easily get you hooked."
Best Shooter: Doom at Amazon
"Its signature brutal and fast-paced gameplay sees you ripping and tearing through demons on Mars."
Best Racing: Forza Motorsport 7 at Amazon
"Not only is Forza Motorsport 7 perfect for letting your engines roar at everyone behind you, but it looks stunning all the same."
Best Fighting: Injustice 2 at Amazon
"This sequel to the hit DC fighting game by NetherRealm Studios ups the ante in every way."
Best Action-Adventure: Shadow of the Tomb Raider at Amazon
"You are both predator and prey, and every misstep can lead to your untimely death."
Best Indie: My Friend Pedro on Steam
"One of the best and most ridiculous indie gems in recent memory."
Courtesy of Amazon
If you want a breathtaking game with abundant combat and a smart plot, then look no further than God of War. This well-written action-adventure game, with its surprisingly touching story, takes Norse mythology and gives it a unique twist. Your main weapon in the game is Kratos’ ax, which you can use to hack away at enemies or throw from afar. As you upgrade it throughout the game, your attacks become flashier and more versatile, helping you take down the likes of Baldur and other Nordic creatures.
It’s only available on PS4, but if you have a PS4 Pro, then you can play God of War in 4K. The only downside is that, for pixel-loving fiends, God of War cannot be played in anything more than checkerboard 4K, meaning it won’t quite approach the graphical fidelity of native 4K. In checkerboard rendering, only roughly half the frame is rendered and the other half is extrapolated by using tiny grids of 2x2 pixels.
Developed by Remedy Entertainment, the visionary collective behind Alan Wake, Quantum Break is a time-bending, third-person shooter with an interesting core mechanic. While you’ll spend most of your time trying to take down the company Monarch (led by an old friend of yours), at the end of every chapter, the game flips. You have to choose how the villain should act and, in doing so, can choose how it affects your gameplay. After making that decision, you watch an episode of a TV show centered on other characters in the universe, then dive right back into the action thereafter.
In Quantum Break, you will experience three different perspectives on the same story, discovering so much more about the world and the characters in it than if you only played as the protagonist. Not to mention the time manipulation effects being a sight to see, especially when the scale gets bigger. If you have an Xbox One X or a strong enough PC, you can play it all in 4K. However, the Xbox One X version doesn’t run at native 4K but instead uses temporal reconstruction, which uses the four previous frames to create a more detailed image, though it may cause the occasional ghosting artifacts.
Swing through the streets of New York as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in Insomniac Games’ adaptation of the beloved comic character. Not only is the city itself a sight to see (not to mention an accurate recreation of the city that never sleeps), but the character models are just as impressive. The story is well-written, too, and features one of Stan Lee’s last cameos.
You battle your way from villain to villain, trying to figure out the identity of Mister Negative, the man who has been rising in the criminal underworld, as he controls people’s minds and forces them to work as his henchmen. You can also upgrade your different weapons, be it web fluid, web bombs, special attacks, or electric shocks, reaching a whole new level of web-slinging action. To top it all off, there are countless suits to unlock, each with its own special ability that can help you in combat, and you can even mix and match.
However, if you want to play this one in 4K, you’ll need a PS4 Pro to do so. Spider-Man uses the same temporal injection method as Insomniac used in Ratchet & Clank (2016), where a bit more than half the pixels are rendered and then injected into a 4K image. A small series of frames can then lead to a highly detailed anti-aliased 4K image.
Nowadays, you can’t talk about action RPGs without mentioning The Witcher 3 in the same breath. Few games are as expansive, with hundreds of sidequests, two DLCs that are almost as long as the main game, and even a card game that will easily get you hooked.
Step into the shoes of Geralt of Rivia as you slash and spell your way through countless deadly creatures. Combined with an extensive, branching narrative and set in an open world, you won’t easily tire of this one. Although it wasn’t originally 4K-compatible, The Witcher 3 has always been a sight to see, and it has since been treated to a 4K patch on PC, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X.
Doom is a classic first-person shooter franchise, and the 2016 reboot reminds us why. Its signature brutal and fast-paced gameplay sees you ripping and tearing through demons on Mars, shooting them down whenever they cross your path. You can blow ‘em up in so many different ways it’s almost hard to choose.
Absent is an engaging, or even complicated, plot, save for your instructions to “stop all the demons from reaching earth.” Doom knows why you’re here. You want to kill demons, so you will. Once you get the hang of the campaign and are able to find your way around, you can make your own maps or play those created by others, with the thousands of fanmade modes — from escape rooms to farming — lending themselves to a whole new world of gameplay. Doom has been patched to play at 4K on PC, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X.
Sometimes you need to put the pedal to the metal and make everyone else eat your dust. Not only is Forza Motorsport 7 perfect for letting your engines roar at everyone behind you, but it looks stunning all the same. The biggest Forza game ever released, Motorsport 7 has no shortage of content either.
You can drive 700+ cars over 30 backdrops spread over more than 200 circuits. The whole experience was built to play at 60 frames per second, even at 4K. With every new racetrack encounter, you’ll be pitted against new conditions. As a result, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that any two races are the same. You can also deck out your in-game appearance and own the track. Forza Motorsport 7 is available exclusively on Xbox One and PC.
This sequel to the hit DC fighting game by NetherRealm Studios ups the ante in every way. Injustice 2 lets you play as one of 28 DC superheroes and supervillains (and ten more as DLC) fighting for control in a world emerging from the rubble of Superman’s dictatorship. Each character has its own unique Super Move, crashing the walls of the fighting arena and sending your enemies flying to their demise.
Although the multiplayer mode already gives Injustice 2 long-lasting replayability value, the multiverse gives it even more, blurring the lines between its alternate story and arcade modes. In the multiverse, you face different versions of characters across various locations in order to level up and find gear to customize your characters. You can play Injustice 2 at 4K on PC, PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X.
The final entry in the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy, circa 2013, is also the darkest, as its name suggests. You play as Lara Croft as she comes up against mercenaries and a Mayan apocalypse, sneaking through the jungle and puzzling your way through tombs. The world around you is dangerous and beautiful, and you’re equipped with only the bare minimum to survive. You are both predator and prey, and every misstep can lead to your untimely death.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is optimized for 4K, complete with physically-based rendering, meaning it more accurately renders light flow (though it’s not quite as in-depth as ray-tracing, which is exclusive to Nvidia RTX graphics cards at the moment), and dynamic foliage, among a host of other visual upgrades.
Courtesy of Steam
My Friend Pedro is one of the best and most ridiculous indie gems in recent memory. A matrix-style shoot-em-up, expect to run and gun your way through countless enemies and look ravishing in the process. Dual-wielding and slow-motion are your best friends.
While dashing and jumping around, you can perform all sorts of stunts, each more outrageous than the last. Twist, turn, and make every last bullet count. My friend Pedro doesn’t need to run at 4K to impress, visually, but it’s so flashy and over the top that a healthy dose of Ultra HD doesn’t hurt.