15 Demanding Video Games To Push Your PC To Its Limits

Developers constantly push video game visuals to new frontiers with each new console generation. Only a few games are made with powerful computer builds in mind to cater to the masses.

While today’s consoles sport competitive specifications, they still can’t compete with a powerful PC. Even in modern titles, ultra settings and Ray Tracing are typically reserved for the most performant computers.

These video games have been handpicked for their ability to push the most performant of computers to their limits. While some of these titles are well-known, others might be treasures you haven’t discovered yet.

1. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (2023)

Avatar Frontiers of Pandora
Image Credits: Ubisoft.

Frontiers of Pandora launched with an impressive PC port, a feat rarely achieved by other recent video games (we’re looking at you, Jedi: Survivor). In this game, players explore the lush environments of Pandora. They must combat the attacking RDA and take back their homeland.

Frontiers of Pandora is efficiently optimized and looks fantastic. Power users have uncovered a hidden Unobtainium graphics mode. Setting the game to Unobtanium brings even the mighty RTX 4090 to its knees at 4K.

2. Metro Exodus (2019)

Metro Exodus
Image Credits: Deep Silver.

Metro Exodus has players explore a post-apocalyptic Russia riddled with mutants and insurgents. The atmosphere is unforgiving, second only to the remaining survivors.

Metro Exodus has always looked amazing, but developer 4A Games has taken another step by implementing Ray Tracing. When turned on, players explore the world of Exodus with Ray Traced Global Illumination. In layperson’s terms, the reflections and shadows look true to life.

3. Crysis Remastered (2021)

Crysis Remastered
Image Credits: Crytek.

The original Crysis still looks better than many modern video games. Developer Crytek implemented visual techniques that hammered PCs long after release.

Crysis Remastered improves the base game’s visuals while also adding Path Tracing. The game’s “Can it Run Crysis” mode reinvents the original’s chaotic performance metrics. Only the latest graphics cards can run the title at its max.

4. Alan Wake 2 (2023)

Alan Wake 2
Image Credits: Epic Games.

Developer Remedy is known for excellent PC ports and visually pristine videogames. Alan Wake 2 is no different with its photorealistic visuals and high-definition texture work.

Despite looking exceptionally good, Alan Wake 2 is optimized enough for most systems to run performantly. A recent update refined the game to play smoother on older GTX graphics cards.

5. Horizon Forbidden West (2022)

Horizon Forbidden West
Image Credits: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Forbidden West was one of the first true next-generation titles with impressive visuals to show for it. It is now available on PC with upgraded visuals and a stellar options system.

Forbidden West looks terrific on an ultra-wide monitor with settings turned to the max. It’s a visual treat unrivaled by most other titles.

6. ARK: Survival Ascended (2023)

Ark Survival Ascended
Image Credits: Studio Wildcard.

When the system requirements were made public, Survival Ascended wowed everyone. The recommended graphics card is an RTX 3080, which is more powerful than a PlayStation 5.

The game has a lot going on in the open world. Players are thrust into an island populated with dinosaurs and mythical creatures. The smooth animations are the cherry on top.

7. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

Red Dead Redemption 2
Image Credits: Rockstar Games.

Developer Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 is exceptional in every department. Players explore America in 1899 as an outlaw in the rise of the industrial age.

Photorealistic texture work, robust lighting, and advanced animations push computers like no other. While the game is efficiently optimized, turning the anti-aliasing settings to the max still proves troublesome.

8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

The Witcher 3
Image Credits: CD Projekt Red.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt always had impressive visuals, but the Ray Tracing update uplifted the lighting significantly. Developer CD Projekt Red enhanced the visuals for next-generation consoles and PCs by adding an option above Ultra.

Enabling Ray Tracing on this title tanks the performance on most modern graphics cards. Don’t bother turning Ray Tracing on if you aren’t running the latest and greatest. Fortunately, the base game at max settings still looks fantastic.

9. Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)

Cyberpunk 2077
Image Credits: CD Projekt Red.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a technical masterpiece and a visual treat. Night City has vibrant colors, shiny reflections, and Path Traced lighting. Even without Ray Tracing, Cyberpunk’s visual aesthetic remains true to life.

Settings like Ray Tracing and Path Tracing should only be enabled by those with powerful graphics cards. These settings are transformative but come at a significant performance cost.

10. The Last of Us Part 1 (2022)

The Last of Us
Image Credits: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Developer Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part 1 upgrades the original’s visuals to resemble the sequels. In this game, players explore a post-apocalyptic America following the story of Joel and Ellie.

The Last of Us has some of the best facial rendering and animation work. Characters not only look natural but also behave and move realistically. While the game had performance issues at launch, they have since been fixed with updates.

11. Minecraft (2011)

Image Credits: Mojang.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Minecraft? The game my grandma’s vintage laptop can run? Just hear us out. On its own, Minecraft isn’t too taxing for computers unless the render distance is cranked to the max. However, implement some community-made mods into the mix, and you have a whole other game.

Minecraft has various visual enhancement Mods for players to download and try on PC. Some improve the water physics, and others target the lighting and animation work. With a few simple additions, this game can slow even the most powerful computers.

12. Teardown (2022)

Image Credits: Tuxedo Labs.

Teardown’s voxel structure and advanced physics system are a nightmare for processors. Players can destroy structures and community-made buildings in this game in many ways. My personal favorite is using fire on wooden structures and watching it spread.

In some community maps, the destruction tanks the performance because of the chaos on screen. Most processors can’t keep up, bottlenecking the graphics cards.

13. Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020)

Microsoft Flight Simulator
Image Credits: Xbox Game Studios.

Flight Simulator cranked to Ultra settings looks terrific but runs choppily. Several power users use this title as a benchmark to test their new builds. In this game, players can fly real airplanes all over the world.

Images from the game almost look like real life. The reflections and lighting work are second to none. Powerful cards like the RTX 4090 can’t run the game over 100 frames on average at 4K without any upscaling.

14. A Plague Tale: Requiem (2022)

A Plague Tale Requim
Image Credits: Focus Entertainment.

Both fans and critics love Requiem. This game’s visuals surpass other next-generation titles in various ways. The textures are crisp, the lights bounce between surfaces, and the animation work is flawless.

Requiem gives most computers a hard time running performantly at higher settings. Without Ray Tracing, this game still makes performant cards like the RTX 3080 work overtime.

15. Half-Life: Alyx (2020)

Half Life Alyx
Image Credits: Valve Corporation.

Alyx was a long-awaited entry into the Half-Life universe. Initially, fans were skeptical about the shift to Virtual Reality for this series. However, after a few hours of gameplay, Alyx has proven to be a technical marvel.

Half-Life: Alyx transcends the boundaries of traditional video games and immerses players like no other. The visual design resembles the originals, albeit with enhanced lighting and textures. Running the game requires a beefy computer and a reliable Virtual Reality headset.

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