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GamingBolt: The Evolution of Water Effects In Video Games

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

In my opinion Horizon: Forbidden West offers the best rendition of water seen so far. Guerrilla Games have harnessed all the techniques I’ve briefly touched upon in this two-part feature, and I’m sure there’s a ton more that is beyond the scope of my limited understanding. I just love how the water is portrayed in this game, how it reflects the scorched hues of dusk, the transparent particle effects that move with the undercurrent, the reflection of tidal sand patterns in shallow water surfaces; I could go on.

I’m constantly excited by the possibilities of water effects in games; I hope they continue moving towards perfect blending of technical prowess and stylised artistry.


Kameo was the game that made me look more into the interactivity of the waters in games
 

Tarkus98

Member




Kameo was the game that made me look more into the interactivity of the waters in games
Yeah, Kameo looked good for it’s time. It always seemed heavy looking to me though. Kinda like going through olive or vegetable oil.
Let’s see, Bioshock was good looking, wave racer 64. Nintendo set the bar really high in that game for its time.
Witcher 3 water effects were ok. Fuck, there are so many games with awesome water effects (particularly a few of the 3rd person isometric games) but I’m drawing a blank right now.
Oh, the newer Tomb Raider games have fantastic water effects.
 

Doczu

Member
Bioshock blew my mind back in the day with its water effects.

I wonder if I replay the first game now, if they'll still hold up in 2022.
They are still quite fine. Most of the effects are scripted anyway, but still better than many recent games.
I loved.the elevator lobby at the start of the game - the one that started flooding when you entered it. That looked mighty good with the water putting out fires and making all the trash float.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
 

Rykan

Member
I was actually impressed by World of Warcraft water. Oh it wasn't the most realistic looking, but I was always impresed that you could dive into the ocean or sea and there is actually combat, quests and exploration. Very unusual for an MMORPG.
 

Black_Stride

do not tempt fate do not contrain Wonder Woman's thighs do not do not
Just Cause 2 in like 2010 was absolutely insane for its time.
Even the way you could see reefs under the water and how you and basically everything reacted to the water deformation was so good.
Then every Just Cause after that got worse and worse.
 

Fuz

Gold Member
Being someone who lives near the sea and occasionally go sailing, I've always found water effects (especially sea complexity) extremely lacking and always to be the weakest link in graphics engines. Most of the time the bodies of water look too gelatinous and predictable, and the waves and the undertow are just plain wrong.
I was really impressed by the giant leap that AC: Black Flag did. It was believable. I've been in storms while sailing and their in game rendition was excellent. Maybe it's just my memory of it that makes me remember it better than it actually is. Anyway, what I'm saying is... Black Flag is the only AC worth playing. jk

Has that really been topped by Horizon?
 
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Kilau

Gold Member
Being someone who lives near the sea and occasionally go sailing, I've always found water effects (especially sea complexity) extremely lacking and always to be the weakest link in graphics engines. Most of the time the bodies of water look too gelatinous and predictable, amd the waves and the undertow are just plain wrong.
I was really impressed by the giant leap that AC: Black Flag did. It was believable. I've been in storms while sailing and their in game rendition was excellent. Maybe it's just my memory of it that makes me remember it better than it actually is. Anyway, what I'm saying is... Black Flag is the only AC worth playing. jk

Has that really been topped by Horizon?
Sea of Thieves has that covered. Best water and ocean simulation.
 

Kilau

Gold Member
On the video above, the first person bits are quite good, the external view is... lacking.
Better than most, obviously.
It takes on a lot of different looks depending on weather and time of day, it's very convincing. There is also the interactivity, the way your ship takes on water when damaged and you bail it out, feels very good.
 

Kupfer

Member
Will watch the video later, but I remember being blown away by the looks of the water of


Far Cry when I switched from a DX7 to a DX9 card

HL2 - great water, when objects where floating around

Gothic 3 - this game had beautiful streams and rippling effects

Crysis for the first "3D" water with real waves I experienced

The Last of Us 2 has the most realistic and beautiful implementation of water I remember. From wet surfaces to rain, streams, puddles, whirlpools, pools, ponds, rivers to the ocean

Uncharted Golden Abyss - nicest water I've seen on a handheld

Resistance 2/3 has beautiful and interactive water for a PS3 game. Many current gen games don't even come close

Red dead Redemption II


In functionality of water I liked

Bloodwake - water behaves kind of like in waverace, you can use waves as ramps

From Dust - you can actually control or impact the flow of water by building barriers

GTA 5 - the ocean feelt nice to ride around on with boats or the submarine
 

Kuranghi

Gold Member
RE8: Village actually has pretty nice interactive water in the handful of places its used, it has proper 3D waves and actually laps up on the geometry instead of not changing the elevation at the edges.
 

Hugare

Member
Yeah, Kameo was really impressive. Remember being blown away by it.

But the GOAT "holy shit this water looks good" reaction was with Bioshock

Remember watching the introduction with the plane crash and staring at the screen for some minutes before realising that it was gameplay
 
Holy crap that Kameo clip is insane. Not only does it have wave simulation that doesn't just stop affecting the body of water after a few feet, but it also has a caustic map which actually reflects what's happening on the surface? That's incredible. I know what's happening with it and on a technical level it's really not all THAT marvel, but it's how far they were willing to push the tech and the quality of art direction with it that really makes it stand out to me. Amazing work.
 
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