Weather in games can be extremely immersive. It’s what sells the game both at the store and once it’s in the disc drive. When I play an open world game, a driving game, or a first person game – I want the world to bring me in, to truly explore and play in it like no other. I’ll play a game for it’s weather based on the season or the weather in my area to just to complete the feeling. I do want to note I’m ONLY discussing games with good weather effects, not environments.
So let’s start at the bottom and work our way to the top at my Top 8 Games with Weather Effects.
8. World of Warcraft
Looting in the rain. Or the snow. Take your pick. I’ve only played World Of Warcraft across a few trials, and now in my 30-day trial (look forward for another post in just a few weeks on that). The game is immersive on it’s own with it’s server-based day and night cycles. But recently added was weather, and to me – makes this living and breathing world absolutely perfect.
7. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Real-time strategy games have never been about the weather, mostly just environments. The game looks stunning as is, but as you wade through a mission, a storm will rise up and increase the fog of war and the battles look even more intense as a thunderstorm rages on.
6. Just Cause 2
Open-world games absolutely depend on their environment and weather effects to provide a sense of realism or immersion. When in the environment of rain or snow, Rico’s clothes will get drenched and shiny and see the water dripping off, or in snow, it will build and collect.
Not the best racing game out there, but the worldly effects are pretty much unmatched. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by storms. As you race, things will change dynamically and surprisingly. You can’t get picked up by a tornado and flung to your death, but the lightning strikes and torrential rain will have you believe that this race is high-stakes.
4. Left 4 Dead 2
Zombies. Zombies, zombies, zombies. In the campaign, “Hard Rain” – you might be going in expecting a lot of rain. But what you don’t think about, is rising waters and visibility reduced so low you can barely see in front of you. This is weather, redefined.
3. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Walking or riding through this open world in 2006 was absolutely draw-dropping either on Xbox, PS3, or PC. Even to this day, it looks amazing. Power it up with some mods and it’s truly something to behold. But here is a time lapse of an area of Tamriel.
3. [ECLIPSED BY] Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The latest installment has been released and features even better visuals with stunning backdrops and gorgeous weather:
2. NFS: Hot Pursuit (2010)
The best racing game of 2010 for me. The reboot of Need for Speed III, this time developed by Criterion. However, as far as weather is concerned – the world design was done by DICE (Battlefield, Mirror’s Edge, etc). There are some amazing events that utilize weather, and produce some of the best weather effects ever seen in a racing game.
1. Red Dead Redemption
Without a doubt, Red Dead Redemption was my #1 game of 2010. After maybe only a few hours of playing Red Dead, I was strolling through the town of Armadillo, getting ready to save my game and turn it off – rain came into town. So I waited and watched a bit. I went into the bar, to the hotel area and out onto the balcony. By then, the rain turned into a downpour and all-out thunderstorm. It was breathtaking. I stayed and watched it for 20 minutes which is 2 hours in-game time.
Burnout Paradise: The previous developmental triumph from Criterion was this game. Where there is no rain or snow, there are some amazing day and night cycles, fog, etc. It does do an amazing feat of tying the game’s day and night cycle and weather according to your local area.
Alan Wake: The game did feature some tornadoes, lightning and thunder – but no rain or snow that falls into this list I’ve defined. If you haven’t played this game, you must.
Batman: Arkham Asylum: This game had no true weather, but incredible environments. There was some thunder and lightning throughout Batman’s terrifying night at Arkham Asylum – but there was no rain. But it gets an honorable mention for it’s great art style and overall feel.
Grand Theft Auto IV: This game would be on the list, as it shares the same engine as Red Dead Redemption. But I felt the engine and tech was refined with RDR and is the clear winner. Though I will never forget my first thunderstorm driving in Liberty City that absolutely shook my floor at the amazing rumble of the bass due to the thunder roll.
Company of Heroes: Another game where it is older and uses the same engine. However, Dawn of War II refined it and really made it sing. Though this was the first game to feature the effects seen in DoWII. It’s a must play, even though being a WWII – is nothing like other RTS’.