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Games That Will Make Your Hardware Cry

Overloading games with mods, overclocking your GPU, and maxing out all sorts of nutty graphics settings is par for the course if you take PC gaming seriously. No matter how much money you've put into your system, however, there are always games just waiting to send it crashing to its knees.

Here's a look at some of those games that couldn't care less if you have the fastest processor and beefiest graphics card on the market. Most of these titles are recent releases, but the thriving mod communities surrounding some games have the capability of making older offerings into complete resource hogs with updated graphics settings and all manner of new background processes.

If you're looking for games that will help you benchmark and push your system to the limit, start your search here.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey was extraordinarily rough on even high-end PCs when it first released due to some extremely poor optimization. Several early players discovered the game was pushing their CPU to 100% usage due to the way it loaded assets and textures. Luckily, that was all fixed up pretty quickly.

Unluckily, Assassin's Creed:Odyssey is still an absolute monster. It features impressive graphics and a massive open world, full of complex, vertical environments and a huge number of processes to keep track of. When the game first released, in fact, System Requirements Lab wrote that, if your computer was above the recommended system requirements, it could also reliably handle virtual reality gaming.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is one of the better games in the series, and it is something you can truly show off if you've got the beefy hardware to handle it at its higher settings. Just keep an eye on your system if you do — you don't want a meltdown on your hands!

Control

Control, though a newer title, can actually run on fairly minimal machines without too much fuss. It has a big world to wander through, but it isn't wide open and seamless like many other hardware punishing entries. However, it did come to the party as one of the first mainstream games sporting a brand new toy for your GPU: ray tracing.

Basically, ray tracing is a computer graphic technology that allows for following every individual ray of light. This creates incredibly realistic light, shading and shadow, and it's the big reason why the best CGI in big budget movies can blend so seamlessly with the actual environments around them.

To make use of Control's ray tracing technology and still have a frame rate that allows the game to not slow to a crawl whenever action hits the screen, your PC needs to be equipped with at least a GeForce RTX 2060. Anything less than that, and you'll see massive slowdown.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Despite releasing all the way back in 2016, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is still one of the prettiest games you can get running once you crank up all the settings to the max. That is, if your PC can handle it. It may not have the scariest looking requirements in the world, but Deus Ex: Mankind Divided can absolutely chug along on some systems, even if newer, sharper games seem to run smoother.

Multisample anti-aliasing can always be a bit of a beast, but PC Gamer rightly points out that the MSAA in Mankind Divided is a particularly unruly child. It also notes that the difference between "Ultra" and "High" settings are extremely difficult to notice, and that all manner of small touches like tessellation, motion blur and chromatic aberration barely make a difference on screen. However, these features can slow your system to a crawl, especially when combined.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Don't let Skyrim's original release date fool you; rereleases, official updates and an extremely active modding community all combine to let you turn this into one of the most resource-intensive games around. All that is even before you get Macho Man Randy Savage flying around and breathing fire on you.

Skyrim launched back in 2011, and the PC modding community was all over it. Many mods were tiny or goofy in nature, but some intrepid modders created massive graphics overhauls and added new areas to the game. In 2016, Bethesda released the Skyrim Special Edition, which was a major update to the game's graphics and gave the game true mod support. This opened the floodgates for Skyrim to become a truly beastly hardware hog.

If you're playing the vanilla version of Skyrim Special Edition, even mid-level gaming PCs should be able to handle it just fine. If you start attaching all the bells and whistles, however, expect your hardware to object.

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 doesn't really have anything special about its requirements or optimization that makes it tough for your gaming PC to handle. It just ticks a lot of the boxes that can generally cause fits to machines that are a bit long in the tooth. AAA budget behind it? Check. Huge, open world and impressive draw distance? Of course. Impressive visual details and graphic customization options? You better believe it.

On top of all that, the Far Cry series is friendly to the mod scene, so there are even more opportunities to hang little ornaments off of Far Cry 5 and watch them dance. Far Cry 5 uses the Dunia engine, which allows for some impressive details and can bring out the best in outdoor worlds. It can also be an absolute beast when it's trying to calculate too much at once. There's a reason Far Cry is often used as a benchmark for GPUs.

Final Fantasy 15

The Final Fantasy series has always pushed the limits of what computer graphics can do. It may be hard to believe, but the incredibly detailed sprites of the SNES era were amazing for their time, and Final Fantasy 7 was incredible looking on release, despite how ugly it appears now. It should come as no surprise that Final Fantasy 15 pushed graphics to the limit once again. Considering Square Enix's track record, it should also come as no surprise that Final Fantasy 15 isn't ideally optimized for PC, as it has generally tended to focus on consoles first.

There are all sorts of choices available to you in the video options of Final Fantasy 15 to make the game look pretty. Your main party's clothes and hair are extremely well animated and detailed, and Final Fantasy 15 boasts some of the most realistic looking shadows and shading around. All those tiny details can really do a number on your GPU, however, and your frame rates can slow to a crawl if you crank up the settings on a PC that isn't ready for it.

Grand Theft Auto 5

Grand Theft Auto 5 isn't an ugly game, by any means, but looking at its graphics wouldn't do much to convince you that it's an overly-demanding PC title. It has a lot going for it that can drag down your PC performance, though, especially if you like to go in and mod your games.

Bear in mind that Rockstar is known for making incredibly detailed, lifelike open worlds. The amount of detail that goes into creating the cities of Grand Theft Auto or wilderness of Red Dead Redemption is staggering, and it takes a ton of processing power to keep all of that operating smoothly. Grand Theft Auto 5 also has a massive list of graphics settings for you to tinker with, allowing you to crank up detail to an impressive degree. With all those tiny things happening in every frame of gameplay, it starts to put things to the test.

Finally, Grand Theft Auto 5 has an extremely active modding community, and all those little add-ons slow the game down even further. It isn't one thing with Grand Theft Auto — it's a frame rate drop due to 1,000 paper cuts.

Hitman 2

Hitman 2 looks good, but it doesn't particularly scream "resource hog" like many PC dynamos you might stumble across. There are a few very good reasons why this assassination sandbox can bring your PC to a standstill, though.

Hitman 2 features a whole lot of characters onscreen at any given time, and each of them have their own processes to run through. Crank up those 4K graphics, and all of a sudden your PC is going to be working hard to keep up with everything. However, there is one major element that is fairly unique to Hitman 2 that causes pain: reflective surfaces.

Things like mirrors in Hitman 2 are an integral part of the gameplay. As you sneak about, trying to avoid detection so you can take down your target, you always have to be wary of people noticing your reflection. This is a surprisingly taxing element of the game, as reflective surfaces have an entirely different set of processes they need to run to accurately "reflect."

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

There's a reason Kingdom Come: Deliverance can still bring PCs to a standstill, and it's right there in the name of the game's engine: CryEngine. Yes, Kingdom Come uses the famed boogeyman of "can my PC run this game" engines. It can make a lot of processes happening under the hood cause hitches if your machine isn't prepared for it.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance has a huge, open world, full of countryside and impressive looking terrain. There are a ton of NPCs going about their daily business, and you have a huge number of options available to you regarding how to proceed. There are a massive number of settings you can tinker with to make things look as sharp or as ... not so sharp as you would like. All those shadows, reflections and physics take a lot of GPU and processor power to keep moving smoothly, and you better have ponied up if you want to max out the settings on this bad boy.

Metro Exodus

The Metro series has always had some pretty substantial requirements to run smoothly, but Metro Exodus added some new wrinkles in to really make things demanding. If you can get this one running seamlessly on your gaming machine, though, it's one of the best to show off exactly how pretty games can look.

The earlier Metro games mostly featured linear, underground levels that gave the developers the chance to really keep things focused. Metro Exodus opens all that up and gives the player a largely open, outdoor world to wander through, including dynamic weather events. Some of these events are really big and impressive, though they can mess with frame rates significantly if your PC isn't properly equipped.

Metro Exodus brings the series out of the underground and into the light, but it can cause your machine to labor during some of its more impressive events. It's a strong benchmark for your system in those instances.

Red Dead Redemption 2

When it first released, the PC port of Red Dead Redemption 2 wasn't too beastly. Like many console-to-PC ports, there were some growing pains early with optimization, but Rockstar has been in the game long enough to know how to take care of those in a hurry.

Since the game first released, however, things have quickly ramped up to make Red Dead Redemption 2 a particular resource hog. First and foremost, it has a whopping 150GB install. Since most people probably want to run this game on an SSD, PC Gamer correctly notes that it will probably take some serious file maneuvering. On top of all that, Red Dead Redemption 2 has some impressive graphics settings to tinker with.

Not to mention Red Dead Redemption 2 has a massive, open world to cowboy about in, some truly amazing scenery to gawk at, and a large collection of NPCs going about their daily business. All these tiny details are a big reason why people are so willing to spend hours grooming their horses or playing poker in Valentine — Red Dead Redemption 2 is extremely immersive. On top of all that, you can also get into the mod scene, making your PC work even harder.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Hopefully, you won't need to toss too many coins to your gaming PC to get The Witcher 3 up and running at this point, but there are plenty of options at your disposal to get Geralt and Co. looking their best. Wild Hunt has some of the most comprehensive graphics settings out there, and cranking everything up to the highest level can slow things down to an alarming degree.

The huge world with dynamic weather events. The impressive number of NPCs, all running through their routines. The beautiful scenery. It can all be tweaked and tinkered with in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. And don't forget the most splendid option of all: Geralt's hair. A special Nvidia feature called "HairWorks" adds some seriously impressive hair effects to Geralt, many other characters, and plenty of the game's beasts. All that hair animation takes a toll, however.

Like many popular PC games, you'll find plenty of mods for Wild Hunt that can change things even more. There are lots of ways to max this one out and keep it looking sharp, even years after its original release.

Crysis

Crysis released all the way back in 2007, and only the most state of the art gaming machines could actually keep it moving on average video settings. Even now, Crysis can still cause some fits for lower budget machines, and maxing out the game's settings in 4K is still practically impossible unless you've invested thousands of dollars into your setup.

PC Gamer highlighted the challenges associated with this title in its 2017 piece, "10 Years Later, We Can Finally Run Crysis," running benchmarks for the game and determining that it is still one of the best looking games on PC. When the title was developed, it was seemingly created to show what the future of graphics could be, meaning not everything is as well optimized as it should be.

It's impressive when you start looking at videos of Crysis in action and see just how good it can still look. It released the same year as games like BioShock, Halo 3 and Portal! Not bad looking games by any means, but they don't compare with the majesty of Crysis.