Depending on where you live, you may get so much snow that you’re sick of the sight of it, or so little that even the smallest flurry is greeted with childish glee.
If you fall into the latter camp, then you’ll be pleased to know that some games are veritable winter wonderlands with virtual blizzards, peaks, dusted trees and acres of powdery, fluffy whiteness. However, not all snow is created equal, so here are five examples of the very best snow in videogames.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Like most things in Rockstar’s latest opus, the snow in Red Dead Redemption 2 is pretty damn special. The game starts among the peaks in swirling blizzard conditions, and once it opens up, you’re free to go back there anytime you like.
What makes it really great, though, is how it reacts like real snow. Both you and your horse will slowly clump your way through it, and any blood (either human or animal) will stain your pristine, glistening white surroundings. Plus, you can make Arthur slip and fall on frozen lakes like he’s auditioning for The Wild West’s Funniest Home Videos – or at least a new career in silent comedy.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
In a game full of blockbusting, attention-grabbing set-pieces, the snow in Uncharted 4 is a beautifully delicate, subtle effect. It’s part of a Scotland level, with the brothers Drake attempting to find the grave of the infamous pirate Henry Avery.
Initially, the snow is just patches that break up the cliffs and long grass but, as you progress through the level, it gets stronger, before you eventually emerge from an underground tomb into as close as the UK ever gets to a blizzard. This adds a dramatic touch to the finale, as you fight your way to safety pursued by gun-wielding mercenaries.This more measured snow is beautifully executed, from the way your footprints mark the compacted snow to the way it clings to the cliffs and leaves its mark on our dynamic duo.
If you’re looking for virtual snow, then a winter sports game is a pretty damn good place to start. Steep, Ubisoft Annecy’s do-whatever-you-want-on-a-mountain simulator lets you ski, snowboard, wingsuit and paraglide amongst the Alps (and Alaska too).
It obviously wins in terms of quantity of snow but there’s also something glorious about how it captures the feeling of being up in the mountains, whether that’s how the light comes through the trees or the way the powder glistens in the sunlight. Whether on skis or a board, you’ll obviously carve tracks into that powder, while getting into the air allows you a great view of Steep’s gorgeous, almost photorealistic landscapes. The snow also takes on unexpected forms, with a sequence of huge snow rabbids providing an unexpected nod to the Ubisoft back catalogue.
Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds
While there is some snow in Horizon Zero Dawn’s base game, its DLC expansion, The Frozen Wilds is a real virtual winter wonderland. Like so much of Horizon, it’s often fantastically beautiful, with snow flurries coating the ground and the skies turning stunning shades of red and purple. This of course the setting for more beast fighting, climbing and machine riding, while the plot explores the importance of faith in the game’s societies.
You’ll also take on some truly epic foes, each of which leaves deep impressions in the snow and goes down in a pyrotechnic finale that lights up the dark night sky. Plus, there’s a supercharged version of the Northern Lights to stand and gawp at.
There’s no game like a snow game in the NFL, with many of the sport’s most memorable encounters taking place on fields of the white stuff. Madden 19 does a pretty good job of capturing it, with swirling flurries of snow, the commentators making gags about the plunging temperatures, and the players’’ breath steaming in the winter air.
On the field, initially only the numbers and major yard lines will be cleared, but each player will leave impressions in the snow, meaning that the middle of the field quickly becomes almost clear while the sides only have a few dark holes studded in the pristine white. It’s a really cool visual and an example of the trademark attention to detail that makes Madden 19 one of the world’s best sports games.