10 Games With The Best Concept Art

It’s a long-running joke that concept art tends to almost always look better than the final product, but concept art isn’t something that can be easily animated or implemented into whatever you’re making. This is especially true for video games which rely on 3D modelling, programming and all sorts of work that can’t always look as grandiose as the artwork that has inspired it or even what’s on the cover.

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However, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the concept artists who drew up the initial look for some of our favourite video games. After all concept art plays a vital role when it comes to development.

10 Tomb Raider (2013)

A painting featuring a lone figure on a cliffside after a shipwreck
Tomb Raider (2013) Shipwrecked by Brenoch Adams

When Tomb Raider was rebooted in 2013, it took inspiration from its original iteration, Tomb Raider: Ascension, which was to be a survival horror prequel explaining Lara Croft’s origins. What the reboot had to accomplish was not only creating concept art for a game and all its environments, but also having to redesign Lara and reboot so many iconic things, such as her weaponry, her enemies and the artifacts she’d come across.

The concept art does a fantastic job giving us a great young Lara design that feels fresh and still depicts beautiful environments and some horrifying scenes from the games that exude that scary atmosphere.

9 Mirror’s Edge

A first person POV of a woman on the edge of a rooftop from Mirror's Edge
Mirrors Edge Rooftop by Johannes Söderqvist

The concept art of Mirror’s Edge is one that will always be remembered not because it has the prettiest designs or most realistic environments but purely due to its art style and the use of colour. You can see just how the visuals of the game (which still hold up over a decade after its release) were inspired by the concept art, and it even shows when it comes to the character designs in the cartoon cutscenes.

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Overall, Mirror’s Edge’s unique design is still remembered and if you haven’t already, you should really check out the art that is the bedrock for the game’s stellar environments.

8 Fallout 4

A robot staring at an abandoned farmhouse in Fallout 4 concept art
Fallout 4 Farming Bot by Ilya Nazarov

When Fallout 4 premiered at E3, Todd Howard showcased concept art to show how much the art team had done and the vibes that the next game in the franchise was going for. Overall, it’s a smart move and one that fans remember years later as Fallout 4 has tons of concept art showcasing NPCs, the radiated wasteland and different NPCs.

It’s an incredible amount of work to be done, especially since a large RPG like Fallout 4 would require so much to be drawn, so just the scale of the artwork is something to truly commend and appreciate.

7 God Of War (2018)

Kratos from God of War in a colourful grove
God Of War 2018 Concept Art by Annis Naeem

Similiar to Tomb Raider, God Of War had to reintroduce the series to the gaming world which meant that a lot of pressure was on the concept artists to not only sketch out ideas and designs for the game, but to also work on things like how Kratos would look in their older age and new integral characters such as Atreus.

Thankfully, the Norse-inspired game had some beautiful designs with the inclusion of carvings, monsters from Norse mythology and stunning environments.

6 Half-Life 2

A character sketch depicting a bony looking man in a suit
Half Life 2 G Man by Vitor Hugo Watson Trajano

Valve has a reputation for being perfectionists and that’s even true when it comes to the concept art that none of them, but the development team would likely see. From the design of Eli’s den to some stunning artwork for City 17 that induces a dystopian and gritty atmosphere, the concept art is something to behold.

It also is interesting to see how different the game looks compared to the concept art, showing how games and their designs can constantly evolve throughout their development.

5 Spider-Man

Dr. Octopus looking down at a crowd from a rooftop in Spider Man
Spider Man Concept Art by Dennis Chan

Insomniac’s Spider-Man shows that concept art is a lot more than pretty pictures and some character designs, it can showcase the passion one has for the game that they’re making. Each picture oozes detail and craftsmanship like it was a panel out of a classic comic.

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Not only does it showcase spectacular characters we’ve come to know and love throughout the game, but it also shows how different iconic scenes from the game were conceptualised and mapped out on the page first before coming to life.

4 Life Is Strange

Max from Life is Strange holding out her hands as a bus and cars float on a street
Life Is Strange Bus Impact by Edouard Caplain

If there is any game that is known for being artistic then Life Is Strange certainly fits that criteria. The game comes very close to emulating its concept art on the screen due to its heavily artistic style that sometimes looks like a drawing come to life, with this watercolour style showing original iterations of scenes from the game.

It gives insight into things that were cut from the game’s story (like one that shows Max travelling the town and stopping a flood while looking like she came out of a hospital), and you can even see that some of the concept art was so good it was used in the game for promotional material.

3 The Last Of Us

A lone girl standing amongst overgrown wreckage
The Last Of Us Concept Art by John Sweeney

It’s hard to create an original terrifying monster, but there is something so iconically scary about the infected from The Last Of Us. They went through many different designs to emulate what a cordyceps infection on a human would look like and on top of showing a world reclaimed by nature, we also get to see insight into what the infected look like up close (something you definitely don’t want to do during the game).

The concept art looks like paintings from a survivor depicting the apocalyptic world and encapsulates the grotesque combination of horror and beauty that is in a world that is mostly devoid of human life where nature flourishes under intrepid circumstances.

2 BioShock Infinite

Columbia from BioShock Infinite on display with a hologram of a founding father and family
BioShock Infinite Columbia Concept Art by Ben Lo

Is it any surprise that BioShock Infinite would have stellar concept art? The game’s setting of Columbia is unique and seems to have come straight out of a painting with its sun-bathed streets and beautiful sea of clouds.

It may sound generic at this point, but trust us, if you haven’t seen the art for BioShock Infinite, then you’re missing out on some truly beautiful environmental art of the steampunk dystopia that is Columbia.

1 Cyberpunk 2077

A neon lit street where people hold umbrellas as they walk by
Cyberpunk 2077 Japantown At Night by Marthe Jonkers

Like a lot of RPGs, Cyberpunk 2077 required a lot of concept art which not only showcases environments and character designs but also the feel of what CD Projekt Red was trying to accomplish when coming up with the world the game would be set in. The art showcases kids in virtual goggles in their homes, neon-lit clubs and various futuristic technology.

The art already immerses you in the world of Night City and its surroundings, feeling like a setting with a lot of depth which entices anybody to explore every nook and cranny.

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