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Monitor Magic: What Games Look Like At 21:9

From Doom to Kentucky Route Zero

I keep banging on about it to all who will listen, but like a mid-life-crisiseer and their ridiculous sports car, I am increasingly in love with my new ultrawide monitor. I had to use a standard 1080p one recently – oh the humanity! – and felt as though I was trapped inside a tiny box. 21:9 is the only way to play. At least until 32:9 arrives and I decide that of course I cannot live without that. CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME. Genuinely though, ultrawide is lovely: it really brings games to life.

The games that support it, at any rate. Many don’t, many say they do but display with black bars down the side of the screen, and many require obtuse hacks. I hex-edited Headlander’s main executable earlier today, for instance. I don’t begrudge devs not supporting a res that only a tiny minority of players require, but I will say this: your game at 3440×1440 is your game at its best. It’s worth doing. Let me demonstrate a few examples.

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m showing off. That’s really not the plan. It’s just that I’ve really, really been enjoying games at this aspect ratio, and wanted to give some evidence as to why I don’t believe that ultrawide is pointless e-peenery. It’s funny, so many of put so much time, energy and cash into our PC’s performance, the monitor – the part of it that we interact with the most, that is the ultimate reflection of what everything else is doing – often gets short thrift. A good monitor is bloody expensive, yes, but maybe it’s a better investment than most any other part of a gaming PC. I’m expecting to get at least half a decade of merriment out of this one.

Anyway! Look-see. You can use the arrow keys above or below the image to navigate, or the arrow keys on your very own keyboard. Click to embiggen also.

Headlander. The artists have gone to town on the environments, and they look retro-epic at ultrawide.

Hitman. Crowd scenes are even more outrageous. Iffy framerate though: I guess I’m going to need a new GPU before too long.

DOOM. Hell looks appropriately enormous, rather than a slightly underwhelming system of corridors and tall walls.

The Witcher 3. Geralt’s a handsome dog and all, but it’s lovely to see so much colourful countryside and not have his back filling quite so much of the screen.

Earth Defence Force Whatever The New One Is Subtitled. I didn’t last long with this because it was desperately over-familiar by now, and the city looked lousy, but in fairness when a giant ant gets right in your face in cinemascope, it looks pretty sweet.

Battlezone 98 Redux. Hasn’t aged as beautifully as, say, Quake, but just as a demonstration that even golden oldies benefit from a cinematic aspect ratio:

And the crown jewel, Kentucky Route Zero. A game which truly could and even should be played on a cinema screen. It feels as though it’s made for 21:9. Blissful to behold.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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