If you’ve kept up with the world of games criticism, you’ve probably noticed the phrase “chromatic aberration” pop up from time to time. Some players and reviewers absolutely love the effect, while others seem to look at it as one of those trends that need to go away as quickly as possible.
What many gamers don’t know, however, is exactly what chromatic aberration is and what it is meant to do.
If you take a few moments to educate yourself about the topic, you’ll be able to better determine whether or not this is a visual effect that you want to see in your games.
What is Chromatic Aberration in Games?
Chromatic aberration is a type of visual effect that’s actually seen in the real world.
When objects are viewed through a lens, the edges along the sides of far away objects tend to be tinged in red or blue.
This kind of tinge makes the edges look a bit fuzzy and indistinct, but it’s a natural part of using any kind of optical tool.
In games, chromatic aberration is an attempt to create the same kind of effect artificially.
The goal of chromatic aberration is to ensure that images look more cinematic when the player is in motion, as if the player is looking at the game through a movie camera.
As you might imagine, the actual success of this effect varies depending on the ways in which it is used as well as the skill with which it is implemented.
The Case for Chromatic Aberration
When done correctly, chromatic aberration can help a game to seem much more lifelike.
Because our eyes are trained to accept this kind of aberration when we view television shows or movies, our brains more readily accept the reality of the imagine when we see the aberration in games.
Adding this small touch of life-like blur can help to disguise some of the rough edges in far away objects as well, further drawing the player into the world of the game and even reducing the resources needed to properly render those objects that are not close to the player.
The Case Against Chromatic Aberration
There are, however, many people who don’t like the look of chromatic aberration.
The easiest reason to see is this probably in screen shots. Because this effect is made to be viewed in motion, any screen shot that has an image using the effect is going to look subtly (or not-so-subtly) wrong. When viewed in promotional images, all players will see is the colored tinge.
Other players simply don’t like the blurred look of the objects even when they are playing the game.
There is at least something to be said for the fact that the cinematic nature of the effect makes the game look less like it is viewed through the eyes of a player and more like it is viewed through a camera, which can make it harder for players to feel like they are immersed in the game’s world.
Chromatic Aberration and You
Perhaps the best news about this kind of effect is that it usually one that can be toggled on or off.
If you really love the effect, you are likely to see it in more games coming soon; if you have a problem with the effect, though, you can usually go to your settings and turn it off when necessary.
Regardless, this effect is definitely one that’s part of the modern world of gaming and one that will probably see improvements as developers get more used to the effect.