With their sunsets, and shimmering water, and their trees that wave in the breeze, we've reached a point where in-game graphics are every bit as spectacular as the CGI cut-scenes of a decade or more ago.
How many of us have stopped in GTA V or Assassin's Creed Unity to just take in the scene? But what is it that we're marvelling at, specifically? Recreate your own living room in a video game, and most of us would spend hours inspecting every CGI shadow, dust mote, and the pattern on the sofa. Do that in real life, and your family would start to worry about you.
So what is it that grips us - if we're talking about games on an aesthetic level - when it comes to games recreating reality? Is it art, or is it merely simulation?
I've got this theory that I'm sure I've mentioned before, about how graphics used to be better before computer artists could lob a ton of maths and processing power at them.
I remember a friend telling me about the amazing "scuff marks" you could see on the skirting boards in Toy Story. My curiosity was piqued - I'd never known that I'd wanted to see distressed skirting boards recreated in CGI, but clearly I had. Yet - as impressive as those scuff marks were - they didn't appeal to the part of my brain that appreciates great composition or imagination (though Toy Story also had that in spades - Pixar and Disney get what I'm talking about better than anyone).
Back in the 80s and 90s game graphics were all about art through adversity, when the people creating their games were given nothing but a bag of carrots and some lard, and had to make a soufflé out them.
There's a reason why Bitmap Books are able to produce a range of retro art albums, and it isn't pure nostalgia. It's because there's something iconic and honourable about those graphics of yore, when the computing power was limited, and you had to make your artistic choices carefully. There's something heroic about these Commodore 64 developers who had to work with a mostly brown colour palette, and could still produce something that pleased the eye. Most of the time.
I speak as someone who used to work as a graphics artist, when computer graphics were still mired in a Neolithic bog. My first job was for Ladbrokes Racing - designing animated horses and logos for their in-house betting system... which I somehow had to fit into a loop of 15 frames.
After that I went to work at Wembley Stadium, where I produced pixellated "GOAL!" animations for their scoreboards, and then I ended up at Teletext, a company and a medium not known for its contribution to great art (though it does now have its own international art festival). So, I know a thing or two about working within the limitation of the tools to hand.
Now it feels like having infinite tools are limiting imagination, and that the only thing people can think to do with them is create photorealistic scenes - even if those scenes contain photorealistic dragons, or flaming blue whales.
Much as I appreciate the design that goes into something like Destiny, The Witcher III, or Forza 6, I don't want to browse a book of it, because much of it just looks like real life. Consequently it's a bit boring. It doesn't move me. If I want to admire a wood, there's one five minutes from my house. Sunsets happen pretty much every evening, and if I want to look at water that's even more realistic than the water in Far Cry 4, then I'll run a tap.
I suppose what I'm saying is that modern, big budget, game graphics - for the most part - speak to me on a level that's different to how I'd appreciate, say, a nice painting. They're working on different portions of my brain.
The part of me that loves great art - and I say that as someone whose idea of great art is the golden era of 2000AD - isn't stimulated by simulated reality. It doesn't punch me in the gut.
In terms of recent game graphics that have lit up that part of my brain, they've been Indie or mobile games. The cartoony visuals in Angry Birds 2, or the recreated 16-bit style of Ball King.
It just sometimes feels like the triple-A blockbuster games are all blending into one now, because they're all trying to do the same thing; appeal to a sense of technical grandeur, rather than artistic appreciation.
Hats off to Borderlands for its cel-shaded visuals, but look at most of the games on today's charts and their screenshots are virtually interchangeable... and that's because most of them are trying to recreate the real world as it looks outside our window. Or how it would look outside our window if we lived in revolutionary France, or a quasi-medieval fantasy realm. You know what I mean.
Games don't have to look real to look great. We know what they are capable of now - we get it. You've proved your point. Now can we find a way to apply all that power, all those tools, differently? It feels like in leaping so far forwards we've somehow lost something, become blander, more homogenised. Less interesting.