Let’s Talk about Water…

That’s right, water. Intrigued yet?

What I’m specifically referring to is the water in Assassin’s Creed Origins. Those who know me well, know that I take interest in and enjoy the environmental elements of video games. I got some kicks from the sunsets in The Witcher 3 and the rain in Uncharted 4. Weather and other environmental elements have come a long way in video games, and I’m happy to be seeing the results of more sophisticated game development and technology.

While Assassin’s Creed Origins has some pretty neat sandstorms, the weather doesn’t really change because, you know, you’re primarily traversing though a desert. However, the water stuck out to me even more than the sandstorms. For example, I waded through the green water of a river.

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I stood at the edge of a gray-ish and sandy shore.

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I avoided the yellowed scum of a watering hole.

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And I watched ships pass through the blue waters off the northern coast.

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The developers made an obvious effort to realistically depict the game’s waters according to geographic region. It’s perhaps a small detail, but one that has significant impact on the believe-ability of the game. I generally dislike the term “immersion,” but it does fit here. Such environmental choices made those particular regions more natural and identifiable.

Not only is the water different according to region, but the water is rarely a solid hue. In the image below, you can see that the water is greener and scummier looking closer to the bank and that the water gradually shifts into a muddy green away from the shore. I might be making too much out of this, but I found the water to be a pretty cool part of the game.

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But does water in video games matter? I would argue that the way video games simulate weather and otherwise create realistic environments plays a big part in how engrossed players are. In “How’s the Weather: Simulating Weather in Virtual Environments,” Matt Barton discusses the impact of weather in video games. He talks about how weather “reinforc[es] the coherence of the virtual world” and how it can add a dramatic element in games. Barton’s piece was published in 2008, and video game development has made some substantial strides since then, but I think his observations are still relevant.

Part of what makes Assassin’s Creed Origins such a beautiful game is the water, even that nasty scummy stuff. Maybe other players don’t pay as much attention to this kind of thing, but I appreciated the effort. I’m just one person who has been known to ask, “Hey [friend], did you notice the clouds in that game?” 😛

But what do you think? When playing video games, do you notice the weather? What video games do you think have the best weather?


Barton, Matt. “Hows the Weather: Simulating Weather in Virtual Environments.” Game Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, 2008, http://gamestudies.org/0801/articles/barton.

9 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Water…

  1. Ever since we have been able to take screenshots, I do stop and appreciate the environments in video games. Especially in open world games! great piece as well 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading!

      And that’s one of the reasons I love photo modes—they really give players the opportunity to observe and appreciate the effort that’s been put into a game’s environment.

  2. This was a fun post to read! I haven’t played the Assassin games, so I didn’t realize what attention was paid to the water alone.
    I’ve always enjoyed the environmental aspects of games. They add a lot of character and depth to the environment (and occasionally add challenge to gameplay). I don’t play enough games to say one has the best weather, but I really like the way the weather looks and develops in Breath of the Wild.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      The water wasn’t always this impressive in AC games, but Origins, in my mind, has set a slightly higher standard for environmental elements (or for at least one element) in games. One reason that I follow certain franchises closely is to see the small steps they take in development and how those changes impact games both in the immediate franchise and on a broader scale.

      And yes, the weather in Breath of the Wild was quite good.

  3. i remember being amazed by water when 3d games first started simulating that reflections stuff whenever you look at it. Even now there are all sorts of things that make me stop and stare because some particular elements just look extra good. Sunsets always get me as well.

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