The Best Video Game Trees, According To Someone Who Makes Them

Fun fact: There's an entire company dedicated to helping game developers create believable trees. SpeedTree offers developers a huge library of trees as well as tools that let them quickly make their own, and its tech has appeared in everything from The Witcher 3 to Forza to Destiny. Which video game trees are the best, though? I went to the SpeedTree booth at GDC to find out.

Image: SpeedTree

Unless you're a woodsman-turned-Twitch-streamer or an NPC squirrel, you probably don't spend a ton of time thinking about video game trees. But Sonia Piasecki, who's been an artist at SpeedTree for five years, does. Even so, she had to think for a splinter-sized portion of yet another year before reaching a verdict.

Image: SpeedTree

"That's a hard question," she said. "A lot of recent games have some great trees. I was really impressed with The Witcher 3. That was a couple years ago, but it was some really beautiful tech. Right now, though, I would say Assassin's Creed: Origins."

Image: SpeedTree

Piasecki, who's spent countless hours researching tree species and how they're affected by different seasons in pursuit of authenticity, applauded the game's attention to detail. Trees within the same species weren't all identical, she explained. "They added some personality quirks to the trees, which was fun to see," she said. "I like how they did the palm trees. It didn't just look like a palm. They focused on different species."

She also gave props to the setting, Egypt, which allowed for types of trees we don't often see in other open-world games, focused as they are on verdant fantasy plains and bustling modern cities. "It's amazing how places like that have so much plant life that you just don't think about," she said.

Image: SpeedTree

So that settles it: Assassin's Creed: Origins has the best video game trees. Well, aside from the Great Deku Tree from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. And The Witcher 3's special glitch commemoration tree. And... well, maybe this isn't really settled at all.


Comments

    I'm oddly excited that there's tree nerds who's business is just making trees and bushes.
    I'm no more a fan of trees in real life than the next person but they are often the first thing I notice in games because they often make or break a world.

    Origins is by far the most real looking world I've seen from them in all these years and it deserves the accolades to be honest, but Witcher 3's trees and how they reacted to weather was pretty amazing in terms of icing an already tasty cake.
    Special mention to Ark, not because of the trees so much as how there was such exceptional shadowing below the canopy of dense forests that would realistically vanish when you cut down the actual trees.

      Agreed on the tree tech. AC: Origins and Witcher 3 were superb.

      I remember getting massively distracted by the weird tree behaviour in Just Cause 2. The damn things were like Mona Lisa's eyes, they just kept following me!

        Oh gawd yes, that technique should've been left in past generations.

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