Whether it’s mythological Ancient Greece, a deadly fantasy realm or a verdant Pacific island, there’s no denying the artistic savvy it takes to bring the sprawling worlds of games like God of War: Ascension, Dark Souls 2 and Far Cry 3 to life. Many of us still can’t be pried out of the latter (read about Far Cry 3’s immersive pirate paradise in our review), while the upcoming God of War: Ascension and Dark Souls 2 both carry expectations for vast, intricate environments and a uniquely fascinating cast of characters.

So what better a time than now to peer into their design process? New assortments of concept art  have released for the trio of games — you can either click through the header above to peruse them one-by-one, or continue on below for our individual galleries.

God of War: Ascension

The number of installments remaining in the God of War franchise remains uncertain, but by all appearances March’s prequel, God of War: Ascension, will mark its final run on the PlayStation 3. And that’s why we’re expecting Kratos’s best. The series has always relied on a sweeping size and scale, layers of mini-games and puzzles, to round out its torridly gruesome combat. And if the concept art below is any indication that vision is alive and well at Sony’s Santa Monica Studio. Having already spent time with Ascension at E3 2012, we can’t what adventures abound within its grandiose scenery.

Dark Souls II

A genuine surprise at the 2012 Spike VGAs, Dark Souls II was announced this December with a stunning cinematic and reassurance from Namco Bandai of its relentlessly challenging hardcore intentions. But it won’t  just be gameplay that defines the 2011 hit’s sequel. The massive open world of Dark Souls captured a rare mix of moribund and magnificent, and with a new director and storyline entering the fold in Dark Souls II, developer From Software now has the challenge of keeping up appearances. Here’s an early look at some of the creatures and landscapes and trinkets players can expect to encounter:

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3’s Rook Islands are more one big luscious insane asylum than they are a tropical paradise. Jason Brody and friends learned this the hard way when they fell into the captivity of crazed pirate strongman Vaas Montenegro. The journey that ensued around their escape — around Brody embracing insanity and letting the islands mold him into a warrior — comprised one our favorite games of 2012. Much credit is due to the diverse denizens of Rook depicted below, designed by Splinter Cell: Conviction and Assassin’s Creed concept artist Bruno Gauthier.


What’s your take on the artistic focus of God of War: Ascension, Dark Souls II and Far Cry 3?

Far Cry 3 is available now on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360

God of War: Ascension releases on March 12, 2013 for the PS3.

Dark Souls 2 does not have an anticipated release date yet, but is confirmed for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Sources: AllGamesBeta (God of War: Ascension, Dark Souls 2), Concept Art World