Excellent points, I’d like to add on to what you said.
The Phantom Forces image you posted is good, but I believe even it does not demonstrate the potential of properly rendering characters, creating a coherent scene and a detailed image.
I like this one more. The one you posted is great, however the characters almost look floating, unattached to their environment. I particularly like the one I posted above because it clearly looks like they are somewhere (near some buildings). I love how this artist manipulated the background and also used similur effects on the character to create a more interesting look for the viewer to notice.
This image also does a good job looking like a full scene. This image shows detail, purpose, intent. And @Apexodes
, notice for both the images I posted it is not simply rendered characters in a scene. That is just the base image. Notice how the artist adds a whole other side, a whole other look in the photo manipulation step of creating their art. The scenes have a vibe, a tone, a clear direction of what the viewer of the image is supposed to feel.
In conclusion, I very much agree with @v_e, I don’t believe it could have been put in any better of an explanation. I hope this post adds on the original explanation.