As more gamers than ever share their screenshots and clips online, video game photo modes have become a must-include feature. Sony in particular has embraced in-game photography, with many of its first-party studios adding photo modes to PS4 exclusives, including the upcoming samurai open-world adventure, Ghost of Tsushima.
From fiddling with different filters to determining the correct depth of field, photo modes usually include a suite of options that allow gamers to capture some truly breathtaking shots. This only helps to fan the flames of the long-time debate, though: can video games be classed as art?
We certainly think so, and with the best video game photo modes, you can share your artistic vision with the world like never before. Here’s a selection of games that deliver a truly excellent photo mode.
Ghost of Tsushima (PS4)
If you ever needed proof that people care about photo mode, the upcoming Ghost of Tsushima dedicated an entire segment of its 18-minute gameplay walkthrough to showing off the game's fancy photography features. There’s color grading, sure, but you can exert even more control over the scene by picking the direction and speed of the wind. Heck, you can even change out the particles that float around to leaves, cherry blossoms or fireflies. The end result is rather stunning, and we can’t wait to see what people create.
But enough about unreleased games – here are titles with photo modes you can play right now.
Death Stranding (PS4, PC on June 2)
One of the biggest games of 2019 for PlayStation 4, Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding is a phenomenally gorgeous game, but so much of that detail can be lost in motion. That’s no longer the case, however, as the game recently received a superb photo mode that lets you change the angle, the main character’s pose, remove the UI and even create striking movie-style posters.
Insomniac’s Spider-Man is comfortably the best superhero game of all time, and it’s got one of the best video game photo modes to go with it. The array of customization tools available is quite frankly staggering, allowing you to create some truly incredible shots.
It’s so detailed, in fact, that some of the options might be confusing if you’re not that into photography. You can change the FOV (field of view), adjust the aperture (blur the background), and add a vignette (make the photo look older). But let’s be honest, it’s more fun to just mess around with Spider-Man’s poses and expressions more than anything else.
God of War (PS4)
A fabulous-looking video game, God of War’s attention to detail is simply staggering. It's handy, then, that the game includes a comprehensive photo mode. Get a grizzly close up of Kratos’ beard or capture an axe-wielding moment of brutality – you can manipulate the scene in a variety of ways. No matter which way you spin the camera, though, God of War always looks astounding.
Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One, PC)
Cars tend to photograph extremely well, and the automobiles in Forza Horizon 4 are no exception. Photo mode adds an extra layer of polish to an already sumptuous game, making your carefully tailored snaps look almost photo-realistic at times. Set in the UK across four dynamic seasons, it’s possible to get some award-winning shots, no matter the weather.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)
So much happens in a match of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that sometimes you just want to stop the action and marvel at the mayhem on screen. Thankfully, you can, as Mario and a huge cast of characters from video game history can be snapped to your heart’s content.
Although Smash Bros doesn’t feature a fully dedicated photo mode like the games above, you do get to explore what is essentially a mini-diorama using the free camera when the game is paused. Now you can get a close up of Kirby being punched anytime, anywhere on Nintendo Switch, and take a screenshot using the camera button.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Saddle up, find an awe-inspiring vista, and turn on photo mode. Rinse and repeat. Red Dead Redemption 2 is stuffed full of spectacular sights and teeming with wildlife, so don’t be surprised if you spend more time snapping than you do playing. The game’s photo mode lets you examine every inch of Rockstar’s amazing recreation of the Wild West era. But if you’re like us, you’ll probably just be taking pictures of your horse.
Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)
Another cracking PS4 exclusive, another top-tier photo mode. Horizon: Zero Dawn doesn’t skimp on the options for in-game artists to play with. You’ve got all the usual tools here: filters, expressions, and even the choice to remove Aloy (the game’s main character) entirely if you’d just rather shoot the scenery instead. What makes Horizon: Zero Dawn so perfect for picture opportunities, though, is the mechanical menaces that roam the land. Sparks will fly during combat, which can only mean one thing: countless photo ops.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4, Xbox One PC)
Lara’s latest archaeological adventure makes the cut for one simple reason: you can change Lara’s expression for some truly… disturbing results. While we’re used to seeing Miss Croft overcome countless pitfalls and deal with some historical hi-jinks, we’ve never seen her smile while being impaled by a metal spike. Thanks to Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s photo mode now we can.... and we really wish we hadn’t.
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