Gaming has become far more than an interactive experience where you roam a universe constructed by some faceless devs. Players now find ways to relate personally to their onscreen adventures, and uncover new meaning in oft seemingly mundane facets of a game. It’s all about ownership and nothing quite screams personal and unique like photo mode.
Bear with me on this one. The ability to snapshot a precise moment of your very own play through is incredible. No other player anywhere will ever experience that moment in exactly the same way as you do. Art mimics life, and as every human life is unique so is our experience of video games.
Be it in-game factors like winning a hard fight when you are inches away from death or a strange combination of atmospheric effects, or more IRL considerations like mood, the weather outside, the time of year, or who you are playing with, no play through is the same. Capturing these moments for posterity is a thing of beauty and is, at times, down right empowering.
Sentimentality aside, trying your luck at being a virtual photographer does add another cool layer to a game. Here are five of the most incredible photo modes.
1. Horizon Zero Dawn
Oh Alloy, you photogenic bad ass. Horizon Zero Dawn is visually stunning and there’s no better way to capture it than through its versatile photo mode. Catching those quiet, magical moments before sunrise when the light slowly creeps over the landscape is a side quest in itself and the host of options you can play with make it even more enjoyable, notably the poses and hand gestures.
This indie gem is all about rich day-glow atmospherics and the developers truly hit the mark with the gorgeous, and at times, haunting landscapes they conjured up. Firewatch’s photo mode exist under the guise of a disposable camera you find early on in the game. You can use it to take pictures as your venture up rocky outcrops and explore lush forests. Your photos are the backdrop to the credits after completing the game. Then, a link appears. This is where Campo Santo went a step further. Click and you’re offered a bespoke ‘development’ service, with the photos you meticulously snapped available to be printed and delivered to your door. Clever, huh?
3. Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins wasn’t simply a much needed revitalization of the franchise, the gripping story-line and the barren desertscapes made it one of the most immersive games of 2017. Ubisoft Montreal clearly put innumerable hours of work into the little details and there’s no better way to capture them than with photo mode. Screenshotting Bayek as he glides down the side of the Great Pyramid of Giza is a rite of passage at this point.
4. God of War
2018 standout release, God of War, a profound commentary on the bond between father and son in the face of seemingly relentless trials and tribulations shone by the sheer beauty of its exquisite open-world. The addition of an in-built photo mode was just what God of War needed, and the ability to change Kratos’ facial expression to a sneering grin in the most inappropriate of situations never gets old.
5. No Man’s Sky
For all the controversy the beleaguered sci-fi exploration sim has weathered, there’s one thing it got spot on; photo mode. In a sense, No Man’s Sky is most deserving of a photo mode given you are essentially discovering never before seen landscapes and creatures scattered across 18 trillion planets. Some of which even the developers have never seen. The sheer power and options available in No Man’s Sky’s photo mode lead to many a wasted hour. There’s so much fun to be had capturing the most weird and wonderful shots of what are essentially the creations of an algorithm left to its own devices. Remember that interview with Sean Murray gesturing ‘blow your mind’? We’ve got to give it to him, kind of appropriate for this one.