Best Photo Modes: 25 Games That Let You Flex Your Photography Skills
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The 2010s were a decade in which gaming was more widely shared than ever before, thanks to built-in capture hardware in consoles, the ability to stream footage, the increased popularity of social media, and numerous advancements in technology that shutterbugs would appreciate. So it makes sense that developers started implementing dedicated photo modes into big releases. A good photo mode helps show off a particular game at its best, as digital photographers can set up the perfect scene to capture the beauty of the scene. Photo modes can also be used as a teaching tool to help learn some key photography concepts. We've rounded up the best photo modes in games that we've played.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Ubisoft knows how to make a sandbox, and Assassin's Creed Valhalla just might be the company's best slice of history that it has ever created. Whether it be separating heads while in the green valleys of Ireland or crushing a torso in the frigid lands of Norway, you can document your Viking experience with ease and not have to worry about there being any tangible consequences for your actions.
Read our Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Grabbing some photos of the Caped Crusader rearranging bones or punching the Riddler's head in after being forced to solve hundreds of his puzzles is satisfying, but there's something special about exploring the streets of Gotham at night. The grimy and crime-riddled boroughs of Gotham make for a fascinating cityscape to grab photos of, and with an arsenal of batarangs in your utility belt, you'll never have to worry too much about your camera being pinched by the local criminal enterprises.
Read our Batman: Arkham Knight review.
There's a cartoonish glee to taking a photo in Borderlands 3, thanks not only to the game's distinct cel-shaded look but also the absurd level of violence that you're able to inflict inside of it. Sure, snapping an image of a Maliwan lunar base or ancient alien ruins is great, but being able to do so while a nearby bandit explodes after taking too much lead to the sternum? That's grotesquely wonderful stuff.
Read our Borderlands 3 review.
Remedy Entertainment's Control is somewhat sparse on variety, but its harsh geometric design and liberal use of the color red makes for an environment that favors quality over quantity. With a number of tools that you can activate to make you impervious to damage, positioning your characters on the map and hitting the shutter button to capture a kinetic snapshot is also brilliantly easy in this compact masterpiece.
Read our Control review.
Easily one of the most powerful set of photographic tools to ever be unleashed within a video game, Cyberpunk 2077's camera tools are designed to show off the game and your personal journey within Night City. With Cyberpunk 2077 in a much healthier state, it's certainly a more appealing option for anyone wanting to share flexing pics of the corpo lifestyle. Either that, or a few eye-catching pictures of Johnny Silverhand can be taken.
Read our Cyberpunk 2077 review.
Days Gone might be a polarizing title, but there's no denying that its zombie-infected recreation of Oregon isn't hauntingly beautiful. From roads that bear the scars of futile evacuation attempts to small towns populated by Freakers, the game has a melancholic beauty that's worth capturing on film. Or if you're looking to increase your heart rate, you can always challenge a horde, lure several hundred of them after you, and take a terrific photo before you become a quick meal for the infected mob.
Read our Days Gone review.
Death Stranding director Hideo Kojima is a fan of photography, and with Death Stranding, the legendary developer aimed to offer a mode that could make you a better photographer in real life if you practiced enough in a world left devastated by cataclysmic events. Desolate and sad in its solitary beauty, the world of Death Stranding offers plenty of opportunity to document the near-extinction of the human race across its lush and haunted landscapes.
Read our Death Stranding review.
An imposing castle and Gothic decor makes this PS5 launch game a good-looking remake of a classic From Software title. The game itself is as challenging as ever while being faithful to the original Demon's Souls, and with the trademark application of PlayStation photography attached to it, at least you can capture all of that pain in sharp detail. Talk about suffering for your art.
Read our Demon's Souls review.
Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 might be a more forgettable chapter in Ubisoft's chaotic sandbox series, but the game does show off some stunning environments. In typical Ubisoft fashion, these locales are scenic, vibrant, and well worth risking digital dismemberment to explore while chasing some Instagram clout.
Read our Far Cry 6 review.
Forza Horizon 5
Forza Horizon 5 more than understands the appeal of showing off your new sports car. Even if it is parked entirely within a digital Xbox garage. The Mexico backdrop provides a stunning backdrop for high-speed photography, being able to use a drone to capture your perfect drift from an impossible angle is underrated, and the selection of filters make each picture pop beautifully in this expansive photo mode.
Read our Forza Horizon 5 review.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Midgard certainly isn't a middling location to take some photos, and with Final Fantasy VII Remake's powerful in-game camera, the potential for epic images is well within your grasp. Not only are the environments a collection of anarchic architecture and cosmopolitan towers filled with illegal bioweapons, but the game's boss fights make for some especially picturesque opportunities. Can you truly say that you've lived, if you've never grabbed a photo of Sephiroth just before he tries to impale you on his absurdly long sword?
Read our Final Fantasy VII Remake review.
Final Fantasy XV
Photography is an essential part of Final Fantasy XV, as Prompto's visual chronicle of his road trip with Noctis and pals is pure wholesome content. Even when you're not using it, the game has a talent for taking note of intimate and action-packed moments, regularly giving you the chance to save a memory that you might have missed out on otherwise.
Read our Final Fantasy XV review.
Ghost of Tsushima
The island of Tsushima would be a perfect environment for taking photos if it weren't for all those pesky Mongolian soldiers always looking to ruin your shot. Still, a lethal response in this beautifully hostile land creates more opportunity for sharp pictures, and with some of the coolest filters available to use in SuckerPunch's beautifully colorful sandbox, you can easily develop photos that look like scenic postcards or stills from an Akira Kurosawa samurai film.
Read our Ghost of Tsushima review.
The thick fog and homicidal phantoms might be bothersome, but the Shibuya district of Tokyo is still a fantastic sandbox for some digital tourism. You'll need to be on your guard though, because Ghostwire: Tokyo's photo mode won't stop those pesky spirits from trying to drag you to the other side. Still, there's a spooky quality to photos from this game that other titles don't possess.
Read our Ghostwire: Tokyo review.
God of War
God of War's original release helped cement Sony's approach to photographic modes within its games, and while you were more than capable of a snapshot of Kratos toppling a giant, it was the more intimate and quiet moments that made ample use of the PlayStation Share button. That, and being able to make Kratos pop a smile was also hilarious and well worth preserving as a Jpeg.
Read our God of War review.
Gran Turismo 7
They may cost many millions of pretty pennies--which required a ton of grinding at launch to earn--but there's no denying that Gran Turismo 7 developer Polyphonic has a talent for making virtual cars that look and sound great. Capturing all of that automotive beauty, getting the right angle, and grabbing just the right amount of light is as tricky as sticking to the racing line on Silverstone during wet weather, but it's worth it for one perfect shot.
Read our Gran Turismo 7 review.
Horizon Forbidden West
A robust photo mode is part of any first-party PlayStation game these days, and those tools make exploring the post-apocalypse that much more fascinating. Horizon Forbidden West is a great game to look at, but when you pause the action, and zero in on a single moment in time? It becomes absolutely breathtaking to behold while using the camera mode.
Read our Horizon Forbidden West review.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
An ancient piece of Sheikah technology, Breath of the Wild's camera wasn't just an excuse to start grabbing selfies in the Hyrule Kingdom. Knowing what to take photos of and when to do so was a rewarding experience that offered more information on the ancient land around him. Sure, you could take photos for your album, but the more interactive elements that combined to tell a fascinating story made for a mode that stood out from the pack back in 2017.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Like other Marvel games on this list, the photo mode in Guardians of the Galaxy excels at preserving moments of high-stakes action. The added benefit here, though, are the locations in which you can take several dozen photos, as the alien planets, planet-sized churches, and military spacecraft makes for a terrific backdrop.
Read our Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy review.
Marvel's Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales
New York City is a fascinating location for documenting your visit there, but few games can equal the vertical appeal of Insomniac's Spider-Men titles when it comes to snapping the perfect photo. Whether you are slinging webs between Manhattan skyscrapers or unleashing bolts of bio-electrical power in Harlem, Insomniac's set of photographic tools are fantastic for ensuring that such a moment isn't lost in time. Bonus points as well, for all the fashionable pictures you can take while wearing dozens of alternative costumes.
Read our Marvel's Spider-Man review.
New Pokemon Snap
As pure a photographic experience as can be, New Pokemon Snap is crammed with opportunities to capture images of Pokemon in their natural habitat and share it with the world. The tools for this are great, but for extra authenticity, you can easily import those photos you've saved to your smartphone and print them out using a device like the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link. Polaroid-style frames, I choose you.
Read our New Pokemon Snap review.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart
With a style that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon series if it had cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, the latest Ratchet and Clank game has a unique energy to it that stands apart from other games. Characters with elastic faces, beautiful alien landscapes, and an injection of color while you wield cartoonishly-oversized weapons only sweetens the deal in an already terrific game.
Read our Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart review.
Red Dead Redemption 2
The wild west makes for a great frontier in which to shoot some scenic snaps, and you won't even need to enter a dark room to develop your film in Rockstar's critically-acclaimed sequel. From bar room brawls to high noon shootouts, grabbing that one moment of time and preserving it for all eternity is easily done within Red Dead Redemption 2, and if you're good enough, you might even win a prize for your efforts.
Read our Red Dead Redemption 2 review.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft's final outing of the 2010s might not have been her finest hour, but at least that threequel was a fantastic slice of digital jungle adventure. Dripping with detail and danger, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still a demanding game, and once you've taken some photos of Croft doing her trademark run through a gauntlet of explosives, you'll understand just why the game is so taxing on your PC hardware.
Read our Shadow of the Tomb Raider review.
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
One of the best Mario games to exist within three dimensions, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury doesn't do anything with its photo mode that hasn't been done before, but it's still a treat to use. The Mushroom Kingdom is a scenic locale, stomping on heads makes for a great action-shot, and dealing with Bowser when he's big enough to give Godzilla a run for its money makes for a Nintendo Switch capture button that'll see plenty of action.