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Gaming Photo Modes You Need To Try Before You Die

Over the past few years, photo modes have increased in popularity. Not only do they allow players to take snapshots of their own experiences and create personalized, expressive content from titles they love, such images have become an art form in their own right. This has become such an important aspect of gaming that some individuals say their decision to buy a title hinges on the quality of its photo mode.

While there are no set standards for how photo modes operate, they all share a few basics, like the settings you might find on an actual camera. Photo modes with these qualities are serviceable and add to the game's playability. Yet, going beyond these basics can elevate the title to something special — and games with extraordinary photo modes can foster a sense of community and encourage new perspectives, all while transforming the way a game is played. They can also provide free marketing for projects as people share their images online. Here are some of the best photo modes out there.

Ghost of Tsushima

There's no doubt that Ghost of Tsushima is a beautiful game, and being able to snap photos in it with just basic screenshot-taking abilities would have been fine with all that cinematic material to work with. However, Sucker Punch built so much more than that into its photo mode. 

Ghost of Tsushima's photo mode is very easy to access through the PlayStation 4 controller's right D-pad button. You can use a ton of options, from focal length and exposure bias to particle intensity. You can even move the clouds, re-position the sun, give protagonist Jin Sakai different facial expressions, and stamp your image with the Ghost of Tsushima logo.

Basically, this is a photo mode that allows for creativity. If you're at all interested in photography and the effects you can achieve, Ghost of Tsushima is the game that has set the bar going forward. That's no surprise, since Sucker Punch's InFAMOUS: Second Son is often considered a pioneer of the modern photo mode.  Oh, and not only can you take great pictures in Ghost of Tsushima, you can actually use the photo mode to help you scout the landscape.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Compared to Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon: Zero Dawn's photo mode is a bit harder to get to, requiring five button presses to reach the right menu. But once you get there, you've got options. You can pan 360 degrees, tilt up and down, and experiment with settings familiar to photography buffs. Additionally, you can pose your character, change her expression, and make her look where you want her to. You also have the use of themed borders and postcard style greetings, plus color filters and time-of-day control.

Like many of the games that benefit from photo modes, Horizon: Zero Dawn takes place in a photogenic open world, complete with fascinating machines and characters, so you have plenty of imagery you'll want to capture. This is a title that's serious about its virtual photography — developer Guerrilla Games even ran a photography contest back in 2017 so fans could show off their works. If you feel the same way, this photo mode is the one for you.

Marvel's Spider-Man

Taking photos for The Daily Bugle is part of Spider-Man's whole shtick. It only makes sense that one of the best photo modes would come from the 2018 title from Insomniac Games featuring everyone's favorite neighborhood web-slinger.

In Marvel's Spider-Man, you access the camera from the main menuYour photography toolkit includes options to set the time of day, change your lighting, use color filters, alter your field of view, and play with aperture and focus distance. You can change your camera's angle and tilt, and take selfies with different emotes and poses, too. You can even create your own comic book cover, add stickers and word balloons, and incorporate pixelation and other effects — such as a hand-drawn feel. Heck, you can even remove Spider-Man from the scene completely to get a beautiful landscape shot of New York City.

Like Spider-Man himself, the photo mode is full of personality and fun. It adds playability to a game that's already pretty awesome.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

You may notice that many of the games that excel in photo mode are Sony PlayStation titles, and that's clearly no accident. Sony's exclusives include excellent photo modes, from The Last of Us Part 2 to the Uncharted series. But that doesn't mean the PlayStation 4 has a monopoly on quality photography. In fact, one of the most popular photo modes belongs to a Nintendo game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

You get to camera mode in the game through the Pause screen, and can zoom, pan and rotate around each stage. Tilting and changing angles, along with modifying your camera position, is also possible. Naturally, there are filters, frames, and visual effects, and you can also advance the game frame-by-frame to take great screenshots. As you may know, the Switch has a native snapshot button that can be used to save images to the console's internal storage.

You can even use the camera mode to reveal a fun little Easter egg in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It turns out that Isabelle and Villager's nets actually decapitate their victims, and this is something you only learn when you pause the game and zoom in on her prey using the camera. You'll find the net has removed an opponent's head and arms. Who knew these cute little characters had such a dark side?