Photo modes in video games have evolved a lot over the generation, and Ghost of Tsushima might just have the best feature set yet.
For the most part, over the past several years I’ve tended to take photo modes in games a bit for granted. What initially started out as an innovative and intuitive way for players to capture their favorite in-game moments to share with others–arguably one of the biggest features of this generation of games–has now been pretty commonplace among most major AAA releases. I’ve dabbled with using photo mode in games like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, and more, but other than taking a few captures and sharing them on Twitter once or twice, photo modes in games tend to fade into the background once I start actually playing through a game. As much as I love taking photos in real-life with a physical camera, for some reason I’ve felt a bit of a disconnect when trying to apply some of those concepts to a digital space, such as composition, lighting, and exposure.
Ghost of Tsushima has changed that for me since I started playing it last week, and for the better. While the game itself is gorgeous in its own right and has a world that I can’t get enough of, what has really captured my attention is that it has a fantastic photo mode that truly shows it in its best light. Whether I’m just a sucker for a pretty landscape or the huge amount of options that its photo mode offers, Ghost of Tsushima made me fall in love with taking photos in games again and wanting to share my experiences while playing.
As I’ve been playing through Ghost of Tsushima, I’ve been compulsively hitting the Share button on my PS4 controller more often than I can remember in games that I have been playing recently. Though I’ve shared a handful of photos and videos I’ve taken in-game on Twitter while playing, there are a score of others that I haven’t posted yet for the sake of wanting to experiment and test out the capabilities of the photo mode. Thankfully, there is a lot to play around with in Ghost of Tsushima‘s photo mode, from changing depth of field and lighting, to adding filters and particle effects, to really accentuate the game’s gorgeous Japanese setting and environments that I’ve probably put a fair amount of my playtime just into photo mode alone.
— Ryan Meitzler (@ryanmeitzler) July 17, 2020
Aside from its robust feature set, part of what has made Ghost of Tsushima so compelling to capture its in-game moments is the fact that its world is so inviting to discovery and wandering. Like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, few open worlds like Ghost of Tsushima have had me go off the beaten path to check out some stunning scenery or highlight the beauty and grace of the world around Jin. Getting to capture and share these moments in its world is fun in its own right, and as much as I’ve been engaged in trying to take incredible photos and getting the framing just right, I’ve enjoyed just as much seeing the photos and videos that others have shared on social media while playing the game. Over the past weekend during the game’s launch, I couldn’t open Twitter without catching an amazing portrait of Jin in black-and-white, or gorgeous landscapes of the game’s world in ways that I wouldn’t have thought were possible to capture, purely from other players’ creativity.
Ghost of Tsushima (PS4 photo mode) pic.twitter.com/wAu2nccpeE
— Petri Levälahti (@Berduu) July 17, 2020
— lowbrowjoe (@lowbrowjoe) July 21, 2020
— Niki ~ #BlackLivesMatter (@smudgedhorizon) July 21, 2020
I’ve talked a ton about how utterly gorgeous and versatile the photo mode in #GhostofTsushima is, but here’s a little more visual proof to get you excited for it. It’s SO good.
Very proud of these shots ⚔️?? pic.twitter.com/y5EHDENx0x
— Brian Altano (@agentbizzle) July 15, 2020
— GermanStrands (@GermanStrands) July 20, 2020
Some of my favorites pic.twitter.com/K2PcQkOBXl
— David Poole (@Espiownage) July 20, 2020
Of all the features packed into Ghost of Tsushima‘s photo mode, my favorite by far is its ability to utilize animated backgrounds while capturing in-game moments, allowing Jin to stay static while the environment moves and sways behind him. Essentially, this gives the player the opportunity to create some striking cinemagraph-like GIFs by adding motion to still images, giving additional life and grace to in-game moments.
I’ve played around a lot with using the animated backgrounds in photo mode, and also tried creating some tracking shots with the game in suspended motion. Though it’s a simple feature, it’s another way to simply let the environments and world of Ghost of Tsushima speak for itself, whether that’s getting the framing pitched to cast Jin in silhouette against a vibrant red tree, or to shower the screen in yellow leaves and sunlight with the majestic hills of Tsushima in view. Given that the game is so heavily rooted and influenced by Japanese cinema, it’s refreshing to try and emulate that through its photo mode and capturing those qualities.
— Ryan Meitzler (@ryanmeitzler) July 17, 2020
— Ryan Meitzler (@ryanmeitzler) July 19, 2020
Ghost of Tsushima is no doubt a stunningly-crafted and beautiful game, and its photo mode has by far been the best way to display that in full effect. Sucker Punch’s latest title feels like the game that was made with photo mode perfectly in mind, and from what I’ve been able to capture in-game and seen from other players, its sprawling open world and gorgeous art direction invite discovery and creativity while taking photos and sharing these moments. As one of the last first-party titles to be hitting the PS4, Ghost of Tsushima‘s implementation of photo mode is not only one of the best yet, but a display of how next-generation games can take this feature set even further. The world of Ghost of Tsushima is beautiful in its own right, but seeing how other players have experienced it only has had me appreciate it even more.