Let me take a (video game) selfie

Last month I came across a post written by Scott over at Insert Memory Card about the ‘exquisitely polished, jaw-droppingly pretty’ Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Although released over a year ago in May 2016, Scott says it still beats many other PlayStation 4 games in the looks department – and the glorious screenshots provided in his article show it.

Horizon Zero Dawn, video game, woman, warrior, Aloy, sky, photo mode, clouds

This got me thinking about the numerous hours I spent with Horizon Zero Dawn in 2017, not only playing the game but also messing around with its photo-mode. It’s one of the most gorgeous titles I’ve ever experienced and it’s the small things that make it so special: for example, the way Aloy’s hair ruffles when the wind catches it and how she hugs herself as she’s battered by rain. The mechanical beasts that interact with their herd while casually grazing, then limp and spark when wounded. The huge open vistas full of mountains and sunsets but smaller details such as tiny tree ants too, if you take the time to look closely enough.

Scott’s images from Uncharted 4 were stunning and I left a comment referring to Horizon, to which the lovely LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release later replied. The mention of her own numerous screenshots from the game show I wasn’t the only one who was rather taken with the photo-mode! I make a joke about starting a petition to ensure a similar feature is added to all open-world RPGs in the future and laughed when Ellen said I’d secured her signature.

It was shortly after this brief conversation that I decided to restart The Elder Scrolls Online and, despite becoming addicted all over again, it wasn’t long before I felt as though something was missing. I just couldn’t achieve the same picture quality as I could with Guerrilla’s title: the best I could do was get my High Elf to pose using an emote and then snap quickly before it ended. But this wasn’t enough and I wanted to be able to change the angle, move my character around, select expressions and soften the lighting. Maybe my idea about starting a petition wasn’t such a bad one!

RiME, video game, boy, building, tower, castle, sky, trees, path, walkway, running

As Scott picks up on in his post, a video game doesn’t need to be completely realistic in terms of looks in order to be visually-appealing. It’s obviously important for the graphics to be in-tune with the developer’s vision for their project and suit the gameplay otherwise it just isn’t going to come together in a coherent form. Indie titles have brought us so many different styles and each are special in their own unique way: compare RiME to Hellblade to Cuphead, to name just a few recent examples.

But when a game is as gorgeous as Uncharted 4 or Horizon, doesn’t it deserve a photo-mode? It’s clear to see just how much work has gone into creating the world and such a feature is a great way to allow gamers to show their appreciation for the developers’ efforts. Let us spam our Facebook pages with images of Nathan Drake as he gazes out at the sky while standing on a perfect beach. Let us post countless photographs of Aloy’s model pose atop of mountains on our Twitter feeds. Let us show the internet how beautiful each title is, and how much more interesting selfies are when they feature video game characters.

We’re the tourists in a video game’s foreign lands and, just as we’d want to take pictures of our real life adventures, we want to do it in our digital ones too. Leave a comment below if you’d like to sign my petition and let us know which titles deserve a bit of visual appreciation.

31 thoughts on “Let me take a (video game) selfie

  1. I love a good photo mode. It’s nice that more games are implementing it these days as it’s a great way to get a close look at all the attention to detail in the world, things you’d otherwise miss as you’re whizzing through it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really surprised how much I enjoyed Horizon’s photo-mode: I started using it as an after-thought, but then ended up spending entire evenings messing around and taking pictures. I completely agree with you – it gets you to slow down and appreciate just how much work has gone into making the world. I would have missed the tree ants otherwise. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

          • I’m in what I think is the final area. The previous one was utterly brutal (playing on normal) and I died on one boss in excess of 40 times. It has that Hotline Miami vibe to it though, where getting back into the fray is quick so the whole “one more go” thing sets in.


            • Blimey – I thought it was difficult when I tried it at Rezzed! I started chatting to a group of lads who were at the stand and passing the controller on when we each died, and we all suffered.

              What’s the storyline like, any good?

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Photo mode can be wonderful but also very distracting when I then want to take lots of photos using it. It can really highlight such lovely details that you might miss otherwise. Also you get lots of lovely photos to keep and share.


  3. This post might honestly be what I was looking for on deciding if I should get Horizon or not. I love photography as a whole and getting a chance to frame that perfect shot.

    One game that works really well with a beautiful world and a photography mode, is For a Horizon 3. It’s genuinely the only reason why I considered getting an Xbox One over the PS4 (I ultimately chose the PS4 though). All of the cars are beautifully modeled and you can travel most anywhere in the really well constructed open-world. From arid landscapes to forestry and waterfalls, you can get pictures of some really nice landscapes and some cars you might fancy. It even begins to reward you for taking pictures of unique cars.

    Overall, the ability to enjoy and explore the world with all sorts of tiny camera adjustments and filters makes Forza Horizon 3 a very photogenic game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forza Horizon 2 was the first game where I really noticed the whole photo mode thing. I still haven’t picked up 3 yet, but the Xbox One X might force that purchase soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • See I almost did the same thing. If you happen to have a computer that can run it, then you can buy it for Windows 10 as well, which I am not sure if many people know. Obviously, it depends on your tastes and such. So if you are looking at picking up the Xbox One X anyways, then getting Forza Horizon 3 would definitely be one I recommend getting from start.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Fallout 4 is also a very cinematic game that deserves more appreciate than given for its photogenic landscapes. Its alternative but still provides great views

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the shout-out! You still have my signature 😀

    I think more games definitely need a photo mode and I personally love taking screenshots. I recently bought a game capture device solely for the reason I want to take screenshots on older consoles that don’t have that feature. Screenshots are like a scrapbook and I love looking back on the images after beating a game. It’s also great for adding pictures to blog posts and stuff.

    Also, I really need to play the HZD Frozen Wilds DLC. It’s on my agenda for next weekend!


    • I haven’t gone near the DLC just yet… I know that as soon as I touch it, I’m done for. Trying to hold out until the Christmas holidays! Would love to know what you think of it once you’ve had a go. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Photo mode was one of my most fascinating discoveries in gaming for me this year. It started with Hellblade, taking close to 1000 shots, and then Super Mario Odyssey. And now more recently, Horizon Zero Dawn. I don’t think i’ll progress very fast because everytime the weather changes or something, there I am in photo mode. And yes, I love how Alloy’s body language changes depending what’s happening. It’s so life like and dynamic.


    • I haven’t played the Frozen Wilds DLC yet because I thought it would be good to save it for the Christmas break. That way I can spend as long as I want on it and take as many photos as I please. 🙂


  7. You know I’ve never dived into photo mode, until Mario Odyssey. There are so many fun ways to set up pictures in that game, not to mention all the crazy things Mario wears or posseses. Horizon is one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen! I some how dropped the ball on that photo mode. I’ve heard amazing things about the DLC and I’ll definitely be taking full advantage of photo mode in that game. Also I completely agree, if a game is going to look as pretty as Uncharted, Horizon, Odyssey, etc, then it deserves a photo mode.


    • It’s great to see so many developers take the fact that gamers like to keep ‘snapshots’ of their video game journeys into account when making their games. I’m looking forward to playing the Horizon DLC over Christmas – it’s highly likely I’ll come away with another several-hundred photos. 😉


      • It is pretty great, definitely not a feature they have to put in a game, but it seems they’ve taken notice how preferred it is by players. I’m sure you will come away with many photos, I haven’t played the DLC yet either but it looks stunning.


        • I’ve shied away from picking it up so far: I got sucked into Horizon for around 130-hours earlier this year (photo-mode definitely bumped up that figure) and I know I’ll get addicted all over again… roll on Christmas!


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