Photo modes. What started in the not-too-distant past as a neat curiosity has become something of a quiet phenomenon since. We already love to take screenshots of especially great moments in the games we play, especially as the notion of sharing moments becomes an increasingly core part of our gaming platforms. Photo modes support this passion and take it up a notch by letting us not just pause the action to get that killer shot but to take control of the camera to get a unique shot, and often apply filters and modifiers to compose something truly special.
Occasionally, if we’re lucky, a game will let us tweak things even further. Sony Santa Monica’s outstanding God of War, for example, gives players the ability to change things like Kratos and Atreus’ facial expressions – often with goofy results. PlayStation’s first party studios tend to pump out some pretty flashy photo modes in general and, while I can’t say that I’ve tried all of them, I can’t imagine anything tops what Sucker Punch has done with their latest game, Ghost of Tsushima.
It’s no secret that Ghost of Tsushima looks drop-dead gorgeous, all it takes is a glance at any of its trailers to see that much. Playing it though, is a totally different story. There’s an energy and dynamism in the game that stems from some very impressive tech that allows the game world to change dramatically based on things like weather, time of day and even the wind.
Your first visit to a lush bamboo forest might occur under the beating midday sun, with nothing but a light breeze gently caressing the rolling, grassy hills in the distance. Come back later though, and you may find yourself pelted with rain and snow as the foliage around you whips to and fro and a fog completely envelops the ground at your feet.
It’s awe-inspiring to see in motion, but even more impressive when you learn two critical things. First of all, Jin has influence on these things in-game, not just by calling on the Guiding Wind but by playing songs on his flute that actively influence the weather. The second and more important fact, though – the game’s photo mode hands you the keys to change even more.
Enough to go from something like this:
Those aren’t two different places, or even two different moments. Photo mode in Ghost of Tsushima gives you access to not just the camera but the time of day, weather, cloud cover, wind speed and direction, customisable particle effects and more all in real time. It’s a seriously impressive suite of features and I’m loath to admit that I spent actual hours of my playthrough trying to capture Tsushima in all its glory.
Still photos are one thing but the world of Tsushima looks its best in motion, which is why photo mode’s options for animated environments are so exciting. I hope all of the image hosting websites out there are prepared for the onslaught of gifs of Jin standing completely still, surrounded by swaying cherry blossoms and swirling petals. It’s a great feature on its own, made all the better by the fact that you can also animate the camera by keyframes to create sweeping shots. It’s just another unique tool in Ghost of Tsushima’s photo mode that allows for some amazing environmental shots, or just goofy stuff like this:
It’s no secret that the fans love photo modes, so it’s great to see Sucker Punch take full advantage of the beautiful world they’ve created and let people run wild with it. Check out just a handful more of the shots I got in game (nothing late-game or spoiler-y, and certainly nothing objectively good) and be sure to check out the mode when the game launches.