Virtual photography, also known as in-game photography, has recently seen a massive rise in popularity. We see creative gamers all over the globe getting their arty-farty side out in many of today’s popular video games. Even pro photographers are getting drawn into this new and developing world of virtual photography. Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a photographer, or are you a real-life photographer looking to get started?
Whichever you are. There are three games that stand out head and shoulders above the rest in 2021 for getting started in virtual photography. These are in no particular order and I have chosen them for their balance of graphical clout and superb implementation of the photo or camera mode within the game. They are fairly simple to get up and running quickly and they are great fun to play.
Forza Horizon 5
First on the list has to be Forza Horizon 5. This game is a visual masterpiece, if you have a powerful enough PC and graphics card the results can be almost lifelike in the right situation. Not only that I feel it’s the best implementation of a photo mode in any game to date. It’s very simple and easy to understand, and gorgeous! Forza Horizon 5 in my opinion is the one to beat in 2021 and could even carry the Best In-Game Photography title through 2022.
If you’ve ever looked at Ride 4 online I’m sure you’ve come across some super realistic gameplay videos. Unfortunately, the game does not ship this way, you have to download custom shader packs which can be a little tricky for a newbie but if you can run your in-game graphics at medium to high settings you’re in for a treat. It also has a very simple photo mode that’s a joy to use. It has a massive range of bikes and accessories that will keep you coming back for more.
The F1 series has always been a big hit and this year saw it taken over by EA Sports. Whether that’s a good or bad thing based on the gameplay itself their version of photo mode simply put is “Great fun”. It maybe doesn’t stand up to the realism of Forza Horizon or be quite as intuitive as Ride 4 but it’s really not far off. One of the stand out features in this racing title is that you can change the time of day on the fly, this gives you some options when searching for the perfect light for your chosen moment.
There are many great games with superb photo modes to choose from but the three mentioned here are in my opinion the best place to start. Especially if you don’t see yourself as much of a gamer but are coming in from the photography side. You’ll also notice all three games are motorsport based, and that’s not by accident. Creating and shooting images of motor vehicles I feel is an easier entry for those just in it for the photography. The games themselves are easier to navigate and the learning curve is less dramatic, which I think is essential for traditional photographers looking for another creative outlet.