Assassin’s Creed Wishlist: How Ubisoft Can Improve Photo Mode for Mirage
As the host of TOWCB weekly virtual photography showcase, I thought I would use this platform to talk about the photo mode tool in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. I would like to discuss the strengths but also highlight areas for improvement.
Virtual Photography has really taken off in the last few years due to the implementation of in-game photo tools that can replicate a real camera. Gamers can now express themselves through this medium, by showcasing their in-game captures on various social media channels.
I believe it has become so popular due to its accessibility. Like myself you don't need to have photography experience to take part, just a love for the game. There are many websites that will now provide support to gamers, to get them started on their virtual photography journey. Additionally, many twitter accounts promote people's virtual photography in the form of retweets, showcases and competitions.
My skills have improved greatly thanks to the brilliant virtual photography community. Just by being exposed to others photography you get a sense of how to take a great shot. When I look back and compare against my first captures from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in 2020, the difference in quality is night and day.
Virtual Photography isn't just a great tool for players, it is also a fantastic way for developers to achieve free advertisements of their game. How many times have you seen an incredible shot from someone online and thought, wow that game looks cool, maybe I will purchase it? The better the photo tools, the more striking images people can produce, increasing the online presence of a game.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla's photo mode is the best in the series so far. From Origins onwards Ubisoft has added small changes to improve the way we take shots in game. The English and Norwegian landscapes have lended themselves well to VP, especially with the 4K HDR next gen consoles. The sliders can now be reset easily without having to start from scratch and the ability to create portrait shots is a real winner. This has resulted in Valhalla being praised within the community for the quality of shots that can be produced.
One often overlooked feature from Assassin's Creed games is the ability to share the location of the shot straight onto the map for others to see in their games. This is not only great for inspiration, but also for helping others find items in-game.
Below I have asked five members of TOWCB VP Community what they would like to see added to future Assassin's Creed games.
Assassin Poses - @Falconswift87
For me personally Eivor will often cause frustration due to his hunched pose and awkward standing position. After playing Horizon Forbidden West, I could not understand why you would not add poses to photo mode. It creates so many different capture opportunities throughout the game. Given the many outfits that are available in AC games the possibilities could be endless. You just have to look on social media to see how iconic some of Aloy's poses have become.
Time of Day - @CreedScholars
Scholars of the Creed said they would most like to see a time-of-day function added. There are many games that take advantage of this, but I would say Ghost of Tsushima was one of the best. The ability to fast forward time allows the player to amend lighting in so many ways. A shot taken in the middle of day can look vastly different once the stars come out. Valhalla already has multiple different environments, and they all react so differently depending on the time of day.
Range of Free Camera - @ Virtualtourism
I wasn't shocked at the answer I received from Jack, with range of the free camera being top of his list. As a VP artist who captures the most breath-taking scenery shots it must be frustrating to only be able to move within a defined box. It is great that Valhalla has the zoom in and out function, but it isn't great for wide angled shots. Most games that I have played do not utilise this, however someone found a way round it for Ghost of Tsushima and the scope of shots is now incredible.
Character Models - @dpruttz VP
Dpruttz suggested that locking the character models would be a great addition to Assassin's Creed photo mode. This is something I struggle with at times as well, especially if you're a fan of close-up photography. It's not isolated to Assassin's Creed either, many games have this issue. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you have found the perfect shot only to move the camera slightly and the character model disappears. I think Marvel's Spider-Man solved this issue as you can get incredibly close to the character.
Light Source - @PodToGo
I would say light source would be in my top three requested features. Although if you're lucky with the sun Valhalla can produce some extremely satisfying shots. Marvel's Spider-Man & Gotham Knights takes this to another level. You can edit your shots normally but there is also a separate section that allows you to add custom lighting to your captures. You can add ambient light, rotate where the light comes from and even add a spotlight to the shot with varying intensity and colours. When it comes to photo modes Marvel's Spider-Man must be one of the best out there.
Character Changes - @FrameHoldPhotos
Frame Hold agreed with a lot of what has been said above but there was one point I picked up on and that is the option to flip between Eivor and Havi in photo-mode. Although I don't think I have seen this in a game to date, there is the ability to change outfits in Marvel's Spider-man or face paints in Horizon Forbidden West. With the vast amount of armour and weapons in Valhalla the chance to flip between them in photo mode would be excellent. Even if it was just to you Armoury loadouts.
Two games particularly stood out to me in terms of photo modes in 2022. A Plague Tale Requiem blew me away with its ability to pause a cutscene and then have full movement and editing ability. This lent itself to some unbelievably great shots posted by players. I haven't seen this in any other game I have played. Unfortunately, the rest of the tools in the photo mode are generic, but I must give credit to the developers for pushing boundaries. The buzz for this game on social media has been fantastic and even four months after launch there are plenty of photos posted daily.
The second game is God of War Ragnarök. Despite this being my game of the year, its photo mode feels very outdated. Originally the game was launched without it, which isn't uncommon as photo modes can cause spoilers. However, it did mean I and others I know waited a month to start the game. Even once the mode was added it felt very limited compared to the original and not even close to the photo modes of Assassin's Creed or its PlayStation peers. The buzz for God of War in terms of captures just doesn't feel the same as A Plague Tale.
Both Gotham Knights and more recently The Last of Us have been running regular photo mode contest. Once again this shows how virtual photography can add so much to the overall experience of a game. In addition to this individuals and communities online create their own hashtags for weekly themes continuing the love of a game.
#BeyondTheHorizon - Weekly from @Guerrilla with shot of the week being featured on their social media.
#GKPhotoMode – Weekly usually with a more personal theme, once again the favourites are retweeted by the official page.
#TLOUPhotoMode – Running alongside the TV series Naughty Dog are challenging gamers to recreate moments from the show.
#ACVPThursday #WolfKissedWednesday #TOWCBWeeklyCapture – All dedicated Assassin’s Creed tags that even without a supported title are thriving with entries each week. #MisthiosMonday still has a ton of shots each week despite it being focused on Odyssey.
#HeroTuesday – Run by @VPRetweet team has endless possibilities, and is surely going to explode once Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 releases.
There is even an e-magazine created by @ThePhotoMode that releases bimonthly. Here you will find a fantastic selection of shots from a host of games and VP artist. I feel like Virtual Photography is a side to gaming that has steadily been growing and now is the perfect time to makes sure you have a decent photo mode attached to any new release.
If the Mirage developers do happen to read this I hope they are able to add at least one of the suggestions above to their photo mode. I would implore them not to be too drastic with the changes though as what they have from Valhalla is one of the better modes out there. If I was to suggest one of the above it would likely be poses. As a long time photographer in Valhalla multiple poses/expressions would have brought many more exciting opportunities.
After the announcement of Assassin's Creed Mirage, we are yet to officially find out if this game will have a photo mode. It would be very bizarre if it didn't as the marketing opportunities alone surely justify the inclusion. Still if it does indeed feature then I know our small Assassin's Creed Community will be buzzing with epic shots of Basim on the rooftops of Baghdad.
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