It isn’t that I disliked or had anything against the presence of a ‘Photo Mode’, it’s more that I saw it as unnecessary. Superfluous fluff. Nothing wrong with taking screenshots the ‘old’ way. Maybe give me a ‘Turn UI off’ button, and that ought to be enough for anyone! ;)

That said, I’ve always been rather spotty with taking screenshots full stop. I’d go through long patches of time where I didn’t take a single one, and then a flurry of activity wherein I would.

Since starting this blog with an aim to at least in part, create a journal of gaming history for myself in the future, I’ve been more regular about taking screenshots. Even this isn’t what convinced me though.

No, it has been a rather heavy duty return to Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Two friends picked it up during the uPlay sale on it and it seemed a prime time to come back and finish the Odyssey I’d started when it released. I started out taking screenshots the ‘normal’ way but became intrigued by the shared screenshots scattered across the map.1

It’s a sort of Peloponnesian Facebook (or maybe Instagram, given the heavy photo focus). But with way less drama. You can still like things though, and there is a ‘Photo of the Day’ as well. In short, it’s a pretty neat social connectivity feature in an otherwise exclusively single-player game.

To participate and have your screenshots show up, you must use the ‘Photo Mode’, the raw screencap button (even the uPlay one) isn’t sufficient.

So… I might’ve taken a few shots…

The implementation in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is pretty impressive, but not without flaw.

On the impressive end of things the camera positioning control is fantastic. When you hit the Photo Mode button, all action is frozen and from there you can off-set it’s position from standard over the character’s shoulder in quite a wide range, set an orbit around any point on screen, apply a tilt and more.

Once you’re happy with the composition capture, you can throw it into edit mode. Set a focal point and adjust the depth of field effect strength, along with adjusting colour saturation, tint, noise, etc. There are about 10 or so sliders to play with, and then you can also apply a border or overlay to finish the whole thing off if you want.

The issues with the implementation in Odyssey are not to do with the feature itself but rather limitations of the engine and current technology, I think.

The Level of Detail at range is not always impressive when captured still2, the detailing cut down to allow for some of the expansive vistas the game offers.

The Depth of Field effect only seems to kick in at all at about 4/5ths of the way into the bar. Before then no matter how near or far you set the focal point, nothing adjusts. Even within that last fifth of the bar, it scales the strength a little oddly.

Nitpicks though, in the grand scheme of things. I’m thoroughly sold on the concept of including a Photo Mode now. The Division 2 (another Ubisoft title) had me playing around with it a little too — but being an online game, even in single-player, it didn’t allow for pausing of the action while you took a shot which changed the dynamic significantly.

Odyssey isn’t the first game to include the Photo Mode feature and I certainly hope it isn’t the last. Want moar! :)

Footnotes

  1. You can toggle these to show from your friends or yourself only, or not at all if you prefer.
  2. In motion they’re nothing short of amazing.