First introduced in 2005 with Gran Turismo 4, photo mode has become a staple of gaming. Players spend countless hours getting the perfect Instagram-worthy shot of their characters, vehicles, or in-game environment and landscapes. Gamers are turned into photographers and are always eager to share their best shots on social media with other fans.  

In this article, we look at some of the most popular games for virtual photography, from the Wild West to the depths of space, understanding how technical and graphical advancements have made games prettier but more difficult to run. We’ll also have a look at some of the most demanding PC games to run and their system requirements.

The most popular video games for photography

Year released
Total Number of Instagram Posts
Number of Photography Posts
Percentage of Game Photography

Red Dead Redemption 2





Ghost of Tsushima





No Man's Sky





Horizon Forbidden West





Cyberpunk 2077





Forza Horizon 5





The Last of Us





Assassin's Creed Valhalla





Gran Turismo 7





Spider Man





Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games - PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

Being one of the most realistic video games to date, Rockstar’s highly anticipated prequel tops our list as the most popular game for photography, with a fifth of user generated content on Instagram being in-game photography. From the character and weapons models to the animations and lifelike environment, pictures from this game – especially with maxed-out graphics on PC – will sometimes have you second-guessing whether they’re real life or not. 

Image Source: Jack Heisenburg

Ghost of Tsushima (Sucker Punch Productions – PS4, PS5)

Featuring an amazing open world, lighting, and attention to detail, Ghost of Tsushima makes being a samurai look so good.. The game has one of the most in-depth photo modes, allowing you to adjust focal length, aperture, and focus distance, just like on a real camera.  Other adjustable elements include color grading, time of day, clouds and particles, and even the wind direction. It’s easy to get lost for hours in photo mode to get the perfect shot, so it’s no wonder there have been almost 66,000 photography posts on Instagram with game-specific photography hashtags.

Image Source: I Like Detectives

No Man’s Sky (Hello Games – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, PC)

An infinite universe calls for an infinite number of pictures. With its procedurally generated planets, environments, flora and fauna , this open-world survival game screams creativity, allowing players to create the perfect picture on the perfect planet. Whether it's a rocky mountain or a lush underwater cave, dreamy landscapes that are perfect for in-game photography are in abundance in No Man’s Sky.  To date, players have shared over 27,000 shots of their picture-perfect landscapes on Instagram.

Image Source: Kyle “Echosmoker"

Horizon Forbidden West (Guerilla Games – PS4, PS5)

The latest installment of the Horizon series already has players using its photographic potential. The game’s release on the next generation of consoles means the graphics have been improved from the first game. The vast post-apocalyptic open world is filled with jaw-dropping landscapes and creatures, making it a sci-fi heaven for gaming photographers. Even though the game was recently released, 8,000 virtual photography posts of the game have already been shared on Instagram.

Image Source: Jim2point0

Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt RED – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Stadia, PC)

The world of Cyberpunk 2077 is like no other and looks incredible, especially at night where the lighting effects – enhanced with ray-tracing capable machines – really shine. Cyberpunk’s advanced photo mode allows the player to change the character’s pose, depth of field, or color adjustments to take amazing shots of the detailed dystopian world in which the game unfolds. A unique aesthetic combined with an elaborate photo mode makes it a perfect game for virtual photography –7.9% of posts related  to the game are virtual photography posts. 

Image Source: Frans Bouma

Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games – Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Android, Microsoft Windows)

Forza 5 showcases the beautiful natural wonders and diverse biomes of Mexico. The visual performance is second to none, including extraordinary attention to car design detail, and ticks all the boxes for a captivating gaming experience. The realistic world environments positively shine in the game's reliable photo mode, making Forza Horizon 5 one of the most beautiful games for players to explore.

Forza Horizon

Image Source: Petri Levälahti

The Last of Us (Naughty Dog, Iron Galaxy – PS3, PS4 and PS5, PC

Originally released in 2013, The Last of Us follows Joel and Ellie on an emotional cross-country trip across the apocalyptic world of the infected. As well as a recent next-gen remaster, the game has enjoyed renewed popularity thanks for HBO adapting it for streaming. The Last of Us has an incredible photo mode to help you immerse yourself in their journey across the U.S., perfect for capturing both the stunning panoramic landscapes and the wealth of intense personal moments. 

Image Source: The Fourth Focus

Assassin's Creed Valhalla (Ubisoft – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC)

Ubisoft spent time researching and scouting real-life locations to build a believable world based on ninth[JF1] -century England for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. This has resulted in a believable open-world game with amazing graphics and details, which can be showcased in the game and be displayed in the dedicated photo mode. 

Image Source: Chris Taljaard

Gran Turismo 7 (Polyphony Digital – PS4, PS5)

The first Gran Turismo hit our consoles in 1997, pioneering the way for a whole slew of at-home motor racing games. Gran Turismo has consistently combined an obsession to detail with a love of cars, and the seventh generation is no different. Decades on from its debut edition, Gran Turismo 7 has earned its stripes as today's most beautiful driving games, showcasing realistic cars in a natural world while providing a top-notch, realistic driving experience.

Gran Turismo 7 in-game photo of the Nissan GT7

Image Source: The Fourth Focus

Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Insomniac Games – PS4, PS5)

This game allows players to suit up as one of Marvel’s most beloved superheroes in an impressively realistic virtual New York City. The PS5 launch title really showcases the graphical advancements of next-gen consoles. With detailed textures and ray tracing technology, those pictures of Miles Morales swinging between buildings are more realistic than ever and guaranteed to please all photo mode adepts.

Spider-Man image

Image Source: Shinobi Space

Most graphic intensive games

Having beautiful or almost photorealistic graphics comes at a cost, which means it can't be achieved on just any system. To handle those graphics at high resolutions, computers often need top-notch components. We've compiled some of the most notoriously difficult-to-run PC games and ranked them by the performance of their recommended components.

Recommended CPU
Recommended RAM
Recommended GPU
Recommended Storage
PC Score

A Plague Tale: Requiem

Intel Core i7-8700k AMD Ryzen 5 3600


Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070 AMD Radeon RX 6800

55GB (SSD Storage Recommended By the Developer)


Star Wars: Jedi Survivor

Intel Core i7-8700k AMD Ryzen 5 3600


Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 AMD Radeon RX 6700XT



The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Intel Core i7-8700k AMD Ryzen 5 3600X


Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070 AMD Radeon RX 6750XT



Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond

Intel Core i7-9700k


Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080



The Last of Us: Part 1

Intel Core i7-8700 AMD Ryzen 5 3600X


Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 Super / 3060 AMD Radeon RX 5700XT / 6600XT

100GB (SSD Storage Recommended By the Developer)


Hogwarts Legacy

Intel Core i7-8700 AMD Ryzen 5 3600


Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080ti AMD Radeon RX 5700XT Intel Arc A770

85GB (SSD Storage Recommended By the Developer)


Street Fighter 6

Intel Core i7-8700 AMD Ryzen 5 3600


Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 AMD Radeon RX 5700XT



Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

Intel Core i7-9700k AMD Ryzen 5 3600


Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 / 2060 AMD Radeon RX 5700XT

50GB (SSD Storage Recommended By the Developer)



Intel Core i7-8700 AMD Ryzen 7 2700X


Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 Super AMD Radeon RX 6700XT

60GB (SSD Storage Recommended By the Developer)


Elden Ring

Intel Core i7-8700K AMD Ryzen 5 3600X


Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 8GB AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB



Best CPU for gaming

Your CPU provides the instruction and processing power your computer needs to do its work, which is particularly important for smooth gameplay in resource-demanding games. The more powerful the CPU, the more likely you'll see smoother gameplay to enhance the game's visuals. As with most component upgrades, balancing your budget with performance and features is critical. Your CPU is no exception to this, as it can be one of the more expensive parts to upgrade. Intel and AMD Ryzen are the most recommended CPUs on the market for these highly demanding games, offering some of the fastest gaming experiences available.

Best RAM for gaming

16GB of RAM is the recommended amount of memory for gaming. With 16GB of RAM, you should also be able to multitask and run other programs in the background without it affecting gameplay. While 8GB is plenty of RAM for a decent gaming experience, you may see real growth if you upgrade to 16GB.

Best GPU for gaming

With great graphics comes great GPU requirements. The better the GPU, the higher the resolution and faster frame rate your computer can display — resulting in a higher-quality visualization of your games. For those crisp gameplay visuals, most developers recommend using a top-notch GPU. In most cases, Nvidia tops the list for photorealistic gameplay.

Best SSD for gaming

As gameplay becomes more complex and maps get larger, game file sizes are ever-growing. Having plenty of storage on your SSD is a must, and you should always consider additional capacity for inevitable updates. If you want to add storage quickly and easily, external SSDs are a great option to boost your capacity. On the other hand, NVMe or SATA internal SSDs come in various performance levels and formats depending on your compatibility needs.

You can easily upgrade your storage on your PC or PS5 with a fast P5 Plus SSD. Having fast storage also means you’ll be less likely to experience gameplay hiccups and more likely to achieve much faster loading times. This is especially helpful when booting up a massive open-world game.