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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

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

Red Dead Redemption 2

2018

2186388

457005

20.90%

Ghost of Tsushima

2020

380397

65990

17.35%

No Man's Sky

2016

195557

27905

14.27%

Cyberpunk 2077

2020

1051955

83145

7.90%

Horizon Forbidden West

2022

148846

7824

5.26%

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

2020

84283

2719

3.23%

Death Stranding

2019

379743

9657

2.54%

God of War

2018

1199637

24572

2.05%

Grand Theft Auto V

2013

8216777

164451

2.00%

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

2020

328597

6107

1.86%

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[JF([CTEUI1] . 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 https://jackheisenburg.co.uk/ 

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: Colin https://ilikedetectives.com/  

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[JF([CTEUI1] , 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” https://www.echosmoker.com/  

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 https://fransbouma.com/  

Horizon Forbidden West (Guerilla Games – PS4, PS5)

The latest installment of the Horizon series already has players using its photographic potential. The release of the game 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 https://twitter.com/jim2point0/  

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.

Image Source: Shinobi_Space https://www.shinobispace.com/  

Death Stranding (Kojima Productions – PS4, PS5, PC)

From the first hours, Death Stranding establishes a detailed and somber scene in a world filled with striking landscapes that will captivate players. Landscapes are so realistic, it can feel like a movie. The game’s thorough photo mode lets the players make all the adjustments they want to the camera, along with a variety of poses and facial expressions to choose from, making for the perfect picture.

Image Source: Jenny “Soulsurrender” https://soulsurrender.com/  

God of War (Santa Monica Studios – PS4, PC)

Winner of multiple awards, including visual achievements, God of War has showcased some of the best graphics on the PS4 version, but the PC release improves its visual fidelity even further. This stunning open world is filled with a variety of majestic locations that beg to be explored in photo mode. Players have already been using it to take shots of the characters during epic battles and relaxing landscapes.

Image Source: Leo Sang https://leosang.com/  

Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar Games – PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC)

The second best-selling game of all time, GTA V, has been released on multiple platforms over the years, with each generation improving its graphics. This living open world has immersed players all over the world and the variety of locations and vehicles available make it picture worthy.

Image Source: Petri Levälahti www.berdu.org/  

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 9th 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 https://chrisinsession.com/  

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 to have 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.

Game
Recommended CPU
Recommended RAM**
Recommended GPU
Recommended Storage**
PC Score*

Red Dead Redemption 2

Intel Core i7-4770K / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X

12 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB

150 GB

7.2/10

Cyberpunk 2077

Intel Core i7-4790 / AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super / AMD Radeon RX 590

70 GB

7.7/10

Forza Horizon 5

Intel Core i5-8400 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD RX 590

110 GB

8.5/10

Metro Exodus

Intel Core i7-4770k

8 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 / AMD RX VEGA 56

59 GB

8.8/10

Battlefield 2042

Intel Core i7-4790 / AMD Ryzen 7 2700X

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 / AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT

100 GB

8.9/10

Hitman 3

Intel Core i7-4790

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 / AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB

60 GB

9.2/10

Elden Ring

Intel Core i5-8700K / AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB / AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB

60 GB

9.4/10

Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Intel Core i5-8600K / AMD Ryzen 5 3600X

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB / AMD RX Vega 56 8GB

60 GB

9.4/10

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond

Intel i7 9700K

16 GB RAM

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

180 GB

10/10

Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games – 2018)

With great graphics comes great system requirements, and, if you want to live your virtual wild west adventure, your computer will need good specs. The combination of detailed graphics and a massive open world requires a GTX 1060 or RX480 to experience the game, along with lots of storage. 

Elden Ring (FromSoftware Inc. – 2022)

In a game where the outcome of a battle can be decided in less than a second, having a stable framerate is essential. Difficult to play and also to run, FromSoftware’s latest game will require a 6 core CPU and a GTX 1070 to run smoothly. 

Forza Horizon 5 (Playground Games – 2021)

Featuring a beautiful environment, lighting, and car details, Forza Horizon 5  requires decent components to run smoothly. A GTX 1070 is recommended, but players who want to activate ray tracing for even more realistic graphics will need newer and more powerful graphics cards. 

Hitman 3 (IO Interactive  – 2021)

Gamers’ favorite assassin is back in the third game of the series, but murdering your targets with style and in the beautiful Hitman 3 environment will require a powerful computer. IO Interactive recommends a GTX 1070 or RX Vega 56 paired with an i7-4790 and 16GB of RAM. 

Battlefield 2042 (DICE – 2021)

Battlefield games have often been renowned for their visual fidelity, and they didn’t disappoint in Dice’s latest game. The realistic graphics and advanced ray tracing capabilities require a modern GTX 3060 or RX6600 XT for play at a stable framerate. 

Dying Light 2: Stay Human (Techland – 2022)

The system requirements to jump into the game are almost as brutal as the zombies you’ll fight. To smoothly explore this post-apocalyptic world, you will need at least a GTX 2060 or RX Vega 56 paired with a i5-8600k or Ryzen 5 3600X. 

Metro Exodus (4A Games – 2019)

Scavenging through a radioactive wasteland has never looked so good, but you’ll need a powerful computer to experience these graphics at their best. The recommended GPU is a ray-tracing-ready GTX 2060 or a RX Vega 56 with a 4 core i7–4770k. 

Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt RED –2020)

If you want to experience the futuristic streets of Night City in all their glory, your computer will need decent components. A quad core i7-4790 and a GTX 1660 or higher is recommended, especially if you want to enhance your gaming experience by enabling ray tracing. 

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (Respawn Entertainment – 2020)

VR gaming can take up a lot of processing and graphical power and be really demanding on your system. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that to fully immerse yourself in WW2, you will need a RTX 2080, making Medal of Honor the game with the most powerful recommended graphics card on our list and hitting our theoretical maximum score. 

While games can still look amazing on consoles, their graphics really shine when they are maxed out on a computer. But this kind of graphical fidelity comes at a price. Not all PCs are built equally; neither are all games. Even if some games will run on basic computers, you will need a computer with powerful components if you want to maximize resolution and graphics and still maintain a stable framerate.

Most games on this list require at least 16GB of RAM to run smoothly. That quantity of memory has almost become standard in gaming. Games also require a lot of storage these days. You can easily fill up your storage pretty quickly, whether you’re playing on a console or PC. You can easily upgrade your storage on your PC or PS5 with a fast P5 Plus SSD. Check out our guide to upgrade your PS5 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.