Title: Days Gone | Developer: Bend Studio | Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Initial Release: 26th Apr 2019
We're accustomed to seeing strong photo mode support in Sony's first party titles these days and with the latest game to join that line-up, Days Gone, Bend Studio are certainly continuing the trend. In fact, with a depth of control rivalling that seen in Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo Sport, the photo mode here is a level above what we've come to expect in terms of complexity and may be about to set the new standard. A full review will follow with in-depth coverage of all the features but, without further ado, here's a first look at the Days Gone photo mode and what you can expect as you head out into this latest open world.
the game to prove that developers are serious about virtual photography
Key Photo Mode Features:
Basic & advanced modes
Full RGB colour grading control
Focus lock-on and character camera switch
Days Gone may be the game to prove that developers are serious about virtual photography. With basic and advanced modes, including several tools usually reserved for photographic development software, there are feature sets here to suit those of all experience levels, from the more casual snapper to the dedicated capture artist.
The basic mode should be familiar to anyone who has spent time with photo modes in other games and is simple enough to use. Camera movement within a generous bounding sphere is mostly handled by the controller and a straight forward tabbed UI provides various other settings. Far from basic though, a rich list of features includes brightness & contrast, FoV, manual focus, aperture control, film grain and a selection of borders and preset filters. This mode will be more than enough for many people and the available tools actually include everything necessary to compose a shot and add a bit of creativity.
advanced mode essentially allows you to develop your photograph and generate your own custom filter
Dig a little deeper though and there are some treats in store. First of all, there is a focus lock which allows you to attach the point of focus to anything in the centre of screen by pressing L3 and automatically track it as you continue to move the camera around. Yes, it is a little fiddly at times and not quite as intuitive as a similar feature found in Onrush for example, but this is much more versatile than a simple character focus lock and functions like a single auto-focus of a camera. Speaking of characters, a quick click on R3 will switch the photo mode camera from Deacon to the nearest NPC companion, meaning that they are never frustratingly out of range. The photo mode then functions in exactly the same way but from a different vantage point and I can only wish that this feature had been included in the likes of God of War.
With such an outstanding creative suite, it is all the more important to have good content to photograph
Onto advanced mode then and the first thing to make clear is that this does not provide any alternate compositional tools but instead offers an advanced colour grading mode. Swapping the basic UI for an extensive range of colour options and RGB sliders, advanced mode essentially allows you to develop your photograph and generate your own custom filter, perfectly acknowledged by the five available custom preset slots. Anyone familiar with software such as Adobe Lightroom CC, Darktable or Skylum Luminar will immediately be at home with the colour temperature, tint and saturation options but Days Gone doesn't stop there. Full RGB control over shadows, midtones and highlights allow you to set the tone of your image exactly as you want it and even differentiate the colour grading between near and far distances, the range of which are customisable of course.
With such an outstanding creative suite, it is all the more important to have good content to photograph and, from early impressions, Days Gone delivers with pleasingly detailed character models, rich woodland environments and great lighting with dynamic time of day and weather effects. Unfortunately neither of these can be altered via the photo mode at the moment so it's back to the more realistic approach of waiting for the right conditions but it will almost certainly be worth the wait.
I'll be back with a full review and more on the photographic opportunity once I've had more time with the game but for now at least, I can say that I am impressed.
Thanks for reading and drop your thoughts on the features in the comments below, Mik