After its staggered rollout across different regions, the new tiered structure for PlayStation Plus is finally available globally, giving me the chance to see exactly what is on offer. With the usual features of online multiplayer, cloud storage and store discounts being common across all tiers, it is the selection of games available that really sets them apart. This got me thinking; which subscription level offers the best value from a virtual photography perspective...
- PLAYSTATION PLUS // PLANS -
PS Plus Essential:
The base subscription, known as PS Plus Essential, is essentially (yeah, not sorry) the same as the standard PS Plus model it replaces and so benefits from a rolling selection of monthly games, as well as the quite generous PS Plus Collection that is available to PS5 owners.
While the monthly games can be hit & miss at times, the 19-strong Collection is home to 6 solid photo mode titles that include the likes of Days Gone and God of War. It is well worth a look, especially for anyone new to the platform.
click to expand PS PLUS ESSENTIAL: Photo Mode Enabled Games
- PS PLUS // ESSENTIAL -
PS Plus Extra:
Moving up to the first of the new higher priced plans really takes things up a level as around 400 PS4 and PS5 titles become available in the PS Plus Game Catalogue. With no less than 38 photo mode enables games making their way onto this list, PS Plus Extra offers a very healthy choice for virtual photographers, and it is a choice that includes plenty of variety.
Along side photo mode favourites like Horizon Zero Dawn, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Ghost of Tsushima, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man, there are also gems like Bound and Concrete Genie, plus a big selection of motorsport titles to get stuck into. The mileage here will vary for each person, but there is undeniably some good value to be found.
click to expand PS PLUS EXTRA: Photo Mode Enabled Games
- PS PLUS // EXTRA -
PS Plus Premium:
The final and most expensive tier, PS Plus Premium, expands the total number of games available to well over 700 at launch, though don't expect a similar jump in the number that feature a photo mode. With a heavy lean towards legacy (mostly PS3) titles, the majority of games added in Premium pre-date the popularity of in-game photo modes, but even the historical interest is unfortunately a bit off a let down.
Gran Turismo 4, perhaps the first ever game with a true photo mode is missing entirely and, although it is possible to check out what Evolution Studios were doing with their relatively impressive photo mode in Motorstorm Apocalypse, there is no way to actually save any captures from it.
More on the reason why that is the case later...
- PS PLUS // PREMIUM -
What does work in the Premium tier is a small selection of remastered titles, including the likes of Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection and WipEout Omega Collection, found in the PS Plus Classics Catalogue, complete with their respective photo modes. There are also a handful of new games to "try before you buy" via time limited trials, though I'm not convinced that this is a compelling enough reason for virtual photographers to take the costliest offering.
click to expand PS PLUS PREMIUM: Photo Mode Enabled Games
- PS PLUS // PREMIUM -
The Trouble With Streaming:
So I mentioned before that it is not possible to capture any images from Motorstorm Apocalypse, even though its classic photo mode is present in the game. Why, you ask? Well, that is because (like all PS3 titles on PS Plus) the game is only available via cloud streaming, and neither screen captures or video clips can be saved while streaming a game. Any game!
That's right, even regular PS4 games have captures disabled if played via streaming, so if you had ideas of saving precious storage space by streaming PS4 games for quick photo mode access, think again. At best it could be used to simply just check out what features are available.
The saving grace is of course that all of the current PS4 games available to stream can also be downloaded to play locally, but it is a disappointing lack of flexibility and makes PS Plus Premium less appealing for virtual photographers. Still, at least that takes away any concerns over the loss of image quality over the video stream...
- PLAYSTATION PLUS // PLANS -
PlayStation have made some pretty big changes to their Plus offerings, and there is certainly undoubtedly a lot to discover. The perceived value at any tier will naturally vary massively depending on personal interests and how many of the available games you may have already played, but purely from an angle of "photo mode value", there seems to be a clear recommendation.
The Essential tier is a good start and ideal for anyone new to PS5, but it is the upgrade to PS Plus Extra that delivers way more virtual photography opportunity for the money. The most expensive Premium tier really doesn't seem to do enough to justify the extra cost, at least not in terms of gaining access to more photo modes and although titles will join, and indeed leave the service as time goes on, it is the middle tier that seems to be the best value for now.
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