Bayonetta 3 Is The Nintendo Switch’s First Great Photo Mode

I love a good photo mode in a video game. As graphics have improved, studios have understandably gotten more keen to show off every inch of their games, while fans have taken to exploring photo modes in depth to create stunning visuals and complete albums. There are several photographers who dedicate their entire online presence to mastering the art of capturing the perfect virtual shot, and the addition of photo modes has quietly been one of the biggest changes to gaming in the past decade. However, it feels like the Switch has never shown up to the party. Enter Bayonetta 3.

It’s no coincidence that the games with the best photo modes also happen to be those with the most refined graphics. Red Dead Redemption 2, Ghost of Tsushima, and Spider-Man are the three you’ll typically see mentioned amongst the strongest photo modes. Horizon, the first major game to go after photo mode with the kind of depth we’re used to, also deserves a lot of praise. Personally I love Cyberpunk 2077’s, even playing the game as a fashion shoot simulator, but when the screen is too hectic or when gunfire is around, it tends to fall short.

It’s for this reason that the Switch has never had a great photo mode. For all the Switch has its own charm, understands its own artstyle, and has a lot of great exclusives, it obviously lacks power compared to the PS5 or the Xbox Series X, or even the PS4 and Xbox One. When games with semi decent photo modes have been available on Switch (Immortals was pretty good), the Switch version has been off the pace because it was clearly designed with other consoles in mind. Bayonetta 3, a Switch exclusive, fixes that.

It’s still not on the level of Red Dead Redemption 2. In the very best photo modes, the shots are indistinguishable from real life. The landscape vistas in RDR2 are gorgeous, with intricate details able to capture the intimacy of natural life and its bombastic scope. Bayonetta 3’s photo mode is constantly shackled to the power of the Switch, but it was built with that in mind. It still has curves that jut out at weird angles, it still struggles with details at distance. It’s still the Switch. But it understands what these limitations are and figures out ways around them.

In my time with Bayonetta 3, I was able to capture a few close up shots to show off the details in the game, while also capturing the rapid bursts of colour that pop with the game’s lightning fast combat style. A few pics I had to ditch because the game just moves too quickly to get the right shot, but once you have it, Bayonetta 3 comes with a lot of camera, colouration, and personalisation tools that help you get the best shot every time.

The photo mode likely won’t make much of a splash at launch, mostly because despite its growth it’s still a niche part of any given game. Even in the virtual photography community, it won’t have much impact when everyone is creating masterpieces in Ghost of Tsushima. But it’s great to see the Switch finally getting a photo mode it can be proud of – let’s hope it’s the start of something big.

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