AR+ Mode vs GO Snapshot Mode vs Buddy Mode

When GO Snapshot mode was introduced in Pokémon GO it was met with a great sigh of relief from the AR community. No more risking the infamous AR flee glitch and the ability to take your Pokémon wherever you want to photograph them! Absolutely brilliant. However, GO Snapshot doesn’t come without its drawbacks, leaving AR+ a viable and still often used mode.

With the recent introduction of Buddy Mode you now have 3 different options for photographing your favourite Pokémon, so what are the differences between AR+, GO Snapshot and Buddy Mode?

The Risks

Using GO Snapshot and Buddy Mode, you are photographing a Pokémon you already have in your inventory. There is no risk to that Pokémon. You can take it in and out of your Pokéball whenever and wherever you want.

In AR+ mode you are photographing a wild Pokémon, so the risk that it is going to run from you is very real. There is an infamous glitch with AR+ that means Pokémon have run from people in the photo mode, when a Pokémon isn’t supposed to be able to run.

Is it worth risking a shiny or ultra rare spawn for a good photo? I just wouldn’t dare!

Getting the photo you want can take time, and by the time you’ve gotten your shot that Pokémon could have despawned and if it isn’t caught on the first ball, poof, it’s gone. If the Pokémon you’re photographing is a Pokémon you don’t mind losing, then snap away, but weigh up the risks!

The Rewards

So why on earth would you risk a Pokémon fleeing in AR+ mode when you could catch it and use GO Snapshot to photograph it afterwards? Well, the problem with GO Snapshot and Buddy Mode is that the animations are limited to each particular mode.

With GO Snapshot you only have the basic attack animation when you tap on the Pokémon, and a second idle animation can occur when you leave the Pokémon in place and don’t tap on it. With AR+ mode, you get a much more exciting attack animation that can really change a photo.

For example, with Hitmonlee in GO Snapshot mode only does a basic arm raise and clench more, whereas in AR+ mode in the wild, it does its full spinning kick attack animation that is way more exciting to photograph!

A wild Sableye will jump into the air with a terrible grin, and twitch away, whereas a Sableye in GO Snapshot mode only does a taunting finger wiggle reminiscent of jazz hands, or softly waves its arms.

The jumping attack is a lot cooler and more interesting to work into a concept. The animations are worth the risk for a much more intense and alluring pose for your AR photography.

With the newer Buddy Mode, you can finally get the exciting attack animations of AR+ with a double tap, as well as the basic attack animation from GO Snapshot with a single tap, but you cannot get the idle animation you have in GO Snapshot.  The jump animation is still not available in Buddy Mode or GO Snapshot, so AR+ remains your only option for those leaps!

Buddy Mode also brings into play the adorable ‘love’ animation, that you achieve when petting your chosen buddy, something no other mode has access to. With Buddy Mode you can also turn your Pokémon by swiping them, but this is a bit trickier and can take some time to make work.

You can also photograph the feeding animation with Buddy Mode, and use the berries to get the Pokémon to turn to face the camera, whether that is looking up at you, or turning their head to one side. The looking up at you is particularly cute!

Finally in Buddy Mode, you can also photograph their walking animation, by using a berry to lure the Pokémon towards you.

The Solution

So what is the solution? Do you risk losing a rare Pokémon or a shiny for the sake of a photo? Buddy Mode has decreased the need for AR+, but there is one way to photograph wild Pokémon without the risk to get the animations! If you want to get the extra animations for your photos, an easy way to get those is through Pokémon in research tasks. They can’t flee so the risk is gone, but they are also wild so you get the additional jump animation. It’s a great way to utilise the advantages of AR+ without the risks!

It does have its drawbacks of course, there are only limited Pokémon available as research rewards, and the chances of getting a shiny research reward Pokémon are very low. Utilising the unofficial ‘stack’, created by fleeing from your research reward Pokémon can put you a variety of different Pokémon in easy reach. You only have access to the top Pokémon in your stack, so to get to those behind the oldest reward you will have to catch those in front of it. It is imperfect, but it is a way to photograph Pokémon you might not have thought of yet.

Photos by Ash Ketzchup.

One of the best examples of AR photographers who utilise wild Pokémon in their art is AR Master Ash Ketzchup. At the time of writing he has still not caught his Celebi from his quest, so that be can photograph it with the full range of animations that a wild Celebi has. He also kept his Mew uncaught for a long time because before Mew is caught, it goes ‘invisible’, giving a world of new options!

Unfortunately this also means that Ash is unable to continue on with his other quest lines. Until he catches Celebi, he is stuck in the limbo of his screenshot above! When you stack a special research Pokémon you are not able to claim any further Pokémon that may be rewards in any quest line. But Ash proves it is so worth it with his incredible photos of Mew and Celebi.

Ultimately it’s a case of risk vs reward. If your Pokémon isn’t available via a research task, do you risk it fleeing to get the animation you want? For me, I daren’t risk a rare spawn or a shiny, but I’d risk a common spawn for the perfect shot no problem!

Niantic have proved they are committed to improving their AR modes with their acquisitions in the last year, and the teasing of occlusion (the ability to place Pokémon behind an object, they can currently only appear in front of things) is a huge development. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Photos provided by Ash Ketzchup and the author.