Shack Chat is back once again, our weekly feature where each Friday where we’ll ask the Shacknews staff to give their opinion on a particular topic, then open the floor to our dedicated Chatty community to provide a diverse mixture of thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for us to get to know one another better while inspiring healthy debates with all of you passionate gamers out there. This time, the staff discusses whether they prefer first-person or third-person perspectives in video games, in celebration of Resident Evil 2's release today, which changes up the Resident Evil play style once more.
Question: Do you prefer third-person or first-person perspective in games?
It Depends - Asif Khan, Still Plays Wii U
I think I prefer RE7 controls to RE4’s style, but the broader first-person vs third-person debate definitely has me torn. I love Gears of War, and third-person perspective fit that game perfectly. At the same time, Quake would absolutely suck in third-person. It really depends on the pace of the game and other gameplay elements. The cover system in the Gears series lends perfectly to third-person perspective, but many shooters would feel very weird if they weren’t FPS. So games like Destiny do a good job of balancing both perspectives. In conclusion, I believe Greg Burke should be acquitted of all charges… I mean, my preference of third-person vs first-person perspective really depends on the game.
Both - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor
I don't have any real general preference when it comes to first-person, third-person, or anything in between. It really comes down to the game I'm playing and what the developers felt was appropriate for the adventure. It's all context for me. When it comes to things like Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, I detest seeing things from my player's perspective because I've customized my character and I want to see what they look like. Any shooter, though, I'd prefer first-person so I can see the carnage up close.
In terms of Resident Evil, however, third-person is always the way to go. While I enjoyed the first-person games and the option to play that way, I like being able to pivot around and see what’s waiting out there in the darkness. Luckily, Resident Evil 2 delivers up-close-and-personal zombie gore without the need for a first-person view and I still get the third-person view as a bonus.
First-Person For Shooters, Third-Person For RPGs - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor
It ultimately depends on the genre for me, but if I'm looking to get into a shooter, I feel the need to be able to aim at a distance. Because of that, I need a first-person perspective in order to work best. That means games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, or Hitman require I peek through the perspective of the person holding the gun. Third-person shooters have been done, but always feel wonky to me.
Because spatial awareness is such a key component in RPGs, I work better with a third-person point-of-view. I need to know what's surrounding me when fighting in close quarters with a melee weapon or trying to cast an area-of-effect spell. So for a game like World of Warcraft or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I need the camera pulled back a bit to be able to see what's around my character.
It All Depends On The Narrative - Josh Hawkins, New To Shack Chat
As a storyteller at heart, both first-person and third-person have their pros and cons for helping to tell a story, and honestly, my preference really comes into play based on the game itself. Take Resident Evil 2’s remake for example. While I loved the first-person nature of Resident Evil 7, and I felt like it really added to the immersion of the game itself, the third-person camera in Resident Evil 2 gives the entire experience a different feeling than you get in Resident Evil 7. Sure, there’s still that same shock value of “oh hey look, zombies are coming to eat us”, but it allows you to experience the more tight-knit quarters of the world in a different way than you’d be able to in first-person.
The POV of a game can drastically change it’s feeling. Take The Evil Within 2 for example. When the first-person version of that game released, it was was a game changer. Not only did the game feel more visceral in first-person, but the shock and awe of the different environments really became more apparent as you looked at the world through the protagonist’s eyes.
Third-Person - Kevin S. Tucker, Doesn't Usually Wear Hats
I prefer third-person perspectives in almost all games. First-person perspectives are supposed to be immersive, but I never really think of myself as being within a game, so the idea of feeling immersed is kind of pointless for me. When I play games I’m acutely aware that I’m on the outside controlling what is inside, and that makes me desire as much perspective and control as possible. Given that there’s no way for video games to convey full 360-degree awareness at any given time (not that my human body could make use such visuals anyway), a third-person perspective allows me to see the most action possible. That goes for all genres, too — I prefer pulled-back camera views in racing games and over-the-shoulder views in most non-competitive shooters.
For me, the only exceptions to the rule are games that are meant to be first-person, like with many (or most) first-person shooters, VR games, or games where third-person perspectives look absolutely janky, such as about any Elder Scrolls game or modern Fallout release.
Depends On The Game - Chris Jarrard, The Wolf
I have no real preference on the cameras used in the games I play. If a certain design works best with one perspective or another, I’ll roll with what the development team offers. I used to think that real immersion was only possible with a first-person perspective, but then I played a few great third-person games and realized that immersion was more closely tied to gameplay design, environmental art quality, and strong narratives.
Even a hybrid system can be the best approach. I still play lots of Arma 3. Depending on the server you log in to, the game may offer the option to switch between perspectives on the fly. While running around, I tend to use the third-person cam as I get a wider field of view, offering me a tactical advantage versus the opponents. During engagements, I’ll swap into first-person mode once I begin targeting and engaging. If the game is fun, It’s all gravy, baby.
Three Is The Magic Number - Blake Morse, Flawless Babeality
When this week’s question was brought up, I honestly did not think I had a preference. But as I took a moment to really, really think about all the games I love it became clear to me that I, at least subconsciously, had a bias. While games like Borderlands and Doom rank high on my personal list of favs, when I really get down to it, more third-person titles make my list than first-person games.
Saints Row, GTA, Red Dead Redemption, Earth Defense Force, Dynasty Warriors, and Bayonetta are just a handful of games that I truly love and they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to third-person games on my list.
I think part of it comes from the way I perceive worlds in video games. While FPS titles do give me a sense of immersion, they tend to make me feel like I’m viewing the world in tunnel vision. Third-person games feel more open to me in the sense that I’m taking in more information and can see what’s surrounding me. As an example, while I enjoy checking out the cockpit view in racing games I almost always play them from an above-the-car camera angle so I can see the cars coming up behind me or as they attempt to pass.
There’s also the fact that I love pulling off badass combos in brawler games. All those insane moves from games like Devil May Cry can make a gaming session feel like an interactive kung-fu flick. You just can’t pull off stuff like that from a first-person perspective.
While there are many games I love that use the first-person perspective, at the end of the day it just comes down to the numbers for me. Still, I’m not going to turn down playing a game in either perspective if it looks fun to me.
Depends On The Design - Charles Singletary Jr, Perspective Detective
I can’t say that I really have love for first-person over third-person or vice versa. My tastes vary within the different genres and, ultimately, depend on the design around the specific games. For instance, I absolutely love the first-person exploration and combat in Dying Light but can not stand it in the Elder Scrolls series.
Even attempting to think back on what games I’ve played more of, things get murky. The decision to play them never came down to whether or not they were in first or third person, truly. When focusing on a game series that has switched between the perspectives, a la Resident Evil, I really enjoy both. The third-person perspective is used more throughout the series and is fitting for the more intensive action sequences the Resident Evil games focused on in more recent titles, but RE7’s decision to switch to first-person provided a completely different, but still quality experience.
The third-person perspectives throughout RE aren’t even all equal, to be fair. The shift from a more fixed camera to the loose form started in Resident Evil 4 was as major shift and could warrant a conversation in itself. Nevertheless, I say all that to repeat this sentiment: It all depends on the design.
Both - Bill Lavoy, Has Never Seen Kevin Wear A Hat
Unlike the Coke or Pepsi debate, there is no right answer here. Both are necessary in certain games or situations. If I have the option to swap between the two, I’m likely going to utilize both first and third-person perspectives at times.
If I’m playing DayZ, or any other survival game like that, I usually spend most of my time in the third-person perspective. If I’m entering a building to loot, however, I’ll switch to first-person view for that. Same goes for running around the world versus engaging in a gun battle. I want that first-person perspective for ADS, but I’ll quickly swap back to the casual third-person perspective when the shooting stops.
In a game like Destiny 2, which I play a lot, I’m almost always in first-person mode because that’s the main way to play. If you use a sword, however, the game gives you a third-person view, which is ideal for the jumping puzzles. If I’m about to tackle a jumping puzzle in a raid, I’ll grab a sword and use that to extend my field of view (or perception of it) for the encounter.
While I can say that Coke is better than Pepsi, I can’t tell you whether I prefer first or third-person perspectives in video games. Both have their times to shine.
¿Por qué no los dos? - Sam Chandler, The Man from the Future
This question is too difficult and I have no clear favorite in this race. I love all my children equally, those who have cameras attached to their face and those who have an omniprescent camera floating behind them.
I see the merit and strength in both formats. I love the tactile and immediacy that first-person perspective offers (such as in Sea of Thieves), but I also love the way third-person platformers and adventure games feel (looking at you Yooka-Laylee).
I play neither type of view more than the other, and even in games where I can switch between them (PUBG), I use both just as frequently. I’m going to have to remain completely bipartisan here and say, why not both?
First-Person - Donovan Erskine, Intern
I’m more of a first person guy. When it comes to shooters, action, and adventure games, I find that the first person perspective helps with the immersion. Also, HUD’s are a necessity in most games. When playing in first person, the screen itself feels more free and open, with plenty of space to sick things such as health, energy, weapons, etc. The only situation where I prefer a third person perspective is in RPG’s or any get where I can deeply customize my character’s appearance.
Disagree with our picks? Think we're a bunch of clowns? Let us know in the Chatty below.
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: Do you prefer third-person or first-person perspective?
Depends on the game. It's hard to see how, say, Batman: Arkham Asylum's combat could be adapted to first person.
Depends on the game, and sometimes what I'm doing in the game. I don't necessarily prefer one over the other as long as it's designed well.
In Skyrim, for example, I do first person when I'm using ranged weapons and looking at things up close, but 3rd person for the rest and for generally running about.
I like third. I feel too walled in in most FPS games at this point. There are a few like Titanfall and Doom that I still like and do a good job with movement and action, but most days I’m playing stuff like Spider-man, Assassin’s Creed, or God of War.
I used to be a big proponent of First Person being a better perspective but I've since kind of flipped in the other direction. I think third person is usually more interesting nowadays for the games I like to play and I guess more generally it kind of just depends on what it is the game is trying to do. If a game is well constructed to build a certain mood or style usually one or the other will become apparent as the better fit for the goal but for some games either would be fine (like Forza Horizon).
In general I much prefer first person - on PC and sitting ~18" from the screen.*
If I were playing on a console or sitting 6 or 7 feet from my TV maybe I'd like 3rd person more, but I don't even own a console right now.
* Most games I play allow (or have available) a field of view adjustment, so if I want a wider perspective I can tweakk that.
First always and forever.
Immersive 1st Person (Fear, Far Cry 2, Stalker). But it depends on the need for 360 melee awareness (no way I'm playing Dark Souls 1st person like I did Bushido Blade), and importance of SEEING your gear. This is usually offset by the camera (getting hung, failing to transparent walls, jittery, etc).
first person. really hate having this giant character in front of me blocking my view.
Depends, if first person it has to be 60fps at a minimum along with mouse and keyboard (PC), third I am ok with 30 and a gamepad.
Female Protagonist: Third Person (exception: Muscle March)
Male Protagonist: First Person (exception: Trespasser)
Generally first person if it's primarily a shooter and third person if it's primarily a platformer/exploration game. DOOM would be hindered by third person, just as Tomb Raider would be by playing in first.
For a decade after doom, I thought I would never play anything other than first person ever again. Now I have no interest in them at all really. Not for me.
First on PC, third on console
Competitive shooters I generally prefer first-person, but otherwise I don't really have too much of a strong preference either way. Both can be done well. I can't imagine Doom being anything but first person, for example, or Warframe as anything but third person.
I'm strictly a third-person fan. First person, within 15 minutes, begins to give me a migraine. If I try to persist, my eyes start to ache. Now, the minute I find out a game is first-person, I just move on.
Have you ever tried futzing with higher field of view settings on PC? I cannot play most any fps at the usual console standards without severe headaches and nausea after a few minutes. Need 85-110 depending on the game, a lot of console shooters are in the 60-75 range, many PC ports used to default to this when console fps started taking off.
Your issue may be different of course, for me it's mainly the disconnect of the camera seeming like it's floating in front of the character with a lower fov, like if you were looking through weak binoculars constantly in real life. It's impossible to deal with for any length of time.
I'm also affected by low fovs in some third person games, too. That's less common but still is a problem from time to time. It's a bizarre feeling where the camera might be placed farther back from the character in the world but zoomed in close with a low fov, it can be very claustrophobic with a different sort of disconnection.
I don't know why it happens. I don't get any type of nausea - just the splitting headache & eyes that hurt so bad I'm convinced they must be gushing blood. I tried enough with the first person perspective that I just avoid it now - it's the only thing I've found that works.
Sure, I miss some games, but ya can't play them all anyway!
First Person if you grew up with Nerf guns and laser tag.
Third person if you grew up with action figures.
I'd assume most people that did one also did the other.
I prefer third person, and like some others said, i think its because of the types of games i play. Mass effect, uncharted, tomb raider, etc. I never play fps' because im bad at them. Lol
Depends on game. Nobody wants to be iron-man or spiderman from a first person perspective. You'd be puking half the time.
First person for shooters, sniping, flight sims (cockpit games), etc. Third person for platforming, melee, driving/racing, and arcade flight/space combat.
Though having the option to switch between the two is very nice to have available.