What's Your Perspective? Third-Person vs. First-Person

What's Your Perspective? Third-Person vs. First-Person

Used to be it was hard to find quality first-person experience titles on the console or PC, unless you knew what you were looking for. Nowadays, it seems there's a silent war between the first-person and third-person experience, but which one is really better?

Way back in the day of schoolyard conflict, a popular topic of conversation was video game allegiance. Sonic or Mario? Console or PC? Duke Nukem or Wolfenstein? These were the hotly contested issues of the day, and those of us who participated in these debates did so with a level of enthusiasm that could only come from the stubbornness of youth. The answer to these questions were, of course, subject to a terrific amount of bias, but I'm sure many older gamers can relate to how these arguments changed—and how they stayed the same—as we grew older and our tastes in gaming solidified.

What's Your Perspective? Third-Person vs. First-Person

A particularly memorable genre battle that arose as PC gaming settled into a now-long-held niche dealt with first-person shooters—was it better to play Half-Life and Counter-Strike over, say, Tomb Raider, or any other third-person title? Now it's a question of whether you want a Call of Duty-type experience versus something more along the lines of, say, Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, or God of War. But, same as always, your taste will really depend on what you're looking for.



In the debate between first- and third-person gaming, camera has always been an issue. Historically third-person cameras didn't fare well. Following the introduction of a controllable camera in Mario 64, developers spent years working out the kinks before finally settling into the standard "one stick rotates the camera, the other controls the action" setup seen in just about every third-person game available today.

Your POV is more limited in a first-person game, meaning it can be harder to take in an area around you, but for the most part, developers are savvy enough these days to design any third-person games with cameras that are smart enough to not get stuck on obstructions (the good developers, anyway), so it really boils down to whether or not you want to feel like the action is happening to you rather than taking it all in as something closer to a film. Which brings us to…

What's Your Perspective? Third-Person vs. First-Person


Probably the most prominent example of this is the recent Fallout games, which can be played from either a first- or third-person perspective. The vast majority of players prefer to play the games like an FPS—the idea is that Fallout 3 and New Vegas respectively play better (and are a different experience) when approached as an FPS rather than a third-person action-RPG that's more in the vein of Mass Effect or Dragon Age (albeit without any of the polish of either of those two series).