I’m going to come out and say it.  I don’t like third person perspective in my Elder Scrolls.  Read: I did not say that I don’t want that option in the game, only that I don’t like that perspective.  Now, before I continue on what is surely a divisive subject, allow me to state a few things.

      1. This is my opinion.
      2. This is not meant to personally attack anyone who uses third person.
      3. If you disagree with me, and I’m sure a large majority of you will, please do so in the comments and be civil about it.
      4. Did I mention this is my opinion?

Ok, let’s begin.  I have my reasons for playing first person in Elder Scrolls.  In fact, it wasn’t until ZeniMax announced true first person perspective that I was completely sold on Elder Scrolls Online.  Why?  I am an MMO newb and a huge fan of the single player Elder Scrolls games.  One of the biggest features of these games is full first person – a point which many of you fellow Elder Scrolls players should agree on.  Therefore, in my opinion, the inclusion of true first person perspective was necessary in order to fully win over players like me.  Major kudos to ZeniMax.

So…why?  Why do I only play in first person?  Why do I dislike third person so much?

In order for my explanation to make sense, I must first discuss the concept of agency.  Basically, in a game like Tomb Raider, you, the player, are controlling Lara as she climbs cliffs, collects loot, etc.  Now, I love this game so by no means is this meant as an insult.  But when I was playing Tomb Raider, I never felt that I was climbing cliffs and collecting loot.  No, I was merely the puppet master, controlling Lara as she did those things.  I was controlling a character, and the fact that it was all in third person only perpetuated that feeling.  Make sense?

BEuPS8jCAAQO05c.jpg-largeI won’t be the one wading through Shantytown. That’s Lara’s job

But in Elder Scrolls games, want to be the one looting, climbing cliffs, parkouring, etc.  In first person, I no longer feel as though I’m some camera man following some Khajiit around as she parkours.  No.  I am the one doing the parkouring, I am the one talking to Methredel about the Grey Fox.  The story I weave and the choices I make are truly my own.  My actions determine if the Thieves Guild is ruined or if it experiences unparalleled success.  And you know what?  It feels amazing!

imageThat’s right, the Grey Fox has a task for me, not my character

am truly in the world in first person perspective.  For example, just yesterday I was traipsing through the Valus Mountains of Cyrodiil for no other reason than the land is there and deserves to be explored.  As I wandered far enough south into the Nibenay Basin, I turned to my right and was greeted by this achingly beautiful sight.

image (1)

I was stunned.  I stared across towards the Imperial City and Bravil in the distance, knowing full well that I could walk there if I wanted to.  My mind began to race with all the amazing undiscovered things that lay between me and White Gold Tower.  Cyrodiil beckoned.

Now, if you read that carefully, you’ll notice that I used the words ‘me’ and ‘I’, and not ‘my character’.  Why?  When I play in first person, I feel that the actions I make are truly my own, not those of a controlled character.  When I look at the same view of the Nibenay Basin in third person, it feels like I am the cameraman, hovering over this Khajiit character as she walks around the wilderness.  The immersion is instantly ruined and totally destroyed.

imageYup, the illusion lies utterly smashed and broken at my feet

“Ok Shank,” you may be saying, “What about combat?  Surely, you realize that in third person perspective, you have a much greater peripheral and can therefore respond to threats around you more easily, right?”  Yes, dear reader, you are absolutely correct.  But, even here, I will argue with you.  True, in first person you lose perspective about what’s behind you, but that’s what makes it real, that’s what adds tension and a real sense of fear.  If I swing a sword around in real life, I have absolutely no clue if anything is sneaking up behind me.  And that’s the way it should be when I’m sneaking up on bandits in Tamriel.

image (2)Looks like you’re about to get pwned

Now, is this ideal for a raid situation?  Nope.  Do I care?  Nope.  “Gee Shank,” you exclaim, screaming at your monitor, “Then you shouldn’t go on raids at all because you’ll be the reason your party gets destroyed!”  Again, you are unequivocally correct, dear reader.  I have no interest in raiding, so may your fears rest easy.  And I am perfectly ok with that.  Why?

Elder Scrolls has never been about the combat for me.  I am not saying that the combat isn’t fun. Quite the opposite really.  The combat is fun for me only when I experience it through first person.  I want to draw my bow, see my sword cleave that Argonian in two.  I don’t want to see my character do it in third person like I’m some puppet master.  Sorry, it kills my immersion.

. . .

At this point, many of you have either stopped reading or are angrily writing me comments below.  And you know what?  That’s completely ok.  You may think I’m going too far, that I’m suggesting that the only way to be immersed in Elder Scrolls is through first person.  And you’d be correct, with one small addendum: for me, the only way to be immersed in Elder Scrolls is through first person.

The beauty of Elder Scrolls is that it appeals to a huge audience.  We all have very different play styles and enjoy these games in our own way.  But for me, third person ruins that wondrous sense of immersion and purpose.  But worst of all, third person utterly destroys that sense of self.  And that, dear readers, is why I will only ever play in first person.

Shadow hide you.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Avatar of Shank
Editor for Quest Gaming Network and Co-Host of Elder Scrolls off the Record and Totally Heroes. Shank loves massive open-world Western RPG's. He is known to wander aimlessly for hours and generally ignores quests. While he also likes First Person Shooters, he sucks pretty bad at them. His first priority in any game he plays is graphics - an importance which he will argue to the death. Follow him on Twitter @ShankThTank

32 Responses to “Why I Only Play In First Person” Subscribe

  1. Auroness April 10, 2013 at 9:13 am #
    Avatar of Auroness

    I fully applaud you for this editorial. You have captured most of my reasons for preferring 1st person. One other thing is the fantasy. If I play first person, I can think of myself as the big bad dude in armor, or the sneaky cat, and it feels realistic. Third person and I get hung up on quivers that don’t attach to the body, weapons and shields that can’t be seen, and an awkward way of moving.

    I also agree that the first person option is essential for me to consider putting down cash to play this game.

  2. Kathwren April 10, 2013 at 9:28 am #
    Avatar of kathwren/kippie

    Nice article – very clear at explaining why you (and others) prefer first person. I prefer thrid person myself (play MMO’s) and am not really concerned about immersion but it’s nice to hear your perspective. Different strokes for different folks and there will be a place for both styles in ESO.

  3. andy smith April 10, 2013 at 10:06 am #
    Avatar of andy smith

    Every ‘hardcore’ raider who is planning on playing ESO who reads this will add you to their blacklist , bet you’re genuinely gutted by this ….

  4. Rasglow April 10, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    First I wanna say
    “Yes, dear reader, you are absolutely correct.” – the voice of Janine instantly popped in my head on this sentence.

    Also I play the same way!…..Sometimes that is.

    I like a hybrid of first and third person, but I never really feel like I’m being a puppeteer. Not sure why but being in the third person never really throws it off for me. Usually I go into third person when I am out exploring and running around, mostly because I feel like I can see more, not in the action/combat sense, but in the exploration fact, I can see everything around me, which I feel lends to a deeper immersion. But that’s just me!

    First person is usually used when I’m specifically RP-ing a situation, such as talking to NPC’s or exploring a room or house, and especially when I’m using a bow, when I use a bow I’m actually almost always in first person.

    As for ESO I’m sure I will be using the same hybrid setup but during “raids” I will always be in third person.

    Thanks for the article Shank!

  5. Brian Armstrong April 10, 2013 at 10:55 am #
    Avatar of Brian Armstrong

    Good stuff Shank, don’t let people pressure you into playing the game in a way you don’t want, that’s how games get ruined. This won’t be a typical MMO, and since there won’t be “raids,” you can play in first person all you want without any repercussions. Maybe start a first-person only Guild? :)

  6. L.Jons April 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    We are in agreement! First-person if definitely my first and only choice in the TES-series.

    However, I’m not entirely sure how I will be playing ESO. I can actually picture myself using both methods when/if needed.

    First-person for solo-questing for greater immersion.

    Third-person and/or combined with first-person for group-play and or PvP.

  7. Karaisoke April 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm #
    Avatar of Sherlock

    This is EXACTLY how I feel about 3rd and 1st person. If a game is in 3rd person, that’s fine and all, I’ll still enjoy it, but It’s not the same immersive experience.

    Take Bioshock for example. Even though you don’t create and name the character (which I don’t like) you are still in first person. It still feels like YOU are walking around sizzling people, or with Bioshock Infinite, riding those rails. I always have a very “WHOA!” reaction when I jump on that rail to ride it.

    So thank you for explaining how I, and many others feel about gaming in 1st and 3rd person. Especially in ES.

  8. Jamie The Skeever King April 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm #
    Avatar of Jamie The Skeever King

    Couldn’t agree more. I wish more RPG devs would go first person.

  9. MARPJ April 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm #
    Avatar of MARPJ

    Great article Shank, I have to entirely agree with you, TES is about immersion, and 3rd person ruins it.
    But I’ve to say, you really hate Argonians! And it made you a bad person (yes, here a proud reptile talking).

  10. Nashog April 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    I love MMOs and I love the elder scrolls but I know for certain I am playing first person. In combat it helps your blows feel heavy like there is weight to them. Not only that I sometimes find stuff to be much more beautiful in first prson and often miss amazing stuff in thrird.

  11. Trollogrefey April 10, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    Awesome article Shank! I agree with you on most of your points except for the cleaving the Argonian in half, that is NOT cool man. Anyway, I myself play almost exclusively in first person except when I wonder what it would be like to play in third person and I do not like it because the the combat is too slow for third person. I personally like it because it really lets me fight better in this type of game because I can aim better in first person. Form what I have been hearing though, the fighting in ESO will be much faster than in Skyrim so for PvP I will most likely be using third person more (except when my ARGONIAN nightblade will be mostly sniping people*cough *cough *shank*) with my usual side of dual blades.

    Keep this coming man, this was a really great article

    P.S.- even though I give you a lot of grief about hating the Argonians (*cough* racist *cough*) you are my favorite person on the podcast because your humor never stops to make me laugh.

  12. Jonathan April 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I also prefer first person. The only time I use third person is when I want to see the armor I had just put on after that I am back into first person. First person is defiantly more realistic than third person and it does feel like I am a Dark Elf.

  13. Progavarium April 11, 2013 at 12:56 am #
    Avatar of Luc


    Just kidding, I agree. 1st person is key in ES. Just wanted to be different ;)

  14. Ryaffio April 11, 2013 at 10:46 am #
    Avatar of Ryaffio

    Shanks Thank. Eh… I mean thanks Shank ;)
    I came to the Elder Scrolls games from MMOs, so I was slightly worried about the 1st person mode, never having played in it before. But I grew used to it VERY quickly and now play in it almost exclusively, especially when in combat, since it makes it much easier to aim, which isn’t as necessary in most MMOs :P
    I do go into 3rd person sometimes, but ussually to check out my armour or how my character looks sitting on the vacant throne of a Jarl etc.
    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to ESO… I wonder what POV I’ll be using most there…

  15. Marco April 11, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    It is funny that the debate exists. Some people even “raged” against ZOS for including hands, because that would obviously take precious development time.

    In Skyrim I used first person for walking around, exploring, almost everything except combat. I would switch into third person when encountering monsters and it worked quite well.

    In TESO I will most likely use third person, though. But when I find a particularly interesting place, I might just as well switch to first person and explore. :)

    I think most players will use a mix of both POVs. That is why – again – the discussion makes no sense. Why stick to one POV if you can combine the two and enjoy their advantages?

  16. Dolenz April 12, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Add me to those who play the Elder Scrolls games entirely in first person, for all the reasons you stated. It really is all about the immersion for me and like you my desire for high end raiding and heavy RvR is nearly non-existent.

    Stick to you guns and don’t apologize for staying with first person view. Remember the early ES games did not even have 3rd person view as an option, so 1st person view has a much longer legacy in the ES series.

  17. D3monHunt3r23 April 13, 2013 at 1:40 am #
    Avatar of Josh

    Power to ya Shank!! ill be joining you on the only 1st person! :D

    love the podcast by the way
    keep it up!


  18. WHY O_X April 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Oh god, prepare to be disappointed. The leaked gameplay makes it seem like first person combat is irrelevant with the auto aim generic MMORPG system.

    • Jared April 16, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Actually they are going to be using a “soft lock system”. You will have to aim and place each attack. The combat system is closer to TES games then generic MMORPGs. The targeting system in “Tera: Rising” is simmilar to what they are planning.(all information is secondhand)

  19. Morgan April 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I completely agree. First person and seeing your hands does a lot for immersion. I intend to play ln first person throughout the whole game. Except when im pvping or raiding. The MMO gamer in me(just as big as the elder scrolls gamer) screams i need to be able to see everything.

    Actually while im typing this, i will for sure try it in first person. That could add a lot more fun to it.

    I guess it will depend on how desperate the situation is.

  20. Biological Component April 16, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    Totally agree with you, Shank. First-person perspective Is supreme! ESPECIALLY true in the Elder Scrolls games.

    Third Person view ISN’T as much fun. Poor immersion. Flimsy controls. Yuck.

  21. Alan April 17, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    Though I am generally a 3rd person view player, I cannot help but agree with you.

  22. Draka April 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Agreed 100%.

  23. alex meandzija April 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    I personally enjoy switching views. I stay emersed by justifying the change of view. (Magical powers, Plot armor, Spidey senses)

  24. Caleb April 18, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Took the words right out of my mouth!!! If I could I would High Five you through my computer screen with such awesomeness we would feel the tingles of agreement run down our arm and mainly in our palm from the prickly feels of a good high five…

    If ESO was still debating on True TES first person in ESO, this would be the ultimate point to make.

  25. Andy April 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    this is totally awesome, I agree 100% mate. With you all the way, first person is the most immersive for me as well :D

  26. Cya Wells-Redoran April 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I absolutely agree although I do look at my armour so fully 1st person games annoy me especially when you choose your armour but can’t see it on everything else I agree.

  27. Roo April 22, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Shank, everyone has their way of playing, I like yours the best, 1st person is the way I hope to play, I want to explore and fight, experience everything has to offer, I look forward to exploring the Elder Scroll World

  28. Josh Miller April 22, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I am now using this page to explain to others why I like first person better. Thanks, you explained it very well. I tip my hat to you.

    -ToXicKnight – Elder Scrolls Fan

  29. C Allen April 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    I wish they wouldn’t have third person in elder scrolls online. Mostly for this reason – I want to be able to look at someone from afar and know which direction they’re facing, and where they might see me. Because I’m a ninja, and I observe before I strike. If I observe someone facing away from me, and I creep up behind them all ninja like, and all of a sudden they wheel around in a violent fury because their omniscient camera ghost friend was looking behind them, that’s really going hurt the game experience for me. at least force the camera to stay behind the persons back. that way their head is always facing the way they’e looking with their camera. though I’m sure the game will make stealthed players invisible. so I suppose my argument is moot. Regardless, I would like to see this in TESO. ALSO, one other thing that I have noticed in TES games. Small deal, and most individuals with a less critical eye wouldn’t notice. Launch skyrim and swing your sword around in third person. watch the arm movements. now do the same attacks in first person. provided you’re more then completely incompetent, you’ll notice they use different animations. and if you switch perspective during the animations, it’s even more apparent. I’d just like more consistency. when I do a 360 slash in first person, I want to see my surroundings as I turn all the way around winding up, and I want to feel the power of that attack. because I too, am very immersed by first person. but sometimes, I like to switch perspective and watch things happen. I’m sure ZOS will do great with this game, and to those complaining about a legitimate and immersive 1st person wasting development time – please silence your dribble and go play WoW. this is not your game. =) Great article, by the way.

  30. dragos May 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    I like first person view.but the third person view is essential for any mmo..especially for pvp..u guys are used to the single player game…well u better get used to the third player game-play or….no pvp :)and i don’t understand why we have this discussion.both styles will be in the game..play whatever u like and don’t hate others players for choosing another style of play…if it was only first person view..not allot of people where eager to play..choose whatever u like but i ensure u they did a good job implementing both styles..see u in the game!

  31. Jingles1215 July 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    I’m feel like I might be going against the grain here a bit, but I’ll say it plainly anyway – I prefer 3rd person, and not because I’m an MMO fan, or because of the benefits in combat, or anything like that.

    In this article you talk a lot about how YOU want to be the one experiencing the game, in, well the first person. That’s as good a reason as any, and I can really respect that. The level of immersion offered by the elder scrolls games is one of their greatest strengths.

    I on the other hand prefer the third person. As I said. Why? Well, actually, for one of the reasons you covered briefly at the beginning. I WANT to feel like I’m controlling a character. When I play a TES game I often make up characters with elaborate back stories, established personalities and whatnot that allow me to role play that character within the game world provided to me.

    I don’t know if it’s the old-school CRPG fan in me, but the feeling of playing a character that is NOT myself is almost essential to the experience. A character purely of my design, sure (this is a reason I don’t really get into a lot of JRPGs for instance), but a character nonetheless.

    Whether I’m playing a haughty Altmer mage from the Summerset Isle, a surprisingly humble and kind-hearted Orc berserker, or a terrified farmer’s son thrust unwillingly into the task of saving Tamriel from the World Eater doesn’t matter – in all cases the 3rd person viewpoint is practically essential. I need to feel like the “puppet master” you referred to yourself in this article. I want to direct this individual along the path destined for him/her just as a film director gives orders to his cast, and experience the world from a more cinematic, over-the-shoulder perspective as he or she faces the many trials and tribulations found in the elder scrolls series and overcomes them. It is, I feel, one of the greatest sources of replayability in these games for me – to experience the same world time and again, each time through the eyes of a completely different individual.

    I say again – the arguments presented here in favour of first person are entirely valid, and it demonstrates perhaps the greatest strength of this series as a whole – that everyone can enjoy the games in whatever way they see fit. It’s a kind of freedom available to the player that you just don’t get in many other games. Even other RPGs. I did, nevertheless feel like posting my alternate stance, if you will. Even if it’s just to show that not all arguments in favour of third person are from a crude “it’s better for raiding” perspective.

Leave a Reply

Episode 122: The Road To Update 4


Evarwyn, Liz and Rob are joined by the highly popular addon creator, Wykkyd! This week the crew discusses “The Road […]

Classic Elder Scrolls Night 19: Let’s Discover Cheydinhal!


This episode we welcome Mike as one of our new hosts to hit this series! As we roam around the […]

Episode 121: Welcome to Update 3!


This is the first week to feature our brand new cast members: Liz “Mistress Lebeau” and Rob “Rage Philosophy” along […]

Classic Elder Scrolls Night 18: Forelhost Crypt


We welcome Krispy to our show and a brand new segment: “Tales From the Dungeon” that she will be presenting. […]

Episode 120: Into The Future Feat. Nick Konkle


Lead Gameplay Designer, Nick Konkle, joins us to discuss last week’s major headlines from “The Future of ESO” panel and […]

ESO PTS Patch Notes v1.3.1

ESO PTS Patch Notes v1.3.1

Today, Gina posted another round of Patch notes for the recent update to the Play Test Server (PTS). Here are […]