Elder Scrolls Online First-Person & Third-Person Balance – An Impossible Task

I t took Bethesda some time after the initial announcement of the game but they finally revealed the Elder Scrolls Online first-person mechanic in a recent video. Before the release of the video many were skeptical as to whether or not Bethesda would include the iconic first-person view but it was obvious to any fans of the franchise; it’s a massive part of the games and could not be ignored.

The revealing of the Elder Scrolls Online first-person perspective was greeted with a warm reception and although I’m delighted that they decided to include it in the game, I’m also extremely concerned about balancing it with the typical MMO perspective, third-person. In the traditional Elder Scrolls titles offering both perspectives as a choice didn’t really alter game balance as it was down to the individuals preference but that same equation doesn’t work when it comes to MMO play; especially in a game that focuses on Realm vs Realm combat.

Using the first-person view during PvE situations probably won’t place that much of a disadvantage on the player but translate that same perspective to PvP and it becomes an entirely different story. It comes down to a very simple yet vital aspect of competitive play, field of view. If you were using the Elder Scrolls Online first-person perspective you would not be able to see any enemies sneaking up behind you and you’d struggle to see other enemies that third-person users would spot instantly. In essence, the very definition of competitive play in MMO games is going to force the community to adapt to a third-person approach, even if they don’t want to. It’s a simple choice. You either compete on an even level or you give yourself a severe handicap using first-person.

To make matters worse, casters and other ranged characters could be looking at mastering a totally new skill in order to compete. Traditionally the attacks from archers and magical users are far easier to hit in first-person but as I mentioned previously, this is going to hinder the players vision. As such casters and ranged characters could potentially have to keep switching between the two different perspectives, not an easy task in the heat of large-scale combat.

Elder Scrolls Online First-Person Will Be Impossible To Balance

Elder Scrolls Online First-Person View

This immediately breaks the immersion and feeling of being involved, a feeling that has helped sell Elder Scrolls games over the decades. Personally, the inclusion of third-person perspective means I’m going to avoid PvP completely which is going to place a lot of stress on the remaining content in Elder Scrolls Online. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the development choices behind including third-person but I hope Zenimax have something planned to counter the inevitable problems facing Elder Scrolls Online first-person users.


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6 Responses to “Elder Scrolls Online First-Person & Third-Person Balance – An Impossible Task” Subscribe

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Adronicus
    June 26, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    I’m an MMO player. I hadn’t played Skyrim. I bought it last week and I understand why fans are so excited about the world. I played in first-person view, but then switched to third-person.

    I found the third-person view somewhat of a handicap a few times in close spaces.

    So, my experience would be somewhat the opposite of yours. IF Elder Scrolls Online requires me to switch between views or use first-person to do the best job as a caster or archer, then I will likely eschew those classes or RvR PvP completely.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1Blaine
      June 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Do you not think that it’s a bit unfair to force people that like a certain class to have to switch between views? Personally I usually enjoy melee classes more anyway but I do dabble from time to time. However, knowing I’d have to switch or play in third-person, I’d avoid the classes completely.

      • Vote -1 Vote +1Adronicus
        June 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

        Do I think it unfair? Yes. However, would it have been better to only have third-person? Not really with all the complaints from Elder Scrolls fans.

        The good thing about adding the first-person view is that it allows people to define how they play the game. If someone wants to purposely gimp themselves for any reason be it role play or experience or whatever then they have the right to make the choice.

        If I am forced to guess, I expect the game will be best experienced for all classes in third-person at least for the power gamers and l33t players.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1saiargujin
      July 25, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Its a big news ..goin 3d person will make this game a game for me . Fans of first person go fps and let mmo goin 3d person like it should be. 2 months ago i was think the game will be only first person and i avoid it , but now if they will make with a 3d person option hell im gona play this game

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1dave
    November 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    anyone who even considers playing an mmorpg in first person has no idea what is going to come their way… you would have zero spacial awareness obviously the worst of it would be in PVP, nobody would want you on their side. Then there is PVE… I mean you would just not be able to see what was happening for example what if your healer is getting aggro and you can’t see it happening cos your all looking in a monsters face in 1st person DUMB DUMB DUMB my advice to anyone who has not played an mmo go download a free to play game like tera or swtor or aion and learn before release. also anyone who thinks 1st person would be easier to aim with there would be no difference… except you have a good view of your surroundings in 3rd person also zoom out as far as possible tends to help :)

    • Vote -1 Vote +1HonoredMule
      January 11, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      People lack spacial awareness in 1st-person view because of ridiculously low FOV, not the 1st-person perspective itself. Quite the opposite, 1st-person perspective is vastly superior at helping players correctly understand their position, orientation, and surroundings. If it weren’t for retarded targeting mechanics doing all the work, no player would be able to competently use a 3rd-person perspective.

      Just imagine trying to use 3rd-person (and overhead no less) perspective in Quake or Unreal Tournament. It would be a joke.

      Take away those artificial aids (automatic target-based aiming and firing mechanics based on camera view rather than character LOS) and the tradeoff between views would be both small and progressive (not to mention the gameplay much more balanced and player skill-based. For example choosing the mid-point, over-the-shoulder 3rd-person view, gives a balance between 1st-person ability to aim and position oneself and 3rd-person awareness of immediate surroundings. In general the benefits/trade-offs will not be so great as to outweigh player preference.

      The critical factor will be allowing a high enough FOV that players are not forced into tunnel vision and thus required to use 3rd-person view else be completely blind to their immediate surroundings. 90 degrees is the minimum acceptable value, at least for competitive gameplay, and as much as 120 degrees should be allowed. Heck, with 3rd-person in the mix might as well up it to 130.

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