Unbroken First-Person Perspective

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Whether you're shooting, driving, hang-gliding or... glass-jar-with-a-mushroom-in-it-holding, you'll be doing it in first-person here.

"Iím fond of how the game retains its focus on Jasonís internal journey by never leaving his first-person perspective, which is great for dream sequences but not so much for vehicle sections."
Zero Punctuation on Far Cry 3, right, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of this trope.

It is relatively unusual for a modern video game to use a single camera perspective for the duration of the game. Most modern games tend to interrupt the gameplay with cutscenes to provide exposition and advance the narrative, which will typically shift to different camera perspectives than those used in the core gameplay and be presented much like a film. Other games may change camera perspective in gameplay: for example, sequences in which the player character is on foot will be depicted from a first-person perspective, while sequences in which they are driving will be depicted from a third-person perspective.

Some designers avoid this, however, opting for an alternative approach, in which the camera never shifts from the first-person perspective of the player character(s) for the duration of the game. All gameplay will be from the perspective of the player character(s), as will cutscenes (if any are featured). In effect, this trope is the video game equivalent of a consistent use of the First-Person Perspective throughout a novel.

Reasons for this trope differ. Older games such as Doom or Wolfenstein 3D featured very little in the way of narrative, so there was rarely much need for cutscenes at all (not to mention that the technical limitations of the engine in question probably forbade frequent shifts in camera perspective). In more modern titles it's typically done as a deliberate aesthetic choice to foster a closer, more immersive relationship between the player and the player character (particularly if the player character is an Audience Surrogate and/or Featureless Protagonist; see also Player and Protagonist Integration). In the latter case, games of this type will sometimes avert First-Person Ghost and/or make use of Diegetic Interface for the same reason, or have the player character be a Silent Protagonist to allow the player to project their personality onto them. They may also make use of tropes like Expository Gameplay Limitation, Controllable Helplessness and Scenic Tour Level to provide exposition without breaking the camera perspective.

This trope isn't exclusive to First-Person Shooter games, but most examples fit that genre simply because it's the most popular genre to use this camera perspective. Games which use this trope can run into difficulties when they feature styles of gameplay unsuited to a first-person perspective: first-person platforming and driving sequences are often poorly received by critics and audiences.

This is primarily a Video Game trope, as per the description, but there are rare examples in visual media of works which use POV shots for the duration of the work (some are even examples of The Oner). Found Footage Films by definition aren't an example of this, as they don't purport to be POV shots from the perspective of a particular character but rather from the perspective of the In-Universe Camera the character is using.note  Don't list literary examples - those can go under First-Person Perspective.

Note: Examples of this trope can include edge cases, wherein the first-person perspective is unbroken except for opening or closing cutscenes. If the game is viewed from a first-person perspective by default but gives the player the option to play from a third-person perspective, it's not an example of the trope.

Examples from video games:

    open/close all folders 

     Adventure 

     First Person Shooter 
  • Half-Life:
    • The Trope Codifier for this trope in a narrative context was Half-Life, which never took control away from the player and in which all the action was viewed through the eyes of the player character Gordon Freeman.
    • This carried over into the game's expansion packs Opposing Force and Blue Shift, and also into its sequel Half-Life 2 and its following episodes.
    • One of the main criticisms against both games and their expansions were the first-person platforming sequences featured in both, although conversely the sequel has been acclaimed as one of the few games to do first-person driving sequences well.
  • Prey (2006) never breaks from Tommy's perspective, even throughout his numerous deaths and subsequent reincarnations. Even the loading screens are from his perspective.
  • All three BioShock games never break from the perspectives of their respective player characters until the end of each game:
    • BioShock ends with a third-person perspective of what Jack did after leaving Rapture.
    • BioShock 2 has Subject Delta's perspective merged with his Little Sister's through Adam.
    • In BioShock Infinite Booker is killed by Elizabeth at the end, and the camera starts moving upwards to the sky.
    • The Clash in the Clouds DLC also has four maps that each begin with the camera moving through the air throughout the map, before zooming in to Booker and regaining his perspective.
  • Far Cry series:
    • Far Cry 3 depicts all events from Jason's perspective, as seen in the page image. Some critics complained that the first-person perspective was ill-suited to the copious driving sequences in the game, as per the page quote.
    • Its sequel, Far Cry 4, follows suit.
    • Far Cry 2 did this earlier with the Player Character arriving in the country, contracting malaria and collapsing periodically in cutscenes. The endings are the only points where the perspective breaks.
  • The original Doom, as mentioned above. The only thing that could be considered a break in perspective are the text screens which appear occasionally and which are narrated to the player in Second-Person Narration.
    • DOOM take it further that from the beginning to the end, the perspective never shifts away from the protagonist (unless the flash hallucinations that happened when he wears back the Praetor Armor counts).
  • Likewise the original Wolfenstein 3D, aside from a closing "cutscene" which depicted the player character William "BJ" Blaskowicz leaping into the air triumphantly.
  • Metro series:
  • Resistance: Burning Skies never breaks from Tom Riley's POV until the very last cutscene.
  • Killzone: Mercenary, unlike previous games in the series, never leaves Danner's perspective except for the opening briefings. This is carried over into Shadow Fall, which takes place entirely in first-person aside from the opening and final cutscene.
  • Both Shadow Warrior (1997) and Shadow Warrior (2013) never leave Lo Wang's perspective except for the opening cutscene.
  • Breakdown never once leaves Derrek's eyes, from punching, eating, climbing on ledges, throwing up and getting the crap kicked out of him. It even explains away the HUD.

     Puzzle 
  • Portal:
    • Portal uses this except for a brief closing cutscene depicting a robotic claw snuffing out a candle on a chocolate cake. Of course, using carefully placed portals, you can sometimes get a third-person perspective viewed from a first-person perspective.
    • Likewise, the single-player campaign of Portal 2 uses it right up till the end - a scene after the credits depicts the fate of Wheatley, stranded in space. The Co-Op campaign, on the other hand, averts this, frequently breaking the perspective to show the robots being created or destroyed.

     Rhythm Games 
  • Guitar Hero Live works like this, where you take control of a first-person camera standing in for the band's guitarist and look out over the FMV crowd and your bandmates.

     Survival Horror  

  • Outlast is viewed exclusively from the perspective of Miles Upshur, in keeping with its emulation of a found-footage film, and averts First-Person Ghost.
  • With the exception of its few cutscenes and a flashback when Marlow tells his story, Alien: Isolation is viewed entirely from Amanda Ripley's perspective. It factors heavily into the tense gameplay, as the player can't look around when using computers or save points and so is highly vulnerable to attacks from the rear. Some critics complained that the perspective hurt the emotional impact of some scenes, as the player couldn't see Amanda's emotional reaction to plot developments.

     Other 
  • The only part of the protagonist that is visible in Ace Fishing is his fishing rod when he casts it to the water. But since this is a game with barely any storyline, and the only objective is to fish, there's really no reason to leave his perspective.


Non-video game examples:

     Film  

  • Russian Ark is entirely shown from the perspective of the main character, in a single, uninterrupted take.
  • Lady in the Lake is a 1940s Film Noir, which was heavily promoted as the first film to be shot exclusively from the perspective of the protagonist.
  • Hardcore Henry, starring Sharlto Copley, is the first action movie shot entirely through the protagonist's eyes.
  • Enter the Void: The entire film is from Oscar's perspective, but in non-chronological order and using different styles of POV shots. Specifically, the first one from the opening scenes is shown directly from his eyes so that we even see the movement of his eyelids; a second POV is from Oscar's disembodied spirit as he flies around Tokyo observing the events around him; and a third POV shot with the back of his head in view, primarily used in flashbacks.

     Music Video  

  • The Prodigy's music video for "Smack My Bitch Up" is a series of POV shots from the perspective of an alcoholic, drug addicted, violent, abusive, lecherous woman.
  • Panic! at the Disco's Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time is shot entirely from first-person perspective, occasionally using mirrors to show the main character's face.

     Other  

  • POV porn is an entire pornographic genre based around this trope.

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