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Unbroken First-Person Perspective

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Whether you're shooting, driving, hang-gliding or fetching mushrooms for the local "doctor", 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 an animated 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 3-D 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 engines 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 are from that genre simply because it's the most popular genre to use this camera perspective (games which are designed for a virtual reality headset also frequently make use of a first-person perspective, and some use this trope). 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.

This trope can be used in video games to allow The All-Concealing "I" to hide basic details about the character you're playing as.

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:

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    First Person Shooter 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Corpse Killer starts with some movie-style footage showing the player-character parachuting to Cay Noir and subsequently being attacked by a zombie, but once Winston saves him, it turns entirely into first-person footage.
  • Doom:
    • The original Doom games, as mentioned above. The only thing that could be considered a break in perspective are the text screens which appear occasionally and are narrated to the player in Second-Person Narration.
    • Doom (2016) take it further in that from the beginning to the end, the perspective never shifts away from the protagonist (unless the flash hallucinations that happen when he retrieves the Praetor Suit counts). By contrast, Doom Eternal has third-person cutscenes with varying camera angles.
  • Far Cry series:
    • 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.
    • 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 sequels, Far Cry 4 and Far Cry 5, follow suit.
  • Half-Life virtually never takes control away from the player and shows all the action through the eyes of the player character Gordon Freeman. This carries over between games due to their Immediate Sequel (at least from Gordon's point of view) nature; the series never once breaks the perspective from Gordon's eyes, using moments when he's in stasis or unconscious to skip forward in time when needed. Half-Life expansion packs Opposing Force and Blue Shift also do this with their protagonists, as does Half-Life: Alyx. In the case of Alyx, it even does this when the player briefly controls Gordon in the post-credits scene, picking up right from where Half-Life 2: Episode Two ended. Decay is the sole exception due to its more mission-based structure.
  • In Haze, all cutscenes take place from main character Shane Carpenter's perspective, and the game also makes a point of not magically teleporting you to new locations between levels; when you're required to go to a new area of the country, you either get there by helicopter (and experience the whole ride), or actually have to drive or walk there in gameplay. Other than in the middle of the game where Shane loses consciousness a couple of times, the entire game's narrative is essentially an unbroken real-time experience.
  • 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.
  • Metro series:
  • Prey (2006) never breaks from Tommy's perspective, even throughout his numerous deaths and subsequent reincarnations. Even the loading screens are from his perspective.
  • Same goes for Prey (2017), except for the very beginning when you choose whether your character is male or female, and a closing cutscene where either the Typhon coral or the entire space station is destroyed.
  • Resistance: Burning Skies never breaks from Tom Riley's POV until the very last cutscene.
  • Both Shadow Warrior (1997) and Shadow Warrior (2013) never leave Lo Wang's perspective except for the opening cutscene.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando shows all the action from inside the helmet of Delta 38, the player character.
  • All of the campaign of Titanfall 2 is in first-person except the opening cinematic and credits. It does bend the rules a few times by zooming the camera in.
  • Every game in the Unreal series sans Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict (whose third-person mode is an integral part of the game alongside the default first-person mode) and the "behindview" cheat code (which, for the purpose of the trope, is off-limits). It's easier to mention the amount of times this rule was broken:
  • The original Wolfenstein 3-D is in first-person, aside from a "cutscene" closing the first episode, which depicted the player character William "BJ" Blaskowicz leaping into the air triumphantly after escaping the eponymous castle.

  • Clustertruck always shows the action from the player's perspective, even after they fall off the trucks and die.

  • 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, frequently breaks the perspective to show the robots being created or destroyed.
  • The Turing Test plays with this trope, combined with The All-Concealing "I", to hide important details about the player's character. Including the fact that the player's character is not, in fact, Dr. Turing, but an AI who has hijacked her body.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Outer Worlds has a relatively robust character creator, but the only times you'll ever see them is when you look at your inventory menu. Granted, you'd be looking at the menu quite often.
  • Shining the Holy Ark you are playing as Arthur during the game; battle sequences show his companions leaping forward to attack when they need to, and when Arthur attacks, the camera zooms towards the enemy with a slash effect. Similarly, when casting magic, the spell glyphs form directly under the camera's position. Even while in towns and cutscenes, you are seeing them through Arthur's eyes.

    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.

  • In Dishonored, you never leave Corvo's perspective for the entire game, except for the ending which is epilogue vignettes. Corvo himself can be seen in multiple ending shots without his mask, although he does not appear in the Total Chaos ending. Corvo is also seen with his mask on from Daud's perspective at multiple points in "The Brigmore Witches" DLC.
    • Dishonored 2 mostly follows the same trend, except for the prologue. You start the prologue as Emily, then at one point it cuts to third-person to let you choose who you are going to play for the game proper, then it remains in first person perspective of that character for the rest of the game.
  • We Happy Few is seen entirely from the protagonist's eyes. This follows into the other two protagonists besides Arthur, Sally and Ollie.

    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.
  • In The Persistence, you are stuck behind the eyes of a trapped and scared scientist all the way through your journey through The Persistence, until the very last cutscene.
  • Played with in Resident Evil 7. Normally it's played straight with the player never leaving Ethan's eyes, but you can view multiple video tapes throughout the game which play from other characters' perspectives, and near the end of the game the perspective changes to Mia's first person view before switching back to Ethan for the finale. So despite which first person is being viewed, the player never experiences the game from a third person perspective.
    • This is also played with in Resident Evil Village, with the game taking place entirely from Ethan's perspective. When Ethan is "killed" by Miranda, the game switches to Chris' perspective, whose gameplay sections are played from a first-person perspective with any cutscenes being played in third-person. This is also somewhat true when you continue playing the game with Ethan, with gameplay being entirely in first-person but cutscenes switch between first and third-person. The game later received an update that allowed the player to go through the entire game in third-person, but only for gameplay.

  • 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:

  • 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.
  • Hardcore Henry, directed by Ilya Naishuller (see also the Music Videos folder) and starring Sharlto Copley, is the first action movie shot entirely through the protagonist's eyes.
  • Lady in the Lake is a 1947 Film Noir, which was heavily promoted as the first film to be shot exclusively from the perspective of the protagonist, detective Philip Marlowe.
    • So You Want to Be a Detective is a short comedy film made one year after Lady in the Lake, as a direct satire of that movie. In this one it's not Philip "Snarlowe" the detective who is the POV character, but his sidekick "Gilmore", who was usually the narrator of the "So You Want..." films.
  • Russian Ark is entirely shown from the perspective of the main character, in a single, uninterrupted take.

    Live Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H had an episode told completely from the first-person point of view of a wounded soldier being treated at the 4077th, appropriately called "Point of View".

    Music Video 
  • Cinnamon Chaser's music video, "Luv Deluxe," is from the POV of a young man who meets a woman at a gas station. What follows are three different possible outcomes of their relationship.
  • Joyner Lucas' "Ross Capicchioni" music video is purportedly based on the true story of Capicchioni who is said to have survived multiple gunshot wounds. It includes the POV of both him and his shooter.
  • A recurrent trope in music videos directed by Ilya Naishuller:
    • The music videos for Biting Elbows' "The Stampede" and its more-famous sequel "Bad Motherfucker" are filmed entirely in first-person view from the perspective of a man escaping from an office building after stealing a teleportation device.
    • The Weeknd's "False Alarm" music video is shot like something out of PAYDAY: The Heist using the POV of a bank robber. In the end we do see that person's face when he looks into a mirror as he lays dying.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • Stuart Ashen films almost all his videos with a camera placed in front of his chest so all that the viewers see of him are his hands. Until some videos showed the rest of him some fans liked to jokingly suggest that he's actually a sapient camera with a pair of animatronic hands.

    Western Animation 
  • Pinky and the Brain episode 55 segment 1 "The Pinky P.O.V." was shown entirely from Pinky's perspective, featuring a visible nose, hands and full body reflections.