The first-person versus third-person argument is coming up in games again. CD Projekt Red confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077, its next action-RPG, is going to be entirely in the first-person. This doesn’t just apply to action and gameplay segments anymore. If you are watching a cinematic, it will be in the first-person too. It’s all in the name of immersion. But, is that really such a good idea? Is the first-person too limiting, especially considering the genre?
Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be an RPG. It will take place in an open world, where people create and customize an original avatar named V. There will be all sorts of character customization and modifications. Except, since it will only be in the first-person, you won’t get to see the results of your choices and work. The perspective chosen means you’ll only get that option if you go ahead and look in a mirror. Considering the effort people might put in, it could be a bit of a downer to not have that option.
The idea of immersion being the reasoning for it also might not be the best reason to support a first-person perspective. As a role-playing game, people might not be trying to be themselves as V. They could be taking this as an opportunity to be a certain sort of character. Being thrust into a first-person perspective wouldn’t allow that sort of distance. Depending on how “into” a game people get, it might be possible for them to find it difficult to be someone other than themselves.
As far as gameplay goes, it could also be distracting. CD Projekt Red has already noted that stealth could be an option in Cyberpunk 2077, as it confirmed back in 2018 that stealth mechanics will be present in the game. But, with a first-person perspective, this could be made a little more difficult or limiting. After all, a third-person perspective allows someone to better assess the situation and see what is happening around their character, letting them better plan their moves and slip around unnoticed. Someone locked into a first-person perspective could find themselves missing important details.
Platforming elements could be a concern eventually too. CD Projekt Red has confirmed that V will have the ability to do things like double jump or wallrun during the game. This would suggest areas where you might have hard to reach segments or need to possess a certain degree of skill to get to specific locations. While these things are relatively easy to accomplish in third-person games, since you can better judge your character’s position in the world, it can be much trickier to get from one platform to another or take advantage of something like running up or along walls when you only can see through the character’s eyes.
It might be even more frustrating to potential players when so many other games go with a happy medium. There are many games where this is utilized, giving people the option to go with what they prefer. Bethesda is a big proponent of letting people choose the perspective they prefer. In The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, people have been able to go with what they prefer, which can work to their benefit. After all, there are certain situations where being able to more closely investigate or look up, perhaps to aim a spell or pick up some items, can be a big deal. Dragon Quest Builders 2 lets people swap between first and third-person views, which is great for building versus exploring and fighting.
We’ll have to wait and see if sticking with the first-person is the right choice for Cyberpunk 2077. Especially in a world where so many similar open world RPGs or adventures offer an option and early indications suggest stealth or platforming sorts of abilities are present. Hopefully, it isn’t too limiting.