How Skyrim made MMOs better for me

I’ve been playing RIFT for the last hour and had to pull myself out to share this with you. I have been having an incredible time. Like, fresh, first-days-of-MMOs type time. I know that sounds strange and, believe me, I didn’t expect to have such an immersive experience when I logged in. What I did is going to seem obvious, but I hope you try it, just to see.

It’s simple: zoom in. Like most of you, I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim, so I thought I’d see what it was like to play RIFT in the first person. It’s iffy, and because it’s iffy, I zoomed out just a tad, to something like this…

It’s similar to how Darkfall limits the camera angle but it still seemed a little awkward. I wouldn’t want to PvP with it, but for questing? What the hell. I ran towards my nearest quest indicator and along the way started to see things in a whole new light. This limited field of view forced me to focus on a much smaller window of greater detail — and the game stood up fantastically! I started to appreciate how the light filters down through the leaves and how good some of the textures are. (Mostly). I actually spent time to appreciate monster models beyond that cursory look before killing them dead. There are some really great models that I’d never really “seen” because I’d been zoomed out of the world. At times I felt out of my comfort zone, but I stuck with it. Telara drew me in like it never has before.

What’s more, I started to see my character like I hadn’t since making him. I always felt that player characters in RIFT were lacking, that they were little more than an avatar for destruction. When I panned the camera around, I took a minute to look my character in the face.

Who is this guy? Why does he frown? What kind of past would a person who looked like that have? These are questions I don’t think I’ve asked of any of my characters in RIFT. It took me being forced to spend some time a salt’s throw from his shoulder to make me do it.

Of course, there are times when you’ll need to zoom out. I was surprised to see that a close third-person perspective simply doesn’t work while mounted; the camera seemingly raises. Still, this was a good enough substitute that kept me in touch with the world.

It really comes down to being able to see the fine detail of things.

I share this post because doing this little thing made me feel something I haven’t felt in a very long time. I blamed MMOs for lacking a sense of world. I still think they do, but this little change allows me to at least meet them halfway.

I know a lot of you will think this is silly and maybe it is. If you usually play zoomed out, though, I hope you’ll challenge yourself and zoom in for half an hour. It will probably feel foreign, but who knows, you might just feel like you’re seeing things for the first time. It took me literally being forced to look at the game as a world but I’m very glad I had that experience tonight. Would I play like this all the time? No, I probably wouldn’t. Still, it’s good to get a new perspective now and then.

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