Console vs PC – FOV Explained

PC Gamers suffer in this world of Console-led game development. Although most console games are constructed using PCs, in general they are optimised for those devices, mostly ignoring the capabilities and requirements of the more generally capable PCs. So when games are released multi-platform, or start on console and later get ‘ported’ to the PC, there’s always good cause to worry if enough of the PC’s unique technical and player requirements have been taken into account.

One of the most frustrating issues plaguing PC ports is that of FOV, or Field of View/Vision. On consoles this generally locked at a 55/60 degree angle. But on PC this narrow view looks really claustrophobic and can actually cause headaches and/or dizziness in susceptible players. We tend to prefer an FOV setting of around 90 degrees.

It had always been something I’d been aware of and either lived with or found a fix for (part of the fun of being a PC owner is hacking around in settings!). Today I tried to find a fix for Red Faction: Armageddon. You can find the fix here.

The Red Faction games are notoriously poor at providing FOV options on PC. This is the third in the series, Guerilla. I played the entire game like this, hating just about every minute of the pinched perspective. But lets not pick on poor old Red Faction - this is very common among PC versions of console-targeted games.

The Red Faction games are notoriously poor at providing FOV options on PC. This is the third in the series, Guerilla. I played the entire game like this, hating just about every minute of the pinched perspective. But lets not pick on poor old Red Faction – this is very common among PC versions of games developed with consoles foremost in developer’s priorities.

Whilst there, I discovered that someone helpful had posted links to the following Youtube videos, where someone very talented explained clearly and concisely the science behind FOV and why it was a problem for PC gamers. Hurrah! I understood that there was a difference, and which FOV setting I preferred, but up until this point I’d never really understood why. Now I do: Double hurrah! Vids below, for your pleasure:

The thing I took away from watching these, apart from the clarity of understanding precisely why PC gamers get so wound up about FOV, is just how poor many game developers are at understanding this: they really should know better. But all too often games are provided on PC with this very basic technical point completely neglected, meaning we have to wait for either a patch (unlikely) or some clever player to hack the game in some way that means we can adjust the FOV to our comfort (what usually happens). PC Gamers often get accused of superiority complexes, or told that they’re just “whining” about these things, but the science behind FOV is real, provable and so simple to understand that it makes a mockery of any game that fails to include an adjustable option for it. A game designed to work on a display 10 feet away from the player needs to be configured slightly differently for players who sit only 1 or 2 foot away from their displays. It’s not rocket surgery!

Sort it out, Game Developers!

(NB: If you’d like to understand more of the issues that plague console games on PC, and some of the amazingly helpful suggestions that developers could do to make ALL gamers happier, RockPaperShotgun has a fabulous series of articles cataloguing many of them.)

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