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#1 Posted by shivermetimbers (1334 posts) -

For some people it's glitches, for some people it's a certain game mechanic/design. I'm curious what kills immersion in games for you?

Conversely, what increases immersion for you?

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#2 Posted by espm400 (112 posts) -

In my opinion the key to very good immersion is atmosphere. This quality can make or break a game for me (if that's what the game is going for). A couple good examples of this would be Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2. Unlike the majority of horror/survival horror games, the thing that was truly scary about these games were not the actual baddies, rather the uncertainty of whether or not said baddies were actually around and where they were. I will forever remember the crackle of that radio when my buddy and I played through the entirety of the original overnight in a dark windowless basement.

Another game (or, mod rather) that I've been praising for this quality since I started playing it eight months ago is DayZ. Exploring and scavenging at night, especially when you don't have night vision, can get incredibly tense, and if there's the possibility of another player being in the area, it's doubly so. That's not even mentioning the surprise encounters that occasionally happen. The first game that has actually made my hands shake from the anxiety/adrenaline, and the first game that very nearly made me soil myself when coming around a corner at night, thinking I was alone, only to be face to face with another player.

As for killing immersion, glitches aren't so big of an issue with me (hell, I was just praising a mod that's still in alpha). For me I would have to say truly unbelievable/utterly ridiculous storylines and exposition for exposition's sake. I'm not talking about suspension of disbelief (see my previous examples...), I'm talking about tangent storylines that shouldn't have existed and showpiece cinematics and cut-scenes that come off to me like a dev trying to wank in my face (see the more recent Resident Evil and CoD games). I think the only exception to this one would be the Metal Gear Solid series. It has the most convoluted plot outside of a Suda 51 game, and MGS 4 was about as showy as showy gets, yet I loved the series. Who knows? Maybe I'm just completely mad.

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#3 Posted by Clonedzero (4206 posts) -

freedom and exploration is probably the highest for me. its not always the case but if im in an FPS or anything really for that matter, and its super linear, and i can think of a better way to approach the situation but the game is limited and wont let me, then im taken out of the moment. instantly.

something that SUPER bugs me and rips me right out of the moment, these are more specific to TES and fallout games, but the god damn quest locked items that you cant drop. where you lose control of aspects as simple as "what im carrying". when you're trying to have this big immersive roleplaying game, and i can't drop "Karl's Journal" cus i completed the quest by passing a speech check then thats FUCKED and it drives me crazy. like to the point of deleting a 50 hour FO:NV game cus i couldnt drop some dudes journal that will NEVER be used.

atmosphere and writing help alot though. characters reacting in good ways is great too. i dont care what game it is, i want a new industry standard to make it so if you jump in place over and over, that all NPCs just stop and look at you funny.

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#4 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2484 posts) -

What increases immersion for me and I'll use Skyrim and recent Fallout games as examples is meeting new people and getting caught up in conversation with them, also wandering around in a huge environment and not knowing what random town, people or acts of crazy I bump into. Reading journals and computer logs in the vaults or abandon houses is also what helps sweep me up in the world's fiction. What breaks immersion for me is the usual visual glitches, load screens and hard locks that occur in a world as big as Skyrim or Fallout games.

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#5 Posted by JasonR86 (10178 posts) -

Bad animation relative to really good animation. Also odd textures, models, whatever relative to really, really good textures, models whatever. For example, everything below the faces in LA Noire completely broke the immersion for me. Also Lara's elbows when they are bent bug me to no end in the new Tomb Raider.

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#6 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (2692 posts) -

It depends on the type of game, but my gut answer is too much combat. The biggest offender of that in my mind are the Uncharted games. They are so lighthearted and jokey, which really contrasts with the fact that Nathan Drake has racked up a body count in thousands.

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#7 Edited by BestUsernameEver (5026 posts) -

Kills it, motion control or quicktime events. Enhances it, characters that are dynamic and don't have one emotion, also probably no hand holding, like metroid or meat boy where you have to learn how to progress and it doesn't just say "hold A to do so and so", makes you figure it out.

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#8 Edited by BeachThunder (14576 posts) -

This kind of shit. Also, there's this, which the list omits. I mean, why create up a detailed setting and interesting story only to just shit all over it with constant in-jokes.

References to things are ok if they're subtle, such as Isaac Clarke's name being a nod to two sci-fi authors. However, having a multiple characters say "You look like you belong in a battle mech computer game. This is Fallout 2. Maybe you opened the wrong folder on your hard drive." is pretty dumb (and not in a good way). It basically just suggests the developers don't give much of a shit about what they're creating.

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#9 Edited by BabyChooChoo (6554 posts) -

Kills: Anything that directly contradicts the "rules" and/or tone that have presumably been previously established. Also, and this pretty much applies only to MMOs, but any time someone walks by who looks almost exactly like me, it's an instant buzzkill. These days they try to put so much emphasis on your character, yet "your" character has thousands of clones running around like it's nothing.

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#10 Posted by HH (932 posts) -

boosts: anything that contributes to heightened realism (as much as i love borderlands 2 there is no question of me getting immersed in it because it's just too gamey), exact controls (i love being able to not walk into walls, at all), difficulty that encourages caution (roll on survival genre).

killers: bad dialogue (although being able to play a renegade and respond with a pukey face and a put down helps a lot), too many set paths (i like the illusion i'm crafting my own experience, no interest in having the same one everyone else is having), main quests (although detailed action interests me greatly, action plots i could do without - i want to experience intensity, that's all the motivation i need, asking me to care about some developer's mish-mash idea of a space opera/whatever is asking way way too much)

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#11 Posted by mellotronrules (1986 posts) -

for me it's the music. it can make or break your game. the good stuff enhances nearly every aspect of the experience, and bad and/or uninteresting music has the opposite effect on me.

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#12 Posted by AlecOfTheWest (293 posts) -

Jank. It's one of the reasons I consider Bethesda games to be the antithesis of "immersion". Though I've never really been legititmately immersed in a game. It's always just been a marketing buzzword to me.

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#13 Posted by WickedFather (1694 posts) -


#1 When I've entered that blurry unblinking half-world of being drawn into story and gameplay and some stupid box pops up it absolutely kills it.

#2 Constantly being concious of an achievement so it modifies my gameplay and stops me going into the reverie of #1.

Please don't say "Just ignore them, then!" because that shows a complete ignorance of the problem.

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#14 Posted by rentacop (116 posts) -


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#15 Posted by StrikeALight (1202 posts) -

A noticeably bad framerate can damper the experience for me.

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#16 Edited by Svenzon (935 posts) -

It's actually pretty hard to say what creates complete immersion for me. If a game is immersive, you don't really stop to think about what creates it, you just get immersed and keep playing. It's probably a combination of refined mechanics, a good feedback loop, great atmosphere and lots of little details that makes it, if I had to guess.

It's way easier to say what kills immersion: excessive fourth wall-breaking (like the kinda crap Kojima pulls), too many pop culture references (World of Warcraft and Borderlands 2), large amounts of bugs (Aliens: Colonial Marines) or mechanics that feel way too gamey, like having to kill x amount of enemies to use Mark & Execute in Splinter Cell: Conviction. References are perhaps the worst of the bunch, since that shit has destroyed a bunch of games for me.

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#17 Edited by PretentiousHack (43 posts) -

In both Oblivion and Skyrim whenever an enemy pops up while exploring the open world combat music kicks in. This happens every 20 odd seconds and its fucking annoying. Modding the combat music off makes the open world aspect far more immersing.

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#18 Posted by ProfessorEss (7957 posts) -

freedom and exploration is probably the highest for me.

Me too. Just Cause, Skyrim, Fallout, Saints Row, Far Cry, Terraria, etc...

The thing that "takes me out" the most is linear plots with long cut-scenes and a highly defined player character, especially because 9 times out of 10 I don't end up liking or relating to the character that the developer has chosen for me to be.

Oh yeah, good controls are also a must.

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#19 Edited by Justin258 (14373 posts) -

Anything that really contradicts the rules that I've been playing the game by. I don't really think of immersion as "removing as many HUD elements as possible" or crazy stuff like that, but if I've gotten used to a rule-set and something doesn't feel like it belongs in there, then the game kind of breaks for me.

EDIT: Also, I'm wishing more and more that player characters would stop being silent. I mean, it doesn't bother me too much, but I would like to see more games voice their main character. It was interesting when Gordon Freeman and Link were mutes but it's not now that half the freaking main characters out there are mutes.

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#20 Posted by harinosho (701 posts) -

Mainly FPS does this for me:

Gun always pointed never holstered.

Silent protagonist.

No hand movement when pressing buttons or well, anything door or keypad related.

No Legs.

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#21 Edited by LikeaSsur (1752 posts) -

Boosts: Good music, good voice acting, and good sound effects. This is what creates the atmosphere that so many people talk about. Also, proper vibration is a must, something a lot of games thankfully get right.

Kills: Usually, it's people interrupting me, but if we're just focusing on the game itself, then silent protagonists, specifically when everyone else has a voice. This is one of the reasons I never got into Dragon Age: Origins, because all the characters would talk to me, and I would respond with pure silence. It was jarring.

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#22 Posted by Hunkulese (4008 posts) -

The fact that it's a game on my tv that I'm playing with a cotroller kills any sort of immersion for me.

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#23 Posted by Veektarius (6096 posts) -

For me, the key to immersion is the presence of downtime in-game. The fact that there are loading screens doesn't bother me, but if that loading screen takes the place of me going to my home base, choosing my weapon load out and reading the mission briefing in my own time, that'll kill my immersion. The most immersive games for me are ones that avoid this almost completely, like Deus Ex and Vampire Bloodlines (ignoring the latter game's other flaws). The least immersive are always-on action games like Call of Duty or Devil May Cry.

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#24 Posted by Blu3V3nom07 (4383 posts) -

Breaking the 4th wall, kills it for me. I can't think about games right now. But a tiny movie example is like Friday. All the way at the end. I think it was Smokey And Craig. Craig walks off a bit at like a CU, stares directly at the camera a bit. Smokey says a small monologue, stares at the camera and says, "And you know this, man!" [End Credits]

A good immersion example is making myself a customizable character. The more detailed I can make the face look, the better immersed I am. Also, when you can make definitive choices in-game, is a good one. : )

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#25 Posted by OfficeGamer (1120 posts) -

The only thing that breaks my immersion is being limited to do whatever I please (within reason).

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#26 Posted by Slaegar (837 posts) -

Dying way too many times in the same spot. More so if its to bullshit like getting 7 grenades thrown at me or enemies that shoot forever.

Fighting with controls. Bad controls or controls that make me feel like I'm not doing what I'm trying to be doing take me out.

When the camera gets taken away from me to show me something I could have noticed without it. Gear of War did a good job with the whole "hold Y to look at this" so you see what you should see but aren't forced to.

As far as things that bring me into a game...

I love just standing around and enjoying the ambiance. Seeing rain splash into puddles and hear it slapping onto alumin(i)um roofs or onto plastic tarps really puts me into the right mood.

Good sound design. Hearing the terrible boom from a gun really brings me into shootin' games much more. When a gun sounds like someone crunching peanuts under a shoe, It makes me remember this is a video game. Battlefield's fighting sounds are really nice for this.

A steady framerate. Being a PC gamer mostly. I really enjoy a steady 60 fps, but when it dips to even 50 fps I can feel it. I can still enjoy a 30 fps game for the most part, but even a small dip in fps ruins the experience.

Dem graffixs. A beautiful realized world makes me feel like a part of it. When I see a flat texture of grass growing sideways out of a funky shaped rock in Skyrim it takes me out of it.

High resolutions/Clear visuals. While that is part of dem graffixs, I want to be able to see clearly very far away. In GTA 4, that weird stained glass LOD filter they put on things 3 feet from your face makes the game almost unplayable. If I have to squint to see whats in front of my face, I can not become one with a game.

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#27 Posted by videogamesarenotart (122 posts) -

navigating menus for some nitpicky "ultra-realistic" effect, where you could easily do something IRL much easier and intelligently

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#28 Posted by DaMisterChief (612 posts) -

If it sucks

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#29 Posted by hermes (2253 posts) -

Bad controls. I had this problem with Bioshock for PS3, which had the most backward control scheme of any PS3 FPS (and no, you can't change it). I was constantly reminded that shooting didn't work as most games on the console did, which makes me be constantly thinking about what buttons to press...

Also, some specific variety of silent protagonist. I don't mind them in FPS, but it does bother me when games have your protagonist be silent in a fully voiced world, but still able to speak (and characters respond to them). For example, Dragon Age and Kingdoms of Amalur did this... I guess the reason it bothers me so much in those games is that other characters are shown to emote while speaking while my character is just standing there looking stiff and telepathically speaking with others.

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#30 Posted by NiKva (133 posts) -

In COD, its those parts where you get knocked out randomly (such as your helicopter crashing) and then you're trying to fight all injured and such.

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#31 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7097 posts) -

I hate when, in a tutorial, the tutorial "teacher" character says stuff like "press the jump button to get across the river!" Or something. It's breaking the fourth wall in a negative, completely humorless way. And it's amplified tenfold now that most of that stuff is fully voiced and developers still use it sometimes.

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#32 Edited by Nictel (2695 posts) -

"John is playing Team fortress 2". The thing is in some games I want notifications on while in others I want them off..

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#33 Posted by gogosox82 (452 posts) -

I don't like it the all the buttons don't work in a tutorial. It's just offputting that if i push square and nothing happens and then suddenly two seconds later when the game tells me the square lets me jump or pick up items or whatever it is. I just can't stand handholding like that in games. I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to push a button.

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#34 Posted by mosespippy (4751 posts) -

Good rain sound effects will always make me feel cold, even if the setting is warm or the weather is warm.

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#35 Posted by Nodima (1971 posts) -

Respawn totally kills a game's multiplayer for me if it's a shooter. For some reason, fighters/brawlers don't bother me in that way, but I suppose if I were thinking hard I probably haven't played many online brawlers lately other than the Ascension beta on PS3.

But I could never get into Call of Duty II's renowned multiplayer when I had a PC because of the respawn. Most of my early online gaming came from Madden, NFL/NBA 2K and then SOCOM II, and all of those games are rooted in a core philosophy that "this is your one shot; make it count". In competitive gaming that feeling to me is invaluable. I'm not completely amazed, but personally it bums me out that the SOCOM model of competitive gameplay is all but dead outside of the sports genre.

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#36 Posted by Nodima (1971 posts) -

I don't like it the all the buttons don't work in a tutorial. It's just offputting that if i push square and nothing happens and then suddenly two seconds later when the game tells me the square lets me jump or pick up items or whatever it is. I just can't stand handholding like that in games. I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to push a button.

This just happened to me with a friend of mine. His newest game console is a Wii his parents gave him because they didn't want it anymore, before that he was still quite happy with his PS2. In other words, he doesn't play often. So he likes to thumb through my PS3 and just try out new stuff I have installed on the hard drive. So he tries Just Cause 2 and he's sort of like Vinny where he can make things a lot more difficult for himself than they need to be because he expects something different out of the game, and so on the tutorial mission he's got three helicopters coming after him.

BUT, because he hadn't been told to grapple onto the blonde woman's chopper and do the min-rail shooter thing dangling from the bottom of it, he couldn't grapple those helicopters yet. In fact, until they tell you to use the grapple to scale the first wall into the first base, you can't even do that! Hell, he had to play the INITIAL part of the tutorial (catching the dude with the parachute) three different times because first he didn't even pay attention to the guy and second because he didn't land exactly near the base the second time.

I just had to apologize, haha.

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#37 Posted by jakob187 (22932 posts) -

Cutscenes ABSOLUTELY kill immersion for me. When a game can tell their story much like the original Dead Space or Half-Life by playing the scene out in front of you in-game, then it keeps me in the game. Now, when a game like Resident Evil 4 takes cutscenes to the next level and keeps them interactive with context-sensitive button prompts, that keeps me immersed as well. That game handled it well.

What keeps me immersed the most, however, is a simple thing: the power fantasy where I am the middle of the universe. I don't want to be some nameless guy. We play games because of the power fantasy, because we are the savior of the world or the one person that everyone else is shooting at. WE are the reason the story exists. When you forget that as a game, it just kills me. Customization helps a ton as well - TRUE customization. Let me customize every single piece of my weapon, my armor, my character. If you do not offer that to me, it ends up killing the immersion for me.

Most games that I play nowadays just feel like I'm playing a movie. That's okay, but it's just something for me to consume. When a game can truly immerse me, THAT is when the magic happens.

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#38 Posted by leinad44 (619 posts) -

One thing that always takes me out of games without fail is when your character gets captured, but when gameplay resumes you have all your weapons and equipment are available to you without your character picking them back up. It leads me to think that the bad guys let you keeo your weapons and equipment, which makes nor bloody sense, I think this happened during Far Cry 3.

A world that seems to live on its own help immerse me, where npcs seem to be off doing their own thing instead of fighting you all the time. RDR is the best example I can think of this. It is also probably the main reason I love Majora's Mask so much

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#39 Edited by Nodima (1971 posts) -

Another killer for me is when a game (sometimes, as in the following example, through no real fault of its own) is so clearly stuck between competing concepts. This probably happens more frequently for me than others since I tend to lay non-NBA 2K games years after the fact when the price is down, but anyway.

I recently bit the bullet on Assassin's Creed II because it was $10 or something like that on a PSN sale recently, and after the initial luster of the art style and setting begin to rub off I can't help but notice I keep trying to traverse areas like I'm Cole from inFamous and I keep trying to fight l'm Rocksteady's Batman. Considering that both of these things are core to the game and both of them come up severely lacking yet eerily similar to other games I enjoyed more, it's really hard for me to look at AC2 as anything more than an academic curiosity. And that's kind of a bummer, because I don't really have the time or the money to be pretending I'm a journalist when it comes to games.

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#40 Posted by NoobSauceG7 (1387 posts) -

Bumping up against invisible walls kills it for me in every game.

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#41 Edited by NoobSauceG7 (1387 posts) -

Bumping up against invisible walls kills it for me in every game.

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#42 Edited by pyromagnestir (4452 posts) -

Crashes and freezing up. That ruined Fallout New Vegas for me. It's hard to really dive into a world when I'm constantly paranoid that the game will freeze up and I'll have spent all that time wandering around the wastes for nothing.

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#43 Posted by TobbRobb (6083 posts) -

Everything breaks immersion for me. I'm veeery into the thought process and techincal side of game design, so even details that are supposed to be hidden are painfully obvious. And thinking of game design isn't really helping the immersion a lot, you know? That's why my top tier games are almost always very mechanical or quirky in style, story and gameplay.

I was gonna say I haven't been immersed in a game for several years, which WOULD be true if Journey wasn't such a well crafted fucking experience. It didn't work on me twice, but the first run through that game made me realise that I'm not a completely ruined cynical freak just yet.

I don't have a problem getting immersed in books though. Not sure why. I'm probably just not as well versed into the art of writing. Or the act of reading just takes up too much focus to think too much. When reading is really the only time I can truly relax and enjoy a world.

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#44 Posted by Nightriff (7112 posts) -

Weird pauses in-between lines, played the PS3 ME Trilogy a few months ago and it was very distracting, didn't remember that happening on the 360 but it felt weird

Smooth transitions between cutscenes, gameplay, etc. I thought Asura's Wrath did it well during the specific episode, but the weird transition from episode to episode was poorly done

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#45 Posted by BaneFireLord (3216 posts) -

I guess this only applies to one franchise, but being forced to jump out of the Animus for meaningless exposition every time the plot was about to get interesting in the AC games is the most jarring, immersion breaking experience in gaming.

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#46 Edited by snowballingblood (55 posts) -

One thing that can get into your head when focusing on immersion is the fact that your dude/gal doesn't seem to have to heed nature's call. I'm thinking mainly of Skyrim where I've added appropriate mods to increase immersion and make more of foods/cooking/hunting/resting but then there are no shitters! Every now and then a dungeon or bandit camp might have what looks like a secluded room with chamber pot but nothing in developed areas. That can be quite immersion breaking since they've worried about all the other shite even without mods.

of course any slowdown after a long stretch of fluid gaming will snap one out of the trance and remind you that you now only have three hours before work and you've been up all night drinking beer. mouthwash and coffee time!

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#47 Edited by OneKillWonder_ (2357 posts) -

For me, it's how fully realized and complete the game world feels. A strong atmosphere with a lot of little details makes for the most compelling experiences. Half-Life 2 is my all-time favorite game for this reason. The game is so rich with atmosphere and feels like a real, living place. The environments are superbly crafted, and the ambient noise in them is perfect. It has a real sense of place, you know? Combined with the interesting characters and the way the story is told, I find this to easily be the most immersive game I've ever played. The game does such a great job of making you feel like a smaller part of a much grander world. Other games like Bioshock and Fallout 3/NV do this, as well. Come to think of it, I don't know if there are any non-first person games I would consider to be immersive, at least not in the same way that I find the ones I've mentioned.

What break immersion is really the intrusion of any obvious 'video-gamey' things, whether it's the UI, game mechanics, or glaring bugs. That shit pulls me right out of the experience.

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#48 Posted by captain_clayman (3349 posts) -

Going between in game and pre-rendered cutscenes that look totally different always takes me out. Same with intrusive menus and button prompts and shiny flashing objects of importance.

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#49 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5919 posts) -

Frustrating difficulty can kill immersion for me. I enjoy a good challenge, but if I have to repeat an area dozens of times because of some stupid game mechanic, it can really ruin the moment.

Conversely, one thing that I feel really heightens the immersion factor is good side-conversation between characters. It's nice to see the characters talk about things that aren't related to the main storyline, even the conversations never lead anywhere.

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#50 Edited by Monkeyman04 (2486 posts) -

The thing that kills it for me is when I get stuck in the geometry or the textures don't load properly (Like what happened in the Tomb Raider quicklook, but not that crazy). Just things that make me go, "Oh right, I'm playing a game."