This topic bedevils me. It is so expansive, we’ll be discussing third person adventure games as well in this article. A third person game can be anything. Literally anything. We are morphing genres from survival horror, to mystery and adventure, to pure mindless combat, story based conversation games, name a genre and there is most likely a third person archetype being applied to at least 70% of the games on offer.
Let’s get into the technical side a bit, we’ll also wander into Unreal 4 when the time comes to discuss asset packs. How do you make a third person game in Unreal 5? Well let’s open up yesterday’s project, shall we?
Oh, by the way, is an FPS more your style? Check out our guide on how to make one.
How do I make a third person shooter?
Downnload a game engine like Unreal 5 and just start messing with it, once you’ve got familiar with the engine there’s nothing you can’t do in it, then you can start importing environments, characters, props, items, systems and music, and start developing your game outright.
What makes a good third person shooter?
Generally speaking, if your game focuses on shooting, then your gunplay and combat mechanics need to be sound, you need a good character controller with a lot of movement abilities and potential actions in the world. Parkour is rarely a mistake in a game like that.
You’ll also need story, characters, villains, and worldbuilding. The same as any other game. Your world should be interesting to explore and alive with activities, your characters and villains should be a foil for each other, your main character should be visually appealing considering you’ll be looking at them for the entire game, and your story needs to be interesting and well written.
Here, the exceptional ones at PC MAG have produced this breakdown of the best Third Person Shooters of 2021, read. Not just this, read.
How to create a Third Person Template in Unreal 5
- Start up the Launcher.
- Open Unreal Engine 5.
- Create a New Project.
- Choose Third Person.
- Name and choose a location for your project.
This is what you see.
From here, if you want to build your game from scratch, you’re going to have to learn about behavior trees, for your AI enemies/npc’s. You’ll need a conversation system, which can be anything from a dialogue system through text, to npc’s who spout dialogue when talked to, to complex conversations with fully animated characters with realistic lip sync. You’ll need to design combat behavior, weaponry, ballistics and hit reaction, and a sea of other features and functions, each in themselves doable, but maybe beyond the scope of a beginner to complete all on their own from scratch.
Some Third Party Assets which can speed your development up:
FPS Starter Kit
I know it’s called First Person Starter Kit, but you can toggle back and forth between First and Third Person, so I feel this kit is worth mentioning. If you want to develop in Unreal 5, this kit is currently 90% compatible, although the vehicles are not working yet. It’s a good choice if you’re making a combat shooter, and you want ready access to a whole host of weapons, like shotguns, rifles, pistols, lasers, and assault rifles.
You could pretty easily create a Gears of War type game with this as your foundation. It’s a good asset, and can really jump start your game.
Easy Survival RPG v2.5
I’ve been experimenting with this framework and I’m really impressed, it isn’t updated to Unreal 5 yet, but it is very good. If you want the equivalent of a full working game out of the box, with all the systems you require, this is the way to go.
You can step over the difficulties of building your game before you start developing, you can just develop from day 1. It has crafting, research, dozens and dozens of weapons, ranged, melee and unarmed. There’s armor, bartering, enemy AI, friendly AI, story and quest systems, a good third person controller, complete with swimming, there’s a leveling system, enemy spawners, basically everything. The price point is a bit high, but it goes on sale pretty often, so pick up a copy if you see it on sale. It’s worth the cost.
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An overview of third person genres
There are as many potential third person games as there are genres, so let’s go over some of the different types of third person games, and what to generally do when making one, as well as an example of how to do it right.
Third Person Survival Horror is the most common type of survival horror. Generally you are in an oppressive, harsh environment, beset by monsters of some kind, who are generally, but not always, too powerful to fight head on very often, although you can still win a fight if you need to.
These games are all about the atmosphere, the enemies, the environment, your enemies should be memorable and very well crafted, with interesting behavior patterns, if your player is going to be fighting them throughout most of the game. Generally in a psychological horror game, the enemy should reflect something about the main character’s personality. Such as the nurses in Silent Hill representing the repressed feelings of the protagonist.
You should also give a lot of thought to the environments you utilize in a game like this, the locations you visit should be psychologically relevant to the main character, but also, haunting, and oppressive. The use of fog in Silent Hill 2 is a good example of what to do right when it comes to environments, but the level design was equally brilliant, and meshed with the fog so perfectly, you’d think it was primarily a design decision rather than a response to the limitations of the hardware. The school in Silent Hill 1, still fills me with dread, and the bizarre misshapen dwarf enemies in the level were so disturbing in that context.
Third Person Adventure:
They are generally broken down into third person shooters, which are very combat heavy, and third person adventures, these games are less combat heavy, and you’re likely to be doing a lot of puzzles, conversation, exploration, walking around, and soforth.
Sleeping Dogs is a good example, it has a lot of exploration and interacting with NPC’s, worldbuilding, and the like, but it does not shy away from combat either.
Perspective is over the shoulder or behind the character, the world is sprawling and huge, and you have a lot of different things you can do in the world, it it notorious for giving you a large number of very weird behaviors you can get into that you wouldn’t see in other games.
The different systems and abilities and characters in the world, all work together in Harmony to create a bigger picture of interactions that is more than the sum of it’s parts.
Grand Theft Auto 5
Another example would be the Grand Theft Auto Series, while these are open world games, they’re also third person adventures. This would be the gold standard, if you could make the best game possible, it would be like GTA 5, it is still pretty hard to make a GTA clone in Unreal or Unity as an indie dev.
The story and characters are all top notch. Amusingly the only thing really missing in GTA V is a good villain. Because the protagonists don’t count. They rampage around for 50 hours and the perfunctory resistance the enemies have on offer, is far from impressive or memorable. But the game itself, magic.
Third Person Puzzler:
Another genre extant in third person games is the puzzler. In these you may be in combat, but you are primarily solving puzzles, talking to people, exploring the world, and things of that nature.
A good example if Majora’s Mask, there is combat but it’s not the focus, there is an open world but it’s not like GTA. You are mostly solving puzzles, to get to the next set of puzzles.
The story in this game is haunting, and almost scary but not quite. It is still a Zelda game, appropriate for kids, but there’s something about the depressed tone of the world, the mood of the characters, the impending sense of doom. Something about this game is very dark, for a Zelda game.
Here’s another interesting puzzler. In LA Noire you are primarily interviewing people, investigating crime scenes, talking to people, and trying to suss out lies when interviewing criminals to solve the murder. The people you meet are all from 1950’s America so they have a lot of character. There is combat, from time to time, but it’s definitely not the focus.
There is an open world, for you to drive around in, and you can even run over pedestrians like in GTA. But you are heavily punished and will probably lose the game if you do, and there’s not much to do in the open world, you’re just going from place to place to different crime scenes to investigate, interview, and catch the killer.
Third Person RPG
This is also the majority of RPG’s. Since RPG’s are so character based, it is generally preferable for the player’s whole body to be visible. These games will rise and fall on their stories and character’s sure, but they also do well to have polished gameplay, and make things as fun to play as possible.
The Witcher 3 : Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt is an example of a third person WRPG, which has a huge expansive storyline, going on for hundreds of hours, with a rich and full world to explore, and lots of interesting and engaging characters.
The gameplay is beautifully crafted, with good action combat, lots of things to do, crafting, collecting, sidequests, basically everything you would expect from a modern open world WRPG.
Dragon Quest XI : Echoes of an Exclusive Age
On the JRPG front, Dragon Quest 11 is one of the finest in the genre, it has a big world to explore, hundreds of hours of gameplay, it has cute iconic characters, a fun and interesting story with interesting villains. The world is fun to walk around in, there’s always something hidden away if you look hard enough.
The gameplay is solid, it was a very well designed game, and the gameplay takes precedence over the admittedly excellent story. If you get a chance to, you should pick it up, you’ll be surprised by how good it is.
Anyway, I feel this topic is just too broad and expansive to give you a good idea of what it takes to make a good Third Person game, there are just too many angles to cover and I can only touch on them in the most cursory of fashions.
Still, if you boot up Unreal Engine, and start working on your third person game, you can have something up and running in a month that will really impress you. Build your game, I know you have a good one in you somewhere, find your skillstack, and build something significant. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Have a great day and stay safe!!!