I have posted about this before over at Origins and Odyssey forums, but I decided to make a new discussion about immersion in Valhalla.
What is immersion? It's probably something different to each player. Here's how I define it. In any singleplayer game the world revolves around the player. It's just how things work. Immersion (for me) are all the things the developers can do AND allow me to do in order to create and maintain an illusion that the world DOES NOT revolve around the hero.
Immersion also includes all the things that the developers (and indeed the players) can do in order to experience games in a more personal, believeable manner. This quality is unique to our beloved gaming industry as neither books nor movies can immerse the readers / vierwers into them. At most they can suspend our disbelief in order to witness events pre-written by someone else. In games, even though all the things players can do have been anticipated and designed by you awesome developer folks, each gamer can say that it was their own journey, their own personal experience. In order to achieve immersion, one must be able to suspend their disbelief.
Here's what J. R. R. Tolkien says about the importance of the suspension of disbelief: "[The author] makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is “true”: it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside"
In other words, Tolkien tells us that things that can happen in a book or a game need to adhere to a certain set of rules. The moment you make players go "Huh? This gameplay mechanic / quest / event doesn't fit here and contradicts the logic of the game world", we stop being assassins, medjays, mercenaries or vikings trying to do our thing. You punch us back into reality again, where we are simple humans playing a videogame. To each their own, of course, and in no way do I want to disrespect gamers who don't care about immersion and just want to enjoy the fun ride of ingame activities. But with so little required on your part in order to allow gamers the (optional) pleasure of immersion, I am saddened by often you don't seem to care about it.
Valhalla is doing a far better job in terms of being immersive than Origins and Odyssey (in my opinion). You've (mostly) removed silly ragdolls, made character animations feel heavier, implemented a walk speed slider and added a sprint button. So of all the mechanics in Valhalla, only side quests seem to break the immersion for me, as I've said in another discussion.
What about other members of this community? Is immersion important to you? How do you define it? What do you think needs to be done in order for the game to feel even more immersive? Share your thoughs.