What Are 2.5D Games? How They Differ From 2D and 3D Games

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What Are 2.5D Games? How They Differ From 2D and 3D Games

If you’re a gamer who frequently plays video games, you’ve probably played a 2.5D title. You may not realize that this is the phrase used to describe a certain game you’ve played, but there are lots of them.

So, what exactly is a 2.5D game, and how does the notion of 2.5D work? Let’s go into the specifics.

What Is a 2.5D Game?

Simply defined, a 2.5D game depicts a 3D scene while integrating 2D gameplay. Or a game that seems to be in 3D but utilizes 2D sprites instead of 3D models. It might even come down to the angle from which you watch the game.

A game, for example, may be played from an isometric viewpoint. This view, also known as axonometric perspective, will employ 2D objects that will seem 3D due to the isometric view. The isometric perspective provides the impression that the game is 3D, although it is not.

You might have a 2D side-scrolling platform game with 3D models for the characters and scenery (the 3D element).This will seem 3D, but it is not. Despite the apparent depth of field, the action takes place on a single plane.

Related: The Best 2D Platformers Everyone Should Play Once

Similarly, you may create a game that takes place in a 3D setting but uses 2D sprites rather than modeling people and things in 3D. These will seem to be 3D, despite the fact that they are not.

The combination of the two dimensions results in a new 2.5D viewpoint.

However, this is a really current take on the 2.5D notion, despite the fact that it isn’t actually a new concept at all. Not in the realm of video games, at least.

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When Did 2.5D Games First Appear?

As previously said, 2.5D games have been around for quite some time. In fact, since the emergence of arcade video games. With the arcade shooter Interceptor, Taito was one of the first firms to use a 2.5D world into a video game.

Interceptor, for the uninitiated, involves players directing a tail-gunner-style aircraft with a crosshair in the middle of the screen. Players may manipulate the crosshair to shoot down hostile aircraft. These hostile craft would approach the player, and the 2D sprites would enlarge as the enemy got closer to your own ship.

This is unmistakably a 2D game with 3D features, resulting in a 2.5D game.

A few decades later, you’ll discover titles like Wolfenstein, Doom, and Duke Nukem. All of them provided a 3D world for the player to explore, but the sprites in the game were just that: 2D sprites rather than 3D models. As a result, all three of these games are 2.5D rather than 3D.

Related: The Best Metroidvania Games for Fans of the Genre

For contrast, Quake is a 3D game that allows players to explore 3D levels as well as 3D objects. As a result, your character’s firearms, opponents, and any objects you discover laying about the areas are all shown in three dimensions. As a result, Quake is a 3D game.

Side-scrolling platformers like Donkey Kong Country have 3D-style characters and environments, but you can only move in the 2D plane, therefore we may also call them 2.5D.

Finally, consider some isometric (or axonometric) games. Many of us have spent hours playing Sim City 2000, previous games in the Command and Conquer series, or Theme Park.

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Despite the fact that they seem to be 3D games, none of them are. They employ 2D sprites placed in an isometric format, which means they are flat graphics that seem to be 3D. (Yes, the N64 had 3D Command and Conquer, and it was an abomination.)

Why Developers Use 2.5D Perspectives

It started with the hardware limits of the platforms on which we played games.

Can you image trying to make 3D games on a NES? That was just not going to happen. As a result, Legend of Zelda has all of the sprites in 2D while yet having depth of field and the ability to travel in more than two directions (left and right, and ostensibly into/out of the 2D plane).

Also, it soon became about the immersion in a video game.

If you have a purely 2D game, it will appear less realistic and will not pull you into the setting as much. A scrolling 2D game with 3D sprites and a 3D-style backdrop is perhaps more interesting and hence more immersive.

Now You Know What a 2.5D Game Is

So, now that you know what 2.5D games are and how they function, you may want to pick up a couple 2.5D titles from Steam or the Nintendo Switch eShop. There are several options accessible on both platforms.

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