How to Change the FOV in Skyrim
Introduction: Changing Skyrim FOV
Important: This article only applies if you have the PC version of Skyrim.
Field of View (FOV) in video games determines the viewing arc, or how much you can see when you're playing. When creating a game, designers have to decide how wide to make this arc. For most FPS console games, that arc is usually around 60 degrees. This setting is determined based on the average size of the TV that gamers will use and the average distance from the TV the players will be sitting.
The player generally sits much closer to the screen when it comes to PC games. The screen is also much smaller—this default FOV tends to result in a very claustrophobic view. It can feel like you have blinders on the side of your head and, for many, this results in headaches and motion sickness.
Skyrim's default setting is 65 degrees, which is great for consoles—but not so great for PC gamers. Fortunately, it is possible to change this setting by editing the Skyrim.ini file, or by typing a command in the console. Read on to learn how.
Changing the FOV Using Skyrim.ini
To change the default FOV in Skyrim:
- Find the Skyrim.ini file in your Documents\My Games\Skyrim\ folder first
- Then, place the following line under the [Display] settings header: fDefaultWorldFOV=x.x (Where x.x is the number of degrees you'd like to set it for. For example, fDefaultWorldFOV=90.0 will set the FOV to 90 degrees. The decimal and trailing zeroes aren't required.)
- The next time you load your game, switch to first person view and press the Tab key to open the Menu.
- When you close the menu, your FOV should update automatically.
This setting should persist through opening and closing the map, fast traveling, and sprinting as long as you don't change the FOV in the console. Changing the FOV using the console command has a tendency to revert the FOV back to its default when any of these situations occur.
Changing Skyrim FOV Using the Console
Before deciding on a particular FOV, you will probably want to try some out in-game. You can change the FOV setting in-game by using the console
- Type '~' to enter the console
- Then type FOV x (where x represents the angle you would like to view. For example, FOV 90 will change the FOV to 90 degrees.)
- When you're done, type '~' again to exit the console and save your game. The FOV should update automatically and your new setting will be saved in the save game.
Many players find that using the console command to set the FOV tends to produce very unreliable results. Opening the map, fast traveling, and sprinting, have all been known to reset the FOV back to the default. While it isn't difficult to reset, it can be annoying to have to readjust it every time you use one of these features.
For this reason, it is generally better to use the Skyrim.ini technique rather than the console technique. Pick a setting you like using the console, then exit, edit the Skyrim.ini with the preferred value, and then don't touch it. If you need to edit it, adjust the ini file instead.
What Is a Good FOV Setting?
The setting that works best for you is going to depend on a lot of factors, including:
- How large your monitor is
- How far away you sit from your monitor
- What your personal preferences are
Generally speaking, a number between 80 and 100 works for most people. 90 is probably the most common setting I've come across. The best way to decide is just to test various settings out in-game and see which one you like best.
You will notice some distortion at the sides of your screen when you increase the FOV. This is normal, and a small amount of distortion along the edges will not affect your enjoyment of the game. Take some time to play the game before deciding how much or how little distortion you like. Tweaking FOV is always a compromise between improving your field of vision and introducing distortion. If the distortion is too distracting, then adjust the FOV down until you are satisfied with the compromise. A small amount of distortion in an area of the screen where you ordinarily don't look is a small price to pay for increased immersion and comfort.
What is FOV and How Does it Work?
This distortion is not a 'glitch', but a consequence of the peculiar relationship between the way we ordinarily see in 3D, and the way we view a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface.
You may also notice that when you adjust your FOV up, objects appear smaller and further away, and when you adjust it down, they appear larger and closer. It might seem like the camera rendering the scene has changed position when it actually hasn't. Things appear to be larger or smaller based on the FOV because of the way our brains handle perspective.
The two-part video linked right below will provide a more detailed analysis of FOV and how it works in video games. The videos are really pretty interesting, and the person conducting the tutorial does an excellent job of explaining the concept in a way that anyone can understand. It's well worth watching.
Video: A Detailed Analysis of FOV in Games Part 1
Video: A Detailed Analysis of FOV in Games Part 2
Restoring the Default FOV
I don't know if there is a command that allows you to automatically restore the default, but you can set it manually to 65 the way you would set it to any other number.
If you're using the Skyrim.ini method to set it, you can try just deleting the fDefaultWorldFOV from the initialization file, reloading your game, and Tabbing to the Menu and back.
360 Degree FOV with Eyefinity
Other FOV Settings
You may come across various other FOV settings and instructions in other posts, but the method outlined above is the one that has worked best for me. If, for some reason this method isn't working, you can try:
- Add fDefault1stPersonFOV=x and fDefaultWorldFOV=x under [Display] to the Skyrim.ini in Documents\My Games\Skyrim\ where x is the angle you'd like to use.
- Also add fdefaultfov=x under [General] to the SkyrimPrefs.ini in Documents\My Games\Skyrim\ where x is the angle you'd like to use.
- Load up your save, switch to first person, and Tab into the Menu to force it to take effect.
I'm still experimenting with FOV myself, so if I find issues with this method or a better way to change it, I'll be sure to update this. Feel free to add your own tips and suggestions in the comments.