Five favorite eye-tracking features in video games

Tobii's revolutionary tech allows for new ways to experience games, from dealing with enemies to environmental immersion.

Shortly after setting up a Tobii eye tracking peripheral for the first time, you're transported to the virtual cockpit of a spacecraft, where you're tasked with blasting through an asteroid belt with nothing but your eyes. While it's just a small part of the installation process, reducing the space rocks to smithereens with a simple gaze makes for a fantastic first impression.

Of course, this brief demonstration of the eye tracker's game-changing potential barely scratches the surface of what's to come. Fire up some of your favorite games and you'll find the tech not only evolves your play style, but significantly increases your sense of immersion—whether scouting potential prey in The Hunter: Call of the Wild, or becoming a target in Dying Light: The Following.

A more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts experience, the eye-tracking tech really hits its gameplay-enhancing stride when players leverage its various uses alongside more traditional inputs and controls. Whether pairing the peripheral with a mouse and keyboard, or gamepad, players will discover that these five eye tracking features put them in their favorite fictional universes like never before.

Looks that kill

One of the technology's most useful and natural integrations allows users to aim at enemies—from Dying Light's flesh-eating foes to Assassin's Creed: Origins' blade-baring baddies—with nothing but a look (and a little fine turning with mouse or controller). Lining up your target is only the beginning, though, as many games also allow you to tag potential threats, lock onto future victims, or in the case of Warhammer: End Time—Vermintide, unleash flurries of fiery projectiles in any direction with your mystic pupils.

Interacting with NPCs

While not as flashy as the aforementioned integrations, eye tracking also lets you interact with non-playable characters with less lethal results. Getting the attention of a quest-giver by simply looking at them In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, for example, won't target them for death, but feels far more realistic than having to position your avatar's entire body before them. Of course, in Dying Light, an extended stare could draw unwanted attention; nothing cranks-up the immersion like drawing the ire of an undead horde with a dirty look.

Seeing the world

While using your eyes to interact with enemies and NPCs makes you feel like you're traveling in the boots of a game's protagonist, the tech is just as effective at making you feel like you are part of the game world around you – it’s like experiencing some of the immersive aspects of virtual reality, without having to wear a special headset. The extended view integration, for example, works as advertised, opening up your surroundings by essentially panning the camera—even beyond the screen's boundaries—with your gaze. If you thought Assassin's Creed Origins' ancient Egypt setting was pretty before, just wait until you perch atop a pyramid with this feature enabled. Stare at the sun from that same prime spot, and the tech will continue to ratchet up the realism with a squint-inducing lens flare effect.

A more cinematic experience

Nothing yanks players from their favorite interactive experiences like a screen cluttered with pop-up menus, mini-maps, tutorial text, and flashing objective icons. Thankfully, HUD-heavy games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, incorporate Tobii's clean UI integration, allowing such intrusive elements to dim—or disappear entirely—when not engaged by the player's gaze. On top of clearing your display and providing a far more cinematic experience, the feature's intuitiveness makes these typically game-y elements feel more like organic extensions of the protagonist's abilities.

Tools of the trade

Whether raiding a tomb, hunting prey, or surviving the zombie apocalypse, eye tracking's more functional features can help you get the job done more naturally. Players can use their eyes to direct a flashlight's beam or equip a pair of binoculars in Rise of the Tomb Raider and Hunter: Call of the Wild, respectively, while most games allow you to use eye tracking to engage with interactive environmental items, and even loot objects and downed enemies.

While all of these features showcase how eye tracking can significantly evolve your interactive adventures, they only begin to hint at how the intuitive tech can enhance your gameplay experience. In fact, with Tobii's impressive innovation already supported in well over 100 games – from shooters and sims to RPGs and racers – players of all stripes can now leverage the technology to further immerse themselves in their favorite virtual worlds.

Of course, while that 100-game milestone, which you can read all about, represents a massive achievement, Tobii intends to keep the momentum going in 2018 and beyond, tackling new genres, implementing fresh integrations, and even introducing the pupil-powered tech to fans of virtual and augmented reality. With this in mind, you can buy the Tobii Eye Tracker 4C right now in preparation for what should be an incredible year of gaming!

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