Be it reloading a gun, pushing a button, using magic powers, or even just picking up everyday objects, well-crafted hand animations are one of the most important elements in first-person games. Sure, VR promises us more immersion, but for my money a good set of videogame hands trumps just about everything else when it comes to making me feel less like a hovering camera and more like a real, living person.
Let's put our hands in the air and wave them like we just do care, and celebrate some of the best first-person hand animations in PC games.
Above (and also here on YouTube (opens in new tab)) you can see our video celebrating the best hand animations in first-person games (and make sure you turn on the sound so you can rock out with some music from the Half-Life soundtrack). Below, enjoy some gifs of a few more of our favorite hands.
Feeling connected to the world you're inhabiting is important, especially when it comes to stealth. Creeping through shadows is only effective if you really feel like you're there, and a big part of that in 2014's Thief is the wonderful animation of Garrett's hands, whether he's picking a lock, quickly snuffing out a candle, or carefully feeling around the edges of a painting for a hidden switch.
Acquiring an Heirloom in Apex Legends is no easy feat. These extremely rare drops can't be crafted, so it's all down to luck, and you've got less than a 1% chance of opening an Apex pack and finding one. The reward, however, isn't just a sweet skin but a fantastic inspection animation. Above you can see Lifeline and Bloodhound checking our their heirlooms in great detail.
Doom came roaring back from hell in 2016, and with it came some pretty excellent and gory melee kill animations as we bashed, snapped, throttled, and crushed the heads, necks, and bodies of any number of demons.
But it's not all about brute violence. DoomGuy's hands are incredibly expressive when he picks up keys and accesses computers, too. Plus he has a softer side, as we can see in the tender fist-bump he gives to his favorite toy. Adorable.
Sci-fi adventure game Tacoma has you exploring and investigating a space station, and along with some fantastic hand animations when you pick up and use certain objects, it's also got something I've never seen in a game before: sign language. To communicate with the station's AI, you'll sometimes see your character signing. Extremely cool.
Corvo Attano is a gifted assassin, and while most of his time is spent lurking around catwalks and ledges, it's quite a sight when he springs into action. Even with time stopped, he's a glorious show-off, spinning his blade and gun as he takes out a collection of guards. This gif is from a video by StealthGamerBR, who showcases tons of exciting and funny kills.
Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege has lots of excellent animations like setting breach charges, bashing through walls with sledgehammers, or using a nailgun to board up a doorway. I think my favorite is the wall reinforcement animation, though. It's elaborate, and you can really feel the strain of pulling up the barricade and pushing the metal lever into place.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
There's nothing like some good, visceral melee animations, and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has a bunch. Whether it's jamming a knife into a soldier's neck, ramming a metal spike through another's torso, or using one pipe to hammer another pipe through some Nazi's neck, nobody puts enemies down like BJ Blazkowicz.
Overwatch is full of well-crafted first-person hand animations, but there's something special about Zenyatta, the robotic monk. He offers sage wisdom, deep understanding, and healing buffs, not to mention some pretty sweet moves, which you can see above. Get zen.
Far Cry 4
Healing in games is sometimes as simple as walking over a health kit, sucking down a potion, clicking a piece of bread in your inventory, but no series really shows you what's going on under the hood like the Far Cry games. You can watch yourself yank out shrapnel, dig out bullets, pat down flames, set broken bones, and all other manner of gloriously gruesome DIY surgery.
It's the most crowdfunded game of all time, but where is Star Citizen spending all its money? Well, some is going to its ships, some to its planets, and certainly a bit is being spent on sweet hand animations. Above, the flip-off inspired by Guardians of the Galaxy is deftly recreated, as well as a double-bird for good measure. The finger is funnier in space.
The Battlefield games have always provided some enjoyable and amusing hand animations, often in the form of easter eggs, and Battlefield 1 is no different. Above you can see the tiny 2mm Kolibri pistol in action, along with its rather dainty reload animation. It's tiny, but packs a punch.
There's more great hand animations on page 2!