Aim Assist in FPS – The case for and against it in esports

Aim Assist in gaming is attracting some strong opinions. Players are pretty divided, and mouse and keyboard players don’t always like that controller players get a clear advantage. In most games aim assists toe a very fine line and has to achieve a delicate balance.

Most players and fans probably know that this isn’t exactly well managed by most games. Some titles fare worse than others though, attracting a lot of attention for how poorly it is managed. This always brings a whole debate back into focus, and re-opens the topic of aim assist vs no aim assist.

Call of Duty Vanguard is the latest title to bring this setting back into focus. In this game, it is way overpowered by all metrics. It is so strong that twitch streamers and other players like DrDisrespect have declared that they’re only going to be using a controller on this game. Playing without it just isn’t fair. So why exactly is aim assist in FPS games such a controversial topic, and is it a good thing for esports?

Aim Assist

Aim Assist – How it Works

Aim Assist tries to even the gap between mouse and controller players by snapping the crosshair closer to targets. Functionality varies from game to game, but it is the same effect in essence across all titles with this feature enabled. Using a mouse is objectively a better way to aim. Outside of any opinion, mouse and keyboard has been specifically found to be better for aiming. This is why assisting a payers crosshair’ towards the target, is seen as a necessity for controller users in cross-play titles.  There is no aim assist mouse (or is considered cheating), as only controller players need it.

The exact details and strength are going to vary. Aim assisted Fortnite isn’t going to feel the exact same as aim assist Apex Legends. Essentially though, it bridges the gap to make mouse and keyboard a bit fairer against controller. So why exactly is it controversial?

Why is it Controversial?

It is controversial because it interferes with natural gameplay. It gives some types of players an objectively different set of tools to others. If you use one type of input method, the game goes out of its way to help you perform better and aim well. At least that’s what some players think when it comes to esports. To others, it just tries to make controllers more competitive. However, it is undeniable that it does give an advantage in some situations. With n aim assist mouse available, it is debatable if this is fair or not.

The Case for using Aim Assists

The case for should be simple enough if you’re paying with a controller, it makes things easier for you. Whether or not it is a fair type of advantage comes down to how you view the differences between mouse and keyboard. Studies have easily shown that the mouse has too many in-built advantages for controller players to consider the game fair. There is no aim assist on mouse and keyboard because a controller’s stick really needs the help. Otherwise, they just wouldn’t be competitive.

When applied properly, PC aim assist shouldn’t be too controversial. It should help controller players compete, but not in a way that’s unfair for players on a mouse and keyboard. It is hard to get around the advantages for the mouse and keyboard.

In terms of Aim assist PS5 or aim assist PS4, it isn’t controversial. In lobbies that primarily console players, you should expect aim assist and it really isn’t fair to expect anything less. Aiming without it on a console or controller is nowhere near as fun to play.

The Case Against Aim Assist

While it can seem like a harmless enough thing to help out controller players, there are a lot of people who are dead against it even being a thing. To a lot of players, it gives people an unfair advantage. You only have to look at the payback of controller esport players to see that sometimes the tool allows them to aim in superhuman ways. They’re having the PC aim for them, which is against the rules in most competitive games.

The big case against aim assist is that it is unfair. It would be fairer for everyone to be competing purely on their raw kill. It interferes with that. In the past, big tournaments like those in Fortnite have been won by controller players, and the playback has shown that the technology gave them an advantage.  Aim assist on mouse and keyboard isn’t available, so the playing field just isn’t fair.

One area where aim assist controller players have a scientifically unfair chance is up close situations. It is physically easier for them to hit shots in close-combat fights than mouse. This has even led to mouse players avoiding close combat fights in games where it is active. There are plenty of reasons for the case against aim assist, but most boil down to it being unfair.

Aim Assist in Esports

The cases for and against aim assist in esports both have some validity. However, it really comes down to how well it is being implemented and the details of its use in esports. In casual gaming or even non-professional competitive games, it is roughly viewed as harmless. When this isn’t athletes competing on the highest level, there are few who would object to controller players getting a fair chance at the game alongside mouse and keyboard. However, in esports things are different.

Aim assist in more normal gameplay can afford to be a bit more slapdash, in competitive events though it can be a real problem. Nobody wants a competition between professional athletes to be decided by equipment and luck. A setting helping in a win is often viewed as if the win wasn’t legitimate. Competitive integrity is vital in esports, and bad assist can mess with that.

What Should be Done About Aim Assist?

Those are the problems with aim assist, but is there any potential solution?  It really comes down to the balance at work with the system. It should be set up so that it evens the playing field for controllers, not give an unfair advantage. Some games have managed to strike this balance over time. Epic still gets criticism for Fortnite, but the current system is considerably more well-liked than it was. Some of the best Fortnite players use a controller, and few doubt their skill with the current assist. A setting that has been extensively tested and refined to better work in competitive play shouldn’t be a major problem for players.

There is unlikely to be a way for aim assist to be achieved that satisfies everyone. It just isn’t going to work that way. However, a setting that is established properly shouldn’t be a threat to mouse and keyboard players. While many while probably still resent it, a decently balanced tool should help even things out without giving an unfair advantage.