This is the second post in the Fundamentals of Aim series, covering setting up your sensitivity, getting yourself comfortable and the forbidden art of mouse acceleration.
Sensitivity, Setting up and Slowing Down
Have you ever found yourself trying to get on target at long range, only for your mouse to seemingly skip in front of the person you are trying to aim at whenever they move? Or up close, instead of aiming at them, you instead stop a few feet away from being on target?
You may have an improperly set up sensitivity – But worry not! In this blog we will cover how to set up your sensitivity, mouse pads and appropriate sensitivities for appropriate styles of play.
Desk Space and Mousepads
How to set up according to your available space
No doubt you’ve seen those massive desk-wide mouse pads that so many people tend to use, and more than likely you have seen relatively tiny mouse pads that you could never reasonably see somebody using.
These sizes of mousepad are made to accommodate the massive differences in available playspace.
For the purposes of this blog – Play Space is defined as the area that a user has available that allows complete, uninterrupted mouse movement.
This is also one of the biggest things limiting how low some players can take their sensitivity. Somebody with 20cm of space available will usually have to play with a higher sensitivity than one with 100cm of space, for example.
Usually, you want to get a mouse pad big enough to fill your available play space, and, if possible, have your keyboard away from your mousepad to allow for the maximum possible Play Area.
A general rule of thumb regarding your “Ideal” sensitivity would be a cm/360 of your available Play Space minus 25%.
A CM/360 is the distance, in centimeters, that you would need to move your mouse in a horizontal direction to turn exactly 360 degrees, or one full rotation.
A mouse pad of, say, 100cm, would therefore have an “Ideal” cm/360 of 75cm. As this allows you to comfortably achieve a full 360 degree movement with space to spare, and for a smaller mousepad, say, 20cm, the “Ideal” would be 15cm/360.
However, this “Ideal” sensitivity lacks context, as it is only the “Theoretical” ideal. There are players that play with a cm/360 that allows them to perform many full rotations on their mousepad, and those that play on a low enough sensitivity that they may require multiple swipes of their mousepad to turn 180 degrees. Take this “Ideal” as a guide and recommendation, not hard fact.
Now that you have an idea of your “Ideal” sensitivity, we can start getting into the nitty gritty of Sensitivity, and what part it plays in Aiming.
DPI and Skipping Pixels
How to minimise your pixel skipping
No doubt you have heard of “Pixel Skipping”, and know that most professionals try to avoid it, but what exactly is Pixel Skipping, and how do your settings affect it?
The gif above shows how various DPI’s affect the movement of your mouse at the same relative sensitivity.
Imagine your DPI as setting a “Grid” on your screen, and your ingame sensitivity being a multiplier of the size of that grid. The lower your DPI, the less spaces in that grid, and the higher your ingame sensitivity, the larger those spaces are going to appear.
The end result is that a low DPI and a high ingame sensitivity results in a larger “Minimum” movement, in that if you move your mouse a single unit, you can potentially skip over certain objects ingame.
But how do you stop this, or prevent it from happening?
Generally, the best way to minimise pixel skipping, if you believe it is an issue, is to increase your DPI while reducing your ingame sensitivity, going to a DPI of 800 from 400 while halving your sensitivity should halve the distance of your skipped pixels, and increasing your DPI further will only reduce this further in turn.
However, this is often not a major issue, and is in fact something that you can ignore in most cases, unless you play at a very high ingame sensitivity or a very low DPI
Picking your sensitivity
How to optimise yourself for the situations you expect to face
Despite what you have likely heard, or what others may have told you, there is no “Right” sensitivity to play at. Rather, the ideal sensitivity for you has a few factors.
In order of most important to least important –
- Desired Precision
- Desired Range
- Desired style of Aim
- Desired choice of weapon
Without a doubt, the single most important part of any sensitivity is personal comfort. If you have to strain yourself to make certain shots, or you otherwise feel uncomfortable in what you are doing, stop and change. No short-term performance is worth the potential long term health risks associated with overstrain during gameplay.
Secondly, you have your desired Precision. Do you want to be hitting nothing but headshots, or would you prefer to spray a large volume of fire at an enemy? The lower your sensitivity, the more margin for error you have with smaller targets, however, a higher sensitivity allows you to more quickly snap to targets, as well as giving you control of weapons with stronger recoil.
Range is the one of the most important aspects to a playstyle – If you are going to be focused on point-blank melee combat, your sensitivity is likely going to be significantly higher than that of an iron-sights sniper. Try to determine what range you feel most comfortable at any build your sensitivity around engagement at that range, however, try not to leave yourself weakened at other ranges, if possible. This may mean decreasing your sens a little bit as a close range player to allow for some long range capability, and vice-versa.
Then comes your aiming style – This can be broken into two main subsets. Predictive and Reactive, then Tracking and Flicking.
Predictive aim allows for a lower, more precise sensitivity, allowing you to put your crosshair where you believe an enemy is going to be before they even get there. This way, you can line up the perfect headshot in advance, only needing to click when the target moves into your line of sight.
By comparison, a reactive playstyle may benefit from a higher sensitivity, as the rapid-engagement nature of a reactive style often leads to engaging targets at a variety of ranges in a variety of situations.
Then, you have your two core aiming styles – Tracking and Flicking. Tracking often means keeping a target as close to the centre of your crosshair as possible at all times, and as such, lends to a slightly lower sensitivity, with far more slight corrections. This is in stark contrast to a Flicking playstyle, which often relies on pure muscle memory and coordination, incorporating resets and hard resets to engage targets almost instantaneously. This leads to a higher sensitivity more often than not, but is still very possible at a lower sens.
And finally – Your choice of weapon. A fact of games is that some weapons are designed for much closer ranges, with others being centred around much longer engagements. This is the difference between your Shotguns and your Sniper Rifles, and everything in between. This often plays a part in how you set up your sensitivity, but may also affect it in another aspect – Recoil compensation.
If you have ever used the Beryl in PUBG you know what I mean when I say this. Some weapons hide their power behind absurd recoil, meaning only those with the time and patience to practice and control them can really reap the true power of them.
This often means that, for some weapons, if you wish to centre your playstyle on them, you may opt for a higher sensitivity, allowing you to more easily control these high recoil weapons.
However, sensitivity is not always black and white, there is a grey area that combines the precision of a low sensitivity with the fast snaps of a higher sensitivity.
We call this grey area… Mouse Acceleration.
Mouse Acceleration and You
A bite of the forbidden fruit
No doubt you have heard of Mouse Acceleration before, and more than likely, it was accompanied by people telling you to “Turn it off ASAP” or to “Stay Away!”
For the most part, these people are correct. Almost all games implement Mouse Acceleration in a very, very bad way, leading to a significant amount of backlash regarding its usage.
However, Mouse Acceleration isn’t all bad, it’s just misunderstood.
Properly tuned Mouse Acceleration grants you the precise movement needed to engage a target at almost any range, while simultaneously giving you the speed and flexibility to engage targets at point blank.
be sure to check back again in the near future for the next volume of Fundamentals of Aim!
Next volume –
Hardware and Software – A Tale of two wallets.