Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hitscan Weapons Are Garbage: Throw Them In The Trash!

"Hitscan is a term that is used mainly in games, most commonly in first person shooters. It refers to a calculation performed by a game to find the point at which a given line intersects a game object, and is therefore most often used to provide a crude but efficient simulation of a bullet or projectile hitting a target after being fired from a weapon." - Wikipedia~ 

I understand why hitscan weapons were developed. I understand why they dominated the FPS genre for such a long time. What I don't understand is why the fuck they are still being used. Hitscan weapons are not fun, and they are the worst method for shooting at people in video games possible. Hitscan weapons are trash, and they need to be disposed of as such. Pretty much anything would be better than hitscan weapons, and it's not like there hasn't been a lack of them: rocket launchers, plasma guns, the shaft from quake, etc. But the fact that hitscan still dominates games, especially ones attempting to be 'modern' and 'realistic' piss me off. This is technology from the mid 1990s, there has to be a better way for simulating bullets in games, right? There are three basic reasons hitscan weapons fucking suck.

fuck this guy

1. It requires no skill. 

This works both ways, as a weapon that you use and as a weapon you attempt to avoid. Hitscan weapons hit a target instantly, meaning you cannot dodge or avoid it. Your best strategy when dealing with hitscan weapons is to find a piece of cover and pop back and forth until you eventually kill the opponent. It's mindless, stupid, and promotes static gameplay over a mobile one. They also take no skill to use because you do not need to lead a target, or compensate for angles, or anything like that. Just point and click like an idiot. 

In fact, they simplify gameplay to such a degree that mobility has been reduced to almost nil. Yeah you can try to get out of the way as much as possible, to throw off someone else's aim, but the skill ceiling for a hitscan weapon is so low that realistically you are better off standing still so you can get a better shot before they do. You can't dodge hitscan, so why bother moving? This is emphasized in games like Counter Strike and Modern Warfare where the spread of your weapon is increased dramatically the second you attempt to do something like moving. God forbid you might actually have to do two things at once, and god forbid you might actually get fucking good at it. 

Take the Shaft from Quake as an example: when using it you need to keep direct line of sight with the opponent, and need to keep the lightning 'beam' on them at all times. This is a skill. In multiplayer the opponent is constantly moving so you need to constantly keep your sight on them and follow them to achieve the maximum damage.

one bad dude

The rocket launcher is another good example, as it requires skill and prediction to get the slow moving projectile to hit the enemy. It turned firefights into mind games with an opponent, wherein you try to corner them into an area and predicting where they will go next, while keeping yourself safe. In addition it also allowed unprecedented movement and flexibility. You could reach places you previously couldn't, and you could get there faster, at a cost of your health.

These are just two guns but they instantly make a static, boring game into one that is much more mobile, and versatile.

2. It is unimaginative. 

Hitscan weapons come in three types. Automatic, shotgun, and bolt action. Other than that, there is no variety. Hope you fuckers love shotguns, sniper rifles, and assault rifles because that's all you're going to be seeing in games for the next twenty years. 

Does anyone else remember the guns in Doom? Or Quake? What about Tribes? Guns actually had a spice, a variety to them, they were all interesting to use in their own way, and all served their own purpose. Now we're just playing Call of Duty 5: Modern Warfare 10: Black Operations 2 using a thousand interchangeable guns, that may as well just be one model with a color change. I couldn't even name you what gun I used most in Modern Warfare 1 because they all looked, worked, and functioned identical to each other. A variety of weapons allows for much needed spice in combat. It gives the player something else to do other than duck behind and out of cover over and over.

i think im gonna yawn so hard my jaw falls off

It's just really fucking offensive to me that we have this extensive medium, a huge billion dollar industry, and yet we can't think up more interesting gun mechanics than Pointing and Clicking with an M4-A1K47. Why not a nailgun that shoots nails that stick in walls and can be interacted with by the player, creating makeshift ladders or whatever. Or a gun that shoots a sustainable shield in front of you. Or a gun that damages everything within 5 meters of you in a 360 degree arc, but everything beyond that can't be touched.

I don't give a shit. Just give me something new. Something interesting. Please.

3. It's bullshit.

I don't really have a lot against hitscan weapons. Sometimes they can provide their own interesting niche, like the Railgun in Quake 3 Arena, which rewarded high accuracy with high damage, while balancing it with low rate of fire and a conspicuous tracer. I guess my main problem with them is the fact that they dominate today's games. It'd be as if Call of Quake came out and every single gun was a rocket launcher, except one fires slightly faster or one holds more ammo. Eventually it gets boring. 

uhhhh.... no.... i don't think i will....

The nailguns in Quake and F.E.A.R serve functionally as a regular gun, but they are infinitely more interesting because of the slower rate of fire than modern weapons, and the ability to actually miss an opponent due to lack of skill and not just because the game engine calculated that the weapons spread was too high. I don't want the same thing repackaged and rebuilt constantly. I don't want to run through a game and encounter the same pistol, shotgun, rifle, sniper rifle. I want a breath of fresh air. 

So get to work. 


  1. lol yeah the gep gun was the height of imagination (being that it was a rocket launcher)

    1. and if today's game weapons are any indication, a rocket launcher is literally the height of imagination. which is what makes it so sad and why i felt this article was a pressing matter.