Aim assist options come standard on a lot of console shooters. After all, it can be hard to quickly aim and hit targets when using a controller – this is much easier when using a mouse on a PC. So do PC games also offer aim assist, or is this a console-only feature? The short answer is:
Some modern PC games have also started offering aim assist options that you can turn on in the menu. These are designed to help make it easier to hit your target when shooting with a controller. These built-in aim assist options aren’t considered cheating, but you’ll often be restricted in matchmaking to playing with other users who are also using an assist.
We’re going to help you zero in on the details of aim assist for PC games.
The Three Types of Aim Assist
There’s a lot of controversy over aim assist. Some people think that aim assist is cheating, but there’s actually more going on here than meets the eye.
Before we get too deep into this issue, let’s clear up a few misunderstandings:
Truth Time! Aim assist isn’t always cheating. In fact, plenty of your favorite games ship with some type of aim assist included as part of the intended design.
Here are the three types of aim assist that you can find in today’s biggest shooters.
Bullet magnetism is one of the most basic types of aim assist.
Bullet magnetism works by slightly curving your bullets towards your target. This has the effect of converting near-misses into hits.
This is a fairly minor type of aim assist that’s often part of a game by default. It’s still up to you to position your reticle and decide when and where to shoot.
Crosshair drag is another minor type of aim assist. This can also be included with a game when it launches.
Crosshair drag works by slowing down the crosshair when you move it over a target. This gives you greater control when you’re aiming. Crosshair drag also prevents over aiming. Over aiming happens when you correctly aim at a target and then move slightly past it due to over correction.
Crosshair drag gives you a leg up when aiming and hectic situations, but it’s a far cry from cheating.
Auto-Aim and Aimbots
Auto-aim is where things move from assistance to something that could be cheating:
- Auto-aim can sometimes ‘gently’ nudge the crosshairs towards an enemy, allowing you to hit them more easily. This is a common, built-in feature in many games.
- However extreme versions of auto-aim (known as aimbots) will snap the cursor to visible targets, guaranteeing a critical hit over and over.
If you’ve ever been sniped across the map by a shotgun, or played against someone who literally can’t miss, there’s a chance that they might have been using an aimbot. Aimbots do not ship with a game – they are created using mods, hacks, and third-party software that allows players to break the rules.
Do PC Games Have Aim Assist?
PC gamers often think of aim assist as something that only comes in console gaming.
It’s true that console games have aim assist much more often than PC games. It’s harder to accurately aim the reticle (the spotting scope used when aiming) using a controller, than it is with a keyboard and mouse. Console aim assist helps console games feel better to play when using a controller.
However, there are countless PC games that have an aim assist option. GTA V even has an assist for online play, but it will then only match you with other players using aim assist (such as other controller players):
Here’s a quick list of a few popular titles that have an aim assist option that you might not have considered.
- Call of Duty Warzone
- Halo Infinite
- GTA V
As you can see, these are major, big-budget PC games – and they all have some form of aim-assist. So it’s not true to be elitist and say things like “aim assist is a cheat mode for beginner console gamers” (a fairly common insult hurled at console gamers).
Do Console Ports Keep Aim Assist?
You’d be surprised at how often a console port is going to keep its aim assist features when it’s being moved over to PC. Developers put in all that work to add a few aim assist options into their game and they’re not going to scrap that when moving over to a PC port.
Plus plenty of PC players use controllers. Keyboard and mouse might be the most popular, but controllers have made a lasting impact on PC games. Microsoft fully support Xbox controllers on Windows, after all, and sell them on the Microsoft store too.
There are players who are going to be gaming using a PlayStation controller, an Xbox controller, or plenty of the other third party controllers out there. Aim assist helps controllers tackle the demanding, twitch style of modern shooters
Do Pro Gamers Use Aim Assist?
The majority of pro PC gamers shun aim assist, preferring to use a mouse and keyword – and often critizing the over-use of aim-assist in high stakes tournament games.
Of course, there will always be some pro gamers that use aim assist because it just makes aiming easier. It’s a tool provided by the game that makes players more effective.
However many pros opt to turn off aim assist instead. They’re also out to win, but they argue that aim assist actually makes them worse in the long run:
- xQc – a Twitch streamer and former pro gamer (of Overwatch) – said in 2019 that using aim assist is like playing just “half the game”.
- Ninja – a Fortnite pro gamer – stopped playing Fortnite as much, saying in 2020 that aim assist was making the game too difficult for purist mouse-and-keyword PC gamers.
How to Turn on PC Game Aim Assist
It’s pretty easy to turn on PC game aim assist. However, it’s going to be a little different depending on the game that you’re playing.
Most games put the aim assist controls inside the settings menu in the controls sub-menu. You should be able to scroll around until you find an option that will let you toggle aim assist on and off.
Note: Aim assist is a little controversial, so some game developers hide the aim assist menu.
If this is the case for your game, you’re going to want to turn on the advanced settings. This will open up more complicated menus and should include an assist as well as other options.
Old School Aim Assist
There is also an old-school aim assist method that we should talk about. PC gamers are still using this, but it is often left out of the conversation when we’re talking about high-tech aimbots and built in bullet magnetism.
Before aim assist programs got really popular, players used to tape a small reticle to the center of their screen. You could even tape reticles to other fixed areas on your screen to assist with your aim.
This was a great way to lock in headshots way before aim assist was a popular way to improve your accuracy. In fact, a lot of people still use this as a way to help train their aim and improve their performance in first person shooters.
There is even a digital version of this now. You can get software that puts a permanent reticle wherever you want on your screen. This overlay is above the game itself and works to help you aim without aiming for you.
Discussing the Aimbot in the Room
With all of this talk of the aim assist, we also need to put some attention on aimbots. Aimbots are cheating and there aren’t PC games that ship with this feature included. However some less-than-reputable online stores sell software that allow you to chat in games:
Aimbots work by constantly calculating the position of other players and then simulating inputs so that you always hit your target.
Aimbots are almost universally considered to be cheating. You can even get banned or kicked out of pro-level play for using an aimbot.
Aimbots are hard to detect since they only operate on the PC and don’t really hack the game or mess with the servers. Aimbot users are caught because their aimbot lets them perform better than even seasoned pros.