Aiming In Video Games: Auto VS. Manual

Obviously, the most important aspect of First-Person Shooter gameplay is the aiming. You can’t spray and pray forever, so you might as well learn to lock on to your targets. In the realm of FPS games, there are two major types of aiming: Auto-Aim and Manual Aiming. Most people have definite preferences, but is one really better than the other?…….


This type of aiming is very easy to use and comes in handy when you need to take down individual enemies very quickly. It can be found in games like Uncharted or the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The idea is that your character knows where each enemy is and will therefore automatically aim in the direction of your opponent. The aim is usually triggered by pressing the aim button or trigger, depending on what button layout you use or the controls for the game.

The benefits of using Auto-Aim are plentiful and come to mind very quickly. It is much easier and quicker to shoot at opponents using this function than using manual aiming, which sucks sometimes. By simply tapping a button your weapon will be pointed at the next opponent. How could the developers make fighting any easier? Due to the quickness of the shooting and the ease of aim, a player will save bullets. If you play like me, then you might continue shooting when moving your weapon from one enemy to another. With Auto-Aim, such wasteful spraying is unnecessary.

There are a few disadvantages to Auto-Aim, though they are few and far between. One of the few downsides is that the aiming will not usually give you headshots, which are the most valuable shots for saving bullets. Auto-Aim will usually give you shots at the torso, but not any vital spots. While it is easy to move your sights up toward the head, such movement could waste some of the time gained by using Auto-Aim. The only other disadvantage that I can think of is that it doesn’t present the same challenge as manual aim. After finishing Uncharted, I kind of missed the challenge presented by using Manual Aiming. Sometimes it is good to evaluate your own skills. I know that you can choose to not use Auto-Aim, but a lot of people will choose convenience over a challenge.

Manual Aiming

Most FPS’s incorporate Manual Aiming. Using Manual Aiming means you must move your gun toward an enemy without any help. An obvious example would be the Halo franchise. This type of aiming is the harder of the two, but there are many who prefer it.

The benefits of this aiming type are the inverse of the disadvantages of Auto-Aim. This type of aiming gives the player a greater challenge, which many gamers enjoy. Challenges, while difficult, give a great amount of satisfaction upon completion. This type of aiming is also more conducive to headshots. Someone who plays Swat on Halo (a game type in which headshots are instant kills) will be better at headshots than someone who uses Auto-Aim, at least on average.

This aiming is not only challenging, it is much slower. If you use a gun whose scope is very useful, it will take up more time than just taping the aim button and shooting. If you are going for time trials or trying to complete a simple assassination without the mission turning into a firefight, then Auto-Aim will serve you better than manual aiming most of the time. Another obvious downside to Manual Aiming is the high possibility of missing. While experienced gamers will not usually miss, people who do not play religiously will miss sometimes and waste bullets.


I know that much of what I said will not apply to many people. I am simply writing from my point of view. I do prefer Auto-Aim in situations where speed is the key, but I like manual aiming to give myself a challenge sometimes. My conclusion is that neither is better than the other. Both have their uses in certain situation, but I do not believe that one is inherently superior.

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