Why it matters to you
Whether or not you believe that aim smoothing is a scourge on the console versions of Overwatch, more options for a wider range of players is never a bad thing, especially if it helps level the playing field.
A change is coming to Overwatch on consoles that the game’s most ardent fans see as a step toward leveling the playing field between players who use controllers and those who use a mouse and keyboard: Options that let you adjust or completely turn off aim smoothing when using a controller.
Aim smoothing is a feature that is designed to make aiming with a controller’s control sticks more, well, smooth. It can decrease players’ precision, though, making it a controversial option for hardcore players. Some Overwatch players on the game’s official forum see the game’s aim smoothing on consoles as particularly egregious and they have made multiple topics on it over the months, hoping to get Blizzard’s attention. When a thread maxed out by reaching 500 posts the players make a new one, and so on.
In the third such topic, titled “Option to remove Aim Smoothing for console players! #3”, Blizzard Lead Engineer Tim Ford chimed in this week with some well-received news:
“We hear you loud and clear. We’re going to add two options in an upcoming patch. First, we’ll add a slider for aim smoothing. It will default to the current smoothing/acceleration in the game today (full smoothing, low acceleration). As you drag it towards zero, you’ll get less smoothing (higher acceleration). At zero, smoothing is disabled (instant acceleration).
We’re also adding a new aim technique to complement Dual Zone and Exponential Ramp. The new technique is called Linear Ramp. If you use this technique along with disabled aim smoothing, you will rotate commensurate to the angle you deflect the aim stick multiplied by your sensitivity.”
These options affect the rate at which your in-game cursor — your crosshairs — moves, as well as the rate at which you rotate. With all the sliders set the right away, hardcore players will be able to aim exactly where they want. But the new options won’t be for everyone; one user, aceflibble, described the situation aptly:
“If it works as advertised, yes, this will stop the inaccurate, random feeling of the controls. You will be in total control over how much you move at all times.
However, because you will be in total control, that means you will be completely beholden to how good your motor control and muscle memory is. No more hand-holding by the system. If you move the stick in a wonky way, you’re going to turn in a wonky way. Just like turning off aim assist, you’re gaining potential precision, but whether or not you actually have the skill to make use of it is not guaranteed.”
Users replied to Ford’s message with enthusiastic thanks, many professing that they will be happy to try the new options out as an alternative to using mouse and keyboard on consoles. It’s unclear when the changes will arrive, but watch out for them soon.