Welcome fellow snipers! I’m sure many of you, myself included, were confused by the aim sensitivity option for Ana and Widowmaker. The value slider ranges from 0-100, and is defaulted to 30. What does this mean? Should I change it? Consider this your guide then, because by the end we’ll have developed a good understanding of how changing the sensitivity affects your gameplay.
TLDR: If you just want to know which relative aim sensitivity to use, skip to the conclusions at the end.
The goal of this guide is produce a formula that can calculate the required relative aim sensitivity for as many of the following criteria as possible:
- The scoped sensitivity feels the same as unscoped, and is thus ratio perfect.
- The scoped sensitivity is calibrated for a specific turning angle.
- Flick shots feel the same or similar to how they feel on a hero like McCree.
When all criteria are satisfied we achieve what’s often called a 1:1 sensitivity. That is to say the movement of your mouse or controller required to flick for a headshot is identical when scoped and unscoped, after factoring in the change in field of view.
The Relative Aim Sensitivity While Zoomed setting is only available for Widowmaker and Ana. It can be found in the Controls menu by selecting either of them from the hero dropdown.
- Resolution – The dimensions in which the game is running. E.g. 1920×1080, 2560×1440. This is measured in pixels and will typically match your monitor.
- Aspect Ratio – The ratio of your resolution’s width to height and is represented by two numbers, such as 16:9. The aspect ratio is used to resize an image while maintaining its proportions.
- Field of View – (FOV) The extent at which you can view the world. Typically measured as an angle. A higher field of view angle will allow you to see more of the world, like stepping back from a painting to see its entirety.
- Sensitivity – A multiplier that reduces the amount of mouse movement required to “look around” in-game. Many players choose a value between 4 and 10.
- Relative Aim Sensitivity – Reduces base sensitivity to a percentage. For example, the default of 30 means your reticule will move 30% of the distance it would have if you were unscoped.
- A value of 0 defaults to 30.
- A value of 100 keeps your sensitivity unchanged when scoped.
You may choose whichever base sensitivity and DPI you like. There aren’t any specific requirements for these to achieve a 1:1 scoped feeling – though I would recommend halving your base sensitivity and doubling your DPI to reduce precision errors (the lack of decimals for relative aim sensitivity.) For me, that meant halving my base sensitivity from 8 to 4, and doubling my DPI from 800 to 1600. I could do this again to get 2/3200, and so on.
A frequently asked question: “What if my resolution is different? Should I use a different relative aim sensitivity?” In short, no. This is because your resolution and aspect ratio are calculated to the same value. Therefore, it is your aspect ratio that will dictate what your relative aim sensitivity should be.
My setup is 2560×1440 at 16:9.
Determining the Aspect Ratio
Okay, yes, the aspect ratio is configurable. Nevertheless, let’s calculate it anyway. The formula is as follows:
r = w/ℎ
Here r is the aspect ratio, and is determined by the width of the screen divided by its height. When two resolutions share the same aspect ratio, the results are the same. The 16:9 aspect ratio also calculates the same value as it’s a reduced fraction.
r = 1920/1080 = 2560/1440 = 16/9 ≅ 1.78
An issue arises when the aspect ratio is higher than your resolution or higher than the aspect ratio of your screen.
r = 21/9 ≅ 2.33 > 1920/1080 and 2560/1440
When this happens, we see black bars on the bottom and top of the screen. This is known as letterbox mode, and it’s running the game with your resolution, but under a different aspect ratio. This is why using the resolution to calculate relative aim sensitivity can be tricky or flat out wrong. What’s important is that the resolution and aspect ratio match.
Using the Aspect Ratio to calculate Field of View
We already know the field of view from the settings, right? Overwatch uses a field of view scaling technique known as horizontal plus. This means the game was designed for widescreens, and the vertical field of view is fixed. Therefore we can assume the menu setting for field of view refers to the horizontal field of view.
We need to calculate the zoomed field of view.
HFoV = 2arctan[tan(VFoV/2)(w/h)]
VFoV = 2arctan(tan(HFoV/2)(h/w)]
Notice that the inner term is multiplied by (w/h), the aspect ratio, when calculating the horizontal field of view. This is not the case for vertical field of view, and should make clear the reason why you want your resolution and aspect ratio to match.
In order to calculate the field of view while zoomed, we need a little bit of data. Specifically, we need a comparison of how an object looks in both cases. In the image below, the red text and lines are used for width, and the left and right edges when zoomed. The blue text and lines similarly show the height, and top and bottom edges when zoomed.
Unscoped View with Scoped View Box
Where did 960×540 come from? Initially I drew the lines by comparing the two images, then using some software measured the exact pixels. It was easy to verify their correctness by calculating the aspect ratio of 960×540, which coincides with 16:9. Now we can calculate the field of view, however we only know the horizontal field of view, so we must first find the vertical field of view.
VFoV = 2arctan[tan(103/2)(1440/2560)] ≅ 70.53
HFoV = 2arctan[tan(70.53/2)(2560/1440)] = 103
Here we use h = zoomed rectangle height, and w = unscoped width. This shows what the VFoV needs to be if the width were unchanged. After that, we use the new VFoV to find HFoV.
VFoV = 2arctan[tan(103/2)(540/2560)] ≅ 29.70
HFoV = 2arctan[tan(29.70/2)(960/540)] ≅ 50.48
Therefore, we will assume 1 decimal of precision and round our zoomed horizontal field of view to 50.5.
Finding Relative Aim Sensitivity
You may have heard of this mysterious relative sensitivity of 38. Allow me to explain in a different way, and as we carry on I’ll show you why you might want a different value. My resolution width is 2560, and while zoomed I see only 960 of that.
Ratio of Widths = w_normal/w_zoomed = 2560/960 ≅ 2.67
Ratio of Widths = w_normal/w_zoomed = 1280/480 ≅ 2.67
Keep this ratio of widths value in mind as we continue. When unscoped, we can see the distance from the reticule to either red line is 480 pixels. However, when scoped, the distance to that same object on the line is 1280 pixels. Ultimately you would need to move your mouse over 2.5x more to set your reticule on that object. (or Tracer’s head, whichever).
So how do you get a 1:1 sensitivity? If we divide our HFoV by the quotient of these two resolutions, we get the percentage change in pixels with respect to our aspect ratio. When the ratio is maintained, we are able to produce this magical number!
Relative Aim Sensitivity = w_zoomed(HFoV/w_normal) = 960(103/2560) = 38.625
Relative Aim Sensitivity = w_zoomed(HFoV/w_normal) = 480(103/1280) = 38.625
Now here is the most common misunderstanding I come across. This sensitivity of 39 will feel 1:1, yes, but only for the objects within the same region. A difficult concept to explain, so I will use some images to help.
FoV Scoped with persisted View Box
In orange, I’ve highlighted a potential flick shot. Let’s calculate the angle of this turn in the horizontal axis.
θ = arctan(480/720) ≅ 33.7
Therefore, your aim will feel 1:1 when scoped with a relative aim sensitivity of 39 when the angle of your turn is 33.7°.
At this point, we’ve seen how these numbers are calculated, and what their limitations are. Does your playstyle require you to flick more than 33.7°? 45°? 60°? I should note that when your relative aim sensitivity is lower than 39, the sensitivity is still 1:1 but the region in which that is true is smaller. Using our aspect ratio, let’s calculate what that is for a value of 30.
Relative Aim Sensitivity = w_zoomed(HFoV/w_normal)
Which rearranges to:
w_zoomed = ((Relative Aim Sensitivity)(w_normal))/HFoV
w_zoomed = ((30)(2560))/103
w_zoomed ≅ 745.63
Also, we can get the height using the aspect ratio.
h_zoomed = (745.63)(9)/16
h_zoomed ≅ 419.42
FoV Scoped with persisted View Box at 30 RAS
The area is now smaller, meaning it’ll be easier to control your reticule in this space. The trade off is the amount of unpredictable movement it takes to reach the head of either training bot, as it’s not 1:1 outside this space.
θ = arctan((w_zoomed/2)/720) ≅ 27.4
As before, your aim will feel 1:1 when scoped with a relative aim sensitivity of 30 when the angle of your turn is 27.4°.
Why then, is the default relative aim sensitivity 30? Since we’ve been using rectangles of equivalent aspect ratios, we can simplify our formulas so far.
θ = arctan(Aspect Width/Aspect Height) ≅ 60.64
This gives us the angle to the edge of the screen, whether it’s scoped or unscoped. If we now divide this value by the ratio of field of view changes while scoped, we get back the relative aim sensitivity that matches the aspect ratio.
Relative Aim Sensitivity = HFoV_zoomed * (arctan(Aspect Width/Aspect Height))/HFoV_normal
Relative Aim Sensitivity = 50.5 * 60.64 / 103
Relative Aim Sensitivity ≅ 29.73
We want to know what sensitivity we should choose for a given angle, so we can rearrange this formula one last time:
Relative Aim Sensitivity = [Aspect Height * tan(t)](HFoV / Aspect Width)
We have derived a formula that can calculate your relative aim sensitivity! As a bonus, it’s not limited to the resolution I’m using. It does require your resolution to have the same aspect ratio as the aspect ratio you’ve chosen in-game.
Relative Aim Sensitivity = [Aspect Height * tan(t)](HFoV / Aspect Width)
Where t is the desired turning angle. Rather than have you calculate them, I have a few values calculated for a field of view of 103. Higher relative aim sensitivities allow you to turn faster, but come at the cost of a hard to control reticule for shorter flicks.
Therefore, it is recommended that you use 38.62 as your relative aim sensitivity. This will work for most people. Those with a steadier hand may enjoy the benefit of a higher value, and those oh-so-sweet headshots on out of view flankers. If you’re using a different aspect ratio, the turning angle will be different. For the curious, the data below also shows why a lower resolution (1920×1080, 16:9) is preferred. The angle between you and your target is smaller! On larger screens, a larger angle must be taken.
In bold are the aspect ratio and relative sensitivity combinations that satisfy all of our criteria resulting in a 1:1 sensitivity.
Field of View 103
Q: Why does everyone say 38?
Very likely due to rounding, it’s a short step from 38.4 to 38.6. Alternatively, one could argue that 38 feels better being short of your mark rather than 39 being over it. That 1% difference grows larger when your base sensitivity is higher, leading some to choose 38. I did some testing with doubling my DPI and halving my in-game sensitivity. Feels smoother overall, and doing this will reduce errors on that 1% gap. As a bonus, my mouse DPI now matches its native setting.
Q: What do you use?
I use a relative aim sensitivity of 38.62.
Q: What base sensitivity and DPI should I use?
Whatever you like! No matter your settings, the calculations to produce your relative aim sensitivity don’t include those values, and it’s just that – relative!
Q: Does this work on console?
Yes, the console runs at 1080p, which is 1920×1080 with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This is all we need to find a ratio perfect relative aim sensitivity.