What is the point of iron sights in FPS games?

Thus far I have played only 3 games utilizing iron sights:

- Wolfenstein (2009)
- Rage
- Serious Sam 3

In all of them I could aim perfectly well using the "classic" method (HUD crosshairs instead of iron sights). In fact, I prefer using the crosshairs as iron sights decrease my FOV, severely obscure my vision due to enlarged weapon model and don't really offer anything.

I'm equally, if not more, accurate using the crosshairs. Having never played any FPS on a console, I assume this feature makes sense only when one uses a pad (cause it lowers sensitivity, thus increasing accuracy), but if keyboard and mouse are involved, it's completely useless.

Am I right, or are there games where there actually is some benefit to iron sights?

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Maybe it's just the impression, but I think the assault rifles were more accurate while iron-sighting than just shooting casually.

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I didn't play game with iron sights, and if I did, I didn't notice because I didn't use iron sights, but:

printz said:

Maybe it's just the impression, but I think the assault rifles were more accurate while iron-sighting than just shooting casually.

If that's true, then the point behind iron sights is to add more realism to the game - using a mechanic akin to a real weapon combat, which makes a so-so sense in the game (artificially improved accuracy, maybe). It's understandable. Paying special attention to realism is a common tendency in modern games. I only disagree with this tendency if it leads to the detriment of playability. (IMO, it very often does, but that's off topic)

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I think it's also related to FPS becoming popular on consoles. Ironsights work well when a game is all boring and slow, so you can just stand in one spot and shoot. It compensates for the extremely limited movement on an analog stick as opposed to a mouse.

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The three examples you've used aren't particularly obvious ones. In all three it only serves as a minor zoom, but in more "realistic" games you need to aim down sights for better accuracy. In CoD games using ADS also snaps you to a target if it was near your crosshair, making it a useful method to quickly switch targets after a burst if your enemies are close together. TBH, I think SS3 only has it because it was originally going to be a CoD clone. You'll notice the more stereotypical SS guns don't have it. I think it is in the other two games because it is expected in modern shooters, much like the modern ROTT has completely pointless reloading on bullet weapons almost to catch people out.

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What is the point of iron sights in FPS games?

To annoy dwf posters endlessly would be my guess.

Wolfenstein, rage and serious sam are not exactly bastions of "realism" and I would assume the inclusion of iron sights is more for flavor in those particular games rather than other that use different bullet accuracy models such as arma or battlefield.

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In Serious Sam 3, using iron sights gives you perfect accuracy; without it, there's a slight random spread.

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I've started to wonder, why are iron sights so often criticized and even despised by us Doomworlders / by us "well-matured" players who prefer actual good playability over other things in games. Are people concerned about iron sights even if they provide an improved accuracy, and if so, why exactly? Is it just that they're somehow pointless, or can they cause some balance-breaking or comfort-breaking problems?

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In run-and-gun FPSs with tons of enemies, there's no point to iron sights.

In more realistic warfare shooters, certainly. In "real" combat situations you don't want to shoot from the hip. If you do, it's with an automatic and it's only for the purpose of suppression or covering fire. Of course, Call of Duty and the like aren't even that realistic. You won't be charging around urban combat zones racking up dozens of kills like Rambo. You dig in for days and keep the enemy at bay with a deluge of lead.

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There's the previously mentioned reduced field of view; lowered movement speed is also common. Either you take your time and aim, which slows the pace down; or you switch perspective back and forth for a split second, which is disconcerting (for some people, rapid FOV changes can even make them physically ill).

Iron sights inherently slow down gameplay by splitting gameplay into two distinct parts, moving and shooting; because you're less accurate from the hip and because you can't see what goes on around you while you shoot, it pushes you to favor cover and camping tactics over run and gun.

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@Bucket, Phml, whether you were reacting to my question or not: I understand and agree. Thanks. Still, as long as nobody is forced to use the feature and it can be found benefitial in some situations, I personally wouldn't downright condemn it.

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Yeah, Bucket hit it. They're quite annoying in run and gun games. They're perfectly suited to stop n pop games, though.

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years ago i hated iron sights, now i actually am used to using them.
Change and progress do not scare me away, and in most games it is a nice and functional extra for that tiny bit of realism in even the most unrealistic games.

These ways of aiming are already old and standard for many years on hold.

people who are against modern gaming concepts like no tomorrow are not the good and must look at gamers, but just nostalgic people stuck in their time and generation. There is nothing wrong with that, it is how life works.

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Iron sights! Swap speed for accuracy and feel more like you're using a real gun! You can even zoom a bit! From the first time I used it I pretty much just went 'yeah, good idea' the fact that people here just can not understand why people would see the point is just bizarre. I can think of a grand total of ONE game where having iron sights detracted from the experience and that was Aliens colonial marines (THE MOVIES DIDN'T HAVE THEM!! MY IMMERSION!), but that game was also a massive pile of shit so what ev's.

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I've found that distance shooting in any modern first person shooter pretty much demands the use of iron sights. Even Wolfenstein (2009) and Rage had increased accuracy when using it. They're more realistic + better range + less spread + works well with console controller. Add that up and you got the point of iron sights in FPS games.

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I really don't understand the FPS genre's love affair with automatic rifles. They've gone from strictly spray-and-pray tactics to ubiquitous all-purpose weaponry. I realize that they're a typical loadout for a soldier, and modern autos are more versatile (especially in burst or semi mode), but the hurricane of outrage that occurs when an auto proves to be less-than-optimal in any scenario is fucking pathetic.

First of all, a shotgun is deadly in close range. PERIOD. Only a fool or a 360NOSCOPE master should expect to survive a shotgun assault in close combat. But players would rather bitch to devs or admins instead of adjust their strategy. I can't count how many games I've played that are plagued with servers titled "SHOTTIES=BAN". Sniper rifles, machine guns, and even pistols are subject to the ban hammer if someone dares to maximize their effectiveness. Give me a fucking break already.

</rant>

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In the real world they work quite OK because you have actual hands to manipulate the weapon they are attached to :-)

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Real world iron sights aren't realistic. FOV doesn't narrow, movement doesn't slow down, there is no zoom, and you don't get lower recoil and bullet spread. 0/5, devs need to go back to candy crush clones.

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I wonder what iron sight fans would like if you would have to set your iron sight with tools and realistic bullet trajectory. I have done these in real life with assualt rifle and machine gun and it was bitch to get it right sometimes.

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Its a zoom feature, plain and simple. You aim with the gun to see it up down instead of holding the gun to the side.

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Doom is the perfect medium because you use the sights to aim, but it doesn't obscure your vision, effect your accuracy, your speed, or anything.

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40oz said:

Doom is the perfect medium because you use the sights to aim, but it doesn't obscure your vision, effect your accuracy, your speed, or anything.


^ That. I still remember thinking to myself "what bullshit" when the first games with sideways weapon placement appeared. If I recall correctly, the first gen of such games didn't have a virtual crosshair, either (at least not by default), making Doom-like instinctive & precise aim impossible without spoiling the player with a "laser crosshair", when previously none was required.

Iron sights are just an attempt at realism, they are not inherently good or bad as a gameplay element, but it depends on the game genre and style itself.

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40oz said:

Doom is the perfect medium because you use the sights to aim, but it doesn't obscure your vision, effect your accuracy, your speed, or anything.


Doom also has the weapon straight ahead of you instead of at the side like you'd actually carry a weapon.

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geo said:

Doom also has the weapon straight ahead of you instead of at the side like you'd actually carry a weapon.


Only that when aiming a real weapon, you tend to center your view on it by leaning your head against the barrel/stock, or holding the weapon right before your good eye, if it's a handgan. You certainly do not keep it all the way to your right almost in your peripheral vision (sorry, lefties), and of course you don't try to awkwardly hold it dead-center in front of you. Yeah, there are some ways of shooting with the weapon held almost out of sight (e.g. "shooting from the hip", which requires a lot of training) or those dumb "Mexican shodown" or "'R yah talking ta me?!" gangstah pistol grips, , but those are only used in special circumstances.

Those games with iron sights that switch into a "center view/zoom" mode when using them are trying to replicate a realistic aiming feeling, but as I said, doing that with a buttom and a mouse just feels forced and mechanical. Doom does a sort of a compromise by always keeping it centered. It will make more sense if you imagine Doomguy's actual body position being a bit to the left of the screen.

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As well as the other things already mentioned, some games increase damage slightly when using the sights to represent a more effective shot. I think that this mechanic probably exists as much to get people using the feature as anything.

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When I used to bother playing RAGE, I almost never used the iron sights. I'm not used to it, and I doubt I'll ever be. It's also a major hassle, and has negative side effects like lower FOV, lower sensitivity even with a fucking mouse, and slowed movement. I hate irons sights and probably always will.

I'd try making a mod to make the weapon fire like it does in iron sights at all times, but I'm lazy and RAGE isn't worth the effort anyway.

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Oh wait not just a standard zoom function, but some multiplayer games have accuracy cones that narrow the cone when you're iron sighted so there's less chance to miss.

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geo said:

Doom also has the weapon straight ahead of you instead of at the side like you'd actually carry a weapon.




ermm i guess it is a little off, I still believe the Doomguy does a little bit of a head tilt to aim as Maes describes. Not just looking straight forward and holding the weapon comfortably.

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OR it's just the way a first person shooter was programmed back in 1993. The concept of "iron-sights" wouldn't even exist until 10 years later. Not that "iron-sight" aiming really improves anything though.

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Wait... Rage had iron sights?

I got all the way to D.C. without that shit!

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