Call of Duty Aim Assist vs Mouse + Keyboard: What's Going On?

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Is Call of Duty Aim Assist Overpowered?
Credit: Activision

In the world of Call of Duty, there's an ongoing debate between controller players, who have access to aim assist, and mouse and keyboard players over which side is actually overpowered. There's a lot going on here, so in this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about the debate between Call of Duty aim assist vs mouse + keyboard.

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Is Call of Duty Aim Assist Overpowered?

Is Call of Duty Aim Assist Overpowered?
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Credit: Activision

Many debate whether or not aim assist in Call of Duty is overpowered. Unfortunately, there isn't really an answer to this question, exactly. Aim assist can't really be, objectively, considered to be overpowered or not. There isn't much of a standard that defines the strength of aim assist or how it works, and there's much, much less change to aim assist in CoD over the years than many people act like there is, with it being largely the same.

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Aim assist is an inevitability when it comes to a controller-based competitive game, however. The fact of the matter is simply that a controller with joysticks is not a precision instrument. The nature of moving a stick a certain distance to reflect your character moving in-game is inherently limited by the relatively small amount of travel a joystick has vs how precise you want your movements to be in-game.

This problem is fundamentally exacerbated by players often preferring to play on high sensitivities anyways and how frequent aim acceleration is put into games for controllers. It makes it fundamentally very difficult, even for a highly skilled player, to consistently hit their shots on a controller without aim assist.

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Depending on the game and the player and the controller, it can be done, but it doesn't make sense to design one of the most popular games in the world around the gameplay being not fun or approachable to the vast and overwhelming majority of players, so aim assist is born. Skilled and unskilled players alike can make use of it to help reduce the inherent limitations of a controller.

And make no mistake, Call of Duty is a controller game, first and foremost. The huge majority of players play with controller, and that's not to mention how the CDL pros also are required to use a controller by Activision.

It's one thing to dislike aim assist and prefer for everyone to perform exactly as well as they possibly can with no help, but for a game predominantly played with controllers where all controller players have the same assist, it's tough to make the argument that it's especially overpowered. Overpowered against what? Mouse and keyboard players?

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Is Mouse + Keyboard Overpowered?

Is Call of Duty Aim Assist Overpowered?
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Credit: Activision

Most of the time, those complaining about aim assist are, as expected, mouse and keyboard players. Just like controller players are the first to complain about mouse and keyboard players being overpowered. But somebody has to be right, so who is? What's overpowered?

It's a bit of a complicated situation. On one hand, on a base level, a mouse and keyboard is the superior input method. A mouse has a huge range of space it can travel, and you have fine grain control over its sensitivity, so you can build in precise movements from muscle memory and be considerably more precise than a controller player.

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You also have access to way more buttons than a controller player, so you can make complicated movements happen a lot easier, and you might even have finer grain control over your character than you can have on controller, requiring fewer button presses to make things happen.

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On the other hand, mouse and keyboard is a lot more complicated to use, so the average player is often less skilled than the average controller player. Plus, getting to the top end of performance with mouse and keyboard requires a lot of time and energy and tweaking and even investment into your setup, oftentimes.

Given two very skilled players, one who's always played mouse and keyboard and one who's always played controller, the mouse and keyboard player is always going to win, even with aim assist, but this situation isn't going to happen that often.

So, while it's true that a super-skilled mouse and keyboard player can unfairly dominate a lobby based off of his input method, it's more likely that you'll see average (or slightly below average) controller players using aim assist to have the edge over average mouse and keyboard players.

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What this means is that in some sense both mouse and keyboard and controller are overpowered. However, since controllers are the dominant input method, controller aim assist is unlikely to ever get nerfed. And while console players can reasonably disable crossplay to just play with other controller players (outside of the extremely rare gamer that plays with mouse and keyboard on console), PC players can't.

All of this, of course, is to ignore the other unfair advantages already present in Call of Duty, like how some players can change FOV and some can't, or how some players have much higher framerates than other players. This isn't to say that these things are also Call of Duty's fault but more to say that fundamentally with a game on many platforms with mass appeal, there are inevitably going to be elements of unfairness.