What is hitscan
In FPS games, hitscan is a gunplay mechanic where bullets travel instantly in time to hit target. In the game, whenever a shot is fired, the game will perform a simple calculation, it will shoot a ray out of the gun and scan whether or not that shot has hit a target, therefore, hitscan.
Hitscan vs projectile
A lot of shooters use a projectile system, when a gun is firing, the game will actually fire out a physical object and calculate bullet velocity, droop and wind (sometimes). Projectile shooting is a lot more realistic compared to real world gun physics, but is computationally more expensive.
Hitscan in games is all about simplicity. Basic math tells you instantly if you’ve hit a target. This makes both coding and playing easier. You press ‘fire,’ and you instantly see if you hit. It’s user-friendly and you don’t have to be a sharpshooter to get it right—just aim and shoot.
Making hitscan weapons look realistic in games can be tricky. Because the ‘bullet’ hits immediately, any visual of the bullet is just for show and can look off, especially in online games with lag.
Hitscan also limits how bullets behave. Unlike real life where you adjust for wind or gravity, hitscan shots go straight and hit instantly. So, if you aim at a fast-moving object, you’ll hit it directly, which isn’t how real shooting works.
However, as tech gets better, some games are moving towards more realistic bullet behavior. These new models treat bullets as actual objects, making the shooting feel more like the real thing. Some games even combine hitscan for instant results and projectile physics for more realism.
Popular Hitscan games
There are a handful of games where hitscan weapons have a prominent presence:
Overwatch 2 has several heroes that use hitscan weapons. Here’s the list (primary attacks only):
- Widow Maker
- Ana, scoped in only, hipfire is projectile
- Mech D.Va
- Wrecking Ball
These characters have hitscan weaposn that hit instantly wherever the cursor is. Compare this to Genji or Hanzo, both of which have projectile weapons that require their arrows and ninja stars to travel.
All weapons in Fortnite outside of rifles, bows, bolts and explosives are hitscan. Pistols, SMGs, LMGs and AR are all hitscan, they instantly travel to target. Fortnite has balanced the weapons by giving hitscan weapons bullet spread and damage drop off at distance, while snipers have to lead and adjust for drop at distance.
All guns in Apex Legends are projectile based except for the Havoc in charge beam mode, it’s hitscan.
There are a lot of weapons in Warframe, Warframe has a pretty varied mix of hitscan and projectile weapons. Checkout this wiki article here for a full list of hitscan weapons.
Team Fortress 2
All the bullet based weapons in TF2 are hitscan, explosives like rockets or grenades are obviously projectile based. Wiki source.