What is Aim Assist and is using it cheating?

Whether on the sticks or on the clicks, everyone wants to shoot well.

Image via Respawn Entertainment

Although not originally meant for shooters, controllers have become a core part of making first-person shooters (FPS) or any other shooter genre what they are today. 

Shooters have been a popular part of gaming for decades now, from old-school titles such as Halo and Call of Duty—which were practically console exclusives—to contemporary battle royale powerhouses such as Fortnite and Apex Legends.

That success is accompanied by a debate on which form is the best to play. Controller players rely on aim assist, while mouse and keyboard rely on their raw aim.

What is Aim Assist and is using it cheating?

Controllers are, by design, not optimal for shooter games or even for aiming in general. Making precise movements with just two thumbsticks can take years of practice. A mouse, on the other hand, is much easier to use and more accurate—one can view it as an extension of their hand. 

To have more precise movements and aiming, controller players use a setting called aim assist. As its name suggests, the setting helps controller players with their aim. 

Aim assists work by snapping the player’s crosshair—the little cross by the middle of the screen—to any target close to it. This lets controller players, who otherwise would have either slower aiming or issues with tracking their targets, get a hold of their targets with ease. 

As far as rules are concerned—in this case, the settings game developers implement into their games—it is not a form of cheating. For all intents and purposes, aim assist is not cheating, at least according to game devs. No matter the number of complaints from mouse and keyboard players, aim assist wouldn’t count as cheating if players were to look at the “rules” of each title. Additionally, the aim assist setting is usually available to all players who play with a controller, even if they’re using a PC.