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V.A.T.S: Misc



Up to date as of February 01, 2010
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From The Vault

V.A.T.S. in action

The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S., is a queuing system for Fallout 3, inspired partly by the ability to shoot specific body parts in the turn-based combat system of Fallout and Fallout 2.

While using V.A.T.S., the otherwise real-time combat is paused. Various actions cost action points, and both the player and enemies can target specific body areas for attacks, inflicting specific injuries.

When using V.A.T.S. against a humanoid enemy, there are generally seven different areas that are targetable; the head, torso, left arm, right arm, currently held weapon, left leg, and right leg. However, there may be other points available when specifically facing off non-humanoid creatures (e.g. robot combat inhibitors, ant antennae).

When targeting a part, the screen displays a percentage of how likely the attack will hit the targeted area based on distance from the target, visibility of the targeted body part, and combat skill. A higher percentage does not equate to more damage done; for example, an 80% hit to the head/sensors will likely do more damage than a 95% hit to an armored torso. The readout also displays the overall condition of the body parts on the target.

V.A.T.S. also displays a health meter indicating the target's overall health, as well as an indicator showing the amount of damage a V.A.T.S. attack round using the player's current weapon will inflict. Note that the indicator shows the weapon's maximum potential damage that the weapon would do if the player's relevant combat skill (i.e. Small Guns) were at 100. If the player's combat skill is less than 100, they will do less real damage with each attack than what the V.A.T.S. indicator shows.

There is a 15% boost in the chance for a critical hit in V.A.T.S. mode.

Unlike previous Fallout games, it is not possible to target the eyes or groin nor target any individual body parts in melee and unarmed combat, however you will still strike specific limbs without aiming for them, and you can still cripple and dismember enemies. Also unlike the previous games, you can't target children.



Although body part damage can be achieved through manual aiming, V.A.T.S. allows more effective targeting of particular body parts. The effects of crippling specific body parts is listed below.

  • Crippling the head will reduce overall accuracy and perception of the target. If inflicted upon the player, the screen will intermittently get fuzzy and a ring will be heard through the speakers, loosely simulating the effects of a concussion.
  • Crippling the torso will result in the target flinching far more often from shots than normal. This can also affect the player throwing off aim and stopping your attacks momentarily.
  • Crippling an arm will result in any weapon reliant on that arm for holding to be dropped, and will also drastically reduce accuracy. This is particularly evident when the player uses a scoped weapon such as a Sniper Rifle. The weapon itself is not destroyed, and they will likely just pick it back up again.
  • Crippling a leg will result in impaired mobility. Creatures who rely on leaping attacks (e.g. deathclaws) will no longer be able to use them.
  • Crippling the held weapon will ruin it and make it unusable, and/or send it flying out of the target's hand. Although the condition is zero and it can't be used, it can still be collected and repaired, or used for repairs. The player's weapon may be damaged by enemy fire as well. If the player's weapon CND reaches 0, it will be unequipped as opposed to flying out of the player's hands. If it is an explosive ordinance (like a frag grenade), it will explode, dealing its damage to the target holding it (and any others nearby). Grenades can be targeted by V.A.T.S. while in the air after being thrown as well; As long as the game isn't updated. The 1.4 update (or later) removes the ability to target "en-route" grenades and missiles.
  • Some enemies have alternate targets: Robots, ants, and others have special targetable parts that when crippled will push them into a frenzied state, where they no longer discern between friend and foe and attack anything.

Crippling any body part will result in the target momentarily pausing to clutch the now crippled body part or reel from the injury. Specific body parts cannot be targeted when using thrown explosives or melee/unarmed weapons in V.A.T.S..

Related perks

V.A.T.S. is your friend.


  • You can use V.A.T.S. to reveal enemies that you wouldn't normally see (like Cloaked Chinese Soldiers or that group of raiders way far away) by clicking the V.A.T.S. button rapidly. If there is a target nearby, you will go into V.A.T.S. mode with the enemy targeted, pointing out their location. Doing this when going around corners in buildings and tunnels can give you an edge against ambushing enemies as well. Occasionally in large open spaces the opposite will happen: You'll see a target but it will be too far away to target it with V.A.T.S.
  • V.A.T.S. is first introduced to the player character on their 10th birthday in Vault 101 upon receiving a BB Gun.
  • It is possible to target thrown grenades before they reach you. (until patch 1.4)
  • In melee combat, hits in free-aim can be stopped; that does not seem to happen using V.A.T.S.
  • The player character receives only 10% of normal damage in V.A.T.S.; however, some weapons are still strong enough to kill you instantly, such as the Fat Man (and especially the Experimental MIRV). Going into V.A.T.S. when you are just about to take a hit will thus negate a lot of damage. This is useful when fighting creatures with high damage per hit such as Deathclaws and Yao Guai, although fast reflexes are needed.
  • Due to the increased accuracy, V.A.T.S. combat tends to deal more damage than free-aim shooting. To compensate, it should be noted that V.A.T.S. attacks reduce the CND of the weapon faster than free-aim. It is up to the player to decide whether to save ammo with more accurate and powerful shots, or save the weapon's condition with free aiming, at the cost of ammunition.
  • A possible flaw in the program/design keeps Free Aim from being as effective even at point-blank range where accuracy is not an issue. Even the Alien Blaster may require several shots to bring down a foe normally dispatched with one shot in V.A.T.S., even at close range.
  • Since crippling an enemy's head greatly reduces their Perception, the player is able to run away, hide and crouch. This will often change the threat message to ("Caution") and if you wait long enough ("Hidden"). This is incredibly helpful in instances where you run out of ammo, stimpaks, or the enemy you are fighting is simply too powerful for you to defeat.
  • V.A.T.S. is also very useful for melee sneak attacks, as it seems to teleport the character to melee range, whereas in free-aim you wouldn't be able to reach the character. It can also teleport characters up on to a ledge if you started V.A.T.S. mid jump for a melee attack. This also allows you to sneak attack multiple characters that are nearby without fearing that you won't reach them.
  • The above teleportation effect has the side effect of negating falling damage. To see this effect, you can jump off the Tenpenny Tower and go into V.A.T.S. mode just before you land near another NPC. The first strike will miss, but you won't take any falling damage.
  • V.A.T.S. is also useful if you want to check out an enemy that you cannot otherwise see very clearly. V.A.T.S. will highlight the enemy, which lets you see which way they are facing and if they have long-range or melee weapons. Against multiple enemies, this would let you target one carrying a long-range weapon first. If you are trying to sneak, you can keep checking an enemy with V.A.T.S. until you see his back is turned.
  • The player cannot move away or dodge while in V.A.T.S.. When confronted with melee enemies that run at you (super mutants, radscorpions, etc.), it is often advisable to run backwards while shooting instead of using V.A.T.S. If you have enough space, they might never have a chance to hit you.
  • Automatic weapons (assault rifles etc.) always shoot bursts of ammo in V.A.T.S.. You might save ammo in certain situations when you shoot single bullets in free aim instead (e.g. at minor enemies or when already at low hps)
  • V.A.T.S. only slows time; it does not halt it completely. Therefore, targeted enemies may be able to move behind cover before you can fire all of your queued shots. Melee and Unarmed users may still land their strikes, as V.A.T.S. teleports the player character into range for each blow. Ranged weapon users however, will usually find their character shooting into a barrier for each attack. Characters allied to the player character can also move during a V.A.T.S. sequence, which might cause friendly-fire incidents with ranged weapons in close-quarters combat. Oddly enough, the Pipboy notification icon will still update with information (crippling attacks, critical attacks) about your stricken ally.
  • Once a V.A.T.S. sequence has been accepted, it cannot be canceled while the actions are being carried out. This can end up in the aforementioned situation of firing at a barrier or companion that has blocked the line of fire, resulting in wasted ammo and AP. In the case of thrown weapons, such as the frag grenade, if it bounces away from the target or otherwise fails to reach effective distance, this can result in several wasted grenades. Overkill can also often be achieved if the previous attacks had lowered the enemy to a state where one final blow with a high power weapon may be unnecessary. The only way to prevent these situations is some foresight, and more often quite a bit of luck.
  • It is important to note that when you cripple almost any enemy's body part on your final queued shot, there are instances where you will not leave V.A.T.S and your enemy will still charge/shoot at you. This is especially annoying and dangerous against powerful melee fighters such as the Deathclaw, and it's been noted that a Deathclaw landed 3 hits on the player, and a fourth when V.A.T.S was finally exited. To prevent this, it's best to use free aim first and use V.A.T.S when the enemy is closer to death.
  • if two enemies are lined up single file, if you target the one further away, and your shots kill the one in front, then the one you aimed at will drop to the floor. they will be unable to move, but able to attack with a ranged weapon( unsure whether they can attack with meele/unarmed weapons). they will jump to the position that they would otherwise have moved to, if you get close.
  • In the PS3 version at least (recent patch 1.6) you can still target inbound grenades, it does not appear to be able to target missiles however.


  • The 1.1.035 patch heavily bugs the V.A.T.S. system. There is now often a noticeable pause when activating V.A.T.S., especially so when Anti-Aliasing is enabled. Furthermore, any perks that modify the To-Hit chance in V.A.T.S. (like Gunslinger or Commando) have no effect and are essentially useless until the bug is patched. Grenades and rockets now have 0% chance to hit when targeted while in flight, and there are frequent miscalculations (such as all body parts having 0% to hit when they shouldn't). These are NOT fixable by PC users via G.E.C.K. editing, as these values depend on the game's EXE file, something which naturally can only be patched by Bethesda. Patch 1.5 has fixed the broken To-Hit perks; however, it does not resolve the pause bug (but does reduce it for some players) nor fix occasionally-wrong accuracy calculations, and projectiles in-flight are still un-hittable.
    • The paused framerate and screwy hit percentages can be fixed for a moderate drop in the maximum attainable framerate by use of a mod called the Fallout Stutter Remover (which requires a minimum version of FOSE Beta 1.2). The default framerate cap for the FSR is 30, but can be increased by altering settings in the mod's associated INI. It is not known yet if the un-hittable grenades are also fixed.
  • Sometimes, when the player opens V.A.T.S. and the targeted enemy walks behind a corner, you won't be able to move until your enemy is dead. What it comes down to is that your followers need to kill the enemy for V.A.T.S. to close, which might take a LONG time since everything is in slow motion. In some known occurrences(xbox360), this resulted in the death of Dogmeat and the other follower that was accompanying the PC, which in turn allowed the target to live, and forcing the player to reload a previous game due to not being able to close V.A.T.S. mode.
  • Update: On the Xbox 360 version, it is not possible to recover from this glitch by holding down the Xbox menu button until the standard V.A.T.S. target selection re-initiates
  • Occasionally V.A.T.S. will let players see through walls or rocks.
  • When playing in first person mode, and lining up a shot which is only a few degrees above or below an obstruction, even though you appear to have a clear shot, in V.A.T.S mode, your shots will sometimes hit the obstruction every time. Apparently there is sometimes a slight position difference between first person and V.A.T.S.. This can also sometimes occur in free aim if the obstruction is in front of you (e.g. sandbags) and your weapon appears to be pointing above it.
  • If you target an enemy in V.A.T.S. too quickly after turning, you may have 0% chance to hit the enemy at all until you exit V.A.T.S. and reenter.
    • Similarly, if one's eyes are literally inside the target (so one can see straight through it and see the bits of texture that colour the target), you will have 0% chance to hit any part of the target's body.
  • If you take the Mysterious Stranger perk, use the Sniper Rifle in V.A.T.S. and he appears, it causes the game to crash often. So avoid using this weapon in V.A.T.S. mode. This is ill-advised at any rate, since using the weapon in V.A.T.S. will make the already fragile weapon degrade even faster, as well as forfeit the accuracy bonus you would get using the scope.
  • Using V.A.T.S. with Unarmed or Melee Weapons can reveal a few bugs:
    • The hitboxes of both types of weapons seem to increase and move away from the weapon. This is evident when targeting a fleeing enemy: the target may be well out of regular range when the Lone Wanderer swings his or her weapon, yet has a chance to take damage. Likewise, being right up against an enemy will sometimes give a hit percentage of 0. This seems to suggest that both types of weapon have a minimum range in V.A.T.S..
    • Sometimes, after accepting the attack sequence, the player may just stand with his or her weapon drawn for the duration of what would have been a normal attack sequence. This doesn't spend AP however, so it is mildly annoying. It can become an issue when fighting groups of enemies, because they have the chance to (slowly) surround the player, making battle difficult.
    • The V.A.T.S. hit percentage for Melee Weapons and Unarmed weapons is very different from ranged weapons. For example, if the player enters V.A.T.S. with two targets equidistant and in range of the player, yet one is behind the player when V.A.T.S. was activated, the target behind the player will display a 0% chance to hit. This happens occasionally with ranged weapons as well, but not as often due to their range.
  • When the Player starts an attack in V.A.T.S. the game may freeze but the sound of the attack and the radio station can still be heard but after the sound has stopped playing no other sounds will play until the game is restarted. This can be very annoying if the player has not saved or auto-saved in a while.
  • Don't use V.A.T.S. when an NPC walks into an area that needs to be loaded. It'll freeze your game.
  • Sometimes, V.A.T.S. will occasionally freeze to where you are only able to switch between enemies and body parts. The Select, Accept, and Return are all disabled.
    • Also the game doesn't allow you to access the main menu by pressing Start, forcing the player to eject the disk or shut down his console (Confirm no Start button function - 360)


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This article uses material from the "V.A.T.S." article on the Fallout wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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