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V.A.T.S. in action


V.A.T.S., or the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, is an advanced combat technology whose developmental origins have been lost to time...

Fallout 4 loading screen hints

The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S., is a queuing system for Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4, inspired partly by the ability to shoot specific body parts in the turn-based combat system of Fallout and Fallout 2. V.A.T.S. is also used for a cinematic combat experience.


Although known to be a product of Vault-Tec Industries, the developmental origins of this advanced combat technology have been lost to time.[1]

Fallout 3[]

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

When using V.A.T.S. against a humanoid enemy, you can target seven different areas: the head, torso, left arm, right arm, currently held weapon, left leg, and right leg. However, there may be other points available when 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. The bar will be empty when the limb has been crippled.

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 non-critical 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. On the other hand, achieving a critical hit (such as a Sneak Attack Critical) can potentially produce more real damage than the indicator shows.

There is a 15% boost in the chance for a critical hit in V.A.T.S. mode, but weapons degrade at 4 times the regular rate.

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 are listed below.

  • Crippling the head will reduce overall accuracy and perception (-4) 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 drastically reduce accuracy and may disarm the enemy if a weapon is held in the attached hand. This is particularly evident when the player uses a scoped weapon such as a Sniper Rifle. The weapon itself is not destroyed, and the enemy can pick it up again or use another weapon from his or her inventory.
  • 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 ordnance (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.
  • 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 will attack anything.
  • V.A.T.S can be used to target grenades or any other thrown explosive, whether in the enemy's hand or in the air. It will detonate if shot.

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.


  • V.A.T.S. is first introduced to the player character on their 10th birthday in Vault 101 upon receiving a BB Gun.
  • You can use V.A.T.S. to reveal enemies that you wouldn't normally see (like Crimson Dragoon, Nightkin or enemies that are far away) by clicking the V.A.T.S. button rapidly (or for consoles, simply holding down the V.A.T.S. button) (also called V.A.T.S. scanning). 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 four times faster than free-aim.
  • V.A.T.S. is 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. Unless you have 0% chance to hit, of course.
  • The player cannot move away or dodge while in V.A.T.S.
  • Automatic weapons (assault rifles etc.) always fire in bursts in V.A.T.S.
    • Even if a target dies while reloading, the burst will finish.
  • 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. 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.
  • Once a V.A.T.S. sequence has been accepted, it cannot be canceled while the actions are being carried out, unless the target dies or is destroyed during the sequence.
  • Mines cannot be used in V.A.T.S.; it will show a 0% chance to hit, no matter what your proximity to the target is.
  • If a player is out of AP and unable to attack using V.A.T.S., one can still take advantage of it during battle. Simply activate V.A.T.S., select your target, then press and hold the left trigger (or whatever button you have mapped for iron sights). Exit V.A.T.S. while still holding the trigger and the players iron sight will be aimed directly at the intended target. This works best for enemies that charge directly at you such as Geckos and Deathclaws since you can squeeze off a good number of shots without having to adjust your aim. This can be used to your advantage at great range with very accurate weapons such as the Lincoln Repeater, where a head shot is almost guaranteed even when the probability of hitting in V.A.T.S. is minuscule.
  • Using shotguns in V.A.T.S. can sometimes do minimal damage. Shotguns' damage uses a Spread Radius and thus, a certain amount of damage for each single part of the spread, for example: 8x6 - each part of the spread does 8 damage, but the damage is multiplied by the 6 parts of the spread, in V.A.T.S., sometimes it will cancel the spread and only do the base damage - in comparison to the example above, instead of doing 8x6 worth of damage, it will only do 8 points of damage, making a shotgun in V.A.T.S. a gamble.
  • V.A.T.S can be used to compensate for low skill with scoped weapons by selecting the limb you wish to target and then instantly zooming out and firing.

Fallout: New Vegas[]

V.A.T.S. appears in Fallout: New Vegas, mostly unchanged from Fallout 3.


  • After reaching a Melee Weapons skill of 50, every melee weapon can execute a special attack with varying effects.
  • At Unarmed level 50, unarmed weapons gain Uppercut and Stomp special attacks, and the Cross special attack at skill level 75. Each have their own special properties but all attacks have an AP cost of 20 regardless of weapon used.
  • Base melee/unarmed damage (except thrown melee weapons) dealt by the weapon is automatically doubled.
  • In V.A.T.S. taken damage increased from 10% to 75% making death in V.A.T.S. an always present threat.
  • V.A.T.S. critical chance bonus decreased from 15% to 5%.
  • V.A.T.S. no longer inflicts additional weapon's durability damage on use.
  • Enemy slow down modified. All enemies move slower in V.A.T.S., but those not actively targeted are not as dramatically slowed.

Related perks[]

Fallout 4[]

Unlike the earlier iterations of V.A.T.S., Fallout 4 has the system slow time instead of stop it altogether.

Related perks[]

Fallout 76[]

In contrast to previous implementations, in Fallout 76 V.A.T.S., due to being on the less advanced Pip-Boy 2000 Mk VI, does not stop or slow time and merely provides the ability to target a single enemy, and a list of attacks cannot be queued to execute. Only one attack can be done at a time, however, attacks are as fast as the player can pull the trigger. Also missing is the ability to target individual limbs. When using a V.A.T.S. attack, it will always aim center of mass.


  • Using V.A.T.S when no enemies are present will spend 5 Action points, this is to stop the spamming of the V.A.T.S button to locate enemies. Though when enemies are present, no action points are spent targeting an enemy and only on the attacks being made.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Artist Grant Struthers prototyped the V.A.T.S. camera system by filming his Incredibles action figures fighting.

Do people actually want to snipe with VATS? You're already at an enormous advantage at those long ranges. If you crouch, your enemies are likely completely unaware of you, meaning everything that is not a cazador is walking at a very slow pace or idling. If you hit the target with weapons with the appropriate range/FoV zoom, you score astronomical damage.

VATS isn't really a "mode" of play; it's a limited-resource power up. When you use it, you move about six times the speed of everything else, have damage resistance, and can instantly re-orient to any number of targets. While it's true that the weapon's min spread does go up in VATS, your weapon is oriented directly at the center of the body part you're trying to hit, completely eliminating the human error of manual targeting. Of course, VATS does still have problems dealing with collision interference and with minimum range on long weapons, but those issues are essentially the same in F:NV as they were in F3.

In F:NV, VATS is best used as a short and mid-range antidote to fast-moving melee enemies (e.g. deathclaws, cazadores) or a mob descending upon you.

J.E. Sawyer


Fallout 3[]

  • Using V.A.T.S. when an NPC walks into an area that needs to be loaded may freeze/crash your game.
  • If you remove a target's limbs while in V.A.T.S., then proceed to take his/her equipment, the body parts will still be shown wearing the outfit.
  • In rare occasions, the black-and-white effect of V.A.T.S. will carry over to the normal game, rendering everything except the HUD to a permanent grayscale filter.
  • If the player falls from a great height, he/she can pull out a melee weapon and target someone below. The effect of being teleported into range loses all velocity from the fall, and negates the damage. This is most easily seen at Tenpenny Tower, from one of the balconies onto citizens below.
  • Firing weapons that require two shells, such as the Double-barrel shotgun, can lead to a bug in which the character does not actually fire a shot in V.A.T.S. It will just result in a drawn out cinematic view of the player just aiming at his/her target. This is due to only having an odd number of shotgun shells in the players inventory resulting in the last shot in V.A.T.S. not firing because the gun requires two shells to fire and only one is left in the players inventory.

Fallout: New Vegas[]

  • PlayStation 3Icon ps3 Upon tapping the V.A.T.S. button, the player may only hear a click and no change in gameplay, as V.A.T.S. does not activate. This problem can last for up to several minutes (easily enough to hinder any player reliant on the V.A.T.S. system), at which point V.A.T.S. once again becomes available. This issue appears to be a problem with the L2 & R2 button mapping. Remapping V.A.T.S. to a different button can resolve the issue. If this doesn't work, you can turn off the controller and turn it on again or even quit the game and get back in.
  • PlayStation 3Icon ps3 Game consistently freezes upon entering V.A.T.S.. Might have something to do with deleting the Game Data post-patch, reinstalling, playing for a bit without the patch (to get into the Abandoned BOS Bunker), then reloading the patch.
  • PCIcon pc V.A.T.S. targeting is bugged for certain guns - most lever action rifles and a few pistols: it consistently shoots high, making headshots improbable or impossible. Consistently replicable by starting a new game, adding a brush gun (id: 00121148) and .45-70 ammo (id: 0013e43e), forcing guns to 100, and shooting at Easy Pete's head from the nearby road. Bullet impacts will appear on the windowpane behind him - and, shot after shot, will consistently be high. Modifying the gun to have perfect accuracy and/or setting fVATSSpreadMult to 0.01 will reveal that the V.A.T.S. point of aim is roughly a foot high. No known fix yet. This bug also seems to occur with the Hunting Revolver.
  • PCIcon pc A reloading glitch can rarely occur where the player is granted a 100% boost in reload speed after a target is killed in V.A.T.S. and the cinematic death animation plays simultaneously as the player is reloading (namely the single shotgun) the effect lasts until the player enters another cell, switches weapons, dies, or reloads a previous save. (Unconfirmed)
  • PCIcon pc PlayStation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 When using Melee/Unarmed, it is possible to get stuck in a wall, You will have to reload a previous save, use fast travel, or use a console command.
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 By tapping the V.A.T.S. button (regardless of whether an enemy is around), the game freezes to the point in which a manual restart is necessary. Restarting (from the same save point) has not fixed the glitch, but loading an earlier save might. Try deleting system cache as i think it could be the patch affecting this (not confirmed).
  • PCIcon pc PlayStation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 After choosing where you want to attack at your enemy and pressing the button to attack them, your character may do nothing and stay still during the slow-motion for an unconfirmed amount of time. On most occasions you will either die or lose a large portion of your health. It is largely related to attacking in V.A.T.S. while you were reloading, so make sure ALL reloading animations and sounds are totally complete before you attempt a V.A.T.S. attack. This can also occur with the mysterious stranger if his target is killed prematurely by you, or another NPC. He will not fire his 6 rounds and V.A.T.S. will not end until 15 seconds or more.
  • On very rare occasions, your character may not fire after queuing up the attacks, forcing you to reload a previous save.
  • PCIcon pc PlayStation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 At close to medium range, V.A.T.S. may simply refuse to register attacks but will go into cinematic view. The Player Character will simply stand still while being attacked. Note: The enemies will go back to normal speed which means if you are in a difficult fight, you just might die. After several seconds however, the screen may revert to normal view. This may happen repeatedly on PS3 while using the Brush Gun.
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 After entering V.A.T.S., and skipping the kill camera, your game may be in slow motion for about ten seconds. This won't prove any difficulties, everything will be in slow motion. This may also occur if you have the cinematic kills on, and usually occurs around areas with cliffs, apparently.
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 While attacking in V.A.T.S., only the target and player will be in slow motion. Any other enemies in the area will move and attack at normal speed, making you a prime target for the duration of your attack.
  • PlayStation 3Icon ps3 Sometimes the camera may zoom on the enemy and all your shots may fire in quick succession as if you're using an automatic weapon, but not shots will register on the target, and will cause zero damage.

Fallout 4[]

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  1. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "V.A.T.S., or the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, is an advanced combat technology whose developmental origins have been lost to time..."