This is related to my other question regarding weapon distance.

Often, I can see enemies but can't initiate VATS until I get closer. Exactly how far is this limit?

Do my stats (like perception) affect this in any way?

  • It seems like your gun's range stat affects it, but I don't have good evidence of that. Would love to hear a researched answer.
    – DCShannon
    Dec 20, 2015 at 17:09
  • I think your perception stat indirectly affects range. As I understand it perception only affects hit chance, but if hit chance goes down the further away a target is then it will, with low perception, eventually drop to 0% making the target "unhittable" although your gun might have the needed range. But I don't know the calculations. Dec 21, 2015 at 7:50
  • @DimFre4kske Do we know that a target won't show up in VATS if you have 0% chance to hit on all limbs? Do we know that it actually gets to 0% just from range?
    – DCShannon
    Dec 21, 2015 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


From what I've established (although I could probably do a little more research), there are three distinct ranges that enemies can come under:


This is pretty self-explanatory. The enemy is too far away to see, they have not yet rendered on the screen as they are simply too far away. There's not much that you can do about this, except get closer.


Again, pretty obvious. An enemy is within range of your weapon, and you can target them with VATS. Your percentage chance to hit in VATS will depend on the range/accuracy of your weapon, your level of perception, your perks and your distance from/ vision of the enemy.

In-sight, Out-of-range

This is the most interesting range. I've been too far away from an enemy to use VATS, and it would not initiate the VATS screen. However, using a sniper rifle (with a medium scope), I was actually able to hit it. Despite having 0% chance to hit in VATS, I was still able to do damage from that distance.

I'm guessing the weapon 'range' stat had something to do with this, and shooting a weapon (even accurately) such as a 10mm pistol or shotgun would not have done damage. I had a modified hunting rifle with the range stat maxed as much as possible for my level (which was ~220, just for reference).

To know you are within the in-sight, out-of-range distance is simple. Usually when you press the VATS button there is a 'click' that accompanies it when there are no enemies (or allies) within your field of vision. However, if you click to enter VATS and it does not make the clicking noise, but still does not enter VATS, then you know that there is an enemy within your field of vision, and in-sight, but out of range for VATS targeting.

They will usually still be difficult to spot manually, as they will be at a great distance, but can still be hit if they are within range of your weapon. I'm not 100% on whether the click for failing to enter VATS occurs when an enemy is in the field of vision but obscured (behind brush or a tree for example). However I'm quite sure that the VATS screen is only initiated with an enemy in your line-of-sight if there is a greater than 0% chance to hit any body part (with a ranged weapon anyway, melee will still show 0% chance to hit (Thanks to DCShannon for clarifying this)).

I also haven't done any experimenting with the penetrator perk, as this may affect whether the click occurs when an enemy is obscured but within range.

  • "such as a 10mm pistol or shotgun would not have done damage" I believe the weapon dmg formula is floating around here somewhere. The range won't reduce the damage to zero. I think 50% was the minimum? I've made a sniper character that often shoots at things outside VATS range. It definitely does damage.
    – DCShannon
    Dec 21, 2015 at 16:58
  • @DCShannon What I meant was that when outside of VATS, having a weapon with low range might mean that even if an enemy is lined up correctly through the scope, the bullet may not reach far enough to do damage. Dec 21, 2015 at 17:02
  • I think I may have had that happen with a laser rifle, come to think of it. Can't say I've ever noticed it with a ballistic weapon.
    – DCShannon
    Dec 21, 2015 at 17:03
  • @Mike.C.Ford DCShannon is correct, the fallout 4 damage formula shows that damage drops off to a minimum of 50% assuming your bullet actually hits something. Its possible your gun isn't accurate enough or has a spread wide enough that it deviates off target at greater distances, but if it hits its guarenteed to do at least 50% damage (before reduction)
    – l I
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:14
  • "However I'm quite sure that the VATS screen is only initiated with an enemy in your line-of-sight if there is a greater than 0% chance to hit any body part." Have you tried to test with with maccready's glitched killshot perk? Where he adds 2000% hit chance to the head.
    – l I
    Dec 21, 2015 at 19:53

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