How things shoot
Good weapon tests require knowing these things
Info status: Published | Jan. 5, 2020, 3:28 p.m.
This article will define the things to look for when analyzing weapons performance, and describe how does the shooting generally work.
First thing to consider is what does the VATS actually do. It rolls a number periodically, and based on this number, it checks whether your bullet should be put on a path directly to its target, or on some other path. Once these bullets are sent out, they are not being homed, and moving out of pathway of a critical VATS hit will cause the bullet to miss. Similarly, entering the bullets pathway by another target will hit another target, and a bullet that has been rolled as a miss and sent on incorrect pathway may still hit if the target moves onto this new pathway. This means that if you're dancing around, there's high change of dodging bullets - when we compared straight running to snake-run, snake-run dodged around half of incoming bullets.
Since the RNG seed upon which the shots are sent is rerolled periodically, not with each shot, its possible to 'prolong' a particular roll if you don't cease to fire.
This results in series where you send our 20 bullets at 95% chance and none of them hits, and this results in several critical bullets being able to leave the gun for a single critical bar spent. If you're observing that you're always missing, cease shooting for a moment and wait. If you observe you send ridiculous amounts of crits, don't cease shooting :)
The second fundamental thing to consider is the projectile type.
How exactly given legendary modifier works is dependent on the projectile type. For example, Two Shot gives extremely inconsistent results when you compare demanded weapons to the ones that were mostly ignored. Particularly, there was a time where the TSE (two-shot explosive) combination was in the highest demand, as it was vastly more powerful then. Every weapon that could be rolled as TSE has been made so that the TSEs were less effective, but this TS adjustment feels extremely inconsistent on weapons that couldn't roll explosive legendary mod (for example because they are explosive already). Currently, how this particular effect behaves, both in terms of damage done and damage displayed in pipboy (as these are different things), is rather different when you compare ballistic rifles, multi-projectile energy weaponry, plasma weapons, explosive projectiles such as rockets, and multi-projectile weapons such as shotgun.
Silencer craftable mod has the ability to override projectile type, and that has been historically a source of issues with various legendary effects.
The point is, when you're investigating how given thing works, bear in mind the projectile type that you're sending because it's the only one for which your tests were relevant.
The final fundamental aspect is the range, which was complicated enough that it deserved a separate article.