Why did it take me 9 years to find out you could hold VATS in Fallout 4 to free aim?

VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) is a long-time Fallout feature that pauses the game and lets players take aim at specific enemy body parts to disarm a limb, break a knee, or pop a ghoul’s head like a rotted grape. But almost a decade after Fallout 4 came out, I’m only now learning about a game-changing VATS fact.

Brought to our attention by twitterer Jamie Moran, holding down the VATS button in Fallout 4 lets you free aim with the VATS UI turned on, as opposed to toggling between available enemies in ultra slow motion. Doing this seems more than ideal when scouting for nearby baddies since enemies will still be highlighted with that radioactive green color as well as percentage hit points for limbs – only this time with full control over the camera.

WOWSo I just figured out that if you Hold Down the VATs button…You can Free Aim in VATs, and not just toggle between enemies.Really useful when scouting.Fallout 4From XboxSeriesX pic.twitter.com/yH5ee0nDRHMay 27, 2024

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Replies to the viral tweet imply that many wasteland survivors were just as clueless about the hidden feature as me – the people yearn for in-the-box instruction manuals – though, this is hardly the first time a group of Fallout 3 players have had their collective minds blown, as a Reddit post from 9 years ago shared a similar sentiment. Either the Fallout TV show renaissance courted a fresh face of VATS discoverers, or the same post goes viral every year. (Both are likely.)

The unexplained VATS feature is more handy than one might think, however. Not only is it great for scouting out enemies, but it’ll highlight hidden mines too, turning those pesky minefields into a breezy walk. After unlocking the VANS (Vault-Tec Assisted Navigational System) perk, holding down VATS will also show a green breadcrumb trail leading to your nearest quest marker, similar to the guidance spell in Skyrim. My Fallout 4 playthroughs will never be the same.

Check out our rankings of the best Fallout games.

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