Episode 40: What Do Those Stats Mean, Anyways?

Despite Bungie's best efforts to keep things vague, convoluted, and generally fruitspaced, we and a lot of other incredible Guardians have put some considerable time into demystifying the inner workings of Destiny's game mechanics, and this episode is dedicated to putting some of that information in a clear, concise (ha!) format that any Guardian can benefit from. Let us know if we succeed at any of that, eh?

There is WAY too much going on here for a classic show notes link, but here are two posts we shared on the Destiny subreddit and Crucible Playbook this past week that explain some of the more interesting and helpful statistics - please enjoy, and feel free to join the conversation over there!

Range, Accuracy, Aim Assist, and Stability in Destiny the Game

Long story short, I've spent a lot of time testing and reading about the various stats in Destiny, and at certain points in time I've posted breakdowns on them. What I'd like to do now is offer a simple refresher on what we know about four of those stats: Range, accuracy, aim assist, and stability. Now, somewhat surprisingly, all of these stats are actually interrelated, and they work together to give us the feel of the weapons we love so much in Destiny. I'm going to breakdown each on individually, then discuss how exactly it is that they relate.

For those who prefer to listen, here is Massive Breakdown Podcast Episode 40: What Do Those Stats Mean, Anyways?


When you use a perk that directly affects range (like Rifled Barrel or Hammer Forged) there are three things that change

  1. Damage fall off distance - the distance and rate at which the gun longer does its maximum damage. Increasing range pushes this out farther.
  2. Aim assist fall off distance - the distance and rate at which the aim assist loses effectiveness. Increasing range pushes this out farther.
  3. Accuracy cone (error angle) - the physical size of the crosshairs when ADS (invisible in normal Destiny, but can be seen in the Last Rites mission). Determines the maximum angle a shot could deflect from center when leaving the barrel of the weapon. Increasing range narrows the crosshairs, thus decreasing the diameter of the accuracy cone and providing a lower possible error angle.


Perks like Persistence, Eye of the Storm, and Hot Swap affect this.

  1. Accuracy cone (error angle) - Exactly what we discussed before. The physical size of the accuracy cone grows as you maintain fire, which we refer to as bloom, and this means shots have a higher error angle, and thus are less accurate.
  2. Projectile accuracy - Likelihood of shot going dead center or receiving maximum aim assist deflection (I think). This one has been the hardest to test in game, but based on things Bungie has said in past updates we know it exists, and this is my hypothesis of what it does. I believe that weapons have a higher initial projectile accuracy and it decreases as you maintain fire or jump in the air, in conjunction with the accuracy cone (error angle) changes. So a weapon with high initial projectile accuracy and a wide initial accuracy cone (high error angle) like a hand cannon could have a fairly accurate first shot, but the likelihood of each following shot being accurate would decrease as both bloom increases, and projectile accuracy decreases. Alternatively, a weapon with a low projectile accuracy but relatively narrow accuracy cone (like auto rifles) tends to be be inaccurate on single shots, but the bloom is clamped, which keeps the bullets confined within a relatively tight diameter, perfect for close range battles where the opponent fills the diameter of the crosshairs.

Aim Assist:

Hidden Hand, and some scopes, sights, and barrels change aim assist.

  1. Reticle slow down - How much your reticle slows down when it nears a target.
  2. Reticle stickiness - Once your aim is on a target, how much the reticle wants to stick to or follow the target when it moves.
  3. Bullet magnetism - The amount that a bullet will alter its path out the end of the barrel to hit a target, even if the reticle or aim is slightly off target. The maximum deflection a bullet can take is given by the circular part of the reticle (not the crosshairs) that can be seen when ADS on Last Rites. The circle increases in diameter as the Aim Assist stat gets larger, due either to sights (SureShot), barrels (Smooth Ballistics), or perks that increase AA (Hidden Hand). Weapons with higher base AA will have larger circles than those with smaller base AA. As you fire the circle shrinks in size, so your maximum aim assist deflection degrades with sustained fire. Increasing the stability stat slows down this process and speeds up the reset to maximum deflection. Think of it like the opposite of bloom. This has a maximum distance where it is effective. Meaning at a certain distance, your bullets will no longer have their paths altered, and will instead be directed solely by the accuracy principles. Functionally, magnetism works the same way as a larger hitbox, in that it provides an area around a target that counts as a hit, even if technically the shot should miss. However, instead of the bullet passing through the empty space and registering as a hit, the bullet paths out of the barrel to the target, and can still be blocked by cover. Examples of this behavior can be seen when bullets impact a phalanx's shield, even though the player is clearly aiming at the exposed hand. Deflection can also be seen with any weapon that has a bullet trail, like Touch of Malice or Thorn.


Perks like Perfect Balance, Braced Frame, etc. affect stability.

  1. Barrel jump - How much the barrel and your aim moves with each shot fired. Recoil can be vertical, horizontal, or both. Increasing stability decreases the physical distance moved. Stability does not necessarily reset between shots, so your gun can actually come to rest in a different position if you do not correct for it. Stability and accuracy work together, but are separate mechanics. A gun with high accuracy but low stability will still be inaccurate, as, even with the bullets going straight out of the barrel, the barrel itself will move radically after each shot, thus spreading the bullets out even without individual deflections. Likewise, a gun with high stability and low accuracy will also be inaccurate because, even though the barrel doesn't jump around much, the high error angle will continue to make the bullets spread out from the barrel.
  2. Aim assist degradation - How much and how fast the circular reticle which defines maximum aim assist deflection degrades is dependent on stability. The higher the stability, the longer the circle will last before it shrinks too much and disappears, and the faster it will reset during the time between shots.


  1. Range affects damage drop off, aim assist fall off, and the crosshair size (aka the accuracy cone or error angle).
  2. Accuracy affects the crosshair size (accuracy cone or error angle) and projectile accuracy (how likely the shots are to go straight or receive maximum aim assist deflection).
  3. Aim Assist affects reticle slow down (speed decrease when near a target), reticle stickiness (how much the reticle wants to stick with a target it is already on), and bullet magnetism (how far the shot will deflect from the barrel to pull towards a target).
  4. Stability affects barrel and reticle movement while firing, and the degradation of the diameter around the reticle that bullet magnetism is effective in. Higher stability means slower degradation.

Optics, Zoom, and Aiming Down Sights in Destiny the Game

Hey Guardians, I thought now might be a good time to discuss some of the more confusing stats and terms in Destiny, where the definitions are well established but not always well known. I was going to talk about several different ones, but then writing this thing about Optics and Zoom got away from me, so that's all I have time for today. Enjoy!

Massive Breakdown Podcast Discussing These Terms and More

Full Disclosure: I am a host of the Massive Breakdown Podcast. The link contains an audio discussion of these terms and more between myself and /u/Mercules904, which I personally really enjoyed. Click it or don't click it, I don't make a dime either way. Now on to the post!

EDIT: Finally, please realize that this is targeted more at newer and less experienced Guardians, as well as those who have been around but are perhaps less into digging through stats and databases. It's going to be old hat for a lot of more experienced Guardians, and I know this.


Optics is a hidden stat that you can see when you view a weapon through one of the database sites (destinytracker, db.planetdestiny, guardian.gg, etc), but is not shown in the Armory or in-game. It's an integer between 10 and 100 (it could go higher, I suppose), and at first glance might seem a bit opaque to a new player. So let's define it:

Optics converts directly to a weapon's ADS (Aim Down Sights) zoom factor in the game. Simply divide by 10, and you have the zoom factor.

For almost all Exotics as well as other weapons with fixed scopes (many Raid weapons, Fusion Rifles, etc) this stat is fixed and unchanging - their zoom factor when aiming down sights is always the same. However, for many legendary weapons, this stat will vary up and down based on the Sight/Scope selected from the Perk tree. Generally they'll give you an idea if they're higher or lower zoom, and in many cases you may not care too much what the exact value of a particular scope is.

How to Find the Zoom Factor In-Game for Any Sight/Scope

However, there are situations where it is useful to know which scopes have more or less zoom. Snipers are the prime example, where lower zoom scopes are generally favored for their wider fields of view, but preferences abound.

[DestinyScopes.com](destinyscopes.com) has this info for most if not all weapons, but maybe browsing the internet is too much work, or maybe you want to double check them in-game. Good news! About a year ago, /u/Mercules904 figured out a really simple way to calculate the zoom factor of any scope. Here it is:

You'll need:

  • A weapon with the desired scope
  • A Patrol Beacon
  • A long sightline to said Patrol Beacon

Head to Patrol, find an area that will work for you, and then find the farthest possible distance from that Patrol Beacon where it will still display a distance number to you in meters while you're aiming down sights. Keep backing up until you can see the beacon, but the numbers disappear, and write down the last distance it gave you. Got that?

Okay, now divide that number by 15 (the default max distance in meters at which Patrol Beacons tell you how far away they are while not aiming down sights), and you have your scope's zoom factor.

Simply put:

  1. Find the farthest distance from which you can see a numerical distance displayed on a Patrol Beacon.
  2. Divide that number by 15 to get your current Zoom Factor.

It's really pretty neat!

NOTE: This method is not foolproof, and at the very least seems to be inaccurate on Stillpiercer. It is possible that the Self Spotter perk is affecting that calculation, but please comment below if you're aware of other weapons where this doesn't match up.

ADS Effects on Damage Drop Off and Aim Assist Drop Off

One of the more commonly known effects of Zoom is that it extends the point at which your Damage starts to drop off - that is, the point at which your gun is no longer inflicting max damage. By extension, it also pushes out the distance before your gun starts doing its minimum damage.

The distance at which damage falloff starts is directly multiplied by the zoom stat. If a 2x zoom pulse rifle has damage falloff that starts at 30 meters, changing its scope to a 4x scope will have damage falloff that starts at 60 meters. - /u/gintellectual

Here's a clip showing how significant this difference can be.

But did you know that it also pushes out the distance before your Aim Assist drops off, as well? Aim Assist is the effect in the game that causes your reticle to slow down near and stick to enemy targets in motion. It also angles bullet paths toward enemies when your shooting is just a little off. It's distinct from Accuracy, but I'm not getting into those complexities here - Merc's got that handled. If you don't feel like reading that article now, just know that having more Range and more Zoom (or Optics) will help you land shots at greater distances thanks in part to the drop-off points getting pushed out farther away from you.

ADS Effects on Accuracy

So I mentioned Accuracy, right? Turns out that when Aiming Down Sights, you get greater accuracy based on your zoom factor, too. This is another item confirmed by Bungie in last year's June Update. While I've not tested it thoroughly in-game, it is intuitive knowledge for most of us that aiming down sights in Destiny makes our shots more likely to go where we want them. Especially with Hand Cannons...

Of course, the benefits of this increased accuracy would be less valuable without the final effect of zoom, below.

ADS Effects on Recoil

That's right, your Zoom Factor affects the recoil of your weapon while Aiming Down Sights. This effect is probably less well-known, or at least less-talked about, but is thoroughly established and even confirmed by Bungie. The idea is that Bungie wants our weapons to feel consistent across not only all game modes, but all zoom levels - basically, the guns should feel about the same no matter how we're using them.

So here's how it works: the actual and visual recoil of your weapon are reduced based on your zoom factor. Simply put: higher zoom means less recoil. It doesn't seem to be directly proportional, but it does scale up and down.

So why doesn't it always feel that way when you're shooting your gun? Actually, it does, but it's hard to notice if you're not looking for it. First, here's a quick test you can do to spot a dramatic version of this change (it works as a thought experiment, too):

I recorded myself doing this in the second part of that video.

Go into a Private Match with a high impact Sniper Rifle (lots of recoil, right?). Find a wall somewhere to stand in front of. Hipfire into it a few times consecutively, noting how high you bounce and where the subsequent shots end up. Got it?

Okay, time for step 2. Now Aim Down Sights at the same wall and fire the same number of shots consecutively. See the difference? It's pretty dramatic on Snipers, thanks to high zoom.

Recoil distance in pixels is directly related to Stability, and the recoil in pixels on the screen is unchanged by zoom. This means that zooming in effectively reduces recoil / boosts Stability proportionally. - paraphrased from /u/gintellectual

Why does it work this way? IRL, a gun is going to kick the same amount whether you're looking through a scope or not, although bracing the gun against your arm/shoulder (I don't really shoot while aiming is the analogue we're comparing to here, and would reduce/control that recoil factor. That said, the amount of recoil reduction isn't going to change based on magnification levels, the way it does in Destiny.

But, in-game, think about it like this: If your reticle was bouncing as high in ADS as it does in hipfire, you'd never be able to fire a follow up with a sniper or other high zoom weapon - you wouldn't even know which part of the room you were looking at anymore.

That would be a negative experience which, salt notwithstanding, Bungie does at least try to minimize. Modifying recoil relative to your zoom factor is actually a pretty elegant solution, if you think about it. Like Greg Peng explained back in June of last year, enemies feel closer when you're zoomed in. It just feels natural that your sight should bounce less after each shot.

Okay, that's all for now, Guardians. Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this post let me know what other Destiny terms you'd like explained in written form, and maybe I'll be back with something new next week.

That's all for now, Guardians! Be sure to tune into the next episode for a Community Q&A - who knows, maybe you'll here your own questions answered right here on Destiny Massive Breakdowns!