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- This article is about the gameplay mechanic. For the Deleted Scenes mission, see Recoil (mission).
Recoil is a gameplay mechanic in the Counter-Strike series. It is distinct from inaccuracy, but affects player aim collectively.
Recoil is the backward momentum of a gun when it is discharging bullets and causes players' screens to "shake". This often causes the shooter to sway away from their intended target after the first shot due to the momentum "kicking" the shooter's aim. The higher the recoil, the more the screen will vibrate.
Counter-Strike, Condition Zero, and Source
In Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and Counter-Strike: Source, the recoil of a weapon is semi random, with some parameters influencing the severity of the recoil for each individual weapons.
For fully automatic weapons, the recoil causes the shots to spread out in an upside down triangle. When the recoil reaches its maximum vertical height, it randomly pulls to the left or right, sometimes switching directions. The deviation will never leave the triangle however, sometimes causing the shots to clump up in one corner of the triangle. This gives the player a chance to steer the shots and reacquire aim, making recoil controllable when spraying.
For the K&M .45 Tactical, the recoil causes the shots to go upwards in a straight line but with inaccuracy added causing the shots to randomly deviate from the line. For the Glock in semi auto mode and the Desert Eagle, there is no recoil pattern, and the recoil instead functions by adding an increasing amount of random spread to shots if the recoil hasn't cool downed.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
All guns in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have a specific pre-generated table of values, containing the amount of recoil (horizontal and vertical movement) applied to each shot. Crouching does NOT reduce the amount of recoil and moving does not increase it (it will however increase the weapon's bullet spread).
Recoil causes small upwards aimpunch effects, but much larger effects on the shots. Shots affected by recoil will deviate from the crosshair's aim at an angle. If the crosshair has moved, the position the shot strikes will move with the crosshair, remaining in the same relative position. Calculation for bullet spread will occur after the recoil has been first calculated, and the two effects will stack, but with the new angle of deviation being based on the recoil-affected shot.
The first shot fired while spraying is always unaffected by recoil, and will land near the crosshair's location, accounting for inaccuracy.
For fully automatic weapons, as long as the mouse button is held down, the index into the recoil table increases by one for each shot, making its spray pattern (see below) constant regardless of the player's status.
When the player stops shooting, the recoil index will drop down and return to zero (completely accurate like the first shot) after a short moment. The speed of this recoil recovery is different between weapons. Shots fired when the recoil is dropping will go back up the list from the index the player is at when the gun is fired.
Due to how the recoil application stays constant, spray patterns, the pattern that bullets make while spraying due to recoil but without any bullet spread, are useful for visualizing the movement of shots according to the recoil and are very useful when practicing recoil compensation (see below). Generally, the first few shots will exhibit lots of upward vertical movement and little horizontal movement. The shots after that will exhibit more horizontal movement and little vertical movement, causing the shots to sway from left to right.
The spray pattern varies by weapon. In general, more powerful weapons like the AK-47 will often have a more active and less controllable recoil pattern, but will have less bullet spread.
Notably, after the March 24, 2017 update, the Negev gains what is called "suppressive fire" mechanics, where its spray pattern eventually concentrates on a single point slightly above the player's crosshair, simulating the shooter holding the weapon down and controlling the weapon after extended fire.
Pump-action shotguns and bolt-action sniper rifles are largely unaffected by recoil due to the rather long intervals between each shot. However, they are affected greatly by bullet spread.
For semi-automatic weapons and burst-firing weapons, their recoil index is chosen at random for every shot, making it impossible for them to form constant spray patterns. However, their recoil tends to be very controllable.
Spraying refers to firing a weapon continuously. Due to the generally strong recoil and weapon spread mechanics, an effective spray is much harder to perform in the Counter-Strike series compared to other first-person shooter games. Nevertheless, spraying can be useful at close or point-blank range, but is not recommended for long range engagements.
In some cases, beginning a spray while aiming at an enemy's torso will cause the recoil to push the aim upwards into their head, achieving a headshot.
Firing a fully-automatic weapon continuously will decrease accuracy significantly and waste ammunition, especially at medium or long ranges. By tapping the "Fire" button, it is possible to place a few shots of relatively accurate fire. This is known as burst firing or tapfiring.
Firing a short burst of just a few shots or in single shots allows the recoil and accuracy to reset between the individual bursts, improving overall accuracy in long-range battles. This tactic is particularly important for weapons with particularly harsh recoil such as the AK-47.
Some bots will fire their primary weapon in bursts (except the M249) when encountering enemies at medium range. However, in easy mode, they will always spray bullets at their enemies, except in CS:S and CS:GO where bots will fire in short bursts at long ranges.
Due to the fact that recoils move in predictive ways, it is possible to compensate for them. The basic version of recoil compensation involves moving the crosshair down and/or crouching while spraying. Due to the fact that the shots affected by the recoil remain relative to the crosshair, moving the crosshair down or crouching to lower the crosshair will cause the recoil-affected shots to strike a lower position. Thus, the vertical movement of the shots can be compensated, allowing better accuracy. However, due to the fact that the horizontal recoil is still in effect, many shots will still sway away from the intended target.
The more advanced version of compensation involves moving the crosshair in a "reverse spray pattern", the spray pattern flipped vertically and horizontally. Due to how the spray pattern stays constant regardless of the situation, all horizontal and vertical recoil movement will be compensated this way, and all shots will land near the player's initial crosshair position, greatly increasing accuracy.
- Spray Patterns and Recoil Compensation for all CS:GO Weapons from CSGO Skills.