The best FoV (Field of View) for Overwatch

The best FoV (Field of View) for Overwatch

To determine the best Field of View in Overwatch, I gathered the preferences of 230 professional players. Find out pros and cons brought by a wide FoV.

Generally, there is not a “best” setting for the field of view, but it comes down to your personal preference, the size of your screen and how close you are to it.

You may think to the FoV as a camera zooming in and out. When you increase the FoV, the camera zooms out, improving your peripheral vision.

FoV pros and cons

According to the PC gaming myth, a high FoV value is always the best choice in shooters because you are able to look at a wider area, which helps to spot any incoming enemy.

The truth is that a high FoV brings both pros and cons.

  • A high FoV makes targeting more difficult. The wider the FoV, the smaller the enemy on the screen, so you need to be more accurate to hit them.

  • A low FoV helps your focus. Everything on the screen is bigger, so it is easier to focus on where you are aiming.

If you struggle at spotting and aiming enemies at a mid and long range, a lower field of view value will benefit your gameplay. However, very-low FoV values can also bring motion sickness and issues in close quarters combat as it is harder to keep a fast-moving target on your screen.

Overwatch uses a horizontal Field of View

It is important to point out that in some games (like Overwatch and Apex Legends) the FoV is calculated horizontally, while in others (such as R6: Siege) it is calculated vertically. Do not forget this difference if you are trying to set the same field of view in all your games.

In specific, Overwatch uses a horizontal field of view based on the 16:9 aspect ratio.

  • 90 horizontal FoV is equal to 74 vertical FoV with a 4:3 aspect ratio and to 59 with a 16:9 one.

  • 103 horizontal FoV is equal to 87 vertical FoV with a 4:3 aspect ratio and to 71 with a 16:9 one.

Data

The following graph and table show the field of view preferences of 230 professional and semi-professional Overwatch players (including OWL, Contenders, and famous streamers).

Overwatch Field of View Preferences
Field of View Players
103 229
90 1

Unfortunately, the stats are not very exciting :P. Almost all the players use the maximum FoV allowed on PC (103), but there is one exception: Paris Eternal’s ShaDowBurn.

Also note that the preference of Los Angeles Gladiators’ Surefour is not fully confirmed as it looks like he used a field of view value of 90-95 for a long time, but he might have transitioned to 103 as well.

Lowering the FoV zooms the game. The targets look closer and bigger on the screen (which helps your aim), but simultaneously they also move faster across the screen by the same amount.

Reddit user Moloch5k tested the following FoV values in Overwatch:

  • 100 FoV: 1.05 times bigger and faster than 103 FoV.

  • 90 FoV: 1.25 times bigger and faster than 103 FoV.

  • 80 FoV: 1.50 times bigger and faster than 103 FoV.

  • 51 FoV: (Widowmaker’s scope) - 2.63 times bigger and faster than 103 FoV.

Finally, if performance is an issue, be aware that increasing the FoV will impact negatively your fps because your PC must work harder to render more on the screen.

FoV on ultrawide monitors

During the Beta, Overwatch featured “true ultrawide support”, but they have removed it afterwards.

At BlizzCon 2016, the developers explained the reasoning behind the change.

We spent a fair bit of energy trying to figure out what works for the 21:9 with respect to fairness of the game, field of view and performance. When you have to take all those trade-offs together the solution that we came up with, the one that’s in the shipped game right now is the one we think is the best to take all those trade-offs into account.

The devs claim that using ultrawide monitors is unfair because you would have a larger vision than the rest of the players. I do not consider it a reasonable answer because we live in an era with a wide array of technologies, and among them there are monitors with a high refresh rate.

The extra field of view offered by ultrawide monitors does give an advantage, but I think the better reaction times provided by 144Hz and 200Hz monitors bring an even greater advantage in a FPS game such as Overwatch, and those are fully supported.

My experience with an ultrawide monitor

I play on a 34 inches ultrawide monitor at about 50-60 Centimeters / 1.6-1.9 Feet of distance, so I can share with you my personal experience.

The current implementation zooms in the image, thus cropping the game by about 30%, which leaves out important info you would be able to see with a 16:9 monitor. Horizontally, you can see as much as a standard 16:9 monitor, but vertically you are limited both at the bottom and at the top.

If you do not have a great aim, the extra zoom helps with heroes such as McCree and Soldier: 76, but the loss of vertical space is a big deal: you have more issues detecting and fighting heroes placed on high grounds, and this is really noticeable when dealing with a Phara flying in the sky.

There isn’t really a choice for ultrawide users because you must use the maximum 103 FoV to have some visibility.

I play countless games in 21:9, and this is the worst implementation ever. There are many other competitive games out there (FPS such as Rainbow Six Siege and CS:GO, and MOBA like Dota 2) where the engine works correctly in ultrawide, providing a better view on your surroundings.

FoV at 16:9 and 21:9

Below, you can find images of the same scene at 80 (the minimum value allowed by the game), 90, and 103 FoV, both in 16:9 and 21:9 aspect ratio.

The 16.9 monitor is a standard 24 inches one with a resolution of 1920x1080, while the ultrawide one is a 34 inches display that runs at 2560x1080.

I took the screens on Dorado, King’s Row, and Route 66.

16:9

21:9

The FoV is locked on console

Overwatch is available also on Playstation 4 and Xbox One. The field of view on console is locked to 93, which is equal to a 76 FoV value in 4:3-based games such as Titanfall 2 and Apex Legends.

During the Overwatch Beta in 2016, Jeff Kaplan answered a question on the possible addition of a FoV slider on console.

We’re very open-minded to adding this. We need to do some research into performance before we add this. It will probably be a post launch feature, assuming it doesn’t cause any significant performance issues.
— Jeff Kaplan

This is the link to the forum thread, but note that the official Overwatch community forums moved to a new address, and it looks like this topic has been deleted.

The following image shows another comment by Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan on the old forums. He talks about the default FoV that is used by most console games, the original FoV in Overwatch, and their final decision to increase it to 103 (on PC).

Jeff Kaplan on the Overwatch field of view

Jeff Kaplan on the Overwatch field of view

Consoles players kept asking for a FoV slider since the release of the game, but it looks like the option was never added in order to avoid performance issues as Blizzard wants to keep all players at 60 fps. Instead, “gameplay and art style” might be the main reasons behind the 103 maximum FoV on PC.

Nowadays, there are several games with a field of view option on console, such as Doom, Rocket League, Apex Legends, Battlefield I and V. In most of them, increasing the FoV doesn’t have a noticeable impact on the performance and the overall fluidity of the game.

I believe the reasoning used by Kaplan might have worked in the past, but now console players expect more from their games.

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Header image: Blizzard

Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.