PSA: Damage Per Second Calculations; how sneak attacks, head shots and critical hits massively boost gun damage

fallout 8 - PSA: Damage Per Second Calculations; how sneak attacks, head shots and critical hits massively boost gun damage

TLDR: A 53 damage automatic 10mm pistol is comparable to a 6,000 damage Super Sledge in terms of Damage Per Second provided you stack critical hits, head shots, and sneak attacks.

In the spirit of some of the more recent posts on this subreddit regarding anti-armor and slap damage, I have attempted a Damage Per Second calculation for my 10mm automatic pistol. I spend a great deal of my time in-game hunting legendary enemies and engaging in PVP. Anecdotally, I have noticed many players in-game struggling to output any meaningful damage with ranged weapons, whereas enemies and players I shoot melt within seconds. Let us theorize what is going on.

Critical Hits

First off, we should talk about how critical hits work. In Fallout 4, a critical hit adds bonus damage to your regular attack equal to your weapons’ Base damage. Paper damage (the number displayed in your pipboy) is not increased at all during a critical hit. That means that 2,000 damage bloodied weapon you have gets maybe 100 extra damage during a critical hit. The exception for this would be melee weapons, however, as they seem to get a +50% bonus to their Paper damage. The only way to increase your base critical hit multiplier for ranged weapons is through eagle eyes mutation, food, tweaked receivers, Better Criticals perk, and anything else I may have forgotten. The formula for critical hit damage looks like the following:

Critical damage = Paper damage + Base damage x Critical multiplier

You all know how a critical hit works. What you may not know is that every consecutive hit from an automatic receiver are counted as critical hits provided you continue holding the trigger. It is entirely possible to get over 12 critical hits from a single activation.

Sneak Attacks and Head shots

For sneak attacks and head shots, we need to do a little bit of guessing. What we know for sure is that the damage displayed in our pipboys is multiplied directly by both. What we are unsure of is the exact value for a head shot. For my tests, I have made the assumption that head shots multiply our Paper damage by x2. I should note that my use of “head shot” is an all-encompassing term for exploiting the weak point of enemies. The Concentrated Fire perk allows you to target any specific body part, and guarantee head shots. Typically, heads are weak points. But not all weak points are heads. What is worth knowing here is you can sneak attack, head shot, and critical hit all on the same attack. The following
ZVyzxPN - PSA: Damage Per Second Calculations; how sneak attacks, head shots and critical hits massively boost gun damage

link helps illustrate this. I’m not sure where the ‘head’ on protectrons are, so that was omitted. I also omitted an image of 2 consecutive sneak attack critical hits as the robot died from the shots. Concentrated Fire and Adrenaline were removed for the above comparison.


I tested two weapon types. The first was my build. I use a legendary anti-armor 10mm automatic pistol with perks for 2.5 times sneak attack damage and 1.85 times critical hit damage. The 1.85 critical hit damage is from Better Criticals perk, Eagle Eyes mutation, and blight soup on top of the x1 you naturally get. It deals 53 Paper damage and 31 Base damage during critical hits. It holds 12 rounds in the clip. Fire rate was tested with a stopwatch. It took me about 1.65 seconds to fire all 12 rounds. The math on that works out to 7.27 rounds per second. I also tested three variations on my pistol. One variation has +50% critical hit damage from the legendary effect. The second is the same as my current build except with a tweaked receiver for possibly +200% critical damage instead. The third and final variation is a tweaked receiver with the +50% critical hit damage legendary effect. Let’s look at the results. The link to the full spreadsheet I used for calculations can be found
view?usp=sharing - PSA: Damage Per Second Calculations; how sneak attacks, head shots and critical hits massively boost gun damage

here. You will likely need to download to view formulas in the cells. Also, I used the wrong name for Tweaked receivers.
No bonus DPSCriticals only DPSSneak only DPSSneak + headshot DPSSneak + critical + headshot DPS
My gun (53 damage)385.31802.5595419082320.9
+50% critical legendary385.31915.2795419082432.52
Tweaked receiver232.641093.4555811161975.32
Tweaked receiver w/ +50% legendary232.641206.1855811162086.92

The biggest assumption I have made here is that sneak attack and head shot damage multiply my Paper damage by x5 (2.5 sneak attack x 2 head shot). I do not know exactly what the damage bonus for a head shot is. It could be as low as x1.5 or it could be x2 like it was in Fallout 4. The difference here would be 473 DPS for the ‘My gun’ calculation. Critical hit damage even with a tweaked receiver seems to fall behind sneak attack damage. Again, the values for critical bonus receivers are unknown in Fallout 76. In Fallout 4, it could range between x2.0 and x4.0. The main issues with tweaked receivers are that they do not seem to gain any damage bonuses from weapon-based perk cards. This makes them terrible choices for sneak attack criticals. They do seem to be better if you use critical hits only, but you get so much more from stacking sneak attacks. This seems to be only for the case when the value of a critical receiver is x2. At x4, the tweaked receiver seems to barely edge out. Still, criticals are valuable for the extra damage per bullet and 100% accuracy bonus. There are even reports that critical hits ignore the damage immunity from Sentinel/Assassins armor. I would speculate that perhaps critical hits ignore damage resistance altogether.


Next, I tested the Super Sledge and Deathclaw Gauntlet. Now, I do not have my own melee or unarmed build, so I selected four values from 2,000 to 10,000 damage per swing. I do not know how realistic it is to achieve damage of these levels, but I wanted to represent an ideal melee build. If anything is grossly inaccurate, it will be found here. Again, I used a stopwatch to time how long it took for the weapons to start their second swing.

Weapon typeAttack speed (seconds)DamageDPSMartial Artist 30% attack speed DPSLegendary effect 40% attack speed DPSMartial Artist + Legendary (70%) DPS
Super Sledge2.382000840.341200.481486.192343.34
Super Sledge2.3840001680.672400.962972.394686.67
Super Sledge2.3860002521.013601.444458.587030.01
Super Sledge2.38100004201.686002.407430.9711716.69
Deathclaw Gauntlet1.4720001360.541943.632229.353086.49
Deathclaw Gauntlet1.4740002721.093887.274458.706172.98
Deathclaw Gauntlet1.4760004081.635830.906688.059259.48
Deathclaw Gauntlet1.47100006802.729718.1711146.7415432.46

As you can see, while the Super Sledge can do massive amounts of damage per swing, the huge delay reduced damage per second greatly. This is where I was able to see that my sneak attack head shot critical hits were comparable to a 6,000 damage Sledge in terms of DPS. Any form of attack speed furthers the disparity between my gun and a 6,000 damage Super Sledge in favor of the Sledge. The Deathclaw Gauntlet is able to retain a much better Damage to DPS ratio than the Sledge. A 4,000 damage Gauntlet has nearly the same DPS as a 6,000 Super Sledge. Keep in mind attack speeds were timed by hand. All of these calculations should be considered estimates.

DPS as a better measurement of weapon effectiveness

As the header indicates, I believe all weapons should be evaluated by their potential damage per second over a flat damage indicator. Sure, armor plays a large role in ending damage output, but with stacked bonuses, the comparison against armor is not against 53 damage; it is against 322 damage per shot for my specific gun. Considering I run an Anti-armor legendary pistol with a perforating magazine, an enemy would need around 700 armor in order to reduce my damage by half. Even if such levels of armor are possible, I would still have enough DPS to kill a player character 3 times over within one second. Even then, my gun is not “ideal” for pistols. I have only 50% out of a potential 60% damage from auto pistol perks. I could even run Mister Sandman for 50% more sneak attack damage at night. I even removed adrenaline and the unknown damage bonus from concentrated fire for these calculations. If my assumptions are correct, my actual DPS is even higher depending on levels of adrenaline and cap to concentrated fire.

So, let me all know what you think. Do my assumptions on the damage formula seem logical? Were my calculations accurate, or should I have paid better attention in math class? While my melee calculations are meant to simulate ideal damage, it does not simulate an ideal playstyle. Many melee users seem to use vats and sprinting to close the distance and increase initial damage further. I do not want this discussion to turn into which playstyle is better than others as they each have unique difficult to evaluate advantages. Melee likely has higher DPS than most guns. Though guns get a head start on their damage as they can engage immediately when spotting an enemy. Melee loses time and damage running from enemy to enemy.

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