Grand Theft Auto V

What if vehicle armor was more realistic?

GrandTheftAutoV8 - What if vehicle armor was more realistic?

If you're like me while playing you probably wonder why the $3 million "Armored" Boxville actually has less armor than the normal UPS truck looking Boxville? Why does a main battle tank have significantly less armor than an armored pickup truck? Why an armored semi can survive 60 missiles? How is it that a helicopter can tank an RPG but go down to guys using pistols? Why does window armor paneling on almost every vehicle except the Kuruma serve no purpose? Why and how does my character shatter his own bulletproof windows just to fire outside the car?

So for fun let’s imagine if armor was a bit more realistic. What effect would it have on gameplay?


Also why is it that I need "research" and special $200k MKII guns to use armor-piercing and hollow-point ammo, when in real-life I can head down to the local gunshop and just buy hollow points, slugs, or even armor-piercing incendiary rifle rounds for my guns, and cheap $200 pistols can easily use hollow point rounds just fine?

  • Mundane ammo like hollow points and armor-piercing incendiary rounds should be standard ammo easy to buy at the store and shouldn't require research and should be available for all guns.
  • Researched MKII ammo should be crazy stuff like the Explosive Sniper (based on the HEAPI MK211 Raufoss) and Explosive Slugs (Frag-12). Maybe add in some new ammo types like poison bullets for the pistol, or depleated uranium rifle rounds, you know stuff that sounds like you need a lab to get it.
  • Also Full-Metal Jacket should be the default ammo with no bonuses to damage. IRL this is nothing special if you go to a gunstore cheap basic surplus ammo is almost always FMJ.
  • Armor-piercing and incendiary should be merged to API, IRL incendiary ammo doesn't set people on fire, it's designed to set vehicles on fire by penetrating the armor and igniting anything flameable inside, and it's just as effective against body armor but since you're a wet meatbag you don't catch fire.


Also a big step for vehicle realism would be more realistic physics with an accurate deformation/damage model like here in

. But maybe as a more simplified "Beamn Ng Light" version, like

, so the cars can be stronger than real-life and the game less taxing on the system so it's fun and somewhat realistic at the same time.
  • Also with a more realistic physics model damage could be applied more realistically, so instead of just a hidden simple hp bar, you have things like suspension damage, drivetrain damage, wheels being sheered off, frame damage, etc.

  • Unfortunately with realistic armor you can’t really shoot outside the window since they’re made of thick bulletproof glass. Though on some of the weaker armor and certain vehicles you should still be able to “roll down” the windows and shoot outside.

Armor Logic

Anyway back to vehicle armor, currently armor is basically just an HP increase. Not very realistic especially since we have things like a Hunter helicopter surviving direct hits with RPGs to the cockpit glass but going down to some dudes with pistols.

The best example of a game handling armor extremely well would be World of Tanks. They even have a full video explaining exactly what their armor logic is, which you can see


To simply the video every weapon has a certain armor penetration value measured in mm, and every vehicle has a certain amount of armor also measured in mm. To deal any damage to a vehicle and it's occupants you are going to have to penetrate more armor than they have. Armor penetration changes based on a few factors:

  • Range – for guns/cannons using armor-penetrating shells the further a target is the lower your armor penetration. Explosives do not care about range.
  • Angle of the armor – the angle of your armor plate increases its relative thickness making it harder to penetrate. And at very high angles with thick armor bullets and explosives will actually ricochet. *ricochet – angles greater than 70 degrees cause a reduction of armor-penetration by 25% making a ricochet likely. High explosives don't riochet, and HEAT rounds (i.e. RPG) ricochet at 85 degrees. AP rounds won't ricochet however if the round is 3x thicker than the armor, (i.e. car with thin 4mm armor plate will get penetrated by a .50 BMG at every angle).
  • Weak/Strong spots – armor shouldn't be the same thickness all the way around a vehicle some spots have lighter or stronger spots than others. For example the Rhino Tank should have a seemingly near impenetrable front hull, but the rear exhaust port is unarmored, and the top and sides have thinner armor.
  • every piece of the vehicle has its own relative armor, so penetrating the back plate on the Deathbike isn't going to kill the engine, but it can kill the driver. You can blow apart the barrel of a tank but that doesn't mean the tank is dead, the gun is just disabled.

Relative Armor Levels


Also currently vehicle armor values are all over the place, Insurgents are tougher than Rhinos, Hunter can tank more RPGs than it can tank homing missiles. Insurgent can tank 27 rockets but a pistol can kill the driver. So I think standardrizing it and making it a little more realistic would be fun. So I made this "armor chart" using a rough estimate of the NATO Standard STANAG 4569 for armor.

  • Also I’d like to add for Oppressor, Deluxo, Ruiner, Vigilante, etc damage should be greatly reduced vs armor, the missiles are incredibly tiny maybe 1/10 of the weight of the missiles for the homing launcher so their damage should be the same as a 40mm grenade, which can only penetrate lightly armored vehicles. So a car with 100% armor from LS Customs maybe able to survive a missile.

  • Unarmored (FAV, Barrage, Technical, Street cars, etc.)

    • Typical armor of most stock vehicles in game, without armor plates bullets simply pass straight through the windows, doors, roof, and undercarriage of the car, the only thing blocking bullets would be cargo or the engine.
    • Instantly disabled from a single grenade and driver likely killed (if grenade explodes on top of or directly beneath the car), outright obliterated by sticky bombs and missiles.
    • There are exceptions, for example Trashmaster's rear end would be bullet proof and somewhat explosive resistant due to being just so thicc.
    • With that said, cars themselves are actually pretty tough to stop dead with gunfire. 9mm and 12 gauge buckshot have difficulty even penetrating the engine block.
    • Cars in real-life don't explode like a grenade, they catch on fire and burn down.
  • STANAG Level 1 (armor from LS Customs)

    • Light Grenade resistance at max armor (car can survive having a grenade or two rolled underneath it)
    • Body completely bulletproof, and windows bullet resistant (windows break after a certain amount of shots) up to 7.62x51mm non-armor piercing at point blank range so regular bullets that aren't .50 BMG or armor-piercing have trouble penetrating.
      • 25% armor = 9mm resistance (pistols/smgs)
      • 50% armor = .44 Magnum/12 Gauge resistance (.50 pistol, revolver, shotguns)
      • 75% armor = 5.56mm resistance (assault rifles)
      • 100% armor = 7.62x51mm resistance (sniper rifles, minigun, machine guns, slugs)
  • STANAG Level 2 (armored cars like the Baller Armored, SWAT truck, Bank truck, Freecrawler, Weaponized Tampa, etc)

    • Light explosive resistance – survives 4 grenades/1 sticky.
    • Bulletproof up to 5.56/7.62mm AP at point blank range so assault rifle using armor piercing rounds can't shoot you out of the vehicle, armor-piercing snipers and machine guns will still shoot straight through however.
  • STANAG Level 3 (Insurgent, Max armor Menacer, Max armor Half Track Armored Kuruma, Duke of Death, RCV, etc.)

    • Medium explosive resistance – survives 8 grenades/2 sticky.
    • Bullet resistant up to 7.62mm x 51mm AP at point blank range so assault rifle using armor piercing rounds can't shoot you out of the vehicle, armor-piercing snipers and machine guns will still shoot straight through however.
  • STANAG Level 3+ (Max armor Insurgent Custom, Max armor Nightshark, Max Arena War cars, etc.)

    • High explosive resistance – survives 16 grenades/4 sticky/1 homing or vehicle mine.
    • Bullet resistant up to .50BMG at point blank range so Heavy Snipers can't snipe you out of the vehicle, should be extremely bullet resistant with .50 Armor-Piercing/Explosive being the exception.
  • STANAG Level 4 (APC, MOC Cab, Terrorbyte, Max Arena War trucks, etc.)

    • Very High explosive resistance – survives 16 sticky/4 homing or vehicle mine/1.5 RPG (on 2nd hit vehicle destroyed but occupants can get out)
    • Bullet resistant up to 14.5x114mm AP at point blank range so Explosive Snipers can't hurt you, should be extremely bullet resistant with 20mm Explosive Cannons being the exception.
  • STANAG Level 5 (MOC Trailer)

    • Very High explosive resistance – survives 16 sticky/4 homing or vehicle mine/3 RPG Bullet resistant up to 25mm Explosive cannon fire at point blank range so even Lazer, Half-track guns, and Flak Cannons are ineffective.
  • STANAG Level 6 (Khanjali)

    • Extremely High explosive resistance – survives 8 homing or vehicle mine/6 RPG/1-2 Anti-tank missiles/tank shots Bullet resistant up to 30mm Armor-Piercing Incendiary cannon fire at point blank range so even B-11 and Hunter guns are ineffective.
  • Tank Armor (Rhino)

    • Anything less than an RPG isn't dealing damage.
    • Insane explosive resistance – 3-4 tank shots/anti-tank missiles/12-16 RPGs/48 homing or vehicle mine.
    • Armor is naturally thickest in the front and thinnest on the top and rear. Lucky shots in weakpoints with an RPG can destroy the tank though.
    • How is this balanced you ask? Sounds OP until you remember a RL tank takes about 6 seconds to reload the cannon, takes 9 seconds to turn the cannon 360 degrees, only has 45 120mm shells to expend, it tops out at 45 mph and accelerates so slowly it takes 7.5 seconds to reach 20 mph, while also having a thinly armored rear end and top, and they cost almost $6 Million a piece.

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