Overwatch cone mechanics are not logical

In most cases, you want your soldiers to be able to target as wide an area as possible with overwatch. You are not sure which way the enemy will approach from and want to maximise the chances of reacting accordingly.

This isn’t always the case. There may be a specific enemy you want to target or a route you want to cover, but certainly in my experience it is like this 90% of the time.

Yet the overwatch cone defaults to a very small arc. You can increase the size of it to a very wide arc (almost 180deg) using the ctrl key and scroll wheel for seemingly no penalty, however this is an undocumented feature.

This honestly feels incredibly sketchy and underbaked. Why is the most useful version of overwatch hidden behind an undocumented mechanic? Why doesn’t it default to the widest cone (probably because it looks strange).

Honestly, I would be happy with a cone size that you cannot adjust (maybe it can get a little wider as you level up). It feels like subverting the mechanic every time I use it I just select the widest cone size. Restricting the size would put more emphasis on the player anticipating the routes the enemy will use.

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I know this feature is not explained in the tutorial (or in the UI), but I wouldn’t call it “undocumented”.

This is from game manual:

Enter Overwatch mode: Select the overwatch icon from the Action Bar
or press Y
Cone target: move mouse
Cone width: CTRL + mouse wheel
Confirm Overwatch: left mouse button

It is also present in OPTIONS / KEY BINDINGS:

Move floor level focus / Change overwatch radius - MOUSE WHEEL SCROLL

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its not undocumented, it was mentioned in few official how to play videos… Anyway what would be better is if overwatch didnt stop with first shot, but continue for anything that enters the area…

And regarding cone - its supposed to represent soldier looking through sight… which has limited field of view…

An official video doesn’t count as documentation. Most players will not watch that, I certainly didn’t.

And it’s only a small part of the point I am making.

If it is supposed to represent the soldier looking down a sight you shouldn’t be able to increase it to almost 180 deg.

That’s fair enough but it’s not really the point I am making.

Another thing is that it you spend a lot of time ctrl+scrolling to set up overwatch, not to mention it looks dumb when every soldier has a 180 deg cone coming out their face.

It is just not elegant in any way, even though this is the most effective tactic in many instances.

I agree, it should start at max width, I’ve posted similar before.

The other issue with it is when it triggers when an opponent has only just pushed their nose inside the cone, there’s should be some sort of mechanic that lets you wait until their full body is exposed, maybe give the play to ‘wait’ for a 1/4 TU whilst that enemy is in overwatch view.

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Personally, I think it is a very elegant solution to the complaints that were levelled at it during the early BBs. In the early days, there was no cone - it worked like XCOM; but people hated the way they couldn’t control it and it went off at the most inopportune moments, usually at some long-range Crabbie you inevitably missed.

So Snapshot came up with the cone. Now you can define the area your soldier wants to concentrate on - not through a sight, but simply by paying closer attention to movement in this area rather than that area. You can make it as long or short, or wide or thin as you want within your forward-firing field of view, so you have almost total control over the area in which OW will trigger. And as Lorifel says, it is clearly documented in the game manual.

Seems pretty elegant to me.

I completely disagree, and this is I think a common tactical mistake that people make with PP OW. The way it’s designed, it allows you to quite finely choose what you want to target. So yes, in the early stages of an encounter, you might want to set a wide field of view to catch the first thing that moves into firing range (though I tend to avoid this if I can, as I don’t want to alert the Crabbies until I’m ready).

Once you know what you’re facing, however, the flexibility of the OW cone allows you to quite literally define which particular Nasty you want to keep track of, or which corner/building/target is most important to you.

A narrow, short-range OW cone often allows you to pull off an ambush where you can get 2 shots in before the Thing that’s just come round the corner even gets time to react. A narrow(ish) long range OW cone allows you to say: “I don’t want to fire at that Crabbie, I want to twat that Titan with the SR, or that Siren hiding round the corner, when it moves.”

There are a whole host of quite fine-grained things you can do with OW once you get the hang of it.


There is - you set the cone so that it doesn’t overlap the corner or the cover you don’t want to hit.

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Isn’t it still possible for them to ‘edge’ into it? - Tiles are all square, but overwatch is a cone so can cut across just a small angle of one of those tiles.

A good way to balance overwatch cones would be to lower accuracy on wider cones to reflect less time a soldier have to focus on target. That way would be consistent with what @MichaelIgnotus said about fine-tuning your overwatch lines to make a well planned and executed response to enemy movement.


I’ve played through the game and had no idea you could do this - thanks for the heads up. Clearly there’s mixed thoughts on how to use it, personally I think it’s good that not everyone does the same thing.

I think a solution for all would be to just have a little pop up on the UI when someone selects overwatch saying “hold ctrl and scroll to adjust cone size”.

I remember the old versions where they’d go off at anything, friendly fire was a real hazard back then, so I’m happy with a cone, and happier still with a cone I can adjust.


I must admit I’ve never had that issue. Hitting stuff that’s in the way, now that’s a problem, but I’m ok with that. after all, nothing in a tacsim should be 100% certain, and once you know how it works, there are ways of minimising that.

That’s a really good suggestion!


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I would like to bring some examples when it is suboptimal to use the widest overwatch cone:

  • Avoiding friendly fire at units standing in front of the shooter
  • Avoiding fire at your soldier currently under mind control
  • Avoiding hitting specific unwanted target (e.g.: armored target with weapon not having enough penetration, or hitting nearly paralyzed target with direct damage weapon)

As I said in my post, I don’t disagree that having a cone is more useful that having “free overwatch” in some instances. But in the large majority of instances “free overwatch” is more useful. From a simple usability perspective it should be the default.

Anyone saying that “narrow cone overwatch” is more often useful than “free overwatch” is just wrong I am afraid.

But overall my view is that the large cone overwatch shouldn’t be allowed at all, or at least nerfed in some way (for example, reduced accuracy). As far as I can remember, the BBs didn’t have the option to widen the cone and that forced more strategy and anticipation. Now you don’t need to do this and can mostly revert to the XCOM way of doing things.

Plus giving all your troops really wide cones is just not elegant game design.

Beg to disagree. I never use wide cone or free OW. The system allows me to tailor my OW to do what I want it to do - and to target the enemies I deem most dangerous - rather than what the system defaults to, and I use that to its maximum extent.

But hey, horses for courses :slightly_smiling_face:

For me the control is boring, I’d prefer trigger overwatch width change with press right click for example.

I totally disagree that max overwatch should be the default, but eventually it could have a shortcut or a player option.

That’s exactly what I was going to write if I came earlier. +1 for that.

Count me on the wrong side. I don’t want to hit any enemy, I want a specific one … and not hit accidentally one of my soldiers.
Very often do I use the narrowest cone possible. And my over-watches hit very frequently.

Random thread jack here Lorifel (my apologies all) Where is your avatar from? It’s very familiar but I can’t quite place it.