There is a mouse setting that people often tell new players getting into first-person shooting games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant to turn off. Guides will tell players that to use it is the worst habit in shooters. They say it will ruin your game, and that the setting needs to be completely removed from every single computer. Some people just really hate mouse acceleration.
But mouse acceleration, or mouse accel, can be a nifty tool if players understand what it’s actually doing. Just like any other tool that players use to grind out games and improve, it has its benefits and its downsides. Let’s walk through what mouse acceleration really is, what it does, and what it’s down to the player to decide whether or not to use it.
At the most basic level, mouse acceleration is software that is standard on Windows computers and common on many other operating systems. Its main goal is to help users move their mouse more efficiently. The faster a user moves the mouse, the more the software helps. That seems pretty basic, but it does a little more than that. Let’s say a player moves their mouse one mile and hour across their mouse pad. Without mouse accel turned on, that mouse will only ever travel at one mile an hour.
But with it on, the software multiplies the distance turned in-game by by a certain amount.
So, if a player had mouse acceleration on and moved their mouse at two miles an hour, mouse accel would cause them to turn at a speed of four miles-per-hour.
But acceleration gets a little more complicated yet. Not only does the software multiply mouse movements, it increases the speed on a curve. That means that the number the mouse movement is multiplied by gets bigger the faster the mouse moves. This handy chart from StackOverflow shows the idea pretty well.
Now that we know that mouse acceleration both increases the speed a cursor moves at and increases the rate at which it speeds up a mouse in concert with the user’s increasing speed, we can talk about whether or not players should have mouse acceleration turn on.
In shooters, consistancy is key. That means that no matter what, if a player moves their mouse a certain distance at a certain speed, they need to know what that translates to in a game. It seems like mouse acceleration makes knowing where a cursor will end up almost impossible, but in reality it can be just another layer of memorization.
Guides usually tell new players to turn it off for one simple reason. Training muscle memory is tough enough already. No mouse accel means that players have more direct control over their in-game angle than players who use the setting. In the best situations, no mouse acceleration means that a player will always turn the same distance in-game every no matter what speed they flick their mouse at. If one 360-degree turn takes half of a mousepad at one speed, it will take the exact same space on the mousepad to turn back.
With mouse accel, players have to get used to the added speed, and that can sometimes slow down new players. That said, it can be learned. There are even a few situations where mouse acceleration can be the better option.
Players with small desks can use mouse acceleration to help them turn further in-game by moving their mouse a lesser distance, meaning that it’s possible to do a full turn on a small mousepad. It’s not just everyday players that use it, either. Former CSGO champion and current Valorant pro Timothy “autimatic” Ta plays with the setting turned on.
At the end of the day, mouse acceleration is just another setting players have to decide on for themselves, as there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. Just like crosshairs, sensitivities, and resolutions, everything is fair game as long as the player understands what’s behind the choice.