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If you're new to Wargaming.net's games, you've probably wondered how in the world did that pesky little destroyer managed to creep up on your battleship without being seen until he appeared 6 km away. Or if you've played World of Tanks before you might wonder if smoke screens work like bushes and if staying still makes you more camouflaged. Well, you're in luck! This guide will attempt to enlighten you on how vision mechanics work in World of Warships and to clear away any misconceptions you may have about it.


How are ships detected?

In simple terms, a ship is detected when another ship or aircraft from the opposing team gets close enough to detect it. If you click and expand a ship's Concealment attribute in the Port screen you'll be able to see it has two detection ranges listed.


Surface Detectability Range is the distance at which the ship can be detected by an enemy ship. Similarly, Air Detectability Range is the distance the ship can be detected by enemy aircraft. As shown in the screenshot above, the Iwaki Alpha will be detected by enemy ships at 10.8 km, and at 4.8 km by enemy aircraft. Pretty straight forward so far.


However, these figures are just the base detection range for the ship. There are certain factors that can affect ship's detectability range of. Firing main guns/AA or being set on fire will increase the ship's detectability range. As a general rule, firing the main guns will increase the ship's detection range to equal that of the main gun's maximum range (including modifier from Spotter Plane consumable). The increase in detectability range after firing main guns lasts for 20 seconds. Firing AA increases detectability by 1.3 km (2 km by air) but only while the AA is firing. As soon as it stops or is turned off the detectability instantly goes back down. Being set on fire adds a flat amount of 2 km (3 km by air) to the detectability range.


Certain commander skills, ship upgrades and exterior camouflage can reduce a ship's detectability range. A Fletcher (base surface detectability range of 7.38 km) fully spec'ed for low detectability will have a surface detectability range of just under 5.8 km! Launching torpedoes does not increase a ship's detectability range. Sailing slowly or stopping completely will not reduce a ship's detectability.


An enemy ship that has been detected by you will be spotted for your whole team. The same goes if an ally detects an enemy ship, it will be spotted for you as well. If an enemy ship/aircraft detected you, your ship will be spotted for the whole enemy team. Ships will remain detected until it is out of detectability range or has broken Line of Sight.


How far can a ship see?

Ships also have a view range, their max distance is indicated by the the outer limit of your view cone in the minimap.


In general, the taller the ship the longer its view range. Therefore battleships tend to have very long view ranges (in excess of over 20 km), while destroyers usually have shorter view ranges than other ship classes. Allies or spotted enemy ships in your view range appear a solid icon in your minimap and is rendered on your main screen. Allies or spotted enemy ships outside of your view range will only appear as an outline icon on your minimap but is not rendered on the main screen.


Even if you have a long view range, enemy ships will only be detected if their distance from you or your allies is lower than their detectability range.


In the diagram above, the DD (pink) can detect the CA (orange) as the CA is within the DD's view range (pink dashed line) and the distance between the two ships is smaller than than the CA's detectability range (orange line). However, the DD can't detect the BB (blue) even though the distance between them is smaller than the BB's detectability range (blue line) because the BB is outside of the DD's view range.

The CA on the other hand can detect the BB, as it's within CA's view range and the distance between them is smaller than the BB's detectability range, however the CA can't detect the DD even though it's within the CA's view range because the distance between them is larger than the DD's detectability range.

The BB can't detect either DD or CA even though the BB's view range encompasses both of them because the distance to them is larger than their respective detectability range.


If the DD and the BB is on the same team while the CA is on the opposing team, the DD will spot the CA for the BB and it will appear as a solid icon on the BB's minimap and be rendered in its main view. If the DD and the CA is on the same team while the BB is on the opposing team, the CA will spot the BB for the DD but it will only appear as an outline in the DD's minimap and not rendered in its main view.


Aircraft have a view range of 11 km. However, for catapult aircraft only, between 4-11 km their view can be blocked by terrain. Terrain is ignored under 4 km. Most ship's air detectability range is smaller than its surface detectability range. CVs on the other hand tend to have larger air detectability range than its surface detectability range. It's also worth mentioning that aircraft are detected at 8km, while catapult aircraft are detected at 4km.


What about Line of Sight (LoS) and Smoke Screens?

To detect a ship, you also need Line of Sight (LoS) to the ship's vision checkpoint. Vision checks are made between your ship's vision check point and the enemy ship's vision checkpoint. If there's an unobstructed line between the two points and the ship is within detection range, the ship is considered detected. A ship's vision checkpoint is located at the same height as highest point of its 3D geometry and directly above the ship's exact center.


Terrain can block LoS, so you can use islands or icebergs to avoid getting detected by enemy ships. However, aircraft ignores terrain (except catapult planes which only ignore it up to 4 km) and thus can detect ships that are behind islands or icebergs. Ships can also detect each other via proximity spotting, ignoring LoS. Any ship within the proximity spotting range will be automatically detected even if it's hidden behind terrain or smoke. The proximity spotting range is 2 km by default, and can be increased to 3 km using Target Acquisition System Mod. 1. Hydroacoustic Search and Surveillance Radar consumables will also ignore LoS.


Smoke screen works in a similar manner as terrain, in which it blocks LoS completely. A ship on one side of the screen will not be able to detect another ship on the other side of the screen unless an ally has an unbroken LoS to the ship on the other side. A ship sitting inside the smoke screen itself will have its own LoS blocked in all directions, and can only see enemy ships outside the smoke that is spotted by proximity spotting, by its allies, by its own aircraft, or by using Hydroacoustic Search or Surveillance Radar. Smoke works differently for aircraft, while it can spot ships that are on the other side of a smoke screen it cannot detect ships that are sitting inside the smoke itself even if it flew directly over the ship. The ship's AA can even fire on the aircraft (provided that another ally has spotted the aircraft for it) and still remain undetected within the smoke.


How do I know if I'm detected?

An icon will notifiy if you when when your ship has been detected by the enemy.


It will also tell you if you are detected by aircraft or Hydroacoustic Search/Surveillance Radar, by showing a slightly different detection icon.


Where did that torpedo come from?


Certain ships, have mid-long range torpedoes that can be launched from beyond the ship's detectability range, thus the appearance of fish in the water can sometimes be an unpleasant surprise to the inexperienced captain (to the experienced captain their appearance is anticipated, while it doesn't make it less unpleasant at least they're prepared for it). Each type of torpedo has a different detection range. While the values aren't displayed anywhere in-game, in general the faster torpedoes tend to have higher detectability than slower ones. The commander skill Vigilance increases all enemy torpedo detectability range by 25%, Target Acquisition System Mod. 1 inscreases it by 20% (stackable with vigilance). The Hydroacoustic Search consumable also increases proximity spotting range for all torpedoes for a limited amount of time, but does not stack with either Vigilance or Target Acquisition System Mod. 1.


Once a torpedo has been detected, it will remain spotted until it hits something or reaches its maximum range. It should be noted that aircraft can also detect torpedoes, therefore you should avoid launching torpedoes from long range if there are enemy aircraft lingering between you and the intended target.


How does it all fit together?

Most of the time, once the guns are blazing both sides will be able to see each other. Ships cannot shoot at each other long range without being detected unless they're hidden by smoke or terrain. Destroyers would usually hold fire until they are detected, or only engage when there's minimal risk of return fire from cruisers and battleships. They often require the element of surprise in order to execute a successful torpedo run, so remaining undetected is an important aspect for destroyers. A cruiser or battleship that is under heavy fire may want to disengage by moving out of its detectability range and will need to stop firing its guns well ahead of time otherwise its detectability range will remain increased for at least 20 seconds. Knowing your ship's detection range can help you to plan your course carefully to delay detection as much as possible in order to gain positional advantage.




The information provided in this thread is in accordance to my understanding of the game mechanics through vigorous testing and complemented in part by information gleaned from the game itself and from other sources. The sole purpose is to provide the information as accurately as possible, so if any inaccuracies are found please feel free to point them out and correct them. I'm not interested in debating the logic or realism aspect of the vision mechanics implemented by WG. Feel free to to discuss that aspect in a separate thread, with reference to this thread if desired.



Vision checkpoint - [1]


Edited by amade
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Great guide amade, thanks for taking the time to post it and share the information!

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How are ships detected?


amade, can you update this with info on how this upgrade / commaner skill / camo will work on reducing or increasing the detections range


Wows_icon_modernization_PCM026_LookoutSt Target Acquisition System Modification 1


Wows_icon_modernization_PCM027_Concealme Concealment System Modification 1


WOWS_Vigilance_2.png Vigilance


WOWS_Concealment_Expert_2.png Concealment Expert


PCEC001_Camo_1.png Camouflage 


Edited by XP_On

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