Although practically invisible, their presence is almost crucial when it comes to the proper functioning of the game.

Hitbox, because that’s what we’re talking about, is a term that we often encounter when it comes to video games, especially those of the fighting or shooting genre. But what exactly is a hitbox, and what is it for?

Well, the hitbox is an invisible area assigned to a specific character (or object), consisting of a set of 2D or 3D shapes (depending on the game). These shapes can take simple forms of rectangles or cubes, as well as spheres, circles, or meshes. The most important thing is that they form a set that is as closely matched to the character model as possible.

We already know what the definition describing hitboxes sounds like, and in the following part, we will explain what they are used for and why they are so important. Read on!

The Role of Hitboxes in Gaming

All right, but what are these hitboxes actually for? Comprised of a set of shapes, a hitbox creates the physical reality of a given object. Its presence lends realism to the entire game.

Thanks to it, our character in the game will not pass through other objects (like other characters), and the collision of two hitboxes will result in a physical reaction. What exactly does this mean in practice?

If you throw a punch in a fighting game, it’s the hitbox that determines its effectiveness, precisely whether you hit the opponent or you look like you’re swatting imaginary flies around your opponent.

In FPS games, thanks to hitboxes, it is possible to register accurately aimed shots and determine the exact point of impact. In racing games, it determines the behaviour of your vehicle after a collision with another object (also a hitbox).

Hitboxes are responsible not only for how many of the strikes (shots, collisions, etc.) will be accurate but also for how the object will behave after receiving them.

Whether it will bend halfway after receiving a blow to the stomach or fall over after being hit by a bullet in the knee.

Types of Hitboxes

The term hitbox actually refers to different types of shapes with various applications in the game. Therefore, hitboxes themselves can be divided into different types, and the three basic ones are:

  • attackbox – determining where an attack can “do the damage” to the opponent,
  • hurtbox – the place where your character can be injured,
  • collisionbox – determining the zone (area) for objects that cannot overlap each other.

Depending on specific video games, many of them also have their own types of hitboxes. In fighting games, for example, we will also encounter grab hitboxes or hitboxes that absorb or reflect attacks.

In the sports game “Rocket League,” car bodies have their own hitboxes with fancy names like Hybrid, Breakout, Octane, Plank, Dominus, and Merc. Although they all have identical statistics and are only responsible for the lengths, widths, and heights of vehicles, this fact has a strong influence on the gameplay.

Hitboxes vs. Hurtboxes

The fundamental difference between a hitbox and a hurtbox is that the former is responsible for the inflicted damage (also the accuracy of attacks) and all interactions, while the hurtbox determines the susceptibility of a given area to damage.

Although the hitbox determines whether your blow will reach your opponent in any way, it is the hurtbox that is responsible for how large the damages will be.

In other words, in a nutshell, hitboxes are required for delivering effective attacks (or specific interactions), while hurtboxes are responsible for the strength (and effectiveness) of received damage.

The Importance of Accurate Hitbox Design in Video Games

Regardless of the shape a hitbox takes, it is extremely important to design it accurately relative to the character (object) to which it will belong.

After all, it is the hitbox that determines whether the delivered attack will hit the target, and this has a tremendous impact on the entire gameplay and the strategy you must adopt during the game.

If the hitbox is not well-matched to the character, the gameplay may turn out to be unfair. Imagine a situation where the hitbox responsible for damage (interactions) within the opponent’s head does not fully cover it, but is only a small square in the middle of it.

To deal damage to the opponent in this situation, you would have to shoot them perfectly between the eyes. Other shots within its range will not hit the hitbox, so they will not be considered by the system, and consequently, your opponent will emerge unscathed.

It is also important to note that besides having different sizes, hitboxes also have different priorities (depending on the game’s mechanics). What does this mean in practice? Well, although the head hitbox is significantly smaller than the one representing, for example, the leg, hitting the head will result in greater damage upon impact.

Maintaining this logic of damage encourages players to pay more attention in the game, for example, to aim at critical points, which positively affects the quality of the gameplay.