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Splash damage, also known as radius damage, is a term used in several types of video games, most notably in first-person shooter and real-time strategy video games, to refer to damage taken by players or objects in the area surrounding a point of weapon impact. Splash damage is most commonly dealt by explosive weapons such as grenades or rockets, or magic damage from the casting of spells in fantasy games.
Splash damage weapons are effective against a group of enemies: dealing splash damage is easier than damaging all of them directly. They are also useful against moving targets at medium range—experienced players often fire at the ground near the opponent's feet, ensuring that the target is hurt even if the munition does not score a direct hit. A player using splash-damage weapons up close may take damage from his or her own shots (depending on the game being played). Damage usually decreases based on distance from the point of impact, and splash damage attacks generally do less direct damage than direct attacks.
In strategy games, a melee splash damage attack means that units around the target will also be damaged (this is known often as trample damage as it is often used by quadrupeds); while a ranged splash damage attack implies the attack will deal damage over an area surrounding the point of impact. This will or will not damage allied units, depending on the game played. The term is also used in table-top role-playing games and wargames.
Splash damage is distinguished from area of effect damage in that typically splash damage deals increased damage to the target at the center of impact and decreased damage (splash damage) to all players/units caught in the radius of the blast whereas AoE damage is usually distributed equally across the area of effect. In addition, in many RPGs and MMORPGs, spells dealing splash damage must be centered around a target, whereas area of effect spells may be used anywhere. These distinctions are not universal, though in most MMORPGs, the term area of effect (AoE or AE) is far more commonly used.
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