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Crouch and Prone

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Most Videogame protagonists spend most of their time standing tall on two feet. It's faster and more mobile but many videogames allow you to change your stance to fit the circumstances. The most common is a crouch option, closely followed by the ability to go prone. The effects are usually some combination of the following:

  • Less Visible: Crouching gives you a smaller profile and potentially drops you down below where most enemies will be aiming. In multiplayer games that use headshots the drop-shot (suddenly crouching on when fired upon) can result in the shots going over your head, at the risk of turning shots aimed at the torso into headshots. Prone makes your front profile as small as possible at the cost of most of that profile being your head.
  • More Concealment: The waist high wall that only protected your legs when standing will cover all but your head when crouching, and even long grass will hide you when prone.
  • Better Accuracy: Being able to brace yourself means that you will have better control of recoil and able to shoot more accurately. Sniping especially will be more accurate when prone, and often Sniper Scope Sway will be reduced.
  • Slower and Quieter: Crouching can often be used as an alternative to the walk button, slowing you down and allowing you to control your movements more accurately, as well as reducing the noise of your footsteps. Prone is even slower, even quieter but usually makes it more difficult to turn, and often has restrictions on where it can be done, since you need enough room to stretch your legs out.
  • Fit Through Small Spaces: Finally, crouching allows you to fit into the strangely large air vents that seem common to most games. A more realistically sized vent or other small tunnel might require going prone.

Most realistic First Person Shooters include crouching and prone these days; typically only the more arcade titles keep you standing at all times. Platformers and third-person action adventures usually include crouching with its slower movement and ability to fit through tight gaps.


Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition provides a +2 bonus to accuracy on melee attacks against crouching or kneeling characters, while ranged attacks suffer a -2 penalty under the same conditions. Attacks made against prone characters have double the bonus/penalty (+4 to melee, -4 to ranged), in addition to melee attacks made by prone characters receiving a -4 penalty. (A prone character cannot use bows or slings, but there is no penalty on attacks with ranged weapons which can be used in that position, such as crossbows.)

Video Games

  • Call of Duty games feature this. In the earlier games when the Stand-crouch-prone trope was new to video games, it even included an icon on your HUD to show you which stance you were currently in. Later games make sniper rifles (and eventually, all weapons) easier to aim at long distances when crouched or prone.
  • Half-Life games make heavy use of crouching, since Gordon Freeman is constantly using air vents and tunnels, though how low the camera goes seems to indicate he's actually going prone instead. They also introduced the concept of "crouch-jumping", which involves holding the crouch button while in mid-air in order to tuck your legs in so you can clear slightly higher ledges — a standard of all of Valve's games.
    • By extension, the offshoot games Counter-Strike also allow crouching and crouch-jumping. Day of Defeat added falling prone (that's how you use some weapons' bipods, for one) and crawling.
  • Games using the Gears of War style cover mechanic will typically have the characters automatically crouch behind the waist high walls and then stand up to take shots.
  • The Metal Gear series included these actions in various games. As a Stealth-Based Game making use of cover, staying quiet and infiltrating through vents are all aided through crouching and crawling.
  • In the Tomb Raider games from III onwards its possible to make Lara crouch and crawl and many gamers have used this to appreciate the game's graphics from a new angle.
  • Metroid allows Samus to crouch, but she can't do so while moving. To move through smaller areas you have to pick up the morph ball ability (which allows her to morph into a ball).
  • Old shareware game Capture the Flag: your team members can balance stealth and speed by choosing to crawl, walk slowly or run.
  • Crouching in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim enters you into sneak mode, and leveling this can eventually make you able to stay invisible even in plain sight, as long as you're still crouching.
  • Stealth game Death to Spies allows crouching or crawling along the ground, which reduce your visibility to enemies and are quieter than walking, but in the first game there is also a separate sneaking stance which lets you move without making any noise. The second game removes the sneaking stance, replacing it by making crouched walking silent.
  • Covert Action tactical part uses crouching to hide from guards behind medium-height objects (like a desk or chair).
  • X-COM: Troopers can crouch to increase their accuracy. This also slightly reduces their chances of getting hit and can be done in mid-air with flying Power Armour.
    • The new XCOM: Enemy Unknown has soldiers crouch if they're next to half-cover, but as the name implies, half-cover is not as good as full cover, in which the soldier stands. They have the option to use their move to "Hunker Down", giving them the benefits of full cover even in half cover while also preventing Critical Hits, but also lowering their line of sight.
  • Oddly enough - despite being WWII-set tactical First Person Shooters - in the original Brothers in Arms games you could crouch, but not prone. Hell's Highway added the ability to go prone.
  • Team Fortress 2 - Crouching slows you down, but it grants you more cover. Besides the aforementioned crouch-jumping, crouching in midair also makes Rocket Jumping more efficient. However, unlike most other Source Engine games, it won't improve your accuracy.
  • Minecraft has a "sneak" function, which prevents the player from falling off the edges of blocks and stops you from sliding back down ladders and vines. In multiplayer it also prevents other players from seeing your name through walls. It used to make your character crouch slightly, but this was purely cosmetic as it has no effect on your hitbox or low-doorway clearance. Some Game Mods play the trope straight.
    • Since somewhere around 1.14, you can make yourself go prone by placing a trap door and closing it on top of you, you'll remain prone until there is space to stand. This makes for a very good strip-mining technique since you only have to dig a 1x1 hole.
  • Skinwalker Hunt: You can crouch, and it causes you to go a little slower.
  • In the first System Shock game, you could not only crouch and go prone, but could also lean from side to side to facilitate shooting around corners.
  • Left 4 Dead makes crouching give you better accuracy and allows teammates to shoot over your head during an intense shootout against a horde of zombies, though you will move slower while crouching.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. lets the player crouch, but instead of a prone stance it uses a somewhat silly-looking lower crouch. Crouching effectively reduces the recoil and spread cone of your weapon, allows you to aim more accurately when not using the gun's sights, and deadens the noise you make while moving even more than simply walking.
  • In Fallout 3, crouching initiates "stealth mode", giving you a visibility notification and making it easier to sneak and pickpocket. Your firing accuracy also improves.
    • Bethesda lifted this mechanic wholesale from their previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. All of the above, plus attacks that break stealth get a damage multiplier (known in Fallout as "Sneak Attack Critical". Throughout the series, simply crouching to activate stealth mode lets the player hide in shadows or even in plain sight with sufficient skill levels, while standing up in the same spot would draw enemy aggro like a beacon.
    • Fallout: New Vegas expands on this, greatly reducing how much your gun moves about when crouching, allowing for more accurate shots. In 3, the only gun that did this was the sniper rifle and its variants.
    • Fallout Tactics uses the positions in much the same way that X-COM does. It's quite difficult to see enemies lying prone behind even fairly small obstructions.
  • All Halo FPSs allow the player to crouch. Apart from decreasing the player's profile, it makes one not register on enemy motion tracker when moving. From Halo: Reach onward, crouching also causes reticle bloom to reset more quickly (which isn't technically an increase in accuracy, but an increase in the rate at which one may fire accurately) and reduces recoil.
  • Mass Effect allowed the player to crouch, but this was scrapped in the sequel, only allowing Shepard and co. to crouch when behind cover.
  • Perfect Dark allows the player to crouch (which improves accuracy when using ranged weapons, as well as crawling through tight spaces) but only enemies can lie prone.
  • In Rage (2011), crouching reduces the noise you make and makes your hitbox smaller while slowing you. Stealth can be useful but only in very choice circumstances, otherwise you'll only be crouching to lower your hitbox, which is very useful in most firefights.
  • The ARMA series has the standard standing, crouching, and prone; you can also lean to the side while standing or crouching (trying to lean while when you're prone causes you to roll over to the side). III ups the complexity of this by giving a slightly lower and higher version of each stance: for standing and crouching they're just moved to a slightly difference position and you go back to the standard form whenever you move, but the two stances done from prone position are sitting (which you can move around in, albeit you look like a dog with worms) and laying on your side with the gun against the ground (which prevents any movement).
  • In MechWarrior Living Legends, crouching in the battlemechs requires one to remain stationary, but once crouched the mech can aim further up, useful for attacking enemy aircraft. Mechwarrior 4 allowed one to crouch, but it had no benefit aside from marginally smaller hitboxes.
  • Crouching in Wasteland 2 adds 10% to the chance of ranged attacks hitting and subtracts 20% from the hit chance enemy attacks, at the expense of two Action Points to crouch down and two to get back up before you can move again.
  • Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon featured this, allowing you to crouch or go prone for various benefits, but each also had some drawbacks. Crouching is quieter than walking upright and allows you slightly better accuracy when holding still, but it's also slower, even when sprinting, and your reticule blooms further from a crouch-walk than regular walking. Prone takes this to the extreme, with even quieter but slower movement and even better accuracy when not moving in return for worse reticule bloom when moving (requiring more time to brace before you can get that accuracy bonus), on top of no longer having the full 360 degrees of turning unless you use the movement buttons to realign your lower body. The former series' Vegas spinoffs took out going prone entirely, while later Ghost Recon games have somewhat expanded on it, in particular Future Soldier having its adaptive camo short out when attempting to walk upright, but staying up if the player moves in a crouch or prone. Rainbow Six Siege brought prone back as well, without the adaptive camo angle but still expanding on it with the ability to lie on your back to accommodate your position relative to walls and other scenery.
  • Unturned features the full trio of stances. Crouching and crawling when prone reduce noise and stabilize aiming.
  • The Wolfenstein series has allowed for crouching ever since at least Return to Castle Wolfenstein, though going prone hasn't been a thing outside of the multiplayer-only Enemy Territory. The New Colossus has an interesting version of it, where to go prone and crawl through tight spaces you need to find an object called a "Constrictor Harness" to allow BJ to make himself small enough to fit into tight spaces - but the way it does so, as its name implies, involves constricting his chest, so if you stay hidden for too long you start losing health from being unable to breathe.
  • Delta Force allowed the player to switch between stances. Going prone made sniping much easier, as the player could use it to hide in grass.
  • A non-humanoid version in Evolve with the monsters' sneak ability, which causes them to adopt stalking cadence much like real world predators. The change in posture lets them hide more effectively and stops them from leaving trackable footprints at the cost of speed.
  • Thief was one of the earliest stealth games, and used crouching primarily for staying hidden and moving quietly.
  • The first Deus Ex game was made by some of the same people who made Thief, and offered a similar use of crouch for stealth.
  • Overwatch allows you to crouch-walk, with most characters being able to mute their footsteps while doing so, but moving slower as a trade-off, helpful for flankers ready for a pouncing surprise attack. Some characters aren't able to do this, however: Roadhog can still be heard through his dangling chains and heavy breathing, and D.Va's Mini-Mecha is incapable of crouching.
  • All of the fighters in the Super Smash Bros. series can crouch to avoid certain attacks, with some fighters having the ability to crouch-walk or crawl. The funniest case is King Dedede, who doesn't crouch like everyone else and lies on his side instead. He can even do a roll attack in this position from 4 onwards.
  • SOS: You're required to crouch to get through small areas.
  • The Smurfs (1994) had the Smurf player crouch in order to crawl into certain areas without disturbing underground creatures.
  • Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel's Castle had a duck feature for the Smurf character, but otherwise he remains immobile in this mode.
  • In Prince of Persia 2, the same controls that allow the Prince to duck to avoid arrow traps will in later levels make him go prone whenever he needs to tunnel through a wall or crawl under a wall slicer.

Real Life

  • If you are ever caught in a crossfire and are NOT a target, your best bet is to lie down.
  • The use of crouching low to ambush enemies isn't exclusive to humans. Great cats in particular have a tendency to crouch closer to the ground as they approach prey, allowing them to hide in tall grass and obtrusive foliage.