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What is DPS in gaming?

A team of FF14 charactrers ready to fight.
Square Enix / Square Enix

Gaming is filled with jargon that sounds like complete nonsense to anyone not totally plugged into the space. Terms like Metroidvania and rouguelike/roguelite are rough enough, but when we abbreviate terms, it can be impossible to figure out what they mean, even when said in context. DPS is a term first used mainly in MMORPGs, but it has found its way into other genres like hero shooters and single-player RPGs, among others. It can, and is, applied to just about every game involving combat of some sort. If you’ve heard people complaining about their DPS, or see it listed as part of a weapon’s stats, here’s what it all means.

What does DPS mean?

DPS stands for Damage Per Second. It is shorthand for saying how powerful a weapon or character is by either listing its DPS as a number — in which case the higher the number, the better — or as its general role in a team. DPS on a weapon takes into account several things to make one more consumable stat, including how much damage it deals with each attack and how quickly it can attack. By dividing those numbers into seconds, you can equally compare how much any weapon or ability will do compared to another. For example, if one weapon hits every 2 seconds for 100 damage, the DPS would be 50, while a weapon that hits four times per second, but only deals 25 damage per hit, would have a DPS of 100.

In team games, DPS is often used to refer to one of the major roles. Tanks are characters meant to absorb most of the damage, healers heal, and DPS characters are the ones in charge of dealing the bulk of the team’s damage. They are the team’s aggressive killers, such as Soldier 76 in Overwatch 2 or the Black Mage in Final Fantasy 14. All their abilities and skills tend to be offensive-focused and need to rely on the other classes to support them.

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