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On p183 of the PHB under Vison and light it says:

The most fundamental tasks of adventuring— noticing danger, finding hidden Objects, hitting an enemy in Combat, and targeting a spell, to name just a few—rely heavily on a character’s ability to see.

...In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

The first paragraph seems to indicate that lighting affects combat. However, the second paragraph specifies that only perception checks are affected by dim light...

The Perception skill seems to be more about finding hidden or obscure objects instead of identifying threats in combat..

Does dim light give disadvantage in combat?

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Heavily obscured areas cause disadvantage on attack rolls, not lightly obscured ones

The rules on Vision and Light state:

[...] A given area might be lightly or heavily obscured. In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

A heavily obscured area--such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage--blocks vision entirely. A creature effectively suffers from the blinded condition when trying to see something in that area. [...]

Notably, the heavily obscured area makes a creature suffer from the blinded condition, this means:

[...] Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature's attack rolls have disadvantage. [...]

So while a dimly lit (lightly obscured) area does not cause disadvantage on attack roll (if it did, the rules would state so clearly) a pitch black (heavily obscured) area does. The initial quote about how vision and light impact the ability to hit an enemy in combat was most likely referring to the effects of a heavily obscured area, not a lightly obscured one.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair, the first paragraph is what threw me. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 20 at 5:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dim light does affect combat in that it makes it easier for enemies to hide and ambush you. Sure, it might have minimal effect once your foe initiates combat. But at the same time, an initial round where you cannot act due to surprise can certainly change the outcome of the ensuing fight. \$\endgroup\$
    – shhalahr
    Jun 29 at 18:29
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No.

The rules are pretty clear about what dim light does: it's harder to see hidden things or pick out details. That's it. Hitting in combat does depend heavily on being able to see, but dim light isn't bad enough to stop you from doing that.

The introduction you're talking about is not just about dim light; it's giving an overview of the entire section, which also talks about full darkness and heavily obscured sight, which do give disadvantage on attack rolls (see references below). It wouldn't make much sense if shadows and complete darkness had an equal impact on fighting ability, would it?

Darkness creates a heavily obscured area.

A heavily obscured area [...] blocks vision entirely. A creature effectively suffers from the blinded condition when trying to see something in that area.

Blinded: A blinded creature can't see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature's attack rolls have disadvantage.

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