8 Ways to Improve Your Game - FPS Edition
I've seen and read countless guides by professionals and non-professionals alike on how to improve your gameplay in various FPS games. Luckily for you, and your checkbook, I've taken the essentials from all those guides and put them into one article! It's important to note that not every FPS is the same. Some have different features that I could not take into account here, so please keep that in mind.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
This may sound like a no-brainer but hear me out. Perfecting your shot and sharpening your reflexes could mean the difference between 1st and 2nd, gold and silver, world-wide fame and utter disappointment -- especially by your parents who will still see you as the pimply-face 20-something free-loader that has never amounted to anything, should I go on? The only difference between the average amateur gamer and the elite is, you guessed it, practice. See, the pros have time to sit at home and play all day, whereas you on the other hand, have to work or for a living. Unfortunately, that means you have to practice twice as hard to gain an edge.
There's a number of different ways you can practice, and it really depends on which FPS you play. Most have public servers, and for the beginner that's a start. WARNING: Do not become a "Pubbing Paul", sure it may be fun, but before you know it you'll be 30 years old heading up your own "clan" that owns 4 (three for each time zone, plus one for your European division) servers with over 60 clan members, including at least one girl gamer who everyone in the clan hits on daily. To better your play, scrimmage as often as possible, but more importantly, play with good players. You can learn something by practicing with high-caliber players, but I'll talk about that later. There are also a number of exercises one can do to improve your aiming, called "Muscle Memory". For Counter-Strike, there are a number of different muscle memory map-packs you can download to help improve your aim. Basically muscle memory boils down to this, if you do the same movement with your mouse repeatedly, your muscles remember that movement and help you aim better as the end result.
2. Learn to Prioritize
Any professional player will tell you, learning to prioritize your objectives is crucial to success. It could mean the difference between one frag and three frags. Too many players are trigger-happy; they will stupidly shoot the first thing they see without thinking first. You could be in a position where you're camping behind a box waiting for an opponent to come around when you hear two enemies running your way. You see the first come into view and he just keeps running past totally oblivious to your position. The amateur player would let loose once the first player came into his view but the more experienced player would wait, knowing that there's still another player to come by and once he did both would be in his sights. It's all about playing the odds. Waiting for your chance to snipe a general instead of killing the soldiers already in view would be the smarter thing to do right? Getting a power-up before going head-to-head with your opponent in quake is the smarter thing to do than simply "going rambo" and disregarding the power-up. Look, I can't teach you how to play logically; I can only give you examples but just remember, go through all the possibilities and choose the one with the highest probability of success.
3. KNOW YOUR TERRAIN
Knowing your terrain and practicing go hand-in-hand. The more you practice, the more you'll find ways to exploit all advantages a map has to offer. Learning how to play a certain map effectively is vital. Work the angles, use the spawn points, memorize where certain things are. Typically the high ground holds some advantages. It's much harder for a player to aim upwards than it is to aim down so keep that in mind when choosing your position. Before a match, go in a server alone or with some friends and play around with different spots. Find the fastest way to get to a certain spot, or choose spots to play that have powerups nearby or a spot where you are able to see all entry points possible.
4. KNOW YOUR ENEMY
A professional Quake player once told me that I should read Sun Tzu's Art of War to learn how to get in the mind of my opponent. I think there is some truth in that. Any group leader or 1v1 player knows, competitive FPS play is essentially a chess match on steroids. The better you know your opponent and their set of possible moves or actions, the better you'll be able to counter-act them.
Studying your opponent's previous matches and recordings is something teams in all sports have been doing for decades. Once you've seen and studied how they play, what spots they play, and what weapons they like to use, you'll know what to expect. In a lot of FPS', the key to is to do the unexpected. Now, I'm not telling you to do something stupid, even though that may be unexpected. You must combine effectiveness with the element of surprise. Once your opponent gets a read on you however, you might as well call it game.
5. STAY FIT
Exercising reduces stress and increases blood flow to your head which oxiginates your brain. Not only that, but staying fit stimulates the neurotransmitters, which are responsible for relaying messages and processing thoughts. Some have speculated that keeping fit can possibly help you think faster. If that’s true then exercise could not only help you with gaming but any area of life where you need to think. Aside from the thousands of health benefits and ant-aging qualities, you'll be helping to fight the skinny/fat pimply-faced stereotype associated with gamers. Also, some pro players have told me that before a big match, they like to do some simple hand warm ups and stretches so if it works for them, why not? Better safe than sorry, there is a number of conditions you can develop form being on the computer too long, like tendonitis!
6. PLAY WITH THE PROS
Whenever looking for a scrimmage or war, find the highest caliber opponent. Even if you lose badly you will learn some things. Seriously guys, if you play with newbs your whole life what are you going to learn? The fastest track to making it pro is to play with them; it's as simple as that. I understand not everyone can do that, so just try to find the best players close to you. Also if you want to know how to play like a pro, watch their matches! Almost every pro team or player plays in some type of league, and those matches are usually recorded, if not broadcasted live.
Now that you know competitive gaming is just as mental as it is physical it goes without saying that your brain deserves just as much attention as anything else. When it comes to keeping yourself alert and focused, it's all about the glucose. Your brain relies on glucose for energy and if you don't get enough of it you can develop, headaches, fatigue, loss of memory, as well as a loss of concentration and alertness. So believe it or not, a poor diet can result in poor playing. Amino acids and proteins help you to think clearly for an extended period of time. Energy drinks on the other hand may give you a boost, but that will only last for a small amount of time before you crash. Remember, you can't survive on energy drinks alone. Here's a list of foods that can keep your mind working in optimal condition:
- Nuts/seeds/whole grains
- Energy Drinks/ Soda
- White flour (bread products)
Staying up for two days or more will not make you a better gamer. Your brain stops effectively learning and taking in information when you're up for too long. So all you're really doing is playing at the same level you have been when you woke up, probably much worse due to fatigue. So get your rest kids, a fully rested mind and body will do you a world of good