This page targets the novice FPS gamer and casual gamers who want to take their game to the next level. The objective is to provide tips that are useful and easy. Keep one thing in mind: IT IS OK TO BE BAD, as long as you really try and do your best!
You have taken the step into an online FPS game and it is frustratingly difficult to survive even for a minute. Well... it's no surprise. The players you encounter have much more experience with the game. At least if you didn't buy it on the release day and immediately started playing online. But that is probably not the case if you are a novice when it comes to online FPS gaming. The other players know their way around the map, they may have unlocked better weapons and improvements such as red dot sights, etc. They may have unlocked perks that makes them harder to kill and their weapons more powerful. They also know how the game plays. You will have to take quite a few extra bullets before you have levelled out those benefits. This is why the k/d improves with time as you play. Experience doesn't come for free so have patience and practice. You WILL improve.
The single most important key to improve in an FPS game is understanding WHY you were killed. EVERY TIME! Did you e.g. move across an open space (road, field, etc) in a straight line and got shot by a single headshot? That was a sniper. Next time move in an irregular zig zag line and sprint if possible. You will be much more difficult to hit. Have you found a favorite camping spot but is shot every time when you finally get there? That's because you always go there and your enemies have realized that. Move around and vary your camping spots to create a mind game. Get a couple of kills and off you go! Or even better: Do not camp at all! Your progress will be much faster if you play offensively and move around a lot. Did you enter a confined space while wielding a long range weapon or one with slow fire rate and got killed in a firefight? No surprise. Swap weapons when the scene of the local area of the map requires it. You should have wielded your side arm (e.g. pistol or a shotgun) instead.
Always think about from where you were shot. There might be tactical spots on the map you have not found yet. Think about what kind of weapon your killer was using. Maybe he used a technique that you could employ? Many modern games have "kill cams". It is when your killer is shown in-game during a few seconds after you were killed. Use it! It can provide you with useful information about where the opponent is located and where he is going next.
Some gamers seem to think that practicing offline (e.g. by playing through the single player campaign of the game) will prepare them for online gaming. This is unfortunately completely wrong. There are only two exceptions. First: You may want to spend 10-15 minutes trying out the controls and make adjustments for control sensivity and possibly y-axis inversion. Second: If your game allows setting up an offline multiplayer match you can do this on your own or with a friend and just run around each map to roughly learn to find your way around. Pay particular attention to where weapons and vehicles spawn as well as where objective items like flags are located. Except for these two purposes there is NO reason to practice offline. The bots (CPU controlled enemies and allies) in a campaign will not behave as online friendlies and enemies. As said, playing online will be tough in the beginning. Accept it and continue practicing online. You will understand the gameplay with time. Also, your skill with the game will grow substantially faster by playing online. By playing offline, you will NEVER reach the skill required to be successful or even have a k/d above about ~0,5 to 0,7 when starting playing online. So don't bother!
It will take some time before you start realizing what kind of player you are and what play style you have. Your style will evolve as you play. Let it do so without thinking about it. Just play and do your best to make the team win. Once you feel comfortable about the game and the way it plays it is time to analyze your behaviour on the battlefield. Are you generally playing with a high degree of risk involved? Are you typically in the middle of heatzones or do you mostly move outside them? Are you best at short-, mid- or long range combat? What are your overall stats, in particular k/d with various weapon types? Do you have an offensive or defensive mindset? Think about factors like these and consider whether the play style you have is best suited for YOU. Self-criticism is good. It is likely that there are areas of improvement. Figure out what those areas are and alter the way you are playing. This will improve your gameplay.
In games of the 90's a player could usually carry around up to ten different weapons at the same time. One could swap between pistols, bazookas, machineguns, grenade launchers and so on. Very unrealistic. Examples were e.g. Half-life and Unreal. Games like Halo: Combat Evolved changed the scene substantially in the beginning of the next decade. Being able to carry only two weapons and possibly a melee weapon like a knife became the new standard. Gamers now needed to think about what weapons they should carry around, and what weapon to replace another one with in case its ammunition depleted. Since then, proper weapon management has been a key factor to survive on the battlefield and to achieve victory conditions. When choosing weapon configuration and equipment (if possible in the game you play) as you spawn, make sure to take the following aspects into account:
If you are new to a game and don't know much about the map layout and what role you will take on the battlefield you will probably be well equipped with a fully automatic or burst fire weapon with a ammunition capacity of 20-30 rounds. Also try to pick a rifle with low recoil as it will give you more kills. A suitable secondary weapon is a pistol or shotgun. Shotguns usually have tremendous stopping power but only a short effective range. They are ideal for close quarters fighting. Not all games allow you to carry around a versatile primary weapon like an assault rifle AND a powerful shotgun as secondary weapon. This setup is possible in e.g. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the Gears of War series. Consider this configuration if it suits your play style. Choosing equipment is a more complex matter. Let your playstyle and current priority guide when choosing. One or two standard fragmentation grenades usually comes as standard when you spawn. Make use of them! It makes no sense to be killed with an unused grenade still in the pocket.
It is best to keep the gameplay simple until your experience with the game you're playing grows. For example stick with a basic weapon loadout like in the example in the Weapon and equipment management section. Start experimenting with other weapons and tactics once you get convenient with the basics. Some weapons will turn out to have an alternative usage that is not obvious at first. An example is the UNSC sniper rifle in Halo which is great for long range fighting. It kills with one headshot or two body hits. However, it can also be a great weapon (in the right hands) when fighting in close quarters. Place one bullet anywhere in the body of the enemy and immediately follow up with a melee attack. The kill is yours within a fraction of a second. This procedure obviously requires the enemy to be within melee range, and it is associated with a substantial risk as the shot need to hit. If missed, the enemy will have some time to counter attack. Another example of alternative weapon usage from the Halo franchise is grenade jumping. One can jump faily high by default in the game. A jump can become even higher if a player throws a grenade on the floor and jumps over it as it explodes. The same method can be used with the rocket launcher. Jump and shoot a rocket on the floor underneath. The explosion will deplete the energy shield in both cases so a short recovery time is recommended afterwards. Tactics like these will come to your knowledge with time. Watch other players on the battlefield and try to figure out what kind of tricks they are using.
The avatar body in most modern FPS games is divided into several parts that correspond to human body parts, e.g. arms, legs, head, torso and so on. Each body part has a damage multiplier associated to it to bring some kind of realism to the gameplay. One single headshot may be sufficient to get a kill while it would have required 5-10 bullets in the leg with the same weapon to get the same result. If the target is wounded after being involved in a previous firefight it might be possible to get the kill with a single shot in the torso, or even in the foot if the injuries are severe. This is why you should always aim for a body part with a high damage multiplier. The head is best in most games. However, the head is a fairly small target that requires skilled aiming to hit in mid- to long range combat. All weapons also have some degree of bullet spread (accuracy). This means that some bullets will miss even though you aim perfectly. Unless you are skilled in aiming, it is therefore often best to aim for the upper torso. It typically has a high damage multiplier, while also being a bigger target and hence easier to hit than the head. You may even score some headshots due to bullet spread when aiming for the upper torso. Never aim for the legs or arms as limbs have low damage multipliers.
Some games has a slightly different concept. Halo 3 is an example. Here one must first deplete the energy in the protective shield that covers the enemy. Once it is depleted, the rules of body part damage multipliers apply. If you are shooting an enemy with the Battlerifle it takes four shots to deplete the energy shield. Place the fifth shot in the head to get the kill. Take care to do it quickly though as the energy shield will refill after a few seconds.
A common beginner mistake is forgetting to reload. ALWAYS reload after a firefight that you survived (if time allows). Let's assume you survived a fight but forgot to reload. Ten seconds later you encounter another enemy. Your magazine is almost empty and his is full. You're likely going down... Use your weapons smart in combination. If you encounter several enemies in series there won't be time to reload in-between the firefights. In such occations ALWAYS swap to your secondary weapon instead of reloading. This procedure saves about half a second and is crucial in such an event.
Effective movement is crucial in any FPS game, no matter if the priority is attacking or defending an objective in an objective based match or piling up kills while maintaining a good k/d in a deathmatch. This is partly related to risk management aspects: Standing still will substantially increase the probability of getting killed. In particular by snipers. A moving target is obviously more difficult to kill. So: Never stand still unless absolutely necessary. If you really need to stay in one place then try to move back and forth on the same spot. Knowing where to be and in what direction to move (i.e. where to go) at any point in time is a skill that a player will develop with increasing experience. Knowing your way around the map is of course a precondition to know what route from A to B that is best, given your current priority and the acceptable risk level. Further on, continuous moving reduces the probability of being subject to a surprise attack from behind, while in the mean time increase the probability of encountering an unsuspecting enemy from behind. Hence it is likely that a continuously moving player will get more kills than one who does not. Careful risk management when choosing route is needed though.