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How to Become Better at First Person Shooters

Updated on March 19, 2014
Photo by Steven Wong
Photo by Steven Wong | Source

With first person shooters rapidly gaining popularity, it is tempting to want to be the best...Or at the very least, not get massacred every time you enter a game. Personally, I may not be the greatest player in history, but I've been playing online first-person shooters for quite some time now, and I have some simple tips that may help you become a better player. I remember exactly what is was like when I was first starting to play first person shooters, and yes, it was quite intimidating and very frustrating. Hopefully, these tips will make the learning process a bit easier for some of you aspiring online gamers.

#1 Play Consciously

This might be sort of obvious but many players, including myself, go into a sort-of "auto pilot" mode when playing online. Perhaps you've just been playing for too long or maybe you're just not fully into the game at the time, but playing consciously is extremely important to being successful online. By this I mean that you should be making conscious decisions and doing everything with a purpose. Don't simply run about like a madman and expect to outgun everyone, because in all likelihood, it's not going to work out for you. Also, when you make a bad decision (ie. running around a corner while reloading, walking through a high traffic area, shooting at a target that you couldn't finish, etc.) take a mental note of you're mistake. Keep it in mind and do you're best to not repeat that mistake and make a habit of it.

#2 Scan: Eyes Open! Ears Open!

This sort of ties into my previous point about playing consciously. Being alert and aware at all times will most definitely benefit you. Keep an eye on your radar, check your flanks/corners, and listen up for footsteps, gun fire, and anything else that may give you a jump on your opponents.

#3 Learn the Maps

You can be one of the best players in the world, but if you don't know the map as well as your opponent, you're already at a disadvantage. Aside from simply playing the game, don't hesitate to go into a private match (if possible) and walk around on the various maps. Look for nooks and crannies and more importantly, learn the lines of sight. Being aware of lines of sight will not only allow you to get the jump on your opponents, but it will also allow you to avoid giving your opponents an easy kill.

#4 Move Strategically

Once you become more comfortable with the maps, experiment with different routes. If you find yourself dying in certain areas of the map too often, try to avoid those areas. If you find that there are high traffic areas on the map try to patrol around those areas and catch unsuspecting opponents who may be distracted battling with other players. As a rule of thumb, try to move around the outskirts of the map. By moving along the outskirts of the map, this will eliminate some of you're opponents lines of site and give you less of an area to scan for enemies when on the move.

#5 Aim for the Chest

Yes, I know it's tempting to shoot everyone in the head. But realistically, it's not going to help you. The chest is the biggest part of you're opponents body and quite obviously the easiest target to shoot at. Aside from being the easiest target, every gun has some amount of recoil that is going to make your gun kick upward after continuous shooting. This recoil can be controlled by shooting in short controlled bursts, but oftentimes this isn't necessary unless you are engaging a target over a long distance. In any case, if you're shooting at your opponent's chest, the recoil of your gun won't make too much of a difference simply because even if you're gun hops up, you will still hit them in the head. You may even see yourself getting more headshots by aiming for you opponent's chest. Conversely, if you are aiming for you're opponent's head and your gun decides to hop up, you are now shooting at nothing, and nine times out of ten your opponent will take advantage of those few seconds and you will be dead before you know it.

#6 Keep Your Weapon Front And Center

A lot of you reading this may be past this stage already, but I've taught quite a few people how to play first-person shooters and one thing that I always notice when they start out is that they don't keep their cursor centered in their screen as they walk around. Sure it is also important to scan your surroundings, which I will discuss later, but in general try to keep your cursor centered and at about chest height at all times. The benefits of having your weapon center are quite obvious, but it's just something that I've noticed plenty of new players not doing, so I figured I would mention it here.

#7 Use ALL of Your Equipment

Flashbangs, stuns, grenades, claymores, throwing knives...Anything that you have at your disposal, USE IT! It is there for a reason! If you find yourself averaging a .50 k/d ratio, you may be able to pick up an extra kill per life by simply planting a claymore or throwing a grenade. This will put you at a 1.00 ratio and you will be one step closer to consistently going positive.

#8 Get in Tune With Your Playstyle

Everyone plays the game differently. You may be a very slow paced player who patrols a certain area of map, you may be a run and gun style of player who is constantly on the move, or you may be anything in between. As you play more you will naturally develop a style because you are doing things that you find to be helpful and avoiding situations that don't suit you well. Keep in mind, that differing playstyles clash. Even the best players will sometimes find that their opponents have a very unpredictable playstyle and this will give them some trouble. This is when it is important that you begin to analyze how you're opponents play and counteract them. This may require you to play outside of your own style, but sometimes that is necessary. This may seem a bit complicated, but you'll get a knack for these sorts of things as you progress as a player. One last note about playstyle: Please don't be a camper. I'm not just saying this because campers are annoying and bothersome, but because camping doesn't help you to develop your skills and more often than not, campers don't do very well anyway.

#9 Create Classes That Amplify Your Playstyle

Once you start to develop your playstyle, create classes and loadouts that will suit the way you play the game. For example, if you are playing Call of Duty and you realize that you do your best when playing a fast paced game, running around a lot, and getting up close and personal with your opponents, create submachine classes or shotgun classes with perks such as extreme conditioning, sleight of hand, assassin, dead silence, etc. Perks like sleight of hand and extreme conditioning will allow you move around more efficiently and be ready to engage your opponents, while stealth perks such as dead silence or assassin (perhaps with a silencer as added insurance) will help you to move around on the map without being detected quite as easily. If you're moving around a lot, it helps when your opponents don't know you're coming. Experiment and mix it up to find what works for you.

#10 Be Patient, Play A Lot, And Have Fun!

Following these tips diligently will, without a doubt, help you to improve your game, but the fact of the matter is that it takes time to become a good player. Don't get frustrated or discouraged. The more frustrated you get, the worse you are going to do. Finally, if you find yourself getting angry at the game (something all gamers are guilty of), just take a break. Find something else to do for a while. Get a drink, use the restroom, whatever. Just take your mind off the game for a bit so you can come back to a fresh start.


Watch videos! Go on Youtube and watch some of the professionals play the game. If you're new to gaming videos, Machinima on Youtube is a great place to start. Watching experienced players could help you develop your playstyle and may also help you learn some new tactics, spots, and strategies that didn't occur to you before. Also, experiment with your sensitivity and button layout to find one that works best for you. And remember, a higher sensitivity isn't always the best option. If you have any tips of your own that I haven't touched on here, please don't hesitate to post them in the comments below to help your fellow hubbers and visitors alike.

If you've read this far, I hope some (if not all!) of these tips come in handy and help you improve. Thanks for reading, now get on the sticks and start practicing! :]


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