Hi there! I still suck at first-person shooters (FPS), but it took me a while to learn some tips to make yourself better at FPS.
1. Get better at positioning
To me, this is the A1 tip for getting better at shooters.
I am not an aimbot. I am not going to out-aim or out twitch many of the players out there. Without hundreds upon thousands of hours of practice, who can blame me?
What I learned after clearing my head is that positioning was the real culprit as to why my aim was off and why I kept losing fire fights. As humans, we tend to think that we simply got out-aimed or that someone cheated or had a better weapon in a 1:1 fight. While some of that may be true on occasion, the reality is that the opponent was probably just better positioned and had more time to line up that shot on you. We (you and me) were standing out in the open.
If you focus on flanking, finding new angles, and staying near cover, all while taking quick and controlled bursts of fire, the aiming and kills will start to come to you.
Bonus: Hold the angle
As for positioning, you will be amazed how many people will push your position when they see you. If you stand behind cover with a 45 degree angle around your cover and wait, you will often be able to sit and shoot the competition coming around the corner like fish in a barrel as they approach. You’ve probably been the victim in this scenario without realizing it.
2. Don’t do the same things over and over if they aren’t working in a match
Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you pick a spot while positioning and get repeatedly killed taking it, stop going there! I know it sounds obvious, but you will notice that most people do this, even if they get killed over and over again. A good player will simply wait. People will start to wait for you and kill you instantly if you don’t pick different positions.
Similarly, don’t keep popping out of cover at exactly the same place if you can help it. People will be waiting with their crosshairs on you if they spotted you.
3. Don’t get tilted, and be calm.
“It’s just a freaking video game. Seriously, it is just a freaking video game.”
I tell myself this all the time, even today. If you are reading this blog for tips, you are certainly not a professional getting paid for your time spent playing shooters. There is no pressure. Getting tilted will only put you on edge and make you worse. If you need to, yell into a pillow and get it out of your system, grab some water, and then come back refreshed.
If you are playing with randoms or friends who are pressuring you to be better, ask yourself, are THEY professionals? They don’t sound like they are having a good time either. If tensions with a friend or friends are high because you put less time into a shooter than them, you either need to stop playing with them altogether or question if they are really your friends. Seriously.
Relax and have fun. It’s a freaking video game. If you want to be a professional gamer, I direct you to tip #7.
4. Lower your sensitivity, and then refine slowly
If you were waiting for a less touchy-feely entry in this post -one that is more focused on technical improvement- a piece of advice that my friends gave me was that my sensitivity was way too high. For context, my sensitivity was at around 8.0, with 1600dpi on my mouse.
If those numbers mean anything to you, do what the pros do and go closer to 400-800dpi with something like 1.0-3.0 sensitivity on your mouse if you can. It will be jarring at first, but it should help a good deal.
If those numbers do not mean anything to you, try turning your sensitivity down to a VERY low number. It should take you a full pass across a fairly sizeable mousepad to move your character about 120-180 degrees. If you move your mouse across your pad and your character spins like an Olympic figure skater, as mine did once, you might be doing it wrong. On a controller, try a lower sensitivity option as well.
5. Worry about hitting headshots first, THEN worry about winning fights.
If you suck, you might as well get better at video games while you suck.
We tend to tense up when under pressure and when things are not going well. While you are following the advice above and chilling out, give yourself another second or two to line up your shots and make sure you are hitting them. You might die to a better trigger finger, but weren’t you dying that way before? As you get more comfortable hitting those good headshots, you will get faster and faster at it.
Positioning well as noted in steps 1 and 2 will naturally give you more time to line up a shot as well.
6. Watch the pros play your favorite game.
If you want to practice the above, you could also fire up Twitch and watch some professionals play the game. Instead of just watching as a true passenger, actively think about why they are doing the things they are doing and mimic it to the best of your ability.
I will never “no scope” beam opponents from across the map like the pros, but I have gotten a lot better at moving and strategizing like them as a result.
7. Practice makes perfect.
I didn’t want to lead with this, because if you are coming here from a rage-induced session, this will come across as patronizing. But… it’s true.
The people I know who play games more than I do are better than me. The people who play less are worse than me. Steph Curry is better than you and me at shooting threes, and it is not because he came out of the womb firing a jumper. He practiced a lot. Then he practiced some more.
If you don’t want to devote the time, then you are playing to have fun, so sit back and enjoy your time.