I am such a noob
September 29, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

How do I get better at first-person shooters on the Xbox360?

I've never been into the FPS genre. I like RPGs and various third-person games for the most part, and I'm most used to a computer interface as opposed to a console gamepad.

But the Xbox360 is a beautiful machine, and the line between FPS and RPG has been erased by titles like Mass Effect and Oblivion and Bioshock. The problem is that these games assume that you're pretty familiar with the FPS interface, and because of the structure of the game you don't get much time to practice.

Are there any games out there that include a pretty good training area or an opportunity to learn the two-stick control system before dumping you into situations where your skill with the system is the only thing keeping all your NPC buddies from getting fragged? I'm not looking to be uber-1337 at Halo3, but it'd be great to not have to re-do every fight scene in Mass Effect five times before moving on with the plot.

posted by MrVisible to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Portal's very friendly, it's quite difficult to die and if you haven't played if, ye gods is it a fantastic game.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:04 AM on September 29, 2008

Halo 3 on normal and then on heroic is reasonably difficult but you usually have an abundance of cover to get used to different FPS tactics.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:07 AM on September 29, 2008

look, I'm another casual gamer, and I really think it's about the kind of 16-hour a day practice that (employed) adults (with families) just don't have. There's always a 12-year-old on XBox Live ready to kick our ass, and he'll always be there. And when he grows up, his little brother will take his place.

I really think the only answer is practice, insane practice. it's not like those fucking kids have superior brains -- even basic communications with them disproves it.
posted by matteo at 9:07 AM on September 29, 2008

That's one of the things that are a 100 times harder to explain than to do. I thought gamepad FPS control was impossible at first, but it will just come to you in time. Really ;)


- Cover. Never run into the open if you don't have superiority. Much more important in console shooters than on the PC, even if the game in question does not have a dedicated cover system like RS6 or GoW.

- Learn how to circle strafe. In fact, make it your natural movement when enemies are in sight.

- As for Mass Effect, the right combos with your teammate mechanic/bionic guys do much more than shooting skill. In the more difficult fights, this can mean pausing quite a lot.

- Learn to use the right tool for the job, especially in games where ammo is scarce like Bioshock. If you waste your shotgun on simple splicers, it'll be empty when you need it.
posted by uncle harold at 9:12 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Oh, yes. Portal, and then Half-Life, and then whatever else. Very nice learning slope. Low stress.

One tip that might help overall is to stop leaning on the sticks. Try to just face/move the right way with a series of taps. Not lined up right, tap a little left instead of leaning left and overcompensating and leaning right and... argh.

You'll still get fragged because that's not fancy enough to dodge at the same time -- you need to get good at run-one-way-face-another, but that's later, after you get a good sense of control.

Matteo is also right: people with time to play 12hrs a day will always be best.
posted by rokusan at 9:13 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Advice I read years ago which helped me: blink. Often when gaming one forgets to blink and thus the eye doesn't work as well as it could. Remembering to blink should have you performing a bit better as it did me.
posted by waraw at 9:20 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Mass Effect is a bad game to hone your FPS skill"z". Depedning on your class, the game is either a run 'n gun breeze or a horrible slog. Try Call of Duty 4.

Remember, take cover, plan your attack and never be afraid to run away like a little girl.
posted by GilloD at 9:21 AM on September 29, 2008

If playing against the machine, turn the difficulty up a notch. And work with weapons you're not accustomed to.

Never stop moving.
posted by neuron at 9:31 AM on September 29, 2008

A few hints that seems to span most FPS games:

1. Pick a weapon you like. Obviously an assault weapon means youre on the front lines and a sniper weapon means you're taking long distance shots. Play with all the kits and find a game play style that suits you. I love front line stuff, but that's me. I then explore all the unlocks and try different strategies.

2. Learn the maps. Sure, cover is a big part of fighting, but once you know where the enemy spawns from and where they are then you've just won 50% of the battle.

3. Headshots. Learn to aim up to the head. This should become second nature.

4. Never run into the open. Always be against a wall or something. All corners are dangerous.

5. Try different strategies for different maps. On one map it makes sense to rush in, and on others it makes sense to wait for the enemy to come to you.

6. Dont blame the controller or your age, which youve already done. Smart strategies win multiplayer FPS games, not reflex.

7. Dont cheat. Dont be rude or say nasty things over the mic.

8. Learn from top players. Who is in the top 5? Examine them, find out what kit they are using, what strategies they use, what positions they take, etc.

9. Learn a proper heal/attack balance. If your character has any healing powers then you need to find out when they are and arent appropriate. Or when you should sacrifice yourself for your squadmates.

10. Find the cons and pros of vehicles. Some arent worth using at all.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:32 AM on September 29, 2008

Also its worth mentioning that a common noob mistake is to pick the most powerful gun and run out like a madman. That's an easy kill for me. I just gently do a headshot while youre trying to aim some bazooka at me. I can also see you from miles away because you dont take cover.

Another noob mistake is to get into a tank or a powerful vehicle and not understand how easy it is to take down. Even if it the most powerful in the game, an engineer or special forces character can set an explosive on it if they get too near. All the tank armor in the world wont save you from a c4 on your side.

Lastly, avoid players who are also new. Try to squad up with veterans and examine their interactions and strategies.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:35 AM on September 29, 2008

I'll just add (or echo):
- Learn the maps. Know the hiding spots, sight lines, traps, etc.
- Learn how to move, or rather, how to get from one spot to another fluidly, without stopping. How to jump, speed, etc. It's often very dependent on the game and can vary greatly between games.
- If you've downed an enemy and still have ammo left, don't automatically reload (eg. you've expended 5 shots of a 30 shot clip, why reload right away?). You'll often be caught in the middle of your reload by your victim's teammate.
- Slow down. This is my biggest flaw and the thing that I actively try to moderate when I play. I'll try to play too fast for the game and it'll get me killed. Slow down, aim for the upper torso/head and squeeze off a few shots, don't hold down the trigger - you won't be accurate.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:40 AM on September 29, 2008

As an Xbox360 newbie, I'm having success with Mass Effect by playing--always--on "casual," and lowering the sensitivity of the joysticks to "30." Also, playing the soldier character, who seems to have the most firepower, helps.

Mass Effect is substantially easier to newbie thumbs than Bioshock, in which the creepy crawlies bounce about and are hard to follow with the controller. It's actually a decent initiation to the XBox360, I think. The long stretches of dialogue give the fingers a break from the action. And the SUV-like planetary rover called "Mako" is relatively easy to control, helping you to learn solid driving skills.

If you're just starting Mass Effect, try starting again with the soldier class on "casual" with sensitivity dialed down to 30 or less.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:45 AM on September 29, 2008

I actually would recommend BioShock as a good game to learn FPS shooting. Use the pistol and focus on taking headshots vs. distance enemies, then use the shotgun and focus on close range shooting. I think the controls are very smooth and the enemies are pretty weak. You can save and then replay the same areas over and over again, and AFAIK the enemies don't constantly respawn. It's also pretty so you can be entertained just walking through those areas. You can get used to keeping an enemy or two in your crosshairs while moving in and out of cover. It's not the kind of AI that you'll face playing XBox Live - maybe Halo is a little better - but it's good to learn the mechanics of shooting.

In the end though, the others above are correct in that a lot of the online players don't do much but play those games, and it's hard to pick it up a couple hours a night and not get trashed.

Finally it seems you may just be asking about mass effect - that game's fighting is fun but it can be impossible if you're not using your skills well and under cover consistently. Just trying to out-blast foes like its high noon simply doesn't work.
posted by joemax at 9:47 AM on September 29, 2008

You know you can get a keyboard and mouse adapter for your 360?
posted by gnutron at 9:50 AM on September 29, 2008

Practice makes perfect just like momma used to say.

Seriously I'm not an FPS person at all, but I got into a weekly work game of Gears of War, got my ass handed to me for about a month and little by little got better. Now I can twitch like the best of them.

and if you're playing on xbox live shouting racial slurs and gay jokes seems to help the 12 year olds, your mileage may vary
posted by wavering at 9:52 AM on September 29, 2008

I think alot of people have assumed the OP is looking for multiplayer help, which is not the case.

My advice: Pick up Halo 1 and play on easy. Or better yet, pick up GoldenEye and an N64. I'd wager a large portion of the console 'elite' cut their teeth on that game alone. It's easy, fun, and no one who played it originally were any good playing an FPS with their thumb, either.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:59 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: cowbellemoo is correct; I doubt I'll be doing any multiplayer gaming anytime soon.

So right now the plan is: Portal, then some Half-Life, put the Mass Effect aside and try Bioshock a while, and get several save points in various games where I can practice particularly nasty battles over and over.

I was wondering if there's a sandbox-type game like GTA that's first-person where I could run around, take my time, and get into fights at low levels frequently?
posted by MrVisible at 10:40 AM on September 29, 2008

I'm in the same situation as you, trying to get ready for fallout 3. I'm using the game the Darkness for practice. Its single player, has an interesting story and is mostly open-ended, which is nice for someone who prefers RPGs. The shooting mechanics are solid and getting me used to not having a mouse for aiming. You also can call on some supernatural helpers if you get into a fight you cant win on your own. I bought it used for under $20.
posted by CaptMcalister at 11:56 AM on September 29, 2008

Or better yet, pick up GoldenEye and an N64. I'd wager a large portion of the console 'elite' cut their teeth on that game alone.

If you want to get good at Goldeneye, do this. If you want to get good at the current crop of FPS games, don't waste your time.

Play Call of Duty 4. The difficulty is adjustable and you'll have gained plenty of skillz by the time you finish the single player campaign.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:20 PM on September 29, 2008

Make sure you're on the easiest difficulty and pick soldier for your class for mass effect. It should be totally doable even for a noob if you do that.
posted by juv3nal at 10:59 PM on September 29, 2008

Response by poster: Following up a month later.

I'm still a noob. I've been playing Portal, and that's helping. I've stopped Mass Effect for now, realizing that I started on Normal instead of Easy, and I'll want to take the Easy way through it sometime soon, but not right away; I got pretty deep into the game before realizing I was over my head. Redoing all of that narration would just be depressing right now. Someday soon, though.

I tried TF2, and people were surprisingly polite, but I was way out of my depth. I can't learn anything when the game consists of run, get shot, respawn, rinse, repeat.

So right now my training program consists of Bioshock on easy, which I'm doing really well at. Plus, it's an absolutely amazing game. Then back to Mass Effect with a brand new character on Easy.

What I've learned from this experience is that FPS is a very complex, very advanced skill set, and it's not something that there are any shortcuts to. It takes practice.

Fortunately, the practice is fun.

Thanks for all the answers.
posted by MrVisible at 10:47 PM on October 29, 2008

I know this question is old, but I ran into this question while looking to see what kinds of questions people had asked regarding Mass Effect...

I just played all the way through the game on normal difficulty (and just started playing on the newly unlocked "Hardcore" mode). I thought that I should point out a couple things:

1. You can change the difficulty at any time in Mass Effect. It's under the "Options" section of the pause menu. I think the sub-option is called something like "Game Settings". No need to restart the game.

2. You don't actually have to be that good at FPS aiming to hit things in Mass Effect. The default settings have pretty generous auto-aim applied when in the left-trigger-hold aiming mode (and you can crank them up further). You just need to have the aiming reticle "close enough" to the red triangles that show up over enemies. The only weapon that doesn't seem to work like this is the sniper rifle. Also, if things get too crazy, you can always momentarily pause with either of the bumper buttons and look around.

3. You'll find that your character becomes a lot less squishy if you start using cover effectively (hiding behind boxes, rocks, around corners, etc). The games that I've played with the closest battle cover mechanics to Mass Effect are actually the Gears of War series, which would probably be overkill for training to play Mass Effect, seeing as how being out of cover in GoW basically means insta-death.

4. Things from the RPG world that you shouldn't forget just because Mass Effect feels all FPS-ey:

a. Min-Maxing. A lot of the talents and abilities you can choose are fairly useless until you pour points into them. I would first focus on defense and damage; your primary weapon talent (if you have one available to your class) is very important (it effects the accuracy of the forementioned auto-aim) and the armor/electronics/barrier talents will keep you alive (electronics will passively boost your shields). By the time you're done maxing those out, enemies will be getting harder and it'll be the right time to start maxing out support skills. Electronics/Decryption/Damping are key for Tech classes, while I find that Lift/Throw/Warp are the most useful Biotic powers.

b. Proper party selection is pretty important. Make sure your party has enough damage-producing capability, as well as adequate crowd control. You don't need both Biotics and Tech, but you should bring enough of one/both to disable enemies or and weaken their defenses.

c. Support powers rock. They really do turn the tide of battles. I'm a big fan of Lift; it totally disables an enemy and allows you to shoot them to your heart's content. Sabotage is another great one; enemies will just stand there, looking at your stupidly because they can't fire their weapons (though sometimes this backfires at close range and they'll bum rush you in order to punch you in the face). As the game goes on, Damping, Warp, and Overload become really useful because they lower enemy defenses as well as do damage.
posted by strangecargo at 12:49 AM on January 3, 2009

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