How do I stop sucking at TFC and Counter-Strike?
September 7, 2010 3:01 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop sucking at TFC and Counter-Strike?

I am new to the game(s) and sometimes the server populations aren't that welcoming to people who clearly don't know what they're doing. I've been asked if I'm a bot several times now, since I keep blowing myself up or letting a medic whack my HWG to death while I try to find my bearings.

I realize that you get better through experience, but some things just plain amaze me. Like how snipers can take me down in one shot without "charging" their laser beforehand, and they don't even seem to need time to steady their aim. Meanwhile if I play sniper, I can't seem to be able to move my hand quickly enough to stay on target and land a hit. Basically I just don't understand how it's even humanly possible what these guys do.

Are there settings of some kind that would make this easier on me? I don't want any cheats or whatever, I want to learn to play well but it does gnaw on the enjoyment factor a bit when I am more of a hindrance to my team than an asset, and not everyone is as accepting of it. I try to stay out of clan servers, for what it's worth.
posted by Unhyper to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Basically I just don't understand how it's even humanly possible what these guys do.

I know how you feel. My friends were all better than I was at Counter-Strike in high school (oh so long ago), some of them with such fearsome reputations that when they showed up online others players would leave because they didn't feel like getting massacred. The skills that these gamers are exhibiting have been achieved through long, long hours of practice and good hand-eye coordination. One friend commented that he was really just outsmarting other players - being where they didn't expect him - but that was not all it was, for sure.

I never liked playing online because my skill level was never high enough to actually get any practice - I'd just get killed instantly - but playing against bots who are only slightly better than you on your own computer can help build up skills.
posted by Dasein at 3:20 PM on September 7, 2010

To begin with: find friendly servers you like and try to always play on those. That is the single most important thing for your enjoyment.

When you're playing on random servers, mute voice and ignore chat. You're just trying to have fun, and if winning a random round of CS with nothing riding on it matters to someone, well... fuck 'em. IMO. Just mute everyone and do your best to accomplish the objectives.

Do try messing with your mouse sensitivity. In general, you want higher sensitivity to track faster-moving targets and lower sensitivity for fine adjustments. So if you find that you frequently want to use the sniper rifle, you'll probably want a low sensitivity. If you gravitate towards a machine gun, you'll want higher sensitivity. All shooters will have a sensitivity option in their config menus.

Other than that, aim only comes with time.

I haven't played a shooter since 2003ish, when I played NS, but none of your questions are specific to TFC/CS.
posted by kavasa at 3:22 PM on September 7, 2010

I can't speak to your specific games, but I did just start playing TF2 a couple months ago after not playing any FPS type games in at least 5 years.

One good trick I found was to only play as one class for as long as it takes to be able to play without embarrassing yourself. Pick something basic and run with it.

Also, when a game starts, try to follow a teammate around the map. You'll be able to learn from how he/she plays, and hopefully not die right away so you get a chance to figure things out.

Finally, don't be afraid to tell your teammates you're a noob and you're trying to learn the game. They're going to notice anyways, and if you're up front about it they'll probably be happy to give you pointers in-game.

Oh! And! Check out a tutorial on youtube. I can't recommend any in particular for your games, but they've helped me learn a bunch of tricks I'd never figure out on my own.
posted by auto-correct at 3:27 PM on September 7, 2010

Team Fortress Classic is a old game with a learning curve like running face-first into a cyclone fence covered in fire ants. I played it for nearly a decade before the competitive (clan) scene died, and I have to tell you that you're at a hideous disadvantage coming to it this late.

Snipers are hard to kill if you're playing their game (hiding, trying to sneak by, etc). Instead, remember that TFC is unlike most modern games: it's a game of movement. If you're playing 2fort, try dropping a conc grenade (scout and medic secondary) at the bottom of the water and then swimming above it. You will fly vertically to the sniper deck of the other fort, if you do it properly. Or rocket jump with a soldier. You don't have to rj directly upwards, you can look behind yourself and jump/shoot at a very shallow angle to get a lot of lateral speed. Demomen can pipe jump. Most other classes can do grenade jumps with their frags, although this hurts more than concing, rjing, or pjing.

Use your movement tricks properly and no sniper will touch you.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:31 PM on September 7, 2010

I never played TFC, but I have put in countless hours with CS 1.6 and CS:Source. The only thing you can really do is keep playing and practice. Here's some general tips for CS.

-Learn your maps! figure out choke points so you don't rush into a wall of enemies, hiding places/blind corners to hide at and to randomly spam, locations to nade/fbang, etc....

-Familiarize yourself with each gun's recoil and spray pattern, the AK-47 will have more recoil than the colt. Conversely, the AK is fairly accurate in 2-3 shot bursts while the colt is slightly less accurate.

-Always buy armor and a helmet if you can afford it, you'll survive a wee bit longer.

-Adjust your mouse for optimum "twitchiness," If you see an enemy come into view, you want to be able to flick your mouse and get your crosshair on them as quickly as possibly.

-Play on low ping servers and check to see if you're getting good framerates at all times (i think its "net_graph [1-3]" to display FPS)

-Find a No Friendly Fire server, shoot at everything.

-Try playing CS:S, I find it is more forgiving than the original CS.

-Create some hotkeys to purchase your weapons. That way you aren't sitting in spawn while the other team is setting up defensive positions or rushing you.

When i first started playing, I played on a 24/7 fy_iceworld server. I think it helped me with my aim and had an added bonus of extremely quick rounds so there wasn't much deadtime.
Good luck, have fun!
posted by aGee at 3:33 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

By the way, you might find this video interesting:

There are a ton of them, they were a regular feature of the TFC clan scene. All of the plays are legit.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:34 PM on September 7, 2010

Oops. A link.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:35 PM on September 7, 2010

A couple of hints.

First, practice is key; you're not going to get good without it. That's easy enough. Remember that every time you practice with the same people, they get better too, so you'll never catch up unless you do more practicing than that.

Second, play with your controls a bit. Back when I used to play, I sucked until I made two changes: first, I started playing with a trackball instead of a mouse, and second, I switched my movement keys from the standard A W S D to A S D F, with D as forward and S as backward. Not having to take my fingers off of any keys during play and being able to work from a static trackball instead of a mouse that would run out of room worked wonders for me.
posted by davejay at 3:53 PM on September 7, 2010

aGee pretty much covered it all. I've also accumulated a bunch of (now useless) Counter Strike: Source wisdom:

-If you've tried to rush several turns and failed, try camping instead. Likewise, if you've been camping, try rushing.

-Adjust your crosshair size. In CS:S, the command is cl_crosshairscale 2500. It's easier to be accurate if the crosshairs are smaller.

-It's nice to start out in No Friendly Fire servers, but also try Friendly Fire servers so you get better at recognizing the enemy.

-There are a bunch of spray patterns that offset recoil. Often, moving slightly downward helps. Use this trick to kill people with the scout, unscoped.

-If you have time to put it on, the silencer can be very helpful. It makes the colt much more accurate from afar.

-You can shoot through certain walls (for example, the wooden door in de_aztec). Use this to your advantage, especially when you're sniping.

-Try to fulfill your team's objective. If you're T, try to plant the bomb or guard the hostages. If you're CT, try to rescue hostages or guard the bomb site.

As a warmup, I had a headshot-only mod that allowed me to play against bots that were invincible everywhere except their head. Have fun.
posted by yaymukund at 4:03 PM on September 7, 2010

For the most part, people still playing Counterstrike and TFC are hardcore. It will be very hard to get up to speed with these people. Counterstrike was released 10+ years ago and the vast majority of gamers have moved on.

You might consider a newer game like Team Fortress 2, Modern Warfare, or Battlefield 2. They are still actively developed with better map design and tweaks to stop the kind of stuff that goes down on most CS servers. Camping de_dust is just plain boring.

If you want to still play CS & TFC, you should look for friendly servers and perhaps watch a few Youtube videos on techniques.

Also, join MeFight Club to meet/fight/discuss with other MeFite gamers.
posted by Argyle at 4:03 PM on September 7, 2010

I used to play high level team Counter-Strike (not source) in CAL and at LAN tournaments. People have already mentioned the fundamentals (ping/frames per second/mouse sensitivity) but it really comes down to repetition. Before I started playing for money I would spend hours playing CS maps like awp_map and aim_ak-colt. I can run backwards through almost any CAL map (dust2/nuke/train) backwards without touching anything.

Once you pick a setup (hardware/software configuration) that you like you should stick to it. A lot of the people I left behind skill wise would change their setup after every loss. This messes with you psychologically and stops you from focusing on the game.

There's a whole world CS/TF players on IRC and if you start playing 5v5 pick up matches you'll improve much faster, you'll learn the popular maps and the major choke points. Eventually you can even join a cal-o (lowest level) team and start playing matches once a week. Team CS adds a whole new dimension to the game that makes you instantly more proficient than pubbers. I don't think I've played on a public server in 4 years by myself.

I hope you're familiar with IRC because that just adds another level of complication but I guarantee it's worth it. You'll probably need ventrilo also to communicate with teammates via microphone.

For IRC download MIRC and then follow these instructions
posted by laptolain at 4:05 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

MeFightClub is a place where gaming-minded MeFites gather to talk shop and shoot each other. Feel free to join and start a thread. The community is incredibly welcoming to new players. I don't think we have any active TFC players but we have more than a few CS players that would be more than happy to give you some pointers.
posted by Diskeater at 4:06 PM on September 7, 2010

I'd maybe think about playing TF2 on public servers. It's a LOT friendly to newbies.
posted by empath at 5:08 PM on September 7, 2010

Playing paintball in real life makes you more tactically aware and less inclined to stick your head out saying "Here I am, shoot me please!".
posted by Biru at 5:14 PM on September 7, 2010

Like Argyle said, the problem with playing old multiplayer games such as CS 1.6 and TFC, is that (mostly) only the hardcore players populate the servers. People with a casual interest in such games naturally migrate to the newer versions, CS:Source and TF2.
posted by demiurge at 5:39 PM on September 7, 2010

In Team Fortress Classic I've always found the heavy to be easy to play and (usually) the rest of the team appreciates cover fire.
posted by Splunge at 6:09 PM on September 7, 2010

Like everyone here said unless you're playing with friends I would abandon CS 1.6 and TF. They're mostly dead or dying and the people that do play do it as a matter of pride so they're probably very good.

The TF2 community is getting bigger everyday and personally I find it to be more tactical than CS in many ways. If I were 16 again I would probably be starting a TF2 team tomorrow but unfortunately cutting work isn't possible as cutting school.
posted by laptolain at 6:23 PM on September 7, 2010

I recently picked up CS:S again, and after watching a friend play, I learned something: CS:S is not a game where you peer around the corner and pop in and out a lot to line up your shots. Doing that just tells bad guys where you're going to be. Instead, you need to know the maps well enough to know where people are likely to be in any given portion of a level, and charge directly in. You'll have the element of surprise, because no one knows that you're going to pop out at that.exact.moment. While your opponents are busy processing this visual information, you sweep your mouse so that you look at first the most dangerous places (either the closest likely hiding spot, or sometimes a guy with an AWP in the distance. Most of the time there's no one in a given spot, so you move on to the next. When there's a dude there, you move and shoot.

Note that this doesn't mean you always rush. It means that you when you decide you're going to enter a room (or leave one), you do so with confidence, instead of pussy-footing around. That's how you enter a room. For knowing when to enter a room, you just kind of develop an intuitive feel of the pace of the game.
posted by !Jim at 7:23 PM on September 7, 2010

Find friendly servers, as mentioned above. Playing with a good group will help you improve. Teams that use voice to communicate, and have at least two clued and talking players are what you want.

Play one character class, study the guide for that class, and study the guide for that map, too. Stick with one or two maps.

And then, play a lot.
posted by zippy at 8:25 PM on September 7, 2010

I came to TFC very late in the game, so I know the experience - but I also rose to the point where people believing I was cheating was common enough to have to lost the thrill of the ultimate compliment, and just got tiresome.

Pick a class that interests you, and only play that class. Learn about what the other classes can do (maybe play them from time to time against bots), but just work on mastering your chosen class. (Those amazing sniper guys - most of them almost ALWAYS play sniper, which is why they're so good at it. They'll be alright as, say, a demo man, but they're ace snipers because they've specialized).

Once you're decent, start also playing another class that interests you. I would suggest an oddball class, like engineer, where there are complex abilities that go beyond direct combat, as you can often end up more useful than most other players, since (depending on your gamer circle) the class is likely to be under-represented on the team, and most players aren't very good at the oddball classes.

I know it's obvious, but let's say all this stuff anyway - learn to use those oddball abilities in oddball ways - the classes are balanced so that a lot of the not-obvious or not-useful abilities are very powerful in the right circumstances, so you just keep an eye out for interesting possibilities, or seeing others exploit such things.

Eventually you'll want to be decent with at least four classes, since the type of map (and the class choices of other players) will give advantages and disadvantages to each class, and having a selection you're good at will allow you to make strategic choices to your (or your team's) advantage.

Think about how to outsmart rather than outskill people. If you have a job or a life, you won't have the time to hone world-class skill, but it's amazing how few people bring world-class (or even decent) thinking to these games compared to how commonplace it is to see world-class shooting.

Keep your eye on the ball - it's surprising how often people get so into their own moment, focusing on their fight, that the team goals are neglected or exposed. And naturally, random assortments of people on the internet often results in low team cohesion, so if everyone on their team randomly unilaterally decides to go all Leroy Jenkins, notice it - perhaps you can slip away from the fight unnoticed and reach their base? If everyone on your team is going Leroy Jenkins, be the responsible one and do what they're neglecting.

That's a good rule of thumb actually - try to be generally aware of your team, so you can do whatever is being neglected. That way even when you're an unskilled player, you're pulling the weight of a more skilled player who isn't paying much attention to the bigger picture.

An aiming tip - different people use different methods, but what works for me is that I often don't try to put my crosshair on my target, I try to position myself so that the flow of combat will naturally lead the target into my crosshair. I don't mean camping, this is when we're both running around. For me it's not about pointing at a moving object, but understanding the mind that is directing that object, and thus predicting ahead of time what they will do and being ahead of them when they do it. In this way, I could beat people who were far faster and more accurate shots than me, but were trying to put a bead on me, instead of trying to outwit my predictions.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:27 PM on September 7, 2010

nthing TF2. Memail me if you're interested in some good, friendly servers that I frequent. I've made a habit of hanging out in 1-3 servers for the 157 hours I've played the game and that's helped a lot in transforming me from a worthless noob into a (imo) pretty good player.

A lot of it really has to do with learning your maps and how you can use the map layout and geography to your advantage with a specific class. Once you master one class on one map, taking that class to a new map will get much, much easier, since you'll recognize those advantages on other maps and adjust accordingly.

Also, you have to practice with one class at a time, even if it's frustrating at first. Practice, practice, practice until you start getting better. I spent 4 hours one time just on learning how to sticky jump with the demo, then another 3 learning how to walljump with the soldier so I could reach the top of any map. Now I can fly across the map and go wherever I want.

(I spent those 7 hours with 3 other people, all 4 of us helping each other learn how to sticky and walljump and laughing it up over voicechat. When we were playing demo, once we got to the top of the map, we all stood there doing the "KA-BOOM" taunt for 15 minutes straight in triumph of our new knowledge while the rest of our team wondered wtf we were doing. I love that memory.)
posted by omnipotentq at 8:34 PM on September 7, 2010

My multiplayer experience doesn't go beyond Call of Duty, which I managed to get good at rather quickly. I suck at CS and I just don't bother with it - it's an old and clunky game and terrible unrealistic to boot (most shootouts end up one-on-one shoots where you keep standing and firing till one of you dies).

But if I were to give you some basic FPS tips, get your mouse sensitivity high so that you only need to flick your wrist to reach an about turn. Not so high that you can't control anything, but the idea is that your camera should look like it's your real vision - you should be able to look about, below and above with the same speed and natural-ness of your real eyes. This way, you can check corners quickly as you enter a doorway, and in time, you will be able to quickly "lock" your aim to enemies as soon as you see them.

(A lot of people say that lower mouse sensitivity is actually better because it lets you line up shots more accurately. While theoretically true, I haven't seen this at all, and it mostly ends up in you dragging your mouse all the way to your enemy, and bang, you're dead already.)

Try to survive as much as possible. Especially in CS, where there are no respawns. It doesn't matter if you don't kill your enemy immediately, if you survive, you can try to flank or distract your enemy - basically, buy more time to kill them. A lot of newbies seem to think that the best strategy is to kill as much as possible as quickly as possible, which is a recipe for disaster.

To go with that natural vision tip, you should master using your WASD keys so that you can move without thinking. Use your strafing keys - you know you've become a natural if you can walk, turn towards a corner and simultaneously use the strafing keys to keep moving the direction you're going and then using the W key to resume your direction. Awkward description, I know.

Have to hit it now, I'll post more later.
posted by Senza Volto at 8:39 PM on September 7, 2010

You've received a bunch of great responses here. I'd like to take the discussion in a peripherals direction.

Pick up a nice mulibutton mouse (i have this Silverstone) with adjustable DPI.

Go get yourself a Logitceh G13, or a Nostromo N52TE, or even a Saitek Cyborg Command Unit.

Everything from this point on is from my own experience, YMMV to be honest.

In my opinion, it is the thumb stick that truly makes the game pad a great FPS tool. I believe that movement with the G13 is superior to movement with WSAD, QWES, or any combination of keypresses. I have the axes of the thumb stick bound to movement keys, and the thumb stick works in such a way that you can strafe while moving forward or back, just as if you were pressing multiple keyboard keys, with just a flick of your thumb.

Additionally, I've personally found that, when my mouse sensitivity is as high as i like, even clicking the mouse to fire can move the crosshair incrementally and throw off my aim just enough. With the G13, i assign a button to fire, and essentially this allows me to fire whilst mousing over targets, which in turn causes me to soften my grip on the mouse, providing greater accuracy.

I use the 4 "home" keys on the G13 for "fire," "scope," "crouch toggle," and "duck+jump." Generally i bind my extra mouse buttons (in CS:S) to different grenades, or reload. Add to this using the thumb stick for movement, and what you have is slightly increased efficiency because there is really no need to move your fingers between keys in the heat of battle, ever.

The keybind combinations are basically endless, and you may come up with some traditionally unorthodox options that work great for your personally.

(there are also G13 macros. Simplest example: bind a key to press the fire button three times in x amount of time, and put it on repeat after x amount of time, thus ensuring short bursts. I use TONS of macros for WoW, but I don't really feel the need for using them in FPS games . . . yet.
posted by frmrpreztaft at 11:43 AM on September 8, 2010

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