Help me get better at Call of Duty: Black Ops (& other FPS) in multiplayer! Please!
November 15, 2010 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Help me get better at Call of Duty: Black Ops (& other FPS) in multiplayer! Please!

I just bought the new Call of Duty game for the PS3 and it is a ton of fun. Problem is that I haven't played a video game in years & I've always been rubbish at these first person shooter (FPS) type games. I tend to just run around with and get smoked right away. I'm slowly learning how to get better, but I could use some help.

Any tips, tricks, strategies, etc to help me out?
posted by cuando to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is a slightly different answer to your question, but I also recently got back into games after a years-long hiatus. The simple answer is -- it will be very hard to get good enough at FPS games to enjoy playing on public servers. The fact is that you are playing against a lot of young teenagers with a LOT of time on their hands to just get better and better and better. If you don't play every day, you'll quickly fall behind.

The best suggestion is to find a private server or friends to play with who are of approximately equal skill level or aren't just into the twitch-kills. As a 360 user, it's basically impossible to play Halo or TF2 or any of the popular FPS games because of this. (Related Wired article: 21st-Century Shooters Are No Country for Old Men.)
posted by proj at 5:36 AM on November 15, 2010

Black Ops has a "Combat Training" mode where it puts you up against bots. You can configure them so they're a good bit easier than other people online. This might be a good way to get a handle on the controls, aiming, weapons, maps, etc.
posted by Tu13es at 5:41 AM on November 15, 2010

Learn the maps. Know what the good camping spots are even if you like to run and gun; if it is a good camping spot, odds are someone will be camping there. Know which areas tend to be safe(r) to run in, and which you should avoid unless absolutely necessary. Decide which gun you like on which map. Some people take the MP5K or the FAMAS on every single map, but others mix it up.

I can't give you more specific advice because I'm a PC guy and wouldn't know a PS3 if it bit me on the rear, but knowing the maps like the back of your hand is true for any platform.
posted by Justinian at 5:51 AM on November 15, 2010

Play more. A lot more. This is a skill that can only be gained through experience. That's just how video games are.
posted by valkyryn at 5:52 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I play CoD4 all the time, but on the PC, so much of my advice may be reliant on the keyboard/mouse controls. Any way, take what works.

1. No magic tip - it takes practice just like everything else in life. Many of super-pro players you see have usually played for hundreds of hours.

2. There's two frames of mind you can have about playing - kill as many people as quickly as possible, and survive as long as you possibly can. The latter frame is the right one, because if you survive, you can flank or harass your enemy. This does not mean you should camp at one spot throughout the game though, that's just very rude.

3. Attacking moving targets is all about tracking them. You should be able to subconsciously follow their path and attack at where they're going to me in the next second. This is doubly important if you get a lot of ping and lagginess, and essential to a sniper's work.

4. Make it second nature to crouch and crawl. Crouch when you're behind cover, and crawl when you're fighting in close-quarters or if you don't have enough cover. A lot of times, stand-offs are won by taking cover, timing oddly and popping out to shoot your enemy, who's most likely in the same spot, waiting for you to show up.

5. Knowing the map is half the battle won. Obviously, this happens over time, but you'll have a hang of the maps in a few maps. The familiarity you have with a map pretty much seals tactics though - you know exactly which route to take, how to flank, which paths are less popular and where enemies show up commonly. In fact, most of your kills will end up happening because you know where to expect enemies and which are good spots that nobody knows.

6. AIM! You won't believe the number of newbies there are who don't use the aim button. CoD is pretty much meant to be played with aiming. You should be aiming for every kill you try to make. The only exception is when somebody surprises you by appearing out of nowhere before you - in that case it may be quicker to spam and hope they die (works best with some assault rifles and all SMGs).

7. Agility helps. It's better to be fluid and moving all around the map, because your enemies won't know where to expect you. Some expert players can look almost neurotic if you spectate them. If you're a sniper, keep changing positions. CoD may give you a lot more leeway than real life, but it's still humiliating to die when somebody you just sniped gives you the reverse treatment because you didn't move.

8. I don't know how Hardcore works in BO, but play in Hardcore servers whenever possible. It strips away the HUD and makes combat a lot more intense. If you get good at Hardcore, you're already good at the Regular game. Actually, the regular game may look bland if you get good at Hardcore.

9. When it comes to threat analysis in your head, always target the enemy who's facing you. Getting that free kill at the guy shooting the helicopter may be tempting, but it's most important to get the die who's going to get you.

10. Similarly, learn to assess your survival rate. If you think you're not going to survive this fight, get the hell out, wait for the health regen, reload, try something else. Trust your instincts all the time.

11. If you don't know the basic ping rule - the lower it is, the better. High pings can make a noob out of any veteran, and they're not how the game is meant to be played. Ideally, you should play on servers that give you below 100 ping, and stay away from the ones that give you 400+. Depends on taste, really.

12. RELOAD ALL THE TIME. No need to explain this - you get a moment of rest, you reload your gun. This is especially valid for SMGs, which drain out their ammo very fast.

13. When in active combat, don't stop moving. Strafe, jump, change position, whatever. Most importantly, you should always duck for cover if you hear gunfire.

14. Back to rule 1: practice, practice, practice. Play against friends, if possible - that makes it much more fun and much easier as well. Get to know some people if you play on certain servers regularly. Ultimately, everyone develops their own skills and tips. But it pretty much boils down to the get-to-know-the-map rule.
posted by Senza Volto at 5:56 AM on November 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Learn the maps (create a local server or private online game, then explore them on your own.) Figure out where some good spots are to camp or ambush others. Figure out where the bad places to go are, e.g. open areas overlooked by good camping spots.

If CODBLOPS is anything like the previous COD games, it at least shows you where your killer killed you from. This is handy as it lets you know your weaknesses or what you did wrong.

In team games, find someone else on your team and follow them. At the very least you will get warning of enemies since the other guy will die first, leaving you to kill the guy who just killed him (who will hopefully be reloading) or at least avoid running into a sniper's sights.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:58 AM on November 15, 2010

Cover. Always, and I mean always, run to cover. Glance at your immediate surroundings, check your map, and always, always stay in cover. If you have to cross an alley or a corner, always know where you're going beforehand and run like the dickens. Also, if you can see them, they can see you. Also, also: get yourself a shotgun as your secondary and remember to switch to it in close quarter combat; they are very, very forgiving weapons.

But, honestly, the only thing you can do is play, and play a lot. I say this as someone whose entire video game experience before February consisted of CIV and can now consistently beat experienced players at MW2. Why? I play multiplayer with my boyfriend at least two or three times a week. All the advice in the world didn't help me until I started using the controller reflexively. If you have to even think about what you need to do in order to knife or switch weapons, for example, you're never going to do it in time.
posted by lydhre at 6:09 AM on November 15, 2010

@lydhre, shotguns have been moved to Primary weapons in COD:BO (unfortunately).
posted by Tu13es at 6:26 AM on November 15, 2010

Best answer: I'm in a similar boat to the OP. I play Halo: Reach, some fighting games, and the occasional retro game from time to time, but otherwise my hardcore gaming days are behind me. That said, my roommate bought Black Ops last week and I've become hopelessly addicted to it. I've never played a Call of Duty game before this. Why yes, I do get lit up like a Christmas tree, why do you ask? I suck, but it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for the game. Here's my observations as a fellow CoD noob (a few of which have been mentioned above):

- Know the maps, know the weapons, etc. This is a given but absolutely necessary. I'm a Halo guy, and it was jarring switching from that to Black Ops. After sticking to multiplayer for the first week, I started playing through the campaign (which is really great) and it helped me get the hang of it better.

- Earn those perks! At the moment, my roommate and I have a character which can shoot steady without scoping, is invisible to radar when shooting, and can detect torrents and claymores (sorry, don't know the exact names of the perks, but they're easy to call up from the menu). I thought this would be gimmicky at first but it makes a huge difference. Also, in my experience, trolling for perks gets your mind off of winning or losing, which is pretty nice when you seemingly can't win.

- Check every possible opening in a room when you enter it. If you don't, an enemy will get the drop on you, and you will get gatted up. Stay indoors whenever possible; running around outdoors will get you killed every single time. Be sneaky. Earn the claymore, and when possible set up shop in a room with only two entrances. Set the claymore up on the side of one door and guard the other door. For great justice.

- Try the free-for-all mode rather than ground wars. You won't necessarily fight players that are more in-line with your skill level, but you will get maps (such as nuketown) where you end up getting in a shooting match at every turn. This helped me.

- Earn the tomahawk and throw it whenever possible. Just do it.
posted by kryptondog at 7:14 AM on November 15, 2010

Senza Volto's comment contains some very good points, with almost all of which I agree. He stresses crouch, crawling, etc. That's true enough. I would, however, assert that part of becoming good at the game is knowing when you need to crouch and crawl, and when you need aggression and speed. There are times when one will get you killed and the other will take down 3 enemies in 3 seconds. Learning which is called for takes practice and experience.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 AM on November 15, 2010

One other thing that occurred to me to, from my experience so far: Aiming is indeed very important, but swing your gun unscoped in the general direction of the enemy before you scope up; it's quicker. I got destroyed many times by spotting an enemy in the corner of the screen, impulsively holding down the scope button, and slowly moving it into place while they shot me.

Also: Senza Volto's got great advice, and I want to second his comment about hardcore mode (but for slightly different reasons). It took me a while to get used to the radar, and I avoided looking at it when I was learning how to use the game. If that's happening to you too, then hardcore mode is good because obviously no one has access to radar. Same with perks; it's a bit less painful to not have any good ones when no one can use them. I doubt that was its intended purpose, but it seems to me that in some ways hardcore mode puts you on a level playing field with everyone else.
posted by kryptondog at 7:48 AM on November 15, 2010

learn the maps

Nthing that suggestion, but with some more practical advice -

On the 360, many FPS games have a "system link" multiplayer mode, for playing multiplayer on a LAN. I suspect the same for the PS3.

The majority of FPS games that have a system link mode allow you to start a game with player, meaning you have the entire map to yourself to explore and become familiar with on your own time.

Do this - in particular, learn where the weapon spawns/equipment spawns are (if that applies), what are the most common/fastest routes out of the player spawns at the beginning of the game, where are the choke points, and where the sniper spots are (limited ingress, long sight lines).
posted by de void at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks a lot everyone for your advice. This was exactly what I wanted. Everyone's advice was great and it was hard to not mark them all as best.
posted by cuando at 1:20 PM on November 15, 2010

A few tips that I've found immensely helpful:

(1) Be patient. Don't run around all the time, unless you have a really fast connection to the network and a really powerful shotgun or some other way of killing an opponent in one go, when you're surprised. It's much easier to play well while remaining in one general area, say a particular 1/4 of the map, than to run around the whole map all the time.

(2) Yes, learn the maps, ASAP. Look for places where people camp, and expect campers all the time. It would really help you to watch the replays when you die, for a while, to see how other people are playing.

(3) Stick to the outsides of the maps. Players can often re-spawn behind you, and statistically there is less chance of this when you are on the outsides of the maps. Players die much more frequently in the centers of the maps, generally, than the outsides.

(4) Don't chase. If you have to chase someone down, you will probably get killed by another opponent, especially in free-for-all matches. Recognize that it's easier for other players to see you when you're running around - if you're chasing someone who's also running around, other players will easily spot you.

(5) Reload often, but do it in cover or while lying prone. Don't reload out in the open unless you have to - you'll be a sitting duck who can't fire upon someone who comes around the corner. You might have noticed that dead players' bodies remain on the ground for a while after they're killed. When you're lying prone, you'll often look like a dead body.

(6) When entering areas or rooms, get out of the doorways as quick as possible. Other players will be passing through that spot or looking at that spot all the time, so don't be in that spot if you can help it.

(7) I find drop-shotting to be a great strategy. This is where when you start shooting at someone, you drop immediately to prone so that they have a harder time hitting you. If you use the tactical button layout (under the options menu), it makes this a lot easier. YMMV.

In general, you'll get better with practice. If you want more tips, there are a number of really good players who put up quality, entertaining videos on youtube with tips. It's helpful too to just watch a really good player play. My favorite is a guy named Seananners.

Most of all, have fun!
posted by hootenatty at 5:06 PM on November 15, 2010

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