Have gun, will shoot self in foot.
May 13, 2012 6:43 AM   Subscribe

When we left our heroine, it was 2002 and she was an avid JRPG player, wise in the ways of the spiky haired menu-based combatants. She returns, older if not wiser, to do battle again, in--okay, wait, what are all these games, and why do they expect me to know how to play them already? Help me find some training wheels, experienced gamer-types.

The JRPG seems to have kind of gotten past it, since I was last really playing anything. But here I am now, with a PC that will run newer games, and the striking realization that even a slightly older game like Mass Effect 1 clearly expects me to already be able to point at things and shoot with reasonable accuracy. I am dying at an alarming rate even with the difficulty turned all the way down--I just don't really have the coordination because this was never something I learned how to do, and I was very quickly overwhelmed. The bad guys are very bad at standing still while I try to figure out where they're standing. I have a feeling this will be true in a lot of games. I would like eventually to be able to play FPS sorts of games with friends without being a liability, in addition to stuff like ME.

So, what I want is something shooter-y that is forgiving of newbies but provides a difficulty curve that will lead to actually being better at it all by the end of the game. PC-only; I do own a PS2 still but I don't really plan on adding a console to my collection just yet. I'm pretty open as far as content/story/etc, and it's fine if it's not very good, if the gameplay mechanics are decent to learn on. Cheap is a plus.
posted by gracedissolved to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have had similar problems, in that my husband loves FPS sort of games and I wasn't much into them so would stand there mashing buttons and panicking. Games that helped me improve were without overwhelming me too much were Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. You can play it like a shooter, but there is a targeting mode that sort of freezes time (for want of a better description) that sort of stops the game and lets you pick where you are going to shoot on the person. I loved it because it gave me time to think.
posted by wwax at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2012

As someone who has always prefered strategy to action, I had many, many recommendations for TF2. Plus, free! Plus, doesn't matter if you suck when playing with friends because it's still fun! Plus, offline training mode!
posted by DoubleLune at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2012

If you specifically want to get better at Mass Effect, I'd recommend the first Gears of War game on PC. On easy, it's pretty easy to get through, and it'll get you used to the "hide behind things and shoot" paradigm that informs most modern games, especially the Mass Effect series.

Otherwise, you should check out both the original Knights of the Old Republic (basically turn-based) and Jade Empire (real time, but melee-based so no targeting, and very easy) as they're both great games.
posted by Oktober at 7:55 AM on May 13, 2012

You know you can pause the game to line up shots in Mass Effect, right? This is pretty much how the game is meant to be played. On the PC, press and hold space, give your squadmates commands, swap weapons, use powers, etc. There's no penalty for pausing. I love the Mass Effect series, played through every single game, and I did not take a single shot without pausing the game to line it up.
posted by aparrish at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2012

Teeeeee Ef 2!
posted by vrakatar at 8:11 AM on May 13, 2012

Way back in the day, the thing that helped me the most with learning to play then-modern shooters like Tribes and Counterstrike was this little tip. Despite all the fanciness, the center of your reticle is usually your mouse arrow-cursor thingie. All you're trying to do is click on their heads/torso/center of mass the way you would with a Windows icon on your desktop.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:26 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Team fortress 2 is good but is made even better by the MeFightClub community. It is a multi-player game but there's a game on one of the Mefite servers at least a couple nights a week. Start with the pyro.

Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are are everything Wwax said and more. You remember back in the day how every peasant hut in Generic Fantasy RPG looked like every other peasant hut in Generic Fantasy RPG? In Fallout 3 I spent time pacing around tumbledown tin shacks trying to piece together the back-story the designer had built into the debris on the floor like I was in some sort of post holocaust police procedural.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yay TF2! I'd suggest starting with the soldier rather than the pyro if you want to learn to shoot things. I believe the offline training is with the soldier, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:29 AM on May 13, 2012

Oh man, I had that same problem. The Portal series helped me get better. It's largely puzzles without time limits, and not too many tricky on-the-fly shots to master, but it helped me learn how to move and shoot, and learn where things are, and how to maneuver. I'm still pretty bad at it, and wish there were more turn-based games with great stories, but I got through Mass-Effect 1 and 2 afterwards.
posted by Garm at 10:14 AM on May 13, 2012

You could round up some friends (online or in person) and play a fps against each other in a closed map, going slow.

Seconding puzzle games! They will build the hand/eye coordination and are tons of fun (Mario Party, Little Big Planet) whether alone or with friends.

Games that challenge but aren't too hard force you to get better at doing multiple things as once. Then it's just time and practice!
posted by MansRiot at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2012

A shot in the dark: if you're still on Eden Prime, the bomb-disarming sequence can be one of the most difficult points in the game and gave me the most trouble. Your weapons are crap, your stats are low, you are being timed, and there are hordes of powerful enemies with shields and rocket launchers.

If at all possible, get someone to beat that section for you. Once you're past that part, the game settles into a much more leisurely pace that allows you to level-grind to your heart's content. Even for someone like me, who's never played more than a level or two of an FPS, the game becomes quite easy once you've done a few of the optional side missions and your equipment, skills, and abilities improve.
posted by Nomyte at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with wwax: Fallout New Vegas would be great for you! Strong RP elements, lots of stats and numbers, and if the action gets too quick, you can freeze time! And it's fun!

Portal and Portal 2 are good as well! Lots of time to think and plan for most of the game, very little punishment for dying or messing up, and it's fun!
posted by clorox at 3:46 PM on May 13, 2012

Alright, it is hard for me to say since I've been playing FPS on and off for years. However, I've always sucked at them, since they weren't my thing. However, it did take me forever and then some to get used to the xbox controller, and here is what helped:

1) Setting it to invert: All the older consoles used the joystick model; you pull back on the stick to look up. I still do this, even if it drives the other people crazy when I pause at the start of a multiplayer map. If you ever played joystick or N64 games this will help you out based on both my and my Dad's experience.

2) Practice. I played Fallout 3 on PC, but I found it pretty low stress in aiming due to VATS, but there were times you still wanted to do it manually (Sniping, out of vats points).
I'm trying to remember what else I played that turned me from the guy who got shot to the guy who only gets shot if I play multiplayer. I think Halo was in there on a really easy difficulty? You always respawned on the same mission, so that helped. A lot of games have an autoaim feature you can turn on, which helps a lot. The James Bond games I used to play on Gamecube did. Then all you have to do is get in the right general area, instead of aiming at the same time. Then you work up.

Skyrim is fun, and you can use the area magic spells at the start, which let you correct your aim as you still attack, which I noticed my Dad found easier; I think the last game he played that needed aiming was um, DOOM? Possibly Tie Fighter or X-Wing? I can ask him what he has been doing to learn how to play.
posted by Canageek at 5:10 PM on May 13, 2012

Agreed with the Fallout 3 / New Vegas VATS idea, as you can free shoot as much or as little as you want.

On the subject of JRPGs, the genre is in dire straits, but if you missed Persona 4 (PS2, 2008) I really can't recommend it enough.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:58 PM on May 13, 2012

Fallout: New Vegas is great because you can compensate for your gun skills with good strategic planning (both in terms of character development and packing). For example, if you're upset because Deathclaws rush to you in a heartbeat and mow you down, you can use the VATS system to stop time momentarily and shoot them in the legs. (Not so tough when they're limping towards you.) If somebody has a rocket launcher that kills you in one hit, sneak up on them and shoot it out of their hands (or if your stats are really good, you can shoot the missile itself). Or you can simply use a sniper rifle to take people out before they know you're there. Or simply place a bunch of landmines around the corner, jump up and down to get their attention, and lead them into a trap.

Fallout 3 is also good for the same reasons, but has a more morally simplistic plotline (with "good guys" and "bad guys" as opposed to New Vegas, which has multiple factions each doing what they think is best).
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:45 PM on May 13, 2012

Oh, just as an FYI, right now Fallout 3: Game of the Year edition (e.g. with all the downloadable content bundled in with it) is $20 on Steam. You could wait a while and probably get it during their summer sale for even less, but at $20, if you explore the whole map and run all of the quests, your cost per hour of entertainment will be something on the order of 10 cents.

Bonus tip. In the first few levels work on getting your small guns, repair and sneak skills built up. Running around out there with a severely damaged weapon your not very good will not make you feel more competent. Save the game before galavanting off on any new quest because some are much harder than others.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2012

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