Many gamers have been a part of the CounterStrike community since the franchise’s very first installment all the way back in 1999. These veteran players may be a bit intimidating to newcomers, especially if they’re new to the competitive team shooter genre as a whole. While the curve can be steep learning the basics isn’t too hard, and with a few pointers even a fresh player can hope to be competitive.
It may sound obvious, but you need to start by learning how to shoot. Your bullets don’t simply run in a straight line towards your targeting reticule – instead, they’re going to spread out much like they would with a real gun. It’s impossible to get rid of this spread completely, but there are some steps you can take to minimize their effects. Bullet spread is severely impacted by your gun’s recoil, so shooting in short bursts to allow your aim to “reset” will improve your aim considerably. Also be aware that spread gets considerably worse when you’re moving, so you might want to consider standing still when shooting (at least until you’re more comfortable with the game). As you gain experience you’ll learn other little tricks to help counteract the spray effect, such as taking advantage of the perfect accuracy that exists in the split second when you change strafing directions.
Once you know how to aim, the next important step is to know WHERE to aim. You might find yourself saying “aim at the other team, obviously” but it’s not always as simple as that. Players move around the game map at a pretty rapid clip, so pointing your reticule directly at their face usually won’t do much. Instead, you need to learn to lead your shots – to anticipate where a player is going to be a split second from now and aiming at that point instead. What’s more, experienced players have learned how to camp around corners and other hiding places in the environment so that they can pick you and your team-mates off as you walk in to your line of sight. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the game’s various maps you’ll be able to anticipate this and mitigate their attack by aiming and firing as you strafe around the corner.
Speaking of maps, one of the most important skills a new player will need to learn is how to navigate a map smartly. Make an effort to learn each map in detail, taking special note of its critical points as well as areas where enemies might hide or try to get the jump on you. The maps are one of CounterStrike’s most defining features, each one lovingly crafted to be a strategist’s wet dream. If you don’t take advantage of their individual characteristics your opponents definitely will.
Along with managing the map, you need to learn to manage yourself. What I mean by that is, you need to learn when to be sneaky and when to use brute force. For example, crouching down and “sneaking” is a great way to keep your character quiet and avoid detection, but it will also make you much slower and a potentially more enticing target. On the other hand, attacking the enemy head-on is suicide when the opposing team is well entrenched in an easily secured area. On a related note, don’t forget that ANY noise you make could tip off nearby assailants, even the simple action of reloading your weapon.
Weapons, by the way, are another hallmark of the franchise. CounterStrike has a rather unique mechanic for obtaining guns – you earn money during each round of play, and in between rounds you’re able to purchase guns, armor, and other equipment. This mechanic might seem pretty straightforward but actually has an entire strategy all its own. Most teams will try to conserve their collective money and forego buying excessive equipment for several rounds until they have enough cash to seriously load up. If you see members of your team calling for an “eco round” or simply “eco”, it means that they’re short on money ($4,000 is a good rule of thumb) and is requesting such a forbearance. The key here is communication – don’t go rogue and buy equipment willy nilly – coordinate with your team so that you can make a harmonized attack against your opponents.
And that is the single most important lesson for a beginner to learn – talk to your team as much as possible. CounterStrike is not a solo game – you MUST work well as a team if you’re to have any hope of victory. Communicate as much as you possibly plan and follow your team’s general strategy and you’ll find yourself being a useful contributing player in no time flat.