FPS Tactics - Strategies for online multiplayer gaming

This page is intended for progressing intermediate gamers who seeks means to enhance their performance when playing FPS games online. The page may also be of interest to the novice gamer. However, gamers that are new to online FPS gaming should primarily focus on the Be a winner page. You'll find specific Battlefield 3 tips and tactics on the dedicated Battlefield 3 page.

Page content

  1. The basic concept of gaming
  2. Winning conditions
  3. k/d isn't everything!
  4. Plan-Act-Recover
  5. Priorities
  6. Risk management
  7. Communication
  8. Flanking
  9. About camping
  10. Occupation instead of camping
  11. Destructible environments
  12. Maintaining offensive momentum
  13. Proper vehicle usage

 

1. The basic concept of gaming

The following may seem obvious, but this is unfortunately necessary to explain. Playing a board game with your kids is casual gaming. The purpose is only to have fun and socialize. When it comes to online FPS gaming however, entertainment is still important but the primary objective when playing apic6.jpg game seriously is WINNING. Anything else comes second. If you think of yourself as a serious FPS gamer you must have this priority. Do something else if you don't (i.e. stay offline). If you think your stats are more important than winning and hence don't bother sacrificing yourself and take a bullet for the team in a critical situation: Stay offline. If the ONLY thing you like is shooting others in the head with sniper rifles: Stay offline and shoot bots. If you only bother about shooting others whatever the winning conditions are: Stay offline and shoot bots. But if you like to play co-operatively and smart and are ready to do anything to win the game: You will be an appreciated team member in online games and you will have FUN!

 

2. Winning conditions

The second seemingly obvious concept that needs to be explained to many is winning conditions. When entering a game you must understand the winning conditions. The conditions may or may not be the same for both/all teams in the game. Once you understand what is required from your team to win, you should think about what is required from YOU. Some game types (e.g. being on the attacking team in a Battlefield 3 Rush match) are complex and the winning requirements for the team cannot be simply transferred to a specific player. An easily understood example is a team death match in Halo 3 (called Team slayer). 5 vs. 5 players are pitched against each other and the first team to score 50 kills wins. In this match setup, each player should require from himself to score AT LEAST 10 kills (50/5=10). However, the maximum price tag for such a result is the number of kills a player gets minus 1. Hence if you get 12 kills in such a match it is ok to be killed 11 times or less. The minimum requirement for each player is therefore 10 kills while dying maximum 9 times. So: Always think TEAM first and YOU second.

 

3. k/d isn't everything!

The third obvious concept is about kill/death ratio and this is where a lot of players take the wrong turn. You will sometimes hear people bragging about the number of kills they got in a match when waiting for the next match in the lobby. Good players seldom brag, and when you look at the scoreboard after the match you may see that the bragging player had a k/d (kill/death ratio) of 25/26. That sucks as the player was beneficial to the OPPOSING team. Another player maybe had a k/d of 10/6. That is a much better score! This seems to be difficult to grasp for many players. But it is actually more complex than that. Let's assume two players both score a k/d of 10/8, seemingly equally beneficial to the team. However, one of the players was a lone wolf that roamed the outskirts of the map and mostly fought in point blank encounters and backstab snipers like some kind of ninja. The other player earned his score while in the mean time also scoring several assists by staying close to his team mates and employed an aggressive play style with lots of grenade throwing, tactical flanking, etc. His behavior boosted the score of his team mates and helped the team win. He was the better player out of these two. Battlefield 3 introduced experience points not only for kill assist but also for suppression assist. This means a reward for shooting at (but not hitting) an enemy player that is killed by a team mate in the mean time. There you see, collaboration is everything. Not k/d!

 

4. Plan-Act-Recover

The match is started, do you know what to do now? You should know. At least if you have played the map and game type before. If you have just started to play e.g. the Annex game type in Gears of War it is understandable that you are confused in the beginning.  But if you have much experience of playing e.g. Team slayer in Halo 3 you should know that getting hold of the power weapons (hence preventing the opposing team from doing the same) is the primary objective when the match starts. Once you have got e.g. the shotgun or energy sword you should start planning for making use of that weapon. It is essential to understand that game objectives can be divided into overall objectives (win conditions), intermediate objectives (capture a flag / plant a bomb) and minor objectives (kill an opponent / reach a tactical map location). In that respect one could argue that there is a hierarchy of objectives in a match. Some may show up without notice and require split second planning. You may for example enter a room holding a standard weapon and encounter an enemy that is pointing a power weapon against you. You are very likely going to die. A skilled player will realize that the odds are against him and therefore drop a grenade before he dies and bring the opponent along in his certain death. Let's say you are subject to a flanking surprise attack in the next example. Your plan is likely: Find cover, locate the enemy and kill him. The act might be: Sprint behind a wall while thinking about the probable location of the attacking enemy. Once in cover, switch to the grenade launcher and blast a hole in the building where he is hiding, quickly switch to your standard weapon and kill him. Recover by: Once again hide behind the wall and reload all used weapons. While recovering you should re-plan to meet the objective you had in mind before the attack. Everything you do in a match can be organized into Plan-Act-Recover cycles. Skilled players do this without thinking. It is recommended that beginners think in this manner. Don't let minor unimportant incidents in your current location distract you from the main plot.

 

5. Priorities

The priorities for both team and individual players will vary throughout a match. Long term priorities usually remain unchanged as these are related to victory conditions. Short term priorities are likely to vary a lot. As an example, let's assume you are a defender in a Battlefield 3 Rush match. The map has vehicles and you have prepared for this by being an engineer (anti-vehicle class). Your plan is currently to expand the defensive perimeter to the right in order to prevent enemies from flanking on that side. Now you hear an enemy tank approaching. What should you do? Well... it depends. It may be best to stick with the original plan of preventing flanking. But it could be better to try to take out that tank as vehicles can alter the scene of combat substantially and give the enemy team an edge due to its firepower. However, a skilled player knows that an attacking heavy vehicle will draw a lot of attention that distracts players on both but primarily the defending side. This is therefore a great opportunity for attacking players to flank. Players on both sides should realize this. Your priority should at least partly depend on the role you take in the match. If you have chosen the engineer class other players will assume that you deal with the tank. Adjacent players should help out by healing/reviving the engineer who is likely going to become cannon fodder when fighting the tank, and supply him with ammunition while fighting. However, if you realize that two other engineers are already fighting the tank then it is probably best to stick with the original plan. There could be another tank rolling in from the flanking side... Thinking about priorities is obviously closely related to the Plan-Act-Recover cycles. You should always be prepared to re-plan with respect to high priority tasks for the TEAM, not for yourself. Let's now assume you are a sniper and the enemy team is about to achieve an objective in a bunker where you have no line of sight. Whatever you were doing before has now got low or no priority at all. Switch to your sidearm and get into that bunker and deal with the situation!

 

6. Risk management

Any action you decide to take in a match comes with risk. Risk assessment should therefore be an integral part of your planning. Risk is defined by: The (positive or negative) effect of an event combined with the probability of occurrence of that event. Let's take an example: If your plan simply is getting from A to B without any other conditions present, then you should choose a route that unlikely disclose your presence. There is no crucial benefit with reaching location B in this example, and you should therefore limit the risk level associated with moving by choosing a low risk route. However, if instead your plan is to disarm a bomb that was just planted by the enemy team, the benefit of achieving this objective is very high as it prevents the opposing team from winning. In this example the stakes are already high and you should (in general) pick the shortest (fastest) possible route to the bomb and disarm it. Effective movement is likely to require sprinting across a road or other areas with a high risk of getting killed as enemy players probably are defending the bomb. The risk associated with movement is therefore high, but you have no choice as losing is not an option. This example is also in line with the previous comments about k/d. As said, many FPS gamers fear getting killed as that is bad for their stats so they stay behind cover or far from the frontlines even in critical moments like in the latter example. A good gamer is more than willing to take a bullet for the team if the probability of winning is increased. Let's assume that four players simultaneously try to disarm the bomb. They all take a great risk of getting killed. If only one of them survives and disarms the bomb that is great! Remember? The primary objective is winning and anything else comes second.

 

7. Communication

Do you have a headset? If yes: Use it! A team that communicates effectively (or at least talk about what is going on in the match) will have a great advantage over the opposing team if they are not communicating. Were you killed by a shotgun camper that surprised you when entering a room? Aware your team mates about it. He is likely to get killed soon and once that objective is completed the shotgun is possessed by your team if desired. Is half of the enemy team flanking on the beach? Inform your team and quickly organize a counter-attack. And so on... Communication is a powerful weapon in itself as it provides possibilities for organization and leadership. Let seemingly better players lead and organize, but don't hesitate taking that responsibility if they fail! Headsets can also mean problems though. Microsoft bundles a headset with the Xbox 360. That is great as more people use this device as they don't have to buy one separately. Hence more people communicate on Xbox LIVE compared to PSN (a headset is not included when you buy a Playstation 3). The problem with making communication accessible for everyone is that a lot of people (idiots) use the headset for singing and/or annoying other gamers in many ways by trash talking and picking on other people. Some brag about their stats or complain about other players. Also, many female gamers opt to not use the headset just because they risk being harassed by immature males. That's sad. The FPS community is dominated by males. It should encourage females to play these games! There is only one way to get rid of the issue with headset misuse: MUTE that gamer. Also list him as a player to be avoided in future matchmaking. This feature is available on both PSN and Xbox LIVE. Use it!

 

8. Flanking

Some maps have areas that create natural spots where two teams typically end up in a more or less static crossfire. Other maps have spots to which most players from both teams sprint to to start fighting. Examples are the Neutral bomb game type in Halo 3, the bunker in the middle of the CoD: MW2 Wasteland map and central flags on Battlefield conquest maps. As your experience with a game increases, you will know where the heatzones in it's maps are and how the gameplay in and around these zones usually work out. These heatzones provide great opportunities for players who are willing to take an extra risk. If you flank, i.e. move around the heatzone to end up in a spot from where you can attack unsuspicious enemies from the side or from behind, you can inflict a lot of casualties to the enemy team. You may be lucky to encounter 3-4 enemies not facing you, and if you manage your weapons and equipment properly [see the Be a Winner section] and quickly you can kill them all within a few seconds. Take care to communicate your intentions before flanking, and report enemy activity like positions and weaponry as you flank. There is obviously a great risk of being killed while trying to sneak into an area that is dominated by the enemy team. If you realize you will be going down in a few second then prioritize observing the enemies and if possible drop a grenade. Your team mates can make use of that intel and you may get a kill or two from the grenade if you are lucky. If you are playing a game that allows team mates to spawn on you it may be wise to remain undetected until you have a team mate on your side. Then wreck havoc together, the extra firepower can be really handy and the enemy casualties are likely going to be severe.

 

9. About camping

Camping means staying in the same location on a map for a longer period of time. It is consequently the opposite tactic of continuous movement. It is NOT recommended as a GENERAL play style. A player who use this technique usually have a quite restricted field of view. At least if the map design is good. The camping strategy typically involves either long range weapons like sniper rifles or extreme short range weapons like shotguns or melee weapons. The short range camping strategy comes with a considerable negative risk as any killed opposing player will know exactly where the camper is hiding. On the other hand, the camper has control of timing his assault when an enemy enters the room. Incoming grenades are likely to be an issue fairly soon though... The long range camper may be able topic4.jpg score a couple of kills before his location is revealed. It is then just a matter of time before he is killed. If you are good at finding long range camping spots AND are skilled with a sniper rifle (you easily get headshots), well then this playstyle may be suited for you if you are playing a team death match (where a good k/d is a priority) and use a headset so that you can inform your team mates about enemy activity that you spot through the scope. Camping without disclosing your location (without shooting) can also be successful in objective game types, e.g. if you play the recon class in Battlefield: Bad company 2 as it should be played - at least when wielding a sniper rifle. Stay far behind your three squad mates (who of course all should be non-snipers). Use your scope to spot enemies ahead of your squad mates (don't forget to communicate). Let your mates do the killing so that you remain hidden. Possibly take out a few enemy snipers or a stationary machine gun, but that's it. Once your mates have planted the bomb, wait a few seconds for the enemies to move in to disarm and then call in a mortar strike. This will delay disarming and increase probability of winning. THAT is one of the primary purposes with mortar strikes. The recon class has other accessories in Battlefield 3 that also is great. It is a pity that so many gamers play the recon class with sniper rifles without understanding how this class should be used. The primary purpose of this class is information gathering! You will sometimes join a Battlefield match just to find yourself teamed up in a squad with three snipers (even when playing as attackers in Rush matches!). Realize that these players shouldn't play online. Even though they may have reached high ranks, they have not understood the victory conditions or are not willing to let their stats suffer in order to win. Do one thing: Quit that match and get into another one!

 

10. Occupation instead of camping

For those more interested in a defensive assault-like playstyle (i.e. play offensively and move around a lot while remaining defensive minded): Consider the "occupation" playstyle. This means dominating a fairly small but well defined area of the map. You define the perimiter and kill any enemy who enters. Suitable areas are houses including e.g. stairways and/or backyards. The occupation strategy can be very successful in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 when playing team deathmatch if you combine a primary assault weapon with a shotgun as secondary weapon and use claymores in combination with the scavenger perk. Choose a map location with lots of action nearby and setup claymores as traps. Get mid range kills from balconys or windows, but be prepared to switch to the shotgun and kill enemies who breach through your perimiter and attack you in close quarters. The scavenger perk will give your more claymores from dead bodies. Be creative and set claymore traps in new and different places or even in series to trick your enemies. Remeber to move around within your perimiter and create a mind game. Implementing this strategy successfully could give you >15 kills at the cost of only 5 or less deaths. You'll be surprised how people will continue to come after you even though the odds are against them!

 

11. Destructible environments

Some games feature a more or less destructible environment. Some only provide cosmetic effects that enhances the gaming experience, while others like Crysis, Battlefield 3 and the Battlefield: Bad company series allow gamers to blast more or less anything on the map to dust. Games with destructible environments are obviously of most interest as this feature enables great opportunity for tactical gameplay. It's actually up to the imagination of gamers to set the limit of tactics. This area needs trial and error and exploratory gaming before you find out how it helps you and your team on the battlefield. There are three important tactics that should be emphasized:

  • Optional movement routing
  • Offensive tactics
  • Defensive tactics

If you are in a hurry and in possession of a grenade launcher, RPG or similar heavy weapon there is no need to spend time on running AROUND a building. Straighten out your route simply by blasting a hole through the wall and run through the building. Communicate your intentions to your team mates before pulling the trigger to prevent them from wasting time on another route if you are moving together. Buildings, walls and other environmental objects can also be destroyed

pic3.jpg

offensivly, e.g. in order to prevent enemies from establishing a defensive stronghold on strategic spots. Reduce the risk level associated with an assault by first getting rid of enemy hiding spots. Make use of heavy armored vehicles if your weapon and equipment loadout doesn't suit the purpose of destroying buildings. The same tactics applies the other way around. If you play an objective based match type, you may want to consider "preparing" the area close to the objects by limiting enemy hiding capability. Take down walls in such a way that your team easily can look into buildings from the defensive direction. Leave the other walls intact. If this tactic is employed correctly, the enemies will run into seemingly intact buildings just to find out they are located on a spot where the defenders have clear lines of sight.

 

12. Maintaining offensive momentum

Many attacks in objective type matches fail due to lack of momentum. A typical situation is when one player plants a bomb or captures a flag but is unsupported by the rest of the team. The probability of being killed when unsupported is great as the risk level is high, in particular if the player is incapable of wielding a pic5.jpgweapon when dealing with the objective itself (e.g. holding a flag). It is therefore crucial that EVERY other team member immediately re-plans to support the attack. Get there ASAP! The mere presence of several attacking players will keep the defenders busy. Defend the flag carrier so that he can focus on delivering it to the goal, or simply get in the way of defenders heading to disarm the bomb. Any second of delaying the defenders is one second closer to victory. Once again think about priorities and risk management. Winning and hence any activity that increase winning probability is top priority, and taking great risks is acceptable if victory is within reach. The complete team shall therefore rush in to assist the team member(s) who have captured the flag, armed the bomb or similar. At once!

 

13. Proper vehicle usage

This is a section that should be posted on the Be a Winner page for FPS novices. The sad thing is that you will encounter a lot of experienced players who seem not to have understood how to use vehicles properly. Let's assume you are playing a Halo 3, Halo: Reach or some modern game from the Battlefield series. These all allow players to take control of vehicles. A vehicle can be either armed or only have the purpose of transportation. Most vehicles allow several players to take seats and move together. If you jump into a vehicle that has several seats, then let team members take seats before you head out! Even if it's only a double seated transport vehicle like the Halo Mongoose. You will be accompanied by a team mate once you get there and hence have doubled the firepower. Unfortunately, you will many times see a single Halo player jump into a Warthog (armed three seated jeep) or a Battlefield 3 player jump into a five seated helicopter that is armed with two door guns and take off alone just in front of you. They then use it for individual transport and drive the vehicle close to the heatzone and just crash or abandon it. They are incompetent and ignorant egoists. Period. An armed vehicle can as said alter the power balance on the battlefield substantially. Make use of them accordingly and do not let the enemy team get hold of them! Further on, drive smart if you are in the driver's seat. Let the gunner(s) take care of the killing while you take care of driving. Don't put priority in road kills. Instead keep the vehicle on a route that provides the gunner with a good line of sight to the targets. The route should however not be too straight and the speed not too slow. The vehicle will quickly become a high priority target for the enemy team. They will fight it with any means available. So don't stand still and become a sitting duck unless absolutely necessary. The benefit from such a high risk need to be very big.

Some games allow specific player classes to repair partly damaged vehicles before they are totally destroyed. That is a great opportunity for the team as it will prolong the time with extra firepower. If you are in the driver seat of a damaged armed vehicle and see an engineer (or whatever the repairing class is named) rush to your assistance then don't drive away! Let him provide some maintenance and then off you go.

However, if the vehicle is severely damaged and no engineers are nearby you may want to abandon it. If you do so, make sure to blow it up using a grenade or similar before you move on. This will prevent enemy engineers from repairing it and start using the vehicle against your team.

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