Hey everybody. I’ve been thinking for a long time about starting up a Team Fortress 2 blog. I really dig this game, and I hope you dig it too. It’s really my intention to try and raise the skill level of the community at large for my own selfish reasons. It’s more fun to play against people who know what’s up then who don’t.
If you’re already a solid player, you might not find my write ups to be super-duper-ultra-omega helpful, as I’m focusing pretty tightly on helping newer players improve. I try to be witty, fun, and delightful though, so I’d love it if you stuck around too!
P.S. Isn’t my website super lame looking! I’ll be working on it through time, and any tips or suggestions that people want to throw my way are super super super welcome.
Alrighty, in this writeup I’m gonna talk about general strategies that all classes simply need to know. I’m going to work hard not to make it too specific to any one play style, and really just focus on the stuff that you just need to know in order to become exponentially better at pretty much any FPS game you play, not just TF2. I will be talking about it within the framework of TF2 though, because, let’s be honest here, that’s the best one.
Again, I’m just trying to give tips to newer players who are looking to improve. The pros are actually playing a different game. You should watch their stuff and attempt to emulate, but realize that that’s their job. Unless you are planning on making TF2 your job, you won’t achieve their level. But that’s cool, we’re just here to have some fun and kill some fucks.
The Golden Tip
This here is actually the most important thing you will ever read in regards to FPS games. If you only follow this one simple adage, you will improve almost instantly. This is your Bible, Qu’ran, Veda, Jedi Code, and Wizard’s Oath. This is everything.
The point of any FPS game is not to kill people. The point of any FPS game is to be the last person alive. If you take unnecessary risks and get yourself killed, you are not helpful. Running after people who just have that last little bit of health doesn’t matter if you get killed. You can, and will, die. Play like it. Survive first. Murder second.
Most people blank out when the action starts. They might be really intelligent people, but the second the guns start shooting, the monkey side of their brain activates and they default into “Smash smash shoot shoot oooga oooga!”
How many times have you died and you actually had no idea how? Can you retrace your actions to the moment of your death? If not, it’s because you aren’t thinking when you’re playing.
People think that’s ok. The best players in the world let their instincts take over, right? The difference is that their instincts are built on a framework of deep analysis and thought. They have taken the time to look at how they play, and to make decisions that they consciously build into their instincts.
I find that if I talk through what I’m doing while I’m playing it helps me improve. It forces me to listen to myself. After every encounter I tell myself what I did wrong, or what I did right. Do tell yourself what you did right. You’re a beautiful snow-flake and you need to be encouraged to murder better.
If you take it slow, think through what you’re doing, and attempt to analyze what you’re doing, you’ll eventually be able to let your instincts control your murderous thoughts, instead of your panicked stupid monkey instincts.
Know the Map
Having a solid knowledge of the map is half the battle. Knowing where health packs are, where little retreat paths are, where tiny holes you can shoot through are, these things will give you a massive advantage over someone who’s just running in and hoping everything goes well. You should be able to draw a crude version of the map you are playing on from memory, including the little terrain and hidey holes that can effect your play. If you can’t do that, then you don’t know the map well enough.
If you’re literally playing the map for the first time, or you’ve never bothered to take time to learn the map, take the time. Just explore each room one by one. Really understand how each room connects into the next one, and how the map functions on a whole. Your team will think you suck, but later on your team will think you’re rad.
Live the Map
Most people who play FPS games think that they are placing their hand on a keyboard and mouse, while controlling a tiny avatar on the screen. This is technically true. This is also a shitty way to play FPS games.
You are the character on the screen. You are in that room, holding that gun. There is a guy coming to find you and murder you. That is what is happening. If you keep yourself detached from the reality of your situation, then you’re going to be a moron when you play.
This is why people like hats. It allows them to infuse themselves with the avatar they play. It allows them to personify death itself, and make him wear funny clothes.
Wearing headphones helps, as does bringing the screen closer to you, and having multiple screens. The more of the game you can put in your peripheral vision, the better you’ll be. Try and get a little whiff of dirt, or grass before you play. I’m not joking. Smell is the strongest sense for memory, and if you can attach a smell to murderous ambition, it will be the easiest way to pull you into that mode of thinking.
I know it sounds ridiculous to tell people to aim when they play, but how many times has this scenario played out for you.
You see a guy and you instantly start shooting. You realize that you’re missing and so you frantically move your mouse in an effort to find him. By now the guy is shooting at you, and you’re dodging, making it even harder to aim. Unfortunately you’ve run out of ammo so you start to reload as he’s shooting at you. In the end, you either luck out and kill him, luck out and get away, or, most likely, die.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because you’re playing an FPS and everyone else does that too. It’s simply because you’re not focused on aiming. You’re focused on shooting your gun.
Seriously. Take the time to actually put your cursor over the guy, and then pull the trigger. If you’re firing rockets, or grenades, be aware that it takes time for them to reach your intended target. Lead your enemies. At first you’re gonna die a lot, and in stupid ways. You’ll get the jump on a guy, and then take a few seconds to aim at him, and by then he’ll have seen you and shot you dead.
Eventually you’ll get to the point where the aim comes naturally, but it really does need to get drilled into your head. Aim first. Then Shoot.
Be aware of what your personal body is doing when you shoot. Most people have some kind of weird jump that happens, or a twitch. My shoulder jumps when I shoot, which causes my hand to shake. Consciously be aware of it and relax your body. If it persists, get a masseuse and do some stretches. I’m not joking.
Use your whole class
The amount of times I’ve seen a guy reload mid-fight rather then switch to his secondary is stupid. The secondary will kill people. In fact, the secondary can be more useful in certain situations then the primary. Understand what your class is capable of doing.. Also understand what your class is capable of not doing. It’s basic Sun Tsu Art of War shit. Know thyself. Oh and also…
Know Thy Enemy
At least have a passing knowledge of what other classes can do. If you’re not aware that spies can turn invisible (I know! Completely invisible! Broken right?) Then you’re going to get fucked by spies a lot.
Basically these two points boil down to “Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the classes.” Heavies have shit tons of HP, but move slowly. Scouts have no hp, but are speedy as shit. These sorts of things are important, and I’ll be going into specifics as this blog evolves for each class.
Play the Objective
There’s an objective on every map. Unless it’s very specifically an arena map, the objective is not “Kill dudes.” The objective is to assault something, or defend something. How many games have you played where your team was killing the other team hard, and then the point got capped by a scout or a spy, foiling you. That’s because your team was playing to kill dudes, and wasn’t protecting their objective.
Build sentries to defend points. Position heavies to defend points. Push towards points. Get the point? Little pun there.
What will happen is that you will find a way to defend or assault an objective, and the doing of that will allow you to better murder people. If the other team is organized to defend their point, and you’re team is scattering around just shooting at whatever, you’re going to lose, and then they get to find out who their best guy was and you get to eat shit. Conversely, if you’re attacking with organization, and they’re scattered around trying to just kill guys, you’re going to crush them.
It’s Called *Team* Fortress
Play with your team. Be a team player. If you log into a server and see that there are four snipers, don’t roll sniper. Don’t roll scout or spy either. Be something heavy. Like a Heavy. Try to support people. Find ways to help out. If you’re being healed by a medic who is at half health, and he’s got you up from 1hp to half your health, and you take a med pack in front of him, you are a dickhead. Let the medic heal you, and give him the med pack. If a scout is burning to death beside you, a pyro, and you watch him die without airblasting away his flames, you are a dickhead. If you do not heal as a medic, you are a dickhead.
Support your team, and you’ll win. Play like you’re the star of your own reality t.v. show, and you’ll look like the star of a reality t.v. show.
Stick together. Don’t just run off in your own direction. Let someone else take the lead if it looks like they want it. Support them. Attempt to save their lives. Two guys will typically kill one guy. Teamup teamup teamup.
Understanding what a Battle-Line is.
There are three types of territory you need to understand. Friendly Territory, Contested Territory, and Enemy Territory. These are not terms that are supported by any game you will ever play. They are not flashing lines that show up, or blinking lights. A little pop-up won’t come up informing you about what’s happening like you’re a playing any video game made past 2001. These are intuitive ideas that allow you to better support your play.
Friendly Territory is any territory you, and your allies, (Because you’re on a team) control. You’ll find that most maps have choke points in them, so typically any territory leading up to the choke point can be considered “Friendly”. You will be mostly safe in Friendly territory. I say “mostly” because spies and scouts exist, and people go on stealth missions into your territory in order to turn it from Friendly Territory into…
Contested Territory is any territory where massive fighting is happening. I’m not talking about a spy picking someone off in a corner, or a sniper picking off a single guy from across the map. Both sides are shooting rockets and blasting flames at each other. It’s a racket and the old people scream at you to keep it down, but fuck them you’re murdering people here. One side is desperately attempting to keep them away, and the other is desperately trying to push in. This is dangerous territory where people are going to try and kill you. Sometimes you can get caught up in the action and forget that you’re about to wander into…
Enemy Territory is the enemies safe zone. It’s where they retreat in order to get ammo, heal, or contemplate the meaningfulness of their murderous existence. If you wander into this territory alone, without first gaining control of the contested territory you left behind, you’ll probably A) Die. and B) Lose any ground you gained in the contested territory in the first place.
The reason it’s important to think about FPS games this way is that you have to know where you can go to be safe, and you have to know where you can go to be not safe. Chances are extremely good that if you are standing beside a level 3 sentry, you’re in Friendly Territory. If there’s a mass of guys waiting for an uber to push in, you’re probably in friendly territory. If you’re standing beside their spawn, and all their guys are at your last point, you’re in enemy territory. Once you get what these territories mean to your game play, you’ll also begin to understand…
Pushes are built within Friendly Territory in order to Push into Contested Territory, turn it into Friendly Territory, and push back Enemy Territory.
As stated previously, if you’re up against an organized defense, and you’re a rag-tag group of rebels who refuse to listen to anyone, you’ll probably get absolutely mauled. It’ll basically be a piecemeal kind of death where one little boy, who thinks wishes will protect him, just walks into a room to be mauled by three men, who understand that wishes are meant to be broken… TO DEATH! That one didn’t work.
If you want to successfully destroy an organized defense, then you have to put together a push. This will most commonly come in the form of an ubering medic, typically on a heavy. It can, however, be done successfully without. Essentially what it boils down to is that everyone goes in all at once, rather then just get fucked in the ass one by one.
It’s also helpful to be aware of The Push so that you can defend against it. Know where people are gathering, and focus on dismantling it when it starts, or even before it starts.
The most common time to see a random push just get cobbled together is when that scary lady says “One minute left in the mission.” Then everyone goes “Oh shit we’re actually going to lose if we don’t actually play this map’s objectives!” and attempt to pile in all at once. You’ve played these games where you were crushing on defense only to have the attacking team pull a push out of their asses right at the buzzer.
Imagine if they had’ve been doing that with ten minutes on the clock.
You are Not Indestructible.
I know I hit this point a lot, but it’s very true. Lots of people get blood lusted and stay in Contested Territory for way too long. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played a medic and have been healing a heavy only to have him go into Contested Territory and just W+M1 his way to his death. I’m not gonna follow you in there. Back the fuck up. Be aware when your health is getting low and retreat. Being alive is better then killing people. I promise.
Even if you just type, letting people know where things are, or what’s happening is nice. Don’t be a dick about shit. Just let people know. Ask for medics, don’t demand medics. Be nice to people, even if you’re going to murder them. Especially because you are going to murder them.
This is a game about utilizing the strengths of a team in order to complete objectives. In the midst of doing that, you will kill people who are opposed to the success of your objectives. You are going to find that the more you help your team, the better you will do. You will also find that if you help a team mate, he will be more inclined to help you, which is how teams are built.
Be a team player.
Thanks for reading! Next Time, The Engineer!