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A successful game is one where EVERYONE has a good time. If I win, that's just a bonus. The only bad games are those where people go away unhappy.
This is not intended to be an all-encompassing treatise on RTCW tactics nor does it address any specific type of game play such as Checkpoint (CP), Stopwatch (SP), or 1 vs. 1 shootouts, etc. Instead, I've tried to capture or document some tips and tricks that have worked for me in Quake II and III:Arena. Many of these lessons were learned playing Quake, but others come from my tactical experience from the military, airsoft, and paintball - most of which are surprisingly applicable to RTCW and other first person shooters (FPS). This document also primarily focuses on head-to-head on-line competition with other players, but many of these concepts absolutely hold true for single player games.
I realize that this document is long and you shouldn't have any expectations that you can read through it one and immediately do everything that is discussed. It takes a lot of practice. Work on one piece until you have it right, and then tackle the next. I think that you'll find the game is a lot more exciting when you can bump your mental game up a couple of notches.
One of the reasons for this article is to dispel the myth that FPS games are no more than simple 'run-n'-gun' games. A tight game of cat and mouse between 2 teams of tactically savvy players is incredibly fun and being mentally sharp counts as much as having the fastest trigger finger.
This document is broken up into five main sections:
Stay in motionDon't stop moving unless you
have a good reason. If you stop too long, you're dead, plain and simple. Most
newbies stop moving because they can't shoot on the run. Moving and shooting
accurately are independent. Tweak your controls
until you do both comfortably. You need to learn how to combine them together
effectively. My advice is this,learn. Practice with a friend to develop this
skill in a low stress environment.
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Get comfortable running backwardsTactically,
you want to learn how to run backwards to return fire as people chase you or to
avoid presenting your blind side while you run into dead-ends to pick up items.
Mouse-flicksA mouse-flick is the trick of
rapidly executing a 180-turn by quickly flicking your mouse left or right.
Circle-strafingThis is simply strafing left
or right in a large circle. You want to learn this to dodge enemy fire while
still being able to shoot back.
Tweak your controlsUltimately, you want to
have the simplest command set possible while making all of your important
weapons and commands accessible.
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PracticeGrab a friend, set up a simple LAN
game between the two of you, and spend a few minutes practicing basic skills in
a low stress environment. If you live close enough, I would call them or use a
VoIP (Voice over IP) application like Roger Wilco to coordinate your practice
For a more thorough discussion on how to learn a map, visit my article on
Know The GameNow that you are comfortable
with the basic movement techniques, it's time to broaden your scope and think
about where you're going to fight and with what weapons and tools.
MapsIt helps a lot if you know the terrain
that you're fighting on. There is nothing more frustrating then losing a game
because you're constantly getting lost or you haven't figured out where the
objectives are. If you're playing on a server with a published map rotation or
you know what maps are going to be played, download the maps and spend a couple
minutes in a private server just running around, seeing where everything is, and
figuring how to get to various items.
For a more thorough discussion on how to learn a map, visit my article onMap Reconnaisance
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WeaponsKnow where all your weapons are
located on your controls set up. Get your autoexec set up just right so that all
of your most commonly used weapons and tools are within easy reach. Simple
scripts, such as weapons toggles, can also make this easier. Choose the right
weapon for the job. Every game tries to balance the weapons so that each one has
advantages and disadvantages. No weapon is perfect for all occasions. Learn what
each weapon can do, under what circumstances it is most useful, and what its
downsides are. Here's a partial damage table:
Much thanks to DarkThought and Mango65 for taking the
time to figure this out and Kefka Floyd for the additional testing with the
flamethrower and venom cannon
|Weapon||Damage - Body Shot||Damage - Head Shot||Rate of Fire|
|MP 40||14||50||6 rds/sec|
|Sten||14||50||3.3 - 3.8 rds/sec average to|
empty mag, ~6 for a single burst
|Flamethrower||~30 points for a direct hit,
one squirt stays in place for ~ 3/4 sec
|14-15 fuel points per sec|
|Panzerfaust||See diagram below||Depends on recharge time|
|Knife||101 if knifing in the back 'sweet spot',
10-12 anywhere else
Accuracy was tested by looking at impact groupings from a continous burst as
well as a series of 3-round, 5-round, and 10 round bursts. All weapons were
fired from the white line labeled "Firing Line" into the target area. I then
used the binoculars to zoom in on the target area and take a screenshot of the
Weapons were fired from a standing position approximately 3 tile lengths from
In the following screenshots, I've compared the impact patterns from the
Thompson (column 1), MP-40 (column 2), and the Sten (colum 3). The rows show the
type of bursts used: continuous (row 1), 5-round bursts (row 3), 3-round bursts
(row 2), and finally 10-round bursts (row 4). Note:The same picture is
used for all 4 Sten patterns.
Weapons Accuracy I conducted a weapons accuracy test
with the Thompson, MP-40, and Sten. Each weapon was tested on rate of fire and
accuracy. For the test range, I used on the Allied spawn point on Assault. Rate
of fire was evaluated in terms of number of seconds require to empty a 30-round
magazine. For the Sten and MP-40, this meant dumping 2 rounds to make sure all
guns started with 30 rounds. Since the Sten cannot be fired continously, I fired
in bursts to empty the magazine as fast as possible. The number of seconds
required to empty each weapon were:
Accuracy was tested by looking at impact groupings from a continous burst as well as a series of 3-round, 5-round, and 10 round bursts. All weapons were fired from the white line labeled "Firing Line" into the target area. I then used the binoculars to zoom in on the target area and take a screenshot of the impact marks.
Weapons were fired from a standing position approximately 3 tile lengths from the wall.
In the following screenshots, I've compared the impact patterns from the Thompson (column 1), MP-40 (column 2), and the Sten (colum 3). The rows show the type of bursts used: continuous (row 1), 5-round bursts (row 3), 3-round bursts (row 2), and finally 10-round bursts (row 4). Note:The same picture is used for all 4 Sten patterns.
|Thompson - single continuous burst||MP40 - single continuous burst||Sten - fired as fast as possible|
|Thompson - 3 round bursts||MP40 - 3 round bursts||Sten - fired as fast as possible|
|Thompson - 5 round bursts||MP40 - 5 round bursts||Sten - fired as fast as possible|
|Thompson - 10 round bursts||MP40 - 10 round bursts||Sten - fired as fast as possible|
Panzerfaust Blast Radius Diagram Explained:
Starting from the left...we got the poor dumb sap just standing there. Poor guy... The colored bars show the point of impact of the panzerfaust round.
The Gib Zone represent the total area between "Poor Dumb Bastard" and the "Gibbed Point". If a panzerfaust hits within the red area, our "Poor Dumb Bastard" would be gibbed with no way for a medic to revive him.
The "Grey Area" (grey) is a big question mark for medics. This means if "Poor Dumb Bastard" is a medic with full health and the panzerfaust lands within the grey area ... a random amount of damage is assessed that MAY OR MAY NOT kill him. If he's not a medic however, don't worry about the distinction because he'll will still be gibbed.
If the panzerfuast lands within the yellow area, the blast will kill "Poor Dumb Bastard" if he is any class other than a medic. However, he can still be revived by a medic.
If the panzerfaust lands within the Damage Zone (green), "Poor Dumb Bastard" will take damage according to the numbers on top of the bar.
This analysis assumes that "Poor Dumb Bastard" starts with 100 health.
Did you know that you can control where your airstrikes will impact after you toss the airstrike cannister (aka smoke grenade)? Typically, if you throw the airstrike cannister and stand still, the airstrike will impact a rectangular area centered on the smoke grenade and running nearly perpendicular to you (doesn't seem to always be perfectly perpendicular). However, you can adjust the impact area in two ways.
First, you can make the airstrike land further away from the airstrike cannister by backing up once the cannister is thrown. The airstrike should move away from the cannister the same distance you backed off. Just be careful that you don't move so far that the point of impact ends up in a place the pilot can't see or the airstrike may be aborted.
|I stood on the corner light, tossed smoke, and then stood still. Notice that the airstrike's impact doesn't always fall at a 90 degree angle to my point of view||Next, I threw smoke from the corner light, but ran directly backwards for 2 seconds. The airstrike impacted a little further away than on my first toss.|
The second method is to move and rotate your point of view. Try throwing the airstrike marker, strafing right a comfortable distance, and then making a 45% left turn. The airstrike will still land on top of the smoke grenade, but now, it will impact diagonally from where you tossed the cannister
|The first illustration shows the strike pattern after standing at #1, tossing the smoke, and then not moving. For all subsequent airtrikes, I threw the smoke grenade from location #1 and maintained a consistant direction and distance of throw||Here, I threw the smoke from #1, strafed to #2, and then looked towards the halftrack. You'll noticed that spots #2 - 4 form a semicircle around the spot the smoke cannister lands. You can see how the impact marks have rotated about 60 degrees|
|Again, I threw the smoke cannister from #1, ran all the way over to point #3 and looked towards the halftrack. Here I get just a little more rotation than from point #2||Next, I repeated the same steps but from the other side. I ran over the left hand corner light and the looked at the rightmost edge of the crates|
|Lastly, I tossed smoke from #1, ran all the way over to point #5 and looked parallel along the airstrip markings. I get nearly a full 90 degree rotation from my point #1 results|
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You want to control the game by getting your strategy going or by preventing
the other player from getting into his rhythm. This can be done by controlling
key objectives, chokepoints, or spawn points, thereby forcing your opponent to
constantly react to your moves.
Think TacticallyBy now, you should be
comfortable moving smoothly through maps. You know where to go and how to get
there. Let's now talk about how to play smarter than your opponent, maintain the
initiative, and dictate the flow of the game. These principles don't necessarily
apply to every type of game play or even every map. Tailor them to your
situation as you see fit.
Keep your coolEveryone blows theirs,
especially if they get into a bit of trouble early in the game. However, the
best players/team recover quickly or just don't let it get to them.
You want to control the game by getting your strategy going or by preventing the other player from getting into his rhythm. This can be done by controlling key objectives, chokepoints, or spawn points, thereby forcing your opponent to constantly react to your moves.
Watch and learn from your opponentsScope out
how your opponents are playing and that will give you a better sense for the
strategies you'll need to beat them.
Avoid predictabilityWhen I first started
playing FPS games, the single biggest problem I saw in myself was that I could
always be counted on the chase after a target. I usually got a bullet to the
head for my troubles.
Learn when to run away
Maintain situational awarenessMaintaining
your situational awareness is the art of knowing what is going on in the map at
any given point in time. If you watch any Quake 2 demo featuring Thresh, then
you know what I'm talking about. Thresh seems to know exactly where his opponent
is going, when they're going to pop out of a door, when they're going for armor,
etc. This lets him get a lot of frags before the other player even has a chance
Anticipate your opponent's movesPeople are
predictable and you should take advantage of that. During games, observe your
Keep yourself topped offKeep your ammo and
health status in mind and don't unnecessarily call for or look for ammo or med
packs unless you need to.
The following screenshots were taken from the Elite Forces map 'Boarding
Party'. I may or may not adapt this for RTCW.
Take a smart approach to doors and natural choke
pointsThe worst thing you can do is to walk straight through a door.
Watch how a police SWAT team takes down a room. It's an interesting exercise
that has a lot of practical applications to RTCW or any other FPS.
The following screenshots were taken from the Elite Forces map 'Boarding Party'. I may or may not adapt this for RTCW.
|Simply stepping through a door leaves you exposed to fire from both sides of the corridor.||Starting from the oblique enables you control how much of cooridor the room you want to expose yourself to at any given point.|
The audio (door opening) and visual (door opening) cues are a dead give-away that someone is at the door, and gives your opponent that split second advantage. There are a couple of counter measures that can be used individually or in combination:
|In this example, I'm getting ready to enter No Man's Land on the Wizernes map. I suspect that enemy soldiers might be hiding along the walls, so I begin my by quickly checking the wall opposite of the one I plan to move down. If there is an enemy soldier, I'll either withdraw or shoot it out with him.||I see there isn't anyone there, so I execute a quick button hook, clear the near side wall, and make a quick scan of No Man's Land.|
|Once I'm convinced there are no enemy along the near side wall, I circle-strafe right, keeping my eyes on the center of No Man's Land and my back to the wall.||Now I'm up along the right hand wall and ready to move down to the far tunnel. At no time do my eyes leave No Man's Land and the activity along the right wall.|
|As I move down the right wall, I move at the oblique so that my gun stays trained into the center of No Man's Land. I do this so that my gun is ready and so that I can take in as much of the action as possible. I can also see the destroyable Allied side entrance so if something develops up there, I can quickly run up the stairs to assist||I finish near the far tunnel, ready to move into a blocking position or stage for the next push to the Allied far side spawn point|
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Don't silhouette yourself doors and
windowsThere is no sound-tactical reason to stand directly in a door
or window to shoot out.
Use prep fire when availableThis can be
really useful if you have a lot of ammo, and you know the opponent is probably
set up in a defensive position, for example, the map room on Beach. Often times
as I enter a room or approach and elbow in a corridor, I will toss a grenade
just before I go in. This does several things:
Strafe around cornersA lot of players stop
at intersections, turn, and then proceed on their merry way. Unfortunately, this
causes you to stop for a moment and creates a situation where you are not
looking at where you are most likely to encounter an unexpected opponent.
Backtrack occasionallyEvery now and then, do
a quick mouse-flick, turn around and backtrack. It's healthy to look behind you
every now and then and see if anyone is chasing you. This also helps you be a
little less predictable.
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Avoid natural kill zonesMany maps are
designed to funnel the action around key areas or items. The last place you want
to be is standing in the middle of those places.
Man's Land in the Wizernes map is a good example. It has a large open area that
must be crossed, but there is no reason to run down the middle road and be the
target for every enemy soldier or get caught in the cross fire from team mates.
Stay out of the shaded kill zone and work you way around the edges instead.
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Getting your groove backSometimes all the
stars are aligned; you run the maps beautifully, every shot hits, you're
absolutely untouchable. Then, all of a sudden, your game goes to crap. Now
you're always lost, you couldn't hit yourself with the panzerfaust, and every
grenade seems to have your name. Sounds like it's time to take a step back and
analyze what's going on. Ask yourself a couple of questions and see if they lead
to any revealing answers
Advanced TopicsI've written up a couple of
other articles about more advanced team tactics and techniques. Later, I'll add
links to some pieces written by others. Hope you find them useful.
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