With Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finally released to much fanfare, it’s inevitable that many people will be trying out the series for the first time. Given the eight year gap since the last Counter-Strike game, it’s very likely that many of these new players will come in expecting it to play like Call of Duty or Halo, the two biggest online FPS games of the past decade, and quickly find themselves at the bottom of the scoreboards with nary a kill by the end. There are no laser-accurate recoil-free weapons here, no iron sights for a zoomed in view, no killstreaks or specialty weapons. So here’s a handy guide for all those who have never played Counter-Strike before. This is for the newest of the new, who have absolutely no clue what Counter-Strike is or why its different from other games.
The first thing you will learn is that the bullets will almost never travel where you’re aiming. Sure, they’ll go in that general direction but if you fire without stopping down a hallway, there’s a great chance that you will never hit your target at all. Instead, you have to do it as you would in real life: control your shots. Burst fire, don’t spray. Aim for the chest mainly and the head only if you’re sure. Great players will be able to get one hit kill headshots consistently but if you’re only just adjusting from other FPS games, it’s fine enough to aim for the chest.
There are perhaps two occasions when you can spray: if you’re at point blank range with the other person, or if you’re carrying the P90. The P90 is perhaps the only weapon that’s truly effective when running and gunning in Counter-Strike. The trade-off is that it’s not as powerful as the rifles and does not penetrate armour well. If you’re going to run around with it, play it smart and flank your enemies. Don’t run in as if you just snorted off a mountain of cocaine after shooting your sister. And when you’re spraying in point blank range of an enemy, go against your instincts: aim at their belly or legs.
The guns all handle differently
Every single weapon in the game has a unique and distinguished feel to it. The AK-47 and the M4 fulfill the same roles for their respective sides but the guns are still very different. The AK-47 has an accurate first shot, an inaccurate spray, and great penetration power. The M4, on the other hand, has good accuracy at all ranges but is weaker in all regards. This carries over to every single weapon. Even the lowly pistols handle differently from each other.
The best thing to do is to take a gun and practice with it until you get a handle on it. You could try Arms Race but it plays very differently from regular games so it’s a bit harder to pick up on how the guns behave. The general rule of thumb is that the faster it fires, the more inaccurate and weak it is.
When you have to fire, stop moving
One big mistake plenty of new players make is that they keep running forward while shooting. You can’t do that in Counter-Strike. To stop and crouch has to be a natural reflex because it provides a consistent and reliable spray when burst firing. Moving and shooting makes it far too hard to predict where any shot past the first will land. Instead of running into bullets, stop and fire. Crouch for even tighter spray accuracy. There are only a couple of weapons that are effective while in motion and they’re usually shotguns or the smaller SMG’s.
The shotguns are effective from medium range
One of the biggest things that people are unaware of in Counter-Strike is that the shotguns are effective much farther than other games will have you believe. A well placed shot can take out an enemy at medium range in Counter-Strike. At close range, they’re unstoppable powerhouses. This effectiveness is strongly mitigated by any armor the enemy is wearing. So when you see an enemy with a shotgun, don’t assume you’ll be safe by shooting him from down the hall. Chances are, he can do some very heavy damage to you.
Sound is incredibly important
Turn off whatever music you have blaring in the background. Put on headphones if you have to. The sound in Counter-Strike is one of the most important factors. Firstly, you can hear footsteps of anyone around you. Use it to keep tabs on enemies behind walls or around corners so you can get the jump on them. The tone of their footsteps can also tell you which gun they’re carrying too i.e. the AWP sniper will make the footsteps sound more sluggish than usual. This will be hard to tell apart without some experience but it can save your life. You don’t want to ambush someone at close range only to find out they’re wielding a shotgun.
Conversely, you should also be aware of any sound you are making. Running around will make a lot of noise so it’s often wise to hold the walk button or even crouch and move around. It minimizes any sound you make and you could end up delivering a kill to an enemy who didn’t know you were coming.
Know where your team is
Always move with them or with other members. When you do find yourself separated, check the map frequently to know where they are. Chances are, you will hear enemies long before you see them and, if the sound doesn’t match up with teammate positions, you likely have an advantage that you should not waste. Knowing where you team is will also give you an idea of where the enemies are on the map and will prevent you from being surprised by a figure running out from around the corner. Most teamkills happen when someone gets startled, not through collateral damage. Don’t be that guy.
This last point is a minor fix but can make a world of difference. Many people simply keep the cursor at the level it defaults to, which comes around the sternum of an enemy. If the first shot is accurate, it only guarantees a body shot. What you should do, instead, is train yourself to aim at head level. That way, you’ll find yourself getting the occasional headshot before a firefight can occur or, if you miss, in a better position to down the other player. Remember: aim high at first and then bring it down to the sternum while firing.
Now, this won’t make you great at Counter-Strike, since that literally takes months of solid practice and experience. This is simply a list of mistakes I’ve seen over the last week from people new to the series jumping into the middle of games and running around like Rambo. And that’s only the PC version. From the sounds of it, the console versions are rife with people expecting to run around the map knifing everyone to death. At least following the majority of these tips will give you enough of an edge to perform decently.