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Are you new to video games? Or just new to a particular game? Look no further to get all the help you need! Our Novice Guides are designed to introduce you to a specific kind of game and prepare you with some basic tips.

First Person Shooter

FPS -

Veteran FPS players are so comfortable with the controls of their favorite games that holding a controller is second nature to them. The goal of this particular guide is to start you on the path to developing that same level of skill and comfort.

Call of Duty 3 provides a mix of action and tactical shooters.

Call of Duty 3 provides a mix of action and tactical shooters.

Action or Tactical
The first step towards understanding first person shooters is realizing which sub-genre it belongs to. While examples often vary to a degree, most shooters fall into two distinctive camps.

  • Action: These run and gun games are best represented by titles like Halo® 2, Serious Sam, Quake™ 4, and Doom 3®. The focus here is purely on twitch gameplay, and these games offer lots and lots of guns. Your health meter will withstand a great deal of punishment, and can be refilled often.
  • Tactical: This sub-genre is best represented by games like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter™ and Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway™. These titles focus more on realistic warfare, often requiring cooperation with a team and careful planning. The weapons are conventional and realistic, so ammo is often limited, and you won't be able to take much damage.

Set to revolutionize the genre? Perhaps.

Set to revolutionize the genre? Perhaps.

Understanding the type of shooter you're playing will tell you how you need to approach the game. Will you hone your reflexes for an action title, watching for waves of enemies, or will you learn how to work with your squad and run for cover, developing the patience required for a tactical shooter? The pace of the game should always determine your approach, and never forget that what works in one game may get you shot to hamburger in another.

The Basics
If you're the casual gamer just putting your toe in the FPS waters, these starting tips should help you get started in this most intense of genres.

Clear tactics and quick thinking are required for Rainbox Six: Vegas.

Clear tactics and quick thinking are required for Rainbox Six: Vegas.

Dual Analog Comfort
Halo®: Combat Evolved introduced and essentially perfected the dual-analog stick setup. If you play an FPS on Xbox® or Xbox 360™, you can be sure that the dual-analog stick control setup will be the default. This is how it works:

  • The left analog stick controls your feet only. Move it up, you go forward, move the stick down and you go back. Move left and right and you strafe in the corresponding direction. Strafing is a vital FPS skill, where your character side steps in the indicated direction without turning. Developing this skill will enable you to dodge gunfire and make you a much more effective marksman.
  • The right analog stick controls where you look and where you aim. Moving your thumbs in two directions at once may take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to navigate within games with utmost control.

This dual-analog setup is the standard setting for first person shooters. Master it in only one game, and you are good to go in almost any other FPS title.

Joanna Dark introduced the world to next-gen FPS.

Joanna Dark introduced the world to next-gen FPS.

Sensitivity
You can adjust the sensitivity of the controls in most games under the options menu, but you can also change it under Game Defaults on your gamercard, which will change it for every FPS game you play. As you begin, start with slower settings, adjusting them as your skills develop.

Weapon Strengths
Most FPS games have a wide selection of guns, so it is important to know their strengths and weaknesses. The standard submachine gun is excellent for large groups of weak enemies, but is almost useless for precision targeting and does little damage at a distance. Conversely, the sniper rifle is powerful and excellent at a distance, but very hard to use effectively at close range. A shotgun causes great damage over a large area, but is usually almost useless beyond short range. There is a recent trend in many FPS games that limits the guns you can carry to only two. Choose your weapons carefully, based on the situations you expect to face.

It doesn't get more gritty or real than Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.

It doesn't get more gritty or real than Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.

Head Shots
There is nothing more satisfying than capping an opponent from a great distance with a shot right to the noggin. In many games, a headshot does dramatically more damage than anywhere else, allowing you to drop you target with just one shot. The reverse is often true as well, so avoid plugging away at arms and legs. Don't get so focused on being a one shot one kill sniper that you waste ammo on impossible headshots when a chest shot will do.

Crouch
The ability to crouch is now standard in FPS games and should not be overlooked. What might seem like lousy cover can actually be very protective if you crouch behind it. In some tactical shooters you may also have the ability to lie down, offering an even smaller target.

Use a Burst
As an FPS beginner, your first instinct may be to hold the trigger down and hose your target with bullets until it's gone. This wastes a lot of ammo, and is much less accurate. Especially in tactical shooters, when ammo is precious, use short, focused bursts of bullets to bring your target down.

First person shooters can be a tricky genre to come into as a beginner, but if you keep the essentials we've covered in mind, you'll find yourself much more at ease when you play. Good luck.

Article by Ryan Treit

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