If you’ve made it this far, you have done well. I’m assuming you have already gone through the beginners and intermediate sections. If so, carry on. This is where the boys are separated from the men. These are the tactics that will decide if you are merely “good” or a born pro. So let’s get into it shall we?

1).           Listen. Use sound in every way possible. This means listening for more than just footsteps. Every weapon has distinct noise when fired. This should be something you use to your advantage. For instance, you hear a sniper rifle in the distance. This should automatically tell you a number of things, one, this guy has a powerful weapon which will kill you in one shot. Two, he is probably waiting for you to come out of cover. Three, he is probably not going to be prepared for a close combat situation. This should all automatically register. In newer games, the surface you walk or run on will make different sounds. That means you can predict where your opponent is headed.

2).           Use other weapons. I know this is in direct conflict with what I said in the beginners section but, hear me out. You don’t have to master each and every weapon, but you do need to know them well enough to be aware of what their capabilities and limitations are. So if you hear a person fire off 5 rapid rounds with a deagle, you should realize that this guy can only fire 3 more before he has to reload. Or if you can see someone with a shotgun, you know all you have to do is keep him from getting close. Adjust your moves accordingly.

3).           Switch games occasionally. By which I mean other shooters. Not only will this give you a short break, but it’s a good way to develop your skills in general. Some games like Unreal lay a lot of emphasis on jumping and acrobatics, not only is it fun, but you might just learn a trick or two. Don’t overdo it though.

4).           Know your strengths, improve on your weaknesses. This one is important. It’s no use if you can snipe the wings off a fly from a mile away but can’t fire a pistol for shit. You are only valuable if you are alive. Keep improving the weak spots in your technique.

5).           Learn to play as a part of a fire team. I can totally understand if the clan scene isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but, at the very least you should team up with one guy. Not only does this make learning more fun, a good fire team is devastating to the opposition. The down side is that it’s not easy to master. The biggest hurdle would be that you are forced to play much more slowly than usual (at least till you start getting used to your buddy). I might actually end up writing a separate guide on fire teams at some point as this is a huge topic in itself.

6).           Use the environment. Every map has certain advantages and disadvantages. The point I’m trying to make is this: you must force the enemy to react to you. Not the other way around. This is why fire teams are so important. Its damn near impossible to hold a busy corridor on your own. But if 2 of you can hold a certain area of cover, you will now force the opposition to use open ground where your snipers and machine gunners can pick them off at their leisure.

7).           Mix it up. Be unpredictable. How many times have you caught yourself repeating the same pattern in a map over and over again? It’s very tempting to take the EXACT same route in a map every time. Don’t. Even though you know that a particular set of double doors sees a lot of traffic, it’s stupid to wait for the enemy to use them all the time. That might work with newbies or average players but against anyone who knows what he’s doing, it will get you killed. Going back to my previous point, the enemy must react to you. So do something they do not expect to keep them guessing. The more nervous they get, the easier your job will be.

8).          Keep your cool. Swearing and screaming like a stuck pig will only tell everyone around you that you basically have no self control and that it’s easy to make you lose focus. Don’t let anyone get to you with their trash talk. Ignore it. You MUST learn to control your emotions or they will control you instead. The importance of this is better explained in the next point.

9).           Study body language. Watch some you tube videos to see how the pros look like when they play. From their expressions you would think they are working on an important project. They don’t scream, they don’t jump out of their seats. They are ice cold. Is it any surprise they are so good? On the other hand, closely watch the body language of your average gamer when they get into a pressure situation. Watch how they jump around like monkeys on cocaine. Notice yourself. How are you breathing? Are you breathing at all? The more excited you get, the more adrenaline is pumped into your system. This will make your breathing shallow, your muscles tense and your hands will most likely shake a little. That is a biological fact. What do you think that does to your aim?

10).        Invest in some gear. Let’s get one thing straight, if your skills are crap, buying the best mouse in the world won’t change that. However, if you are fairly confident in your own abilities as a gamer, getting good equipment will certainly give you a significant advantage. A decent mouse and mouse pad is the minimum. I won’t be recommending anything specific (not yet anyway) but I will suggest you read a lot of reviews on anything you are thinking of purchasing.

Have fun! You wont get better at something you hate. Enjoy the game, that’s what it was created for.

So thats pretty much it. Above all, remember to practice! In the end, there is no substitute for plain hard work. I hope this primer helped you in some way.

Good luck!