7 Tips for New Players – The 7 Series

28th October 2011

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I was watching NCIS just now and they were talking about Gibbs’ rules. It got me thinking about what “rules” I would give to new players and suddenly I had another 7 Series article!

Some of these rules are probably good for all players, but if I had read this sort of thing when I first started playing I might have enjoyed it more and used less lives and saves!

I’ve little doubt you have some of your own, so please add them in the comments.

Just to be clear, I don’t necessarily think these are the ONLY 7 or the BEST 7, just 7 tips I decided to add today. If I had written the article last week, it might have been a different 7.

So, here they are, my 7 tips for new players.

Number Seven: Choose your weapon carefully
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Games and mods are generally designed so that you have whatever weapon you need to pass certain situations. It’s very tempting to select the biggest, baddest and most powerful weapon available at the time. That has drawbacks. The more powerful the weapon, the less ammo there will be.

I suggest you use the least powerful weapon possible. NOT the least powerful weapon! Just the least powerful weapon possible for the situation. If the pistol is enough, don’t waste shotgun ammo, if the crowbar is enough, use that.

Better to have ammo left after a huge firefight than run out. I often finish mods with some great ammo because I am never sure when I will need it, or if there will be more ahead.

Just like any resource, it’s limited, so use it wisely.

One possible solution is to always use a weapon that either doesn’t need ammo, or one that regenerates.

Number Six: Think in 3 Dimensions
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

It’s all too easy to enter an area and forget about what is above and behind you. The chances are that most of us have never been in a real battle and our only experience is via computer games. Screens are getting bigger and some players even use their TV to play, but it’s still very limited in its field of view.

Some players specifically change their field of view (FOV) via the console, but that can be a strange effect.

It’s more important to remember that you are viewing the game through a limited area and not to forget that enemies can be all around you.

Number Five: Choose you keys carefully
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

A few years ago I ran a series of articles on different challenges. One of them was elated to the keys used to play the game. It became clear that many players had the strangest setup and this can have an enormous effect on how well you play.

I highly recommend trying a number of variation before committing yourself to one. In addition, you should consider using one of a number of special input devices to see if they suit your needs.

A good selection of keys will not only enable you to play well, but also reduce finger fatigue.

Number Four: Use the environment
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

This is more important than ever. In the past, games and playing characters had very little interaction with the environment but these newer games have a lot.

The environment can be our saviour or our downfall.

First of all, think: Cover. Standing in the open is a sure fire way to die pretty quickly. Use the things around you to protect yourself. Yes, you can survive a bunch of direct hits but why take the chance of dying? Not only should you use the cover around you, but take it with you! Carrying a non-exploding barrel in front of yourself as you approach an enemy can be the perfect way to protect yourself and save ammo.

But it’s not just for protection. The environment might allow you to reach areas that you didn’t think possible. This could mean the difference between surviving and dying.

After cover, you should be thinking more aggressively. Exploding barrels in Half-Life 2 onwards is the obvious example, but there are others. Many times you can take one shot and kill a number of enemies with little effort.

This brings us nicely onto the next tip.

Learn more!

Number Three: Aim Well
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

When shooting, accuracy is more important that the number of shots
I have never fired a real gun and hope I never do, at least not in anger, but I am pretty sure that “just firing” really doesn’t do much.

Look at it this way. When you watch those big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, who is the coolest guy? That’s right. The guy who stands his ground when everybody else is firing willy nilly, and then slowly raises his gun and takes one shot. That’s who. (Disclaimer: yes, I know it’s the movies but it’s only a game too!)

A well-aimed single shot can do more damage than a hail of bullets. Keep calm and don’t be scared to take your time. Ideally, if you can keep moving your character around but keep your crosshair aimed int he right place then you have the best of both worlds.

Take 1 shot!

Number Two: Learn the game
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Learn the game, inside and out. Read a wiki, read the manual, read forums or chat rooms. Consider it research. Sure, it’s great to just “play” a game, but you are not smart enough to work everything out, nobody is Think of it as crowd sourcing support.

You would be so surprised at how the little things you learn about a game make you appreciate it more. There’s a fine line though, between learning as you go and having something spoilt.

Perhaps, as this was true in my case, you should only do the research after playing the game. Of course, that means that valuable information can’t be used during the game, but as I said, it’s a fine line.

Learn more!

Number One: Take your time
Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Play the game, don’t let the game play you!

Good designers know how to manipulate the player, from the crows flying towards where the mappers wants you to look, to the speed of the music making you keep moving. All of these things contribute to you being played.

That’s great and sometimes you gotta go with the flow, but not if it is at the detriment of the overall experience.

What I am talking about is not just gaming but a general feeling within society (Don’t worry, I promise not to go off on some philosophical odyssey). Think about it, everything is about getting stuff done as fast as possible. “Overnight Delivery”, “Open 24/7”, etc. We get annoyed if our email didn’t arrive within moments of pressing SEND.

Now, I am not saying fast is bad, but just that not everything has to be about speed. By rushing through a game you will make silly mistakes, you’ll miss things and perhaps more importantly you’ll shorten your experience.

I am guilty of it here on PP. I often play a mod quickly so that I can get it on the site ASAP, so readers can play it.

Rushing is natural when you are under pressure and that means you make silly mistakes and miss possibly important things. Unless you are a reviewer and need to post a review by a deadline then there is no need to rush.

Too often I see videos or read players talking about stuff and think “How did I miss that?” Sure, I can’t see everything but I bet I miss more than I should.

I rush nearly all my gaming and I wish I didn’t have to. The journey is more important than the destination. Seriously, don’t buy into the bullshit, however subconsciously, that slow players are bad players. Who cares if other players take 8 hours to finish a game and you take 12.

Enjoy the moment!


  1. MikeS

    Good tips. You could elaborate on point 7 to say consider using the same weapon to kill an enemy as he is using, as that means you will replace the ammo you spend when he dies and drops his.

    1. Derbler

      I’ve done this almost exclusively with every video game since Goldeneye. One thing I was wondering regarding what Phillip posted was, when you get the hivehand in Half-Life, do you stop using all other weapons until absolutely necessary (i.e. Gonarch’s Lair)?

      1. dougjp

        I tend to do that too, however thinking about it, that often makes the map too easy.

  2. Hec

    I agree in the most u say about the weapon pick up, but my logic is quite different, i’d say, think in the combat and the environment u are playing, I mean if u are going to cross a bunch of narrow hallways, appartaments rooms, houses and urban sets in general, u need a weapon perfect for that scenario, so that way the shoot gun comes very handy because it kills almost inmediately, also the SMG is ideal for short almost body to body combat the shoots it makes won’t deviate from its goal in a combat within 2-4 meters maximum, or just 2 to 6 steps to ur ennemy, if you use crowbar u can silly affect ur health, so use it wisely and against the ennemy for it like normal Zombies or even in some high emergency situations when any shoot is almnost impossible like beinng attacked by a fast zombie, the same is for the grav gun, is perfect against manhacks bitches!, so think in which environment u are into, is really stupid shoot an unacuarate SMG to a target that are 60 MTS distance ahead!!!!!; the magnum or the pistol is more accurate for that.

    And the other point is, think in explossives!!!, if u can kill 6 CMB at once with a pair of graneades, better!!!, then why to wait for a really wasteful combat just to loose ammo and over 40 health points!!!, the mmost of the time being a player is almost to think more as a soilder and evaluate situations fast considering save ur health and life, and thinking in the environment u are allways into, this is a tip valid for HL, and for almost any other FPS u play.

  3. I love your series 7 series articles. Keep up the great work!

  4. Error 404 Not Found

    I think 5 and 1 are the points I related to the most.

    5- I use the mouse and half of a playstation control pad with xpadder. I know some people would dis” me using a control pad, especially half a control pad, but it works “for me” and that is who I am playing the game for.

    1- Reading what was said about the speed of the music I was reminded of when I was playing SMOD the other day and the music kicks in just after you aquire the crowbar. It’s pretty easy to just go with the flow of the music in HL2 and move out of harms way and into the next area, but with the modifications in SMOD (such as momentum being affected when you’re hit) and the increase in combines, (for me) it didn’t flow in quite the same way, but that is my problem really and therefore your advice is good advice.

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