How To Dominate the CoD Playspace
Let me begin by saying that I have been playing Call of Duty (all iterations) for a long time. Long before the excellent multiplayer suite, I was grinding it out on World War II battlefields across multiple consoles. I say this not to prove my worth to those who landed upon this entry in order that they may tear asunder any and every tip I put forth, but to help you, the reader, understand that I am a fan of the series.
Despite my resistance to mega-franchise archetypes, Call of Duty has continually pulled me into the playspace and I have enjoyed a vast majority of the content offered. As is common with successful franchises, much hatred is spewed forth by petty detractors while they play their chosen games, but I have managed to stay below that line of fire. In doing so, I have come to know the mechanics rather intimately, sans the adolescent emotion habitually tied to every action that occurs during online multiplayer sessions. It is this knowledge I would like to pass on to those willing to listen, and who would like to see some improvement in their e-game.
Up until this year I was, at best, an average online CoD player. I was sitting at a .95 kill to death ratio, and was consistently in the middle of the pack at the end of each match. It was a toss up any time that I entered an engagement and rarely could I attribute my victories to anything more than luck and quick reflex. By the end of last year I was frustrated with my mediocrity and was about to set aside my online gaming for good. That is, until I spent a few weeks "practicing." Weird, I know.
My online success began when my wonderful wife decided that she wanted to get in on the CoD excellence. We went out and purchased an Xbox 360, a few games, and set her up with a glorious gamertag. In an effort to avoid the beginner blues that can accompany n00b forays into the online playspace, we started setting up local games in which we would play against or with each other. The rest of the teams were rounded out by bots performing at a relatively low level to begin with.
For three straight weeks I did nothing but play these virtual matches with my wife (which was an excellent experience both as a husband and a gamer). Each week the number of bots I faced increased. Each week the bot difficulty increased. Each week the parameters for a win became more difficult.
I used the time to intimately familiarize myself with the equipment and perks that are offered, formulating my perfect classes for given situations, gametypes, and maps. For the first week and a half, fun was the prize, but I was beginning to notice the flow and spawn patterns associated with certain maps much more frequently. Both my aim and reaction time were making vast improvements, and I was starting to learn how to dictate the flow of a game on my own. A truly amazing feeling, by the way.
Well, after about a month, my wife was ready to return to Sims 3, her gluttonous appetite for destruction sated, and I was ready to make my glorious return to competitive multiplayer.
I now sit on a 2.12 kill to death ratio, am consistently in the top three every game, and am able to dictate the flow of the game when the opportunity arises. Much of the tips I am going to share could be seen as common sense, but all are vital to continued success.
To Each, Their Own
"Know yourself and you will win all battles." - Sun Tzu
The first, and most important, thing to recognize is that your play style is unique. We can all watch the stellar videos on YouTube, but when in the middle of an online play session, those lessons start to go by the wayside.
Hours upon hours need to be spent familiarizing yourself with maps and loadouts. The knowledge that accompanies both should be second nature when playing competitively. If you enter into the playspace blind, there is a distinct possibility frustration will set in long before success.
Once you have the maps down and your loadouts in check, playstyle is key. Personally, I like to make my runs in a counter-clockwise pattern on every map, with an accent on the first engagement of each spawn. The first engagement is key because it frees up your lanes and lands you in the enemy spawn on your next engagement (dependent upon your team's position).
Stick to the outside of every map. Doing this provides an instant cover on your right flank, so all you have to do is focus your attention on the chaos occurring inside the map, and right in front of you. Don't waste your time checking your back. If an enemy has made it there, a respawn is probably your best option anyway.
Pay special attention to the landscapes you are about to enter into. If you are alone and looking at the enemy's spawn, hanging back for support is necessary, unless you can get behind the group. If you put out a couple of pot shots and don't get a kill in return, remove yourself from that engagement. Not only do you save yourself, but you prevent the enemy from inching closer to a game changing killstreak.
Lastly, when putting together your loadouts, do not include any equipment that you won't be using every run. These excess spots could easily be used for game changing perks, or a solid secondary weapon for versatile gameplay.
Patience Young Padawan
"The best fighter is never angry." - Lao Tzu
Controlling your emotional state during online gameplay is an absolute necessity. If you are playing CoD, you are going to die, bottom line. The intense fashion of the game dictates that you will inevitably run into a few situations beyond your control (this is especially true in Hardcore, when a stray bullet can do you in). The quicker you accept this, the quicker each death becomes a strategic victory.
Every time you respawn is a glimpse into the location of the enemy team, as their respawn point is based on a numerical path of least resistance. If you know where you died and where you respawn, you know exactly where they will be coming from. This information is difficult to process when you are screaming derogatory remarks at a player for besting you one time.
I like to set up an environment each time I step online. I use my own music as a background and turn up the effect and voice volume in game. I try to pick music that directly reflects my play style so that my focus on either doesn't trump its counterpart. I have found this small morsel of personal indulgence has kept me calm and focused in even the most heated of games.
"All warfare is based on deception." - Sun Tzu
Recognize that little gem from Modern Warfare 3? Clever bunch, those Infinity Ward cats. Deception is vital to victory in the CoD playspace. This deception manifests itself in many different ways. The first of which is movement. The quicker you are with your lateral movements, the more you will find yourself on the winning end of engagements.
The initial strafe, left or right, when first entering an engagement will win you that engagement a majority of the time. This move throws off your enemy, gets you a bead on their movement, and opens up your peripheral view to see your next target. If you find yourself strafing left to right, or right to left, any more than two times, you should bug out and move to flank. Staying in these engagements too long only guarantees getting caught by reinforcements, or in crossfire.
Using cover to flash your colors is also essential to dominant play. When you are approaching a piece of cover that obstructs your view of the lane, give a brief flash out of cover to see if you draw any attention from the enemy team (this also gives you a look at the layout and enemy team location). If you do, you can wait for support or continue to flash on each side of cover to draw out your enemy. If you don't, then the lane is clear to proceed. As always, process this information before running headlong into mystery engagements.
Grenades are a great way to draw off an enemy team. The distinct sound made by each leads the opposite team to believe there are enemies in the area. Strategically placing these sounds can draw an enemy into a situation of your design, maximizing your kills, adding to killstreak counts, and controlling spawn points.
Setting up fake camp positions is one of my favorite traps. Equip a Claymore and two Shock Charges. Run to a well-known sniper's nest and lay out your equipment as if you were going to set up shop. The Shock Charges give off a distinct sound that will draw enemies in and the Claymore makes for an excellent surprise killer. Enemies will slow their runs thinking that they are picking up an easy kill, when really they are alerting you to their position and the flow of their team. Head back around to the trap and you will be behind their team. Massacre supreme.
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." - Sun Tzu
As callous as this may sound, using your teammates to gauge an enemy presence is a necessity for success. If you are uncertain as to the location of the enemy team, or a sniper who is dug in, let your teammates run headlong into that danger. You will either see them win the engagement, or reveal the enemy position in their defeat. Either way you have kept your killstreak alive and are tuned into the flow of the game.
Using your killstreaks at the proper moments during the game is also vital to victory. Far too often I see players spam out their killstreaks without paying attention to the flow of the game. Even the smallest package, the UAV, should be saved for a moment when it is needed. If your team is killing it, no UAV is needed. Calling it in may interrupt the flow of the game, of which your team has control. Be smart with your killstreaks and maximize their usage as there is no guarantee you will get them again.
I hope these tips help you better enjoy your online CoD experience. One last thought before jumping back online: Call of Duty is unlike any other shooter in the video game realm. This fact alone means you need to adapt your playstyle to the game. Halo and Battlefield skills do not immediately apply to CoD, and will need to be molded in order for you to succeed.
Good luck and see you out there!