I’m not going to teach you how to aim better.
I know, I’m sorry. I really wish I could.
It’s the number-one question people ask me on-stream and in-person. The truth is, I don’t know how I’m able to aim like I do. It’s just something I’ve never really struggled with. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent almost every day of my life playing shooters since I was a kid. Or maybe it’s a more natural, God-given thing, but I can’t articulate how I’m able to hit cross-country snipes. I don’t mean that as a brag either. Like, if there was some sort of gimmick or trick to my gameplay, I’d happily clue you in.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
That being said, there’s a lot more to a battle royale game than just aiming. In fact, I think the genre has opened up a ton of new elements for shooters as a whole. Everytime you boot up a round of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or Fortnite, or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, you’re guaranteed to run into a situation you’ve never been in before. It gives players so many more chances to maximize their risks than they could in like, a standard game of Halo or Counter-Strike. Thankfully, that allows me to give far more helpful advice than the usual, “I don’t know man, just try to be more accurate.”
If you’ve been watching my stream, you know I’ve been playing mostly Black Ops 4 lately, so these tips will focus on that game, but you can extrapolate them to a ton of other shooters as well. I also tried to diversify my pointers between both squad play and solo play, so no matter how you enjoy your battle royale experience, you should be covered.
Got it? O.K. Let’s get good.
Try To Communicate, Even If You Sound Like An Idiot
During my pro Counter-Strike days, communication between teammates was pretty easy, because we always knew exactly what was around every corner. So, if we were playing on Dust II, I could call out a guy behind the oil drums at the B bomb spot, and everyone would immediately know what I was talking about. It became its own language. Everyone knew every landmark, every single corner, and every single choke point — there were never any surprises.
Safe to say, that isn’t the case in a battle royale. The beauty of these games is that every single engagement is going to be unique, and you’re not going to be able to memorize the infrastructure around you. This can lead to a lot of confusion and a lot of avoidable team-wipes, simply because you’re not able to relay information accurately to your friends.
I’ve seen so many firefights end with someone freezing up on their mics, not knowing what to say. “He’s at the … uh … um … uh.…” Boom, you’re all dead.
My advice here is simple. Just try. Open up your mouth and say something, even if you think you sound like an idiot. I promise you, “They’re in the warehouse at 2 o’clock,” is a lot more useful than radio silence. It’s tough because there’s so much information you have to process while remaining aware of your surroundings, but if you get over the anxiety of stumbling over your words, you’re going to make the team so much better.
What to Prioritize During Your Loot Runs
Personally, my weapon priority will always depend on whether I’m playing in a group or going solo. But I’ll run you through my usual routine when I’m dropping by myself. If you play Blackout, you’ll know that the SDM sniper comboed with the Spitfire SMG is the God-combo right now. It gives you the perfect combination of range and close-quarters punch, which means you’ll have plenty of versatility no matter where you are in the match.
Unfortunately, Treyarch is in the middle of nerfing that combo into the ground. So here are a couple of my favorite alternatives. Sometimes I’ll grab a KN-57 for rifling and an Outlaw for sniping, or when I’m feeling particularly crazy and confident, I’ll roll with an Outlaw for sniping and a shotgun for close-range. (You’ve gotta show the shotgun some love sometimes, but not the auto-shotty, that thing can go to hell.)
As for where the meta stands right now, the one thing I think players should avoid more often than not is the Paladin. Now I know, I know, it’s a gigantic, sexy sniper rifle. It’s the only thing that can one-shot an enemy without a headshot, but man, its reloading speed and recoil is so slow, and it puts you in such a precarious position if you miss a shot. Like, I can kill someone with a rifle and body-shots faster than I can with the Paladin. So please, hold your nose and leave the big gun where you found it, and you’ll be happier in the long run.
Stay Calm When You’re Playing Support.
When my teammate goes down, the first thing I do is go through my own mental checklist. Where is he? Is he somewhere I can get to in relative safety, like the inside of a building or behind some other cover? Is he in the middle of an open field? He is. That sucks. RIP. What do I have going equipment-wise? Can I throw down a barricade? Or a smoke grenade? Do I have a grapple to get out of Dodge quickly?
If I have nothing going for utilities, then it becomes a lot simpler. I just need to kill this guy before he takes down the rest of my team. (That shouldn’t happen that often though. Carry utilities on you, O.K.?)Carry utilities on you, O.K.?
What I’m saying is, you don’t want to panic in those situations. Instead, run through your own calculus and evaluate the situation logically. Yes, that can be kind of tough when your teammate is screaming his head off for a revive, but if you act methodically and take advantage of the full breadth of your arsenal, you can save yourself a lot of disappointing wipes.
Headshots Are Super Important
By the time you reach the late-game in any Blackout match, most of the people you’re going up against are gonna be running around in some pretty beefy body armor. It’s one of the most important wrinkles in Black Ops 4, and it totally changes your aiming priorities compared to other games. I could get into the weeds here, but basically, that body armor severely dampens the amount of damage you can deal out if you’re going center-mass. You know what gets around those limitations? A good old-fashioned headshot.
Now, I told you at the beginning of this piece that I wasn’t going to give any pure aiming advice, but … I do have a bit of a shortcut for close-quarters firefights that might make those engagements easier: Let the recoil do the work for you.
Let’s say I snap onto a player’s chest with my crosshairs. I pull the trigger, and naturally, the recoil will bounce my gun upwards. In a split second I’ll be putting shots on their dome, which takes away all the twitchy work I would’ve had to do if I wanted to aim for the head from the start.
It’s easy when you get the hang of it, just don’t think too hard. Once you start doing that reliably, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in your engagements.
As Drake would say, Why would I put on a vest, I expect you to aim for the head?
A Note on Building
When I started playing Fortnite earlier this year, it was a huge adjustment for me. I had grown up strictly playing shooters, and here I was, having to deal with these Minecraft building mechanics. That was not a natural part of my skill set. You need to know how to effectively throw up cover and get vertical if you’re going to succeed at a high level in that game. After a few months I got the hang of it, and while I’ll probably never be an elite builder, I’m good enough to hold my own.
The problem is, for a long time, the only way you could learn how to build was in the middle of a multiplayer match. You know what sucks? Trying to fashion yourself a nice, sturdy fort while taking potshots from preteens across the map.
Thankfully, Epic has a “creative” mode in Fortnite, where you can build whatever you want at your own pace, without catching any stray bullets. I’d recommend that anyone who wants to get serious with Fortnite first spend a lot of time in that mode, committing all of the nuances of building to muscle memory. By the time you hit solo queue, you’ll already be a pro. (Trust me, you don’t want to learn the old-fashioned way. It’ll give you nightmares.)
Confidence is Key
Listen, it’s no secret that there’s a certain overpowering tenseness at the end of a battle royale round.
Let’s say you’re on the last circle, and you’re playing solo. You know that there are three other people hiding somewhere within 30 feet of you. After a 20-minute game, you’re now seconds away from either scaling the mountain or getting kicked back to queue. That’s a lot of pressure! But trust me when I tell you this; Your best chance to navigate that environment is to believe that you’re going to win.
When I get to a top-five, I reach down in myself and trust that I’m better than the other players I’m going up against. Now, that sounds like an ego trip, but it’s not. It’s strategy, it’s gamesmanship. If you can get into that mindset, you’re probably going to destroy them. If you’re timid and insecure, you’re probably going to lose.
What I’m saying is, basically, that playing aggressively is underrated. I’m not saying you should go crazy and get totally reckless in those situations, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure the people you’re up against are under your pressure, rather than the other way around. It reminds me of that old adage in professional sports: You play to win the game. You don’t play to not lose.
That can be true in football, and that can be true in Call of Duty.
See you in Rivertown.