Beginning your Counter-Strike journey with CS:GO isn’t exactly easy. Many players have a literal decade of experience over you, not to mention the often claustrophobic environments you’re forced to fight in. If you’re new to CS:GO, you’re simply gonna spend a lot of time in respawn.
Luckily, there are ten basic strategies you can keep in mind to help you get a head start in CS:GO gameplay. Some of it carries over from other FPS games, but all ten CS:GO tips are key if you want to help your team slay the enemy, complete the objective, and go home in something other than a bodybag.
1. Heads up, literally
A long time ago, I asked a fairly competitive Counter-Strike player how to get more headshots. “First thing,” he said, “is to aim for the head.” While I thought he was joking, he went on to explain that most new players habitually walk around with their crosshairs pointed at chest level or lower. Get in the habit of keeping your gun level at all times for higher odds of popping skulls.
2. Stick to your strengths
Yes, some guns are better than others when it comes to raw numbers. But what matters most is winning the match. If you feel more comfortable with a shotgun or high-capacity pistol over an assault rifle or deagle, don’t be shy about it. Likewise, don’t let haters talk you out of using the AWP or automatic sniper rifles if they’re helping you mow down the enemy.
3. Cover your ass
While there’s no Battlefield 3-style suppression mechanic in CS:GO, that doesn’t mean that cover fire isn’t valuable. Laying down a few stray rounds (or a few dozen, if you’ve got a high capacity weapon) while you/your team makes an approach can scare your opponents into ceding key territory. And, if they do jump out, they might just eat a lead sandwich.
4. Being objectively good
In casual public matches, all too often both teams completely forget about the map objective. Sure, there’s not as much glory in hunting down a bomb backpack or leading hostages out of cs_office, but tackling the ignored objective can force your enemies out of hiding. And if they won’t come deal with it? You win anyway.
5. Fire/Smoke/Flash in the hole!
In the mad rush to stock up during CS:GO buy rounds, many players completely neglect grenades, even when they have more cash on-hand than Scrooge McDuck. Grenades offer you a way to force your adversaries into action, whether it means retreating, rushing in, or generally giving away their location with blind fire. In other words, buy them!
6. Heads up, figuratively
While you can’t be everywhere at once, your radar can, and it’s important to heed its tells. Scan your heads up display every now and then to note where teammates are and what they’ve seen. If three of your buddies all disappear from another corner of the map, knowing exactly where they were and what direction they were facing can help you guess your foes’ movements.
7. Watch and learn
It’s easy to spend your time in respawn complaining about how you died. But if you want to get good at CS:GO, why not use this time to study up? If free camera is on, scope out where enemies like to hide, what camping spots they prefer. If not, jump into the first person view of the best teammate still alive and try to learn from their successful playstyle.
You should typically buy whatever you can afford each round (including grenades, as noted), but always remember there are free toys wherever there’s a cadaver. In other words, feel free to skip your primary weapon purchase if the teammate who just bought an AWP is the Leroy Jenkins type that’ll be coughing up his blood-soaked gun twelve seconds into the match.
9. Gungame is serious business
Originally created as a chaos-fueled mod for Counter-Strike (itself a mod of Half-Life), Gungame pits players against each other in a fast-paced arms escalation exercise. It won’t teach you much about objectives or grenade use, but Gungame is great for practicing your aim, your reflexes, and the properties of every weapon in CS:GO.
10. Sound is everything
You can’t shoot what you can’t see… but it’s also true you can’t react to what you can’t hear. Invest in a good set of headphones and pay attention to sound. Enemy reload noises will let you know when it’s safe to rush in, as will panicked running. Plus, you’ll be more aware of your own noise, encouraging stealthier, safer approaches.
Looking for more instruction? Check out our original CS:GO beginner’s tips now!