I hope you’ll forgive the fact that the idea for this article came from a Call of Duty video. I hope you’ll forgive also that the article promised on Twitter (click that button over to the right, if you would) won’t be quite as soon as this one. I want that and its seven brothers to be top quality stuff, and right now the current one is not. That aside, the topic for this article is the idea of efficient movement. I think this concept applies to any FPS, be it CoD, Battlefield or, for our purposes here, TF2. Its core is a must for any competitive multiplayer activity, real life or no. The top Starcraft players know how to navigate the map in such a way to maximize their supply input. Counter-Strike players use game mechanics and their encyclopaedic knowledge of the maps to predict how their enemy is to act. Assassin’s Creed players must move in such a way as to remain both hidden and ready to strike. I could make a thousand more examples, but then I’d lose you in the rushes.
When being stealthy, know your role
I’ve talked on this before, but it bears repeating ad infinitum; If you play Spy (my favourite class, WiNG’s, stabby’s, etc) you must know how every class moves. Scouts take corners wide, for example, and often move back and forth as they shoot. Use the first to avoid them, the second to make bird feeders of their backs (Archimedes?). Or take the Pyro, the Spy’s worst enemy (most of the time, see any stabby video for a counter argument). Any Pyro with more than four functioning brain cells, a rarity*, will move randomly, spraying fire without warning or reason. There is a common thread to their movement, however, and to their flaming. While random, it is circular, and each Pyro has a set time between each puff, variable by a second or so. Your job as Spy especially, but also with any class that needs to remain undetected, is to analyse in moments the diameter of the circle, the jaggedness of its edges and the interval between flames. I won’t go into each class here, instead only to say that it might be helpful to stop the stabbing for a match or two and just watch. Get behind enemy lines and observe, preferably with the C&D, how a variety of players play a variety of classes**. Ask yourself, how do they move just outside of spawn as they make their way through safe areas, in the transition between safe and deadly, and so on. When you have an answer for the majority of those you encounter, the first step is complete.
When engaging in the arts of human deceasement, know the strength of thy legs
In other words, know your class’ speed, base and modified by whatever equipment you have on. Stabby, that handsome rogue with a killer moustache, has this down to a science. As do any of the other top level spies out there. Stairstabs on Scouts from half a yard away are not possible without an almost instinctual understanding of what rate someone is coming towards you. If a Scout takes a corner wide and you know the distance he’s to travel, you must also be aware of how long it will take him to round that corner. The Pyro example works here too. If he moves in an oblong circle, there is a set rate at which he will return to his starting point. If you want to stab a Medic but are just out of range, stalk him close to his near wall. Cut corners he walks casually past.
Think of a running track. Runners don’t begin on the same line, rather the runner on the outskirts begins almost thirty or so meters ahead of the runner on the inside lane. Your job when trying to catch your victim is to be that runner on the inside lane. It might take a little longer but, if you play it right, the stab or dogtags or whatever will be yours. It’s a matter of outplaying your enemy and exploiting basic physics.
When playing, know the map
Sure, this goes without saying, but if you don’t know the field on which you’re to play, you’ve already lost. Continuing with the Spy example, take PL_Upward. Here is a map with a lot of open space, and if the watch de jour is the IW or DR, time is limited. Efficient movement, learning from the above to points and a study of cloak timers, will serve you well.
With the knowledge of how the players move in the map, where sentries go, how fast the Spy goes from A to B, you have one large puzzle piece. The last is understanding how to move within the space you’re given. There’s a fine line between taking the most expeditious route and the right one. The easiest is usually the most dangerous. In your mind, have a full picture of the area of the map ready. Ask, “If I jump these pipes, is there something behind I should be wary of? If I go through this door, is it a choke point or open space?”.
Be always questioning
The final trick to playing at the top levels is to pose questions and answer them in quick succession. This helps to analyze where you stand right now and where you want to stand in five seconds, ten seconds, a minute. Even without fast reflexes, a good handle on a situation leads to victory. So long as you have an understanding of where your movements will take you, victory may already be yours.
*God dammit I’m working on it! – Bin
**Your fellow players may not thank you for this. -Bin