This article will teach you how to get better at video games. Although we don’t cover one specific game, you can use our advice to begin mastering titles for any system. Once you pick a console and game, perhaps consider reading one of Prima’s strategy guides for games like Battlefield Hardline, Dying Light and Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. In addition, we publish lots of free content for popular games like Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Destiny and Assassin’s Creed Unity.
With practice, you’ll be able to hang with your friends, kids and/or co-workers while getting high scores and beating today’s hottest games.
Pick a controller and familiarize yourself with it
People new to video games, especially older players reminiscing about the good old Atari 2600 and NES days, often complain about the number of buttons on today’s average controller.
They have a point.
We evolved past A and B to include the likes of Y, X, RT, RB and even L3. It’s one thing to make an on-screen character move by tilting the left analog stick, but now combine that with manipulating the virtual camera with the right stick and button presses to pull off moves, and things quickly become overwhelming.
Like most pieces of technology, the more you use the controller, the more it becomes familiar until tapping Triangle in combination with L1 is second nature. With that in mind, make an effort to figure out the controller. From there, look at the TV screen and practice pressing buttons until this becomes instinctual.
Now take this a step further by choosing a video game and mastering its specific controls; read the virtual manual, and play the in-game tutorial. In addition, stick with one game to make the process less confusing.
Play on the easiest difficulty
Ultimately you should choose the difficulty you are most comfortable with, but video game newcomers (as in they hardly play) should start off on easy. This will help you get used to the game’s mechanics. Over time, your skills will improve and you’ll feel comfortable selecting medium and harder difficulties.
Achieve 100 percent completion with one game
Pick a game and then platinum that game. Buy the strategy guide to pull it off if necessary, similar to what we did with Grand Theft Auto 5. We plan to 100 percent finish the single player, then earn every single trophy on the PS4. Doing that will force us to step outside our normal routines with games in general.
What do we mean by this? Most if not all players get into habits. Some people don’t bother with collectibles and finish the single player story mode, and that’s fine, but games are about more than one feature. To get better at games, start mastering them one at a time. Beating Grand Theft Auto 5 or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, for example, will prepare you for the inevitable sequels on some level.
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself
Pick something that’s hard and then force yourself to grow accustomed to it. We used to suck with the Crossbow in Battlefield 3, so we used only that weapon for an entire night. By the end of the evening, using it had become second nature. For first person shooters, people tend to take on the personalities of their weapons, like rushing with an Light Machine Gun that carries 200 rounds. By taking a pistol or some other gun that will lose in those twitch moments, it forces players to use their heads to obtain an edge.
With first-person shooters, players need to learn the spawn points and high traffic areas. Map knowledge is probably the most important factor in being good at games like Battlefield Hardline or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. As a follow-up to that, never go to the center of a map. Stick to the perimeter, working either clockwise or counter-clockwise. We tend to find an area of the map that we’re comfortable controlling the access points to that spot. Then we stay there and work the area. If you have two or three of the spots on every map, you’ll kill plenty of enemies.
Defense is big in almost any game. It’s better to be alive with low health in the center of the map than to respawn back at your base. If things look bad, get out of there. You don’t need to be a hero if it costs you a life, unless that final kill wins the game. Even then, it may not be worth it if your team loses momentum from your death. Likewise, in a fighting game, you don’t need to always be the one on the offensive. Let the opponent come to you and he or she will probably make a mistake you can capitalize on.
Furthermore, look at what you’re doing wrong and change how you play to overcome an issue. If you die repeatedly, figure out the cause. Are you too close when you should fight enemies from a distance? Are you not moving fast enough to avoid whatever killed you? Do you run into a firefight without your teammates? Adjust your play style to correct these issues and you’ll immediately see improvement.
Play against other people in person and online
If all you want to do is play single-player games, then by all means, jump on the couch, grab your drink of choice and enjoy the next several hours. Conversely, if you plan to pick up multiplayer-focused games (first person shooters and fighting games in particular), competing against as many people as possible is the best way to improve your skills.
Slaughtering friends is OK, but at the same time creates a false sense of dominance. Sure, you beat up some buddies in NBA 2K15, Madden NFL 15 and Ultra Street Fighter 4, but that’s only because you already knew what these competitors were about to do.
Don’t hesitate to step outside of this comfort zone and battle against the best the world has to offer. Enter a fighting game tournament or connect online. You’re almost guaranteed to receive a much-needed wakeup call (you may not be as good as you thought), but similar to life, learning from one’s mistakes helps us improve.
Play the characters you don’t normally like so you know everything they’re capable of. Knowing your enemy will give you a huge advantage, because not only will you know their strengths, you also know their weaknesses and limitations.
Watch other people play video games
For games like DayZ or H1Z1, watch people stream those games on Twitch. This serves two purposes. First, it surrounds you with like-minded people who can share knowledge in the chat room, and second, it allows you to learn the concepts of large-scale games without having to fail. We excelled at DayZ before playing it because we spent roughly 200 hours watching others. That’s an extreme number, but getting better is about adopting the best practices from other players.
On top of that, ask questions. “I noticed you didn’t use this ability in the last team battle. Do you know about this ability with your character?” This helps build confidence and comraderie with other players.
Most importantly, realize this will take time. You won’t be good at something the moment you pick up a controller, even if it’s a game series you’ve played before.
With that, good luck! We look forward to playing against you.