Basic Skills

Even the best strategy is worthless if you don't have the skills to execute it. In this section, you'll learn some survival skills which will be crucial no matter what class you are playing as.

If you've played RTCW, Quake 3, Counterstrike, etc, you're probably a pretty good gunner already. But, I'd still recommend skimming this section since there are some things in ET which differ from other FPS games.


There are many weapons in ET, but for now I'm just going to focus on SMGs (sub-machine guns), and the FG42. A sub-machine gun is smaller than a machine gun so you can carry it in two hands and run around with it. But, unlike a pistol, you can fire at a rapid rate.

The SMGs in ET include the MP40, Thompson, and the Sten. I'll also talk about the FG42 since it's more or less like an SMG except that you can snipe with it. 

The 3 SMGs in ET, plus the FG42:

Why learn how to shoot with an SMG? Isn't ET about teamwork and strategy? Well, yes to some extent. Consider the Rotators for example (one of the best clans in the US as of April 2004). They're excellent gunners, but not necessarily the best gunners in the US; however, they are smart, good players and hardly ever change their roster, so they know each other very well and how to work together effectively. Even RaZiel, who is known in the RTCW community as a good shooter has said "teamplay > aim".

However, I've often had a clan match where my team was simply outgunned by the other team. I bet if we were to play against a top clan like smf or Rotators, they wouldn't even bother thinking up a strategy. They'd just show up and pwn us with their superior gunning skills. Also, if you're not in a clan, teamwork isn't as crucial since most teams on pubs don't work together anyways. How many times have you been on a pub and noticed ONE dude pwning the other team with his l33t SMG skills? (Maybe you were that dude!) Even if you want to be an engy and focus on the objective, you still have to be able to take care of yourself.

One interesting side effect of learning how to shoot is that people suddenly start noticing you. This is a good thing if you're looking to join a clan some day :) I used to be a good medic with mediocre shooting skills. I'd get a lot of revives, but not that many kills. Then I started working on my aiming so I went rambo medic more often and then I might only have like 10 revives per game, but a good number SMG kills. People noticed me a lot more, and the crazy thing is some people would say, "Wow, you sure are a good medic!" HUH? I wasn't even doing my job! It's unfortunate that all the dedicated medics and engies out there go unnoticed, but I guess fragging is just more obvious and people consider good shooters very rare. If you try out for a clan, they'll probably want to duel you 1 vs 1 to see how you measure up.

If you aren't already shooting pro, you're going to struggle at first. It's like learning a sport. When I was a kid I played Tennis. Now, when you start learning a sport you have no idea how to play, so you just make it up as you go along. You invent your own technique, and maybe it actually works pretty well for a while... But then you mature as a player and play against better opponents, and soon you find your old habits just don't cut it any more. This happened with me, so my Tennis coach told me I needed to change my grip and improve my stroke. At first I thought, surely this guy must be on crack! The racket became limp in my hand and I sent half the balls flying out of the court. But, soon those new habits become a part of you, and you start winning more games.

React quickly.
First things first. As soon as your enemy appears on your screen, you should lock your crosshairs to his head and open fire. If you get the first shot, you have the advantage, because then your enemy's screen starts shaking, and they will struggle to lock the crosshair on you. A good practice in close range fights is to strafe out quickly to one side right at the beginning of the fight, because that way if the enemy was busy locking their crosshair on you, it breaks their aim.

Good reflexes are so crucial, especially when combined with stealth and awareness of your surroundings. Some players don't even have to bother evading shots much; they can just pump you with lead before you realize what's going on and have time to react. I'm sure this has happened to you before- you're just running somewhere and suddenly you start getting shot up and by the time you start returning fire, you already know you're fucked because you're down 30 hp and your screen is shaking.

The key here is good hand-eye coordination and reflexes. How to practice it? Well other than playing ET, I've heard some people say playing sports helped them. I've even heard juggling mentioned. Another thing you can do is play games like this one called Reflex. (Click the link to go to the game's website).

For long-range shooting, it's important to be able to look at the scene in front of you, and instantly be able to recognize an enemy. This is harder than it sounds- if he is far away, all you might see is a tiny dot. To be honest, I've found myself sometimes shooting at a signpost or something thinking it was an enemy, or worse, NOT shooting because I took too long thinking "Hmm,... what's that speck in the distance?" Train yourself to visually recognize enemies which are far away, and get good at locking your xhair on them the moment you see them.

Practice will definitely help you to recognize enemies more quickly. Other than that, get enough sleep, drink enough water, and if you have a good computer, use a resolution of 1280x1024 or so for best results. Sit up so you are closer to the screen, don't lie back in your chair. Some people may find it helpful to play in the dark since then you can focus your eyes on the screen. (Personally I can't do this because it's too much eye strain). You can also consider lowering your texture detail (read about r_picmip in the tweaking section). Low detail looks ugly, but at least that way enemies stand out more against the background.

Think about your range.
There are 3 ranges: close range, medium range, and far range. Here's how MP40 damage varies with range:

Range Bodyshot Headshot (w/ helmet) Headshot (w/o helmet)
Close 18 40 50
Medium 9-18 10-40 10-50
Far 9 10 10

Also one weird thing is that when you're in medium range, damage actually goes up as you get further away! (See diagram below)

Here's a picture showing the distance you have to be before you start to move into the medium range. It's a little hard to see, the enemy is standing on top of that stone thingy, pointed to by the pink arrows.

Medium range: beyond this, bodyshots are between 9 and 18

Here is another picture, showing the range your enemy has to be until they start slipping into far range. It's a bit hard to see, but my enemy is stnading near the barbed wire, at the front of where the bridge would be if it were built.

Far range: beyond this, it's 9 damage per shot!

Although you should avoid firing from far range (unless you have lots of ammo and a wicked accuracy), don't hesitate to fire from medium range. A common noob mistake is to keep running towards an enemy without firing because he's too far away... meanwhile the enemy is probably spraying him with lead. Also, when you get into a close-range firefight, try to keep some distance between you and your enemy instead of just rambo-charging them. This is another noob mistake. Running straight at your enemy is bad for a few reasons:

Also, jumping in the direction of the enemy, or jumping away from the enemy are bad, because then your direction is locked until your feet hit the ground. If you stay on the ground though, then it's easy to strafe away quickly if bullets start coming your way.

Turn off annoying graphics effects.
There are some graphics effects which do nothing but mess up your aim. These can be tweaked from the "View" menu in your options. Alternatively if you know how to write config files, you could tweak these settings directly thru your config.

Get a good mouse and mousepad.
Your mouse really does make a difference. If you have a crappy non-optical mouse, then when you try to follow a target, your mouse movement won't be smooth, it will be very shaky. As an exercise, you can try lightly grasping your mouse and moving your mouse across your mousepad very very slowly. If you do this you can probably feel a little bit of friction even with an optical mouse.

Some people get a very fancy mouse and expensive mouse pad to reduce this friction, which probably helps a lot if you are a top competitive player. If you're in this category, I'd suggest searching forums for questions people have posted on the topic of mice/mousepads. If you just want to be good though, then probably any mouse and mousepad will do, as long as it's not horrible. Ideally try to get an optical mouse if you can. Personally I use an MS Intellimouse Optical, and my desk as my mousepad.

Adjust your mouse sensitivity.
First of all, I think you should download RaZiel's tutorial on sensitivity called "Aiming by RaZiel". It's made for RTCW but that doesn't matter, RaZiel is the king of mouse sensitivity, and has helped many, many players (including me) to become better shots. It's a 99MB download because it contains some videos but well worth the wait:

So, here's my take on sensitivity... Most players play with a sensitivity that is too high. When you see them in a fight, their crosshairs wiggle all over the place. This makes it very hard to track the movement of distant targets. Even at medium or close range fights, if you watch a demo of someone with sensitivity that is too high, you'll probably see every time the enemy changes his direction of strafing, the crosshair suddenly jerks to the other side, way too far.

With a high sensitivity, you basically have very little accuracy when it comes to fine movements. Thus, most high sensitivity players are most comfortable at close-range fights. They rely on fast sprinting and flanking their enemies to win. The crosshair will move a lot when you play this way, and the movement isn't very precise; however since you're at such a close range, precision isn't so important, you'll still win the fight as long as you keep flanking your enemy. This technique can be pretty devastating especially on a pub where people may have slow reactions and have a hard time keeping up with you when you flank them. The problem is, when you get all up in your enemy's face, it makes it tough for your teammates to shoot at the enemy without hitting you. Also, being able to only fight well at close range is very limiting- it's like being a flamethrower. You'll often get shot down before you get near your effective range.

A low mouse sensitivity is excellent for tracking enemies and lining up precise shots at a distance. It is well suited for teamwork, because now everyone is staying back and firing at the target so you're not all blocking each other's line of fire. Also, it works excellent for ninja-like stealthy kills. For example, the other day I was playing fueldump on a pub and I just parked myself behind a tree and killed about 8 Allies in a span of about 20 seconds. Shooting long range like this is great assuming you have enough ammo to spare, because the enemy won't be able to return fire right away- first they have to find you! Often by the time the enemy realizes where he is getting shot from, he is already weakened, and his screen is shaking from getting hit.

One downside of a low mouse sensitivity is that you get flanked more easily at a close range. The key to this is firstly to learn to use your whole arm to move the mouse, not just your wrist. Using your wrist is best for making small adjustments in your aim, but if you have to suddenly turn around or something, use your arm.

Another VERY useful technique to deal with low mouse sensitivity is "strafe aiming". This basically means using the keyboard to aim in addition to using the mouse. For example, say you notice your enemy has an obvious pattern of strafing left-right-left-right during a fight. Then, while you're fighting him, follow his movement with your strafing, so that way you stay aligned with him, and you don't have to move your mouse so drastically. Also, say a target is running from left to right on your screen. All you have to do is lock your crosshair on him, and then run left to right and without even moving the mouse, you'll get 100% accuracy as long as the two of you are moving in the same direction at the same speed. And since there are really only 2 speeds in ET (running or sprinting), it's just a matter of matching whether they sprint or not. (Unless of course they are strafe jumping or something).

Using strafe aiming to minimize mouse movement is also good, because when if you make rapid flicks with your mouse, your spread increases (i.e. your gun's accuracy goes to crap). Using a mouse is just very error-prone in general because no human alive has perfect muscle control and hand-eye coordination to move the mouse EXACTLY where you want it to go. However, with strafing, all you do is press a key, so there's no room for error, and since you aren't using the mouse so much, it's easier to lock your crosshair at head level.

So, to recap, the first problem with low sensitivity is getting flanked. Although you can't solve it completely, it can be minimized by using your arm to move the mouse, and strafe aiming.

Now, the other problem with a low sensitivity is that you might tend to be less aware of your surroundings, because it's so much of a pain to keep turning around and watching your back with a low sensitivity that you might stop doing it as much. Unfortunately, this IS a real problem and there's no easy way to fix it other than practicing a lot with your low sensitivity until you get to be more comfortable with turning around. Personally at first I struggled with turning but now I find my low sensitivity fairly natural, and if I switch back to my old one I feel like I barely have control of the mouse.

Sometimes the fact that you can't turn around so easily can actually be a good thing, though. Some people, including me, have noticed that with a low sensitivity you tend to be more stealthy and cautious, because you know that you can't afford to get flanked or attacked from behind, etc. It might also be because having a low sensitivity changes your effective range from close to medium/far. So you tend to stay back, because that's where you shoot the best.

Personally, I love low sensitivity, but I find that sometimes it's just not practical. You can't just cross your fingers and hope some guy doesn't jump in at close range and dance circles around you. Also of course if you are not using an SMG but rather a panzer or something, then a high sensitivity is probably better, because you're not concerned with tracking the motion of enemies, but rather just getting your mouse to them really quick and firing off your shot. Thus, what I have is a toggle which lets me switch between low/high sensitivity. I have to admit, learning how to use the toggle correctly has been a bit of a challenge, because it's 1 extra thing to worry about. But I'm getting used to it and so far it's been pretty useful.

Get a good FPS and ping.
Download the newest video and sound drivers, overclock your CPU or video card if you know what you're doing and don't plan on keeping your computer for more than 3-5 years... Visit the tweaking and scripts section to get advice on how to tweak your graphics and networking variables to optimize your performance. To see what FPS you are getting, bring up the console (hit the ~ key), and then type in "/cg_drawfps 1". This will place a little "FPS meter" on the side of your screen. Your goal should be 76+ FPS. If your computer is crap, then your goal should be at least steady 43+ FPS.

Make sure you're playing on servers w/ a good ping. This is really important! If your net connection sucks, then sorry there's not much you can do. In this case you'll probably see enemies "warping" on the screen from point to point. In most games, you need to compensate for this warping by aiming a little ahead of your enemy (this is called "leading your target"). For example if he is moving to the right, then aim to the right of where you actually see his body. In ET I'm not sure how important this is because of the anti-lag feature, so experiment and figure out how much to lead targets by to compensate for the lag.

Aim for the head.
aim for the head, headshots do 2-3 times as much damage as body shots. You might worry that the head is too small of a target, BUT even if you aim too far left or right of the head, you'll still score a body shot. Look at this picture below, it shows how hitboxes work in ET. Anywhere in the green region is headshot, red is bodyshot.

If you're having trouble getting headshots, firstly make sure you have your crosshair at head level at all times. If no enemy is in sight, then maybe you can aim at a teammate's head to figure out where head level is. Also to remind yourself to get headshots, you can play a little "game" with yourself: try to watch your enemy as you kill him and make sure by the time he's dead, he's not wearing a helmet. If those helmets aren't popping off, you have work to do.

Don't be too concerned if your first shot at an enemy isn't a headshot. It's better to react quickly and get a bodyshot than try to line up a shot precisely on the head. Once you start shooting the enemy though, move your crosshair up so you can follow that bodyshot with a headshot or two hopefully.

Also, if your enemy is at a very far range, don't bother with headshots. At far range, headshot damage is more or less the same as bodyshot damage anyways. Also your spread will be crappy anyways, so might as well focus on just hitting the enemy.

If you want to know even more about headshots, then I recommend you read hitboxes revisited, an article on ET-Center by [NW]reyalP about how fucked up head hitboxes are in ET. It's a very good read!

Find your dream crosshair.
The 3 main things to consider are size, style, and color.

For size, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

If you are a newbie at ET, then the default crosshair size is probably best for you. It's huge and obvious, which is good for close range combat, which is probably what you'll be doing most since you haven't developed the skill to shoot over a large range yet. You probably also move the mouse a lot when you're trying to aim, so you want your crosshair to be large enough that you don't lose track of it.

Once you get better though, you should eventually start moving to smaller crosshairs. At this point headshots will become more important, you'll start shooting at further ranges, and you'll learn to do "strafe aiming" so you can minimize mouse movement (thus making the small xhair easier to track). The ultimate goal is to have just a dot in the middle of the screen. It's a lot easier to track targets by keeping a tiny dot within the contours of someone's body than to try to line up a hugeass crosshair on a tiny target.

However, a dot is easy to lose track of. So, there are a couple of crosshair styles which have a dot surrounded by some color. Personally I use a red dot surrounded by a very light circle of transparent blue. In my opinion, these are the best styles if you aren't used to a simple dot, because they allow for the accurate aiming you get with a dot, yet you can still see them easily.

Don't get discouraged if you find using a dot disorienting. I used to use the default crosshair and I hated the dot, but I finally gave the dot an honest try and now I love it. In writing this guide I've also looked at many old threads on forums about crosshairs, and quite often I saw posts along the lines of, "Wow, I finally tried the dot and OMG I'm actually better now!"

Here are some pictures of different crosshair styles and some comments on each one:

Default crosshair... Big and fancy, hard to lose track of!
Dot. Best xhair in theory, but difficult to see sometimes.
Dot w/ circle. This is a good choice.
This is my xhair, I love it :)

You should experiment to see what works for you. Try out the dot and see if you can adjust to it (give it some time). If not, then go back up to a higher size or different style... Then maybe in a couple of months try it again.

Most people use a white crosshair. This is fine if you use the default crosshair. However if you start experimenting with smaller crosshairs, and particularly having a single dot in the middle of the screen, then white may be difficult to see on some maps which have a lot of snow. You're going to want something very bright and easily viewable on all backgrounds. Thus, most players like to play with a red or magenta xhair. Maybe blue or aqua, whatever suits your taste as long as you can easily see it at all times.

Note that you don't want to make your xhair too small, or it starts getting blurry due to texture filtering. If you want to remove the blurriness, you could change your texture filter, like so:

/r_texturemode GL_LINEAR

This helps a bit. Personally I use GL_NEAREST, because then my crosshair is super sharp. Unfortunately, this makes everything on the screen pixelated and jaggy, but personally I don't mind too much as long as my xhair is sharp.

Minimize your spread.
Even if your crosshairs are aimed perfectly, each bullet will go a slightly different way. This is called the "spread" of a gun.

To reduce the spread:

Crouching is a good idea because it also makes you a smaller target. Crouch-strafing is even better, because you're not completely stationary then, and also, when you crouch-strafe, the hitbox for your head actually changes so it's more near your chest and neck. (Whereas if you just crouch and don't move, the hitbox is where it should be). When you crouch, don't stay crouched for very long, especially if your enemy starts to return fire. If this happens, you can quickly move to one side, then crouch and resume firing, and keep doing this to make yourself a tougher target.

Firing in bursts is also good for more than just accuracy: it conserves ammo! The idea is that you should lock your crosshair on your target and then fire like crazy. But if they suddenly leap or something and your aim goes bad, then stop firing for a split second while you adjust. Also sometimes I find burst firing lets me refocus. For example sometimes I'll be in a fight and my aim is really shitty. So I take a deep breath, hold my fire for half a second, and then finish my enemy off.

Here's some pictures comparing the spread of SMGs:

  Standing Standing (burst) Crouching

The Thompson is fairly accurate, and is an excellent gun for close-range fights. Crouching makes it quite accurate, almost as accurate as a Sten fired standing up.

The FG42 is wildly inaccurate, and as you can see, burst firing and crouching don't help! It's sometimes called a "spray and pray" weapon, because you just shoot like crazy and get a lot of bodyshots. It can really only be effective at close range.

The Sten is extremely accurate. If you're good with headshots, the Sten can be great for taking down enemies quickly, even at medium to far range.

Don't underestimate the importance of your gun accuracy, especially if you don't have level 3 light weapons yet. Going from an MP40/Thompson to a Sten, my accuracy usually goes up a whole 10%!

Never switch targets.
Sometimes you'll be shooting at one guy, then his buddy appears on the scene. Don't switch targets in the middle of a fight- you'll just end up half-killing two guys, but not fully killing anyone!

One effective tactic is, if you notice a buddy taking fire, run in and fight the enemy. Force him to switch targets to you. By then though, the enemy will also hopefully be somewhat low on HP, so you'll easily finish him off, and your teammate won't die. This works best if one of you is a medic.

Move during a fight.
How you move while you fight is important. There are many viewpoints on what is the correct way to move. I'll try to give you some good tips of things that worked for me, but if you don't agree with something I say, feel free to experiment on your own. For example, there are some people who purely concentrate on aim, and barely evade the enemy. However, their aim and reaction time is so good that they can take anyone down in a handful of shots before the enemy has time to do much. This is very rare of course...

So, let's start by looking at a couple of bad patterns of movement:

Bad pattern #1: The Suicide charge

This is pretty much what all noobs do, and it just doesn't work very well. They'll just charge the enemy head on, running towards them in a straight line.

What's the point of that? From your enemy's point of view, it doesn't make you harder to hit- on the contrary, it makes you easier because you keep getting closer so you get to be a bigger target on their screen.

The only time you should really do this is if your enemy is at a particularly weak moment: his back is turned, he's reloading, etc. But as a general movement pattern, avoid this like the plague and slap yourself if you catch yourself doing this.

Bad pattern #2: Jumping towards or away from your enemy

Never jump directly in the direction or away from your enemy. It doesn't chnage your location on the enemy's screen, only makes you a little bigger or a little smaller. What's worse is that while you're doing the jump, your position is locked on their screen until your feet hit the ground. At least if you are running backwards as opposed to jumping backwards, if you start getting fired on, you can strafe left or right while you run.

Now, let's see some good patterns:

Good pattern #1: The Glance

Glance is kind of a variation of the suicide charge, but it's a bit smarter. Say you're in a narrow hallway and there's an enemy there. You can charge him as if you're going straight towards him, but then continue going past him, and do a 180 degree turn, continuing to shoot him while you run backwards. Check out this animation:

The glance

This technique allows you to flank your enemy, and often works fabulously against players with slow reaction times, low pings, or low mouse sensitivities. The idea is that you run past them and do a 180 degree turn while you're going past them so you can keep shooting them while running backwards. The main important thing though is that you should only do this if you're already quite close to your enemy. If you try to do a glance from 50 feet away, you'll probably get mowed down before you even get close.

Good pattern #2: The Circle Strafe

I said before that you shouldn't charge your enemy head-on. So the obvious alternative then is to strafe while you shoot your enemy. This is all circle strafing really is. It means keeping your crosshair locked on your enemy while you hold left or right strafe.

The reason it's called circle strafe is that if you do this long enough around a stationary target, you'll go in a circle, as in this animation:

Pure circle strafe

Of course, in practice, nobody really runs full circles around other players. You might strafe for a while in one direction, and then strafe for a while in the other direction.

Good pattern #3: Side-to-side

In a close range fight, you have to move a lot to avoid getting shot up. The most popular movement pattern at close range is moving side to side really quickly as in this picture:

Side to side

When you are in a fierce 1v1 battle and you're both strafing side to side like this, hitting your enemy is going to become a lot more difficult. You can choose to move in a parallel or contrary motion. In parallel motion you match their movements- this is the idea behind strafe aiming. With contrary motion, you rely more on mouse movement.

Try to be unpredictable as well- after you do a bit of side to side, suddenly run out long to one side. You may even be able to force your enemy to move his mouse so far that he can't move it any more. If you want to make a long run to one side, try to kill your enemies while strafing from left to right. Why? Because if you're moving left to right, then your enemy will have to move their mouse right to left, and for most players who are right-handed, this is more difficult.

If they aren't sprinting or they aren't changing directions frequently, you can probably track their motion with your crosshair more or less exactly, like in the animation below:

If they have very fast movement, then try to track it as best as you can, but be VERY careful that you don't get into the pattern of flicking your cursor and overshooting your target, because then this will happen:

It's better to keep your crosshair limited to a range of motion which you can control more easily, so what you should try to do is this:

With this last picture, you can see my crosshair really isn't moving that much horizontally. (Sorry about the wobbling up and down, this is my l33t paint shop pro skills at work). At the far left or far right of the enemy's motion, my crosshair is barely even lined up on the enemy. But this is OK, it will still count as a bodyshot, and at least I can keep things under control.

One good way to tell if you're over-aiming this is to watch a demo of yourself in slow motion. If you notice you wiggling your crosshair a lot, then try to make your mouse movements more gentle. 

Good pattern #4: Crouching still

At long range, or if your enemy is reloading or has his back turned, it's not necessary to run around like crazy. Instead, crouch and try to nail the enemy with some accurate shots. It's a great technique just as long as you don't stay crouched too long.

Good pattern #5: Going prone

Going prone during a firefight is the subject of many jokes among good players, so maybe I should have put this in the "bad pattern" section :) At very close range, proning is just stupid because your enemy can easily flank you, and you'll be stationary anyways.

However, there are some cases where it may actually be useful:

Good pattern #6: Matrix-style bullet dodge

OK, I'd be lying to you if I said there's a player alive that can dodge bullets like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. However, if you're observant you can tell to some extent where your enemy's fire is going and try to move away rather than INTO that line of fire. Especially if your enemy is shooting at a teammate, stay clear of his line of fire. Pay attention to the direction the enemy's gun is facing, and watch the bullet tracers that come out of the gun. Similarly, if you are gearing up for a 2v1 (you and a teammate vs. one enemy), try to separate yourselves out a bit so that you don't get in each other's line of fire.

Anyways, those are some good patterns you can use as you develop a good "style" for how you move. If you are not comfortable with moving during a fight yet, then just practice the basic side-to-side motion. As you get better, practice adding bursts of sprint to your motion and occasionally crouch-strafing for a second and then bursting into another sprint, etc. The key is to be unpredictable.

This kind of fluid motion takes a lot of dexterity with your hand on the keyboard, as well as a good aim to compensate for all the moving you're doing. Make sure you have a good arrangement of your fingers on the keyboard. Here is one you could try:

This arrangement is good because you have easy access to all your most common keys like moving, sprinting and jumping. For crouch or prone, you can just use your thumb.

Even with a good keyboard layout, it can get awkward if you have to hold down lots of keys at the same time. So if you want, you can have a toggle like a sprint toggle or crouch toggle, so when you hit that key, you stay sprinting or crouching until you hit it again. For more info about this, look up the "Sprint toggle" in the scripting and tweaking section.

Always gib your enemies.
It's not enough to just kill someone with an SMG. You have to make sure they're completely dead otherwise a medic will just come and revive!

There are several main ways to gib: knife, pistol, SMG, or grenade:

Note that wounded enemies don't have a head hitbox so you should just aim at their center so that your shots actually register. There is an exploit in the game though, that if you stand on someone's head while they're on the ground, crouch, face their crotch and knife them, they'll get instantly gibbed. This sound so strange I almost wonder if this was some kind of joke by the programmers, but anyways it does seem to work as far as I can tell :)

Sometimes you might kill someone, but you don't have a chance to gib him because there are other enemies firing at you. What should you do? It depends. Here are some rough guidelines:

Gib the body if:

Don't gib the body if:

Understand your stats
Hopefully by now you know you can press ALT during a game to bring up your detailed stats. Stats are also displayed on the console after a game (just press ~ to view them) and scroll up using PGUP.

The main stats a shooter needs to look at are:

Accuracy is important, but don't play just to get a good accuracy. For example, some players don't gib because it means they'll lower their accuracy by wasting shots. This is just stupid, you should just play your best and accuracy will reflect your playing.

Pay some attention to how many shots you fire during a game. If all you do is get into fights, then you should be getting about 50 shots per minute, i.e. 500 shots per 10 minutes, or 1500 shots per half-hour game. Of course, you might have much less than this, for example if you're a medic and do a lot of reviving/healing. Other than that though, this is still a pretty good stat to pay attention to.

There's also a stat called "Efficiency" which appears at the end of the game and is abbreviated as "Eff". Efficiency is calculated by this formula:

Eff = Kills / (Kills + Deaths)

So if you get Eff of 0.5, it means you killed as much as you died. If you got Eff of say, 0.8, then that means for every death, you had 4 kills.

Another stat I like to think about is "Persistence". This is just a name I made up for it, and it is calculated as:

P = Kills / (Damage given / 100)

What the hell is that? Well, assuming your average enemy has 100 HP, then if you divide Damage given by 100, that should tell you how many kills you got. So,

P = (Actual Kills) / (Expected Kills)

What this basically tells you is how persistent you are in killing your enemies. So say you got a damage given of 8269, and you got 40 kills. Then your persistence is:

P = 40 / (8063 / 100) = 40 / 80 = 0.5

So what this means is that, with 8063 damage given, you really should have 80 kills, but you don't! You only have 40 kills. So what does a low persistence mean? It means you didn't finish off your enemies often enough. You shot them a few times, but that didn't lead to a kill. How can this happen? It might be that you were shooting a medic but then he ran off and healed himself, so you scored some damage, but didn't result in a kill. Or maybe, you lost a lot of fights, so although you might have damaged your enemy a lot, in the end you weren't the one scoring the kill.

Another ratio you can calculate is the "headshots to hits" ratio. Some people like to calculate "headshots to kills" but I don't think that is a good idea, because if your persistence is low, then your headshots-to-kills ratio will be over inflated, because you may have a lot of headshots but a low number of kills.

Practice your shooting.
Work on everything I talked about in this section- leading your targets, headshots, circle strafing, etc. Get very comfortable with using sprint and proper movement. Pick a server with a good ping, and players who are better than you. ETpro servers are great because then you can enable "hit sounds" so you know when you get a headshot. Download 'Aiming by RaZiel' and play the "Reflex" game to warm up every time before you play ET. When you're practicing, try to be cautious and intelligent, yet aggressive- i.e. don't just sit around and pass out ammo. You have to learn to survive in combat if you want to be good.

Learn from others.
Spec top players or download recordings of clan matches (or analyze your own if you're in a clan!) You could even try to ask better players for some tips on IRC, or watching a demo of a top player and discussing the demo as you watch it. Personally I'm too shy to do this but I know a lot of good players say this really helped them. Also, record yourself playing and watch the demos. It doesn't take so long since you can fast forward through slow parts. I record almost every game I play so I can watch it later if I want. When you watch yourself, always be thinking about why you lost a fight, or conversely what your enemy did right to win the fight.


In the last section I talked a bit about movement during a fight. Here we're just talking about getting from point A to B effectively. So what's the big deal about movement? Well, for one, you spend most of your time doing it! If you move intelligently, you can get to your destination faster and make yourself less of a target. If you get to be an expert shooter, this becomes so important because then most of your deaths will come from stupid things like catching the eye of a bloodthirsty panzer, rather than lack of skill in SMG fights.

Avoid Clumping.
Clumping is when you fail to maintain a safe distance from teammates. It happens a lot particularly when people are leaving the spawn point. If you clump together, you'll be easy picking for a panzerfaust. You'll get in the way of medics trying to revive someone. You'll block the line of fire of your teammate, causing him to do nothing, or worse, shoot you in the back! So, always be aware of where your teammates are and give people their space.

Don't run in single file.
When you're running with other people, try not to be directly behind the guy in front of you. For example, if you are running down a tunnel, if the guy in front of you is on the left side of the tunnel, you should be on the right. This way if you get into a fight, at least the 2 guys in the front of the team can have clear line of fire.

On a similar note, if a teammate is behind you and you both get attacked, try to limit the amount of side-to-side movement. It's really annoying when I'm trying to get a clear shot at an enemy, but the guy in front of me keeps strafing in and out of my line of fire, so I can't shoot. If this happens to you, one way to solve it would be to just cut in front of your teammate so that you're the one in front and he's not blocking you.

A good tactic is to force enemies into single file by rotating around them so that they line up with each other. This way, the guy whose view is being blocked by his teammate will either TK his buddy (yay) or hold his fire until he can get a clear shot at you.

Use sprinting properly.
Amazingly, I've seen some people who've played ET for months, and still didn't realize that you can hold down SHIFT to sprint. This is extremely important, not just for running fast, but also for doing "trickjumps" which I will cover later on in this guide.

Try to save some stamina for when you really need it. A good use of sprinting would be if you are an engy rushing to defuse some dynamite, a medic rushing to revive someone, or a covert ops trying to sneak past enemies before they notice. It's also good for running away from a battle, or escaping with an objective. (For example, stealing radar parts). The only time I can think of when you want to waste all your stamina as soon as you spawn is if there's an airstrike on your spawn point. Then you need to move quickly before your invulnerability wears off.

Move unpredictably.
A good shooter can shoot someone moving in a straight line relatively easily. So, if you're running out in the open where people might shoot at you, break up your predictable pattern. Run in a slightly zig zag pattern when you're in dangerous areas. Jump from time to time. Learn to make a short run, then take cover (behind a big rock for example), then make another quick run, and take cover, etc. Even when you don't see anyone aiming at you, be paranoid!

Also, remember that for enemies who are at a medium to far distance from you, the only kind of movement that will throw off their aim is sideways movement. If you're running directly towards them or away from them, then all that will happen is on their screen, you'll stay in the same spot, except you'll just appear bigger or smaller. In fact, running directly towards your enemy is almost always a bad idea as I mentioned in the shooting section, and is a common newbie mistake. So, remember just "moving" isn't enough, you have to have some side to side motion relative to the direction they see you from.

Avoid landmines.
If you know common landmine spots, jump over them or modify your route slightly. If possible, try to move while crouched so you go slowly and if you do step on a landmine, you'll be able to strafe jump off of it so you take minimal damage. (Or if you're an engy then obviously just defuse it). Also, moving slowly is good because then if you find out you're on a landmine, and there are teammates nearby, you can wait for your teammates to get away before you jump off of it. If you'd just gone running through the minefield, then you could have killed teammates who were following you.


Technically, "stealth" means your ability to move without being detected. What I mean by stealth though is basically getting in and out of situations without getting killed! Part of the problem is there's a lot of pressure to win the map before time runs out. So, people don't worry about dying and just out into danger recklessly with their guns blazing. That's OK to some extent- you have to take some risks otherwise you'll never get anything done. But, there are some precautions and "stealth tactics" that every good player should use so you can actually stay alive long enough to get stuff done.

Basic Stealth tactics
Here are some basic tactics which should be a part of your game play.

Watch your surroundings
Constantly look around, be paranoid. If you are running alone, or if you're the last guy in a group of teammates, make sure to watch your back once in a while in case someone is following you.

Don't just keep your eyes on the crosshair
If you always keep your eyes centered in the middle of the screen, you might miss things happening on the side of the screen. It's like if you were driving and you stared at the road, you might miss stop signs or children crossing the street.. So, keep your eyes moving!

Use headphones, not speakers
With headphones, it is easier to tell where sounds are coming from. If the sound comes in your left ear only, then it's on your left! If you hear it in both ears but it's slightly louder in your right ear, then it's somewhere in front of you and to the right. Also, crank up your volume so that you can more easily listen to gunfire, footsteps, and other audio cues.

Keep an eye on your back
If you're running somewhere, every once in a while, turn around 180 degrees (and continue running in the same direction by running backwards). This will make you hard to sneak up on.

If someone does sneak up on you and you get shot, don't just resign yourself to your fate. Immediately turn around 180 degrees and open fire back at your enemy. Make sure to use the circle-strafing techniques discussed earlier because now you're already at a disadvantage, you have to be careful.

If there's some cover nearby, like a wall you can duck behind, then go for it. Don't expect the enemy to just give up, so if you still have enough health to last in a firefight, wait for them to come for you and then nail 'em.

Avoid fighting multiple enemies
You need to be very alert and aware to make sure you don't try fighting 5 enemies at the same time. I don't care how good a shooter you are: if you get attacked by 5 wimpy enemies, there's a good chance you'll lose.

Turn a 5 vs. 1 fight into 5 separate 1 vs. 1 fights
Even if you are in a situation where there are multiple enemies, it doesn't mean you have to rush out and fight them all at the same time. If there's cover nearby, duck behind it, and only expose yourself far enough so that 1 of them can see you at a time. Work on killing him, then move on to the next one.

Peek around corners
You should do this as often as possible. Especially in doorways, it's good to do this instead of just running blindly through. When you lean, you can see the enemy, but they CAN'T see you because there's no "leaning" animation. Peeking around corners is great for a tactic called "corner whoring" where you just sit around at a corner and peek, then as soon as an enemy comes running along, ambush them.

Listen for footsteps
Every good ET player listens for footsteps. The key is being able to figure out if those footsteps belong to an enemy or if it's just a teammate. Use the compass map for this. If you hear footsteps and there aren't any teammates near you, it's an enemy! Hold CAPS LOCK to walk silently- being silent not only hides your footsteps from enemies, but also makes enemy footsteps stand out more to your ear. Crouching and proning while you move also helps mute your footsteps.

Know common camping spots
There are lots of great places enemies like to hide and shoot you from. Know what these places are and check them carefully. For example, on Goldrush, on the route from the axis spawn which goes behind the bank, Allied panzerfausts sometimes like to hide and blast you as you come out of the spawn. So, memorize all the common spots where enemies may be waiting for you, and then check for them as you are running somewhere.

Test for enemies
Before you go swimming or take a shower, you probably test the water to make sure it's not freezing or scalding, right? You should do the same in ET. If you think an enemy might be near you or waiting to ambush you, try to confirm if you're correct. For example, if you are going to walk into a room, throw a grenade in first. If you're lucky you'll kill the enemy hiding there, or at least move to give his position away.

Another way to "test" for enemies is to expose yourself just long enough to check if there's an enemy, and possibly draw him out of hiding. For example, once I was camping the water tunnel in Oasis. I was perched right above it so that if anyone came running out, I could blast him. One clever engineer came running out just for a split second, just long enough to turn around and look up to spot me. He quickly retreated back in before I could get him, and then 2 seconds later came back out and got me with a nade. Same thing when you're going to plant dyno in the anti-tank guns on Oasis. Throw a nade in, after it blows run in. Then quickly scan to see if there's someone in the room waiting to kill you. If not, then plant.

It's always fun to use this to draw out enemy fire. For example, go around a corner where a panzer is camping and then quickly run back. You may be able to get the panzer to waste his shot this way. Similarly if you see a satchel charge somewhere, you can often fool the covert into detonating it by acting like you're about to run on it, and then quickly double back.

Steal enemy SMGs
If you are using the enemy's guns, your shots will sound slightly less conspicuous.


Checking for mortars
Whenever you're playing, you should ask yourself three questions:

1) How many mortars does the enemy have?
2) Where are they aiming?
3) Do the mortars just hit the same spot again and again or vary it up?

I strongly suggest you go to the Options menu, then go to "View" and turn "Wall mark lifetime" to "Long". This makes it so that when a mortar hits the spot, that area on the ground stays blackened for 90 seconds. Over time, what happens is you can just look on the ground and see the "mortar pattern" of where they are hitting. If you see lots of black circles everywhere, then you're in trouble. If you can, try to look up at the skies. Quite often you can dodge mortar shells just by looking up and seeing them as they fall. If you see only one black spot though, it probably means it's some noob mortar just hitting the same spot over and over again. So, just run around that area and you will be fine!

Looks like allies are mortaring this area pretty heavily!

Avoiding landmines
Try to memorize the common spots for planting landmines, and then jump over those spots. Like, when you look at a piece of ground, imagine there are actually landmines there, and try to alter your route slightly to avoid them.

Get your covert ops to spot landmines. Once they are spotted, do NOT destroy the landmine by throwing an explosive on it. It's better to just spot all the enemy landmines and leave them that way. That way the enemy thinks they're safe but really their landmines are all useless because you can see them. On the other hand, if you start going around exploding their landmines, then the engies will just re-plant them. The only time you should destroy landmines is if they're placed so thickly that there's no way to run around them or jump over them.

If you step on a landmine, then you can defuse it if you're an engineer. If you're not, then first get everyone near you to move away, and then when strafe jump away from the landmine (don't just run away from it). If you do it correctly, you should be able to survive. Sometimes I just go setting off mines on purpose when I'm a level 4 medic with level 4 battle sense. By that point I have 156 HP, and by combining strafe jumping and adrenaline each landmine probably does less than 35 HP of damage to me.

If a covert and an engineer are infiltrating, like as in fueldump, it helps to have the engineer walk slowly in front of the covert. Even if the covert has tried to spot mines, it's possible you might have missed some, so having an engy walk slowly over the potential mine areas and defusing the mines can really help.

Escaping from snipers
The most important thing to avoid snipers is to keep moving! Try to move unpredictably too- throw some zigs and zags into your running. Do this even if you don't think anyone is targeting you. (Hint: they are!) Sometimes a good sniper can really hamper your team, so try to counter the sniper with a panzer, artillery, or maybe even another sniper.

Foiling MGs
The best way to avoid an MG is to have a covert ops throw a smoke grenade. For example in the bank on Goldrush, a well-placed smoke grenade can make the MG's nearly useless. A primed nade can also be great against a mobile MG such as in the goldrush bank, or a crew-served MG such as the one in the long hallway on Battery.

If you're lucky, you might be in a position where you can flank the MG and sneak up on it. Tank MGs and crew-served MGs can't aim too far downwards. So for example, if it's a tank, try to get right up close to the tank- then you can shoot the gunner on the MG without getting hit back because you're at too steep of an angle.

Try to disable crew-served MG's at every chance you get. It takes two grenades to disable an MG. If you're out of grenades, you can disable the MG by shooting it or even knifing it. I prefer knifing MGs when I get the chance because it conserves ammo.

Panzerfausts are great against MG's. The key is that you have to take cover, start charging up your panzerfaust, and then jump out at the last second so your panzer hits them before they have time to react. You can't just jump in front of an MG, and THEN start firing the panzer. One good way to do this is find some corner to peek around. While you're peeking around the corner, adjust your crosshair to the correct height so that once you strafe out to fire at the MG, you won't panic and have trouble aiming, because your crosshair will already be in generally the correct spot.

Surviving support fire
This one is actually pretty simple- if you see a smoking cannister get thrown near you, RUN!!! Learn how to distinguish between support fire thrown by Level 1 and 2 field ops, and support fire thrown by Level 3 and 4 field ops. The difference is that the Level 3 & 4 support fire lets out a lot more smoke from the cannister, and blasts a much larger area. It also explodes twice. Also, notice where the field ops is standing at the time of the explosion, because that determines the area of effect. (More info about this is in the field ops section).

There's also a trick that lets you cancel support fire, by lying on top of the cannister. Here are some tips on how to do it properly:

Surviving artillery strikes
The most important thing here is don't underestimate artillery. Lots of people think they can just run past artillery but they get blasted. The only time I would recommend actually going through an artillery strike is if you're at the top of a big hill. You can build up some really insane speed using strafe jumping, and if you time it right, you can avoid the artillery pretty easily.

Also, get to recognize the difference between arty called by a level 1 or 2 field ops, and one called by a level 3 or 4 field ops.

Sometimes though, you may have to go through artillery. For example, if you're an Allied engy on fueldump trying to construct the bridge, you can't just sit around and wait til the artillery on the construction area stops. Especially if the enemy field ops are high-level, it probably won't ever stop for a long time. So just rush in and do what you can. It works best if your team has a few engies- even if each engy only lives long enough to construct 20% of the bridge, it all adds up and the bridge will eventually get constructed.

How to practice stealth
Basically, just do it all the time when you play. Also, consider buying RTCW. It's pretty cheap now ($10-$20). It has single-player, which is great for learning stealth. In SP mode, enemies are often waiting to ambush you so learning how to peek around corners is absolutely essential. Also, there's no specific time limit, so you don't have to feel rushed like you do in ET. You'll also get more practice with crouching, because gun accuracy in RTCW is less than ET so you need to crouch more often to improve your accuracy. Multiplayer RTCW is also good, it tends to be a lot more difficult than ET since I think there are a lot of really good players who have been playing RTCW for a long time.


ET is different from what a lot of players are used to because now instead of just running around racking up frags, you have to actually work with your team to accomplish an objective. If your team doesn't work together well, then unless you're all really good gunners, you'll probably lose.

Here are some of the main aspects of teamwork:

So, let's take a closer look...

Quick chat.
The most basic form of communication is quickchat commands. For example, hitting "v21" to call for a medic or "v22" for ammo. Here are some ones you might not be as familiar with:

   v14: "Incoming!" (i.e. "Enemies are coming!")
   v15: "Fire in the hole!" (i.e. "Watch out! Airstrike!")
   v23: "I need backup!"
   v24: "Need an engineer!"
   v25: "Covering fire!" (i.e. keep the enemies busy!)
   v26: "Hold your fire!"
   v27: "Where to?"
   v28: "Need covert ops!"
   v31: "Follow me!"
   v32: "Let's go!"
   v6: "I'm a _____!" (e.g. "I'm a medic!")
   v71: "Command acknowledged!"
   v73: "Command completed!"

Part of using quick chat is just being aware of your surroundings. For example, if you see someone standing on a landmine and saying "Need an engineer!" you should be able to figure out he wants you to defuse it. Make sure to pay attention when a teammate has a blue exclamation mark over their head, that way you know who is talking.

Team chat.
Quickchat is great, but it's pretty limited. If you're trying to say something important, it's often best to type it out manually to avoid miscommunication. For example, if there's an engy about to plant dynamite, don't just say "Defend our objective!". Do that, but then also type out "There's an engy planting at the south gun!". Or if you need a medic, instead of saying "I need a medic!" 15 times, say it once or twice and then take time to type out your location like "Need a revive under the bridge!".

Voice communication.
If you join a clan, you will be using some kind of voice software like Ventrilo. This is one reason I like playing with a clan so much, communication is just so much better than it is on pubs. Anyways there's not too much to say about this, it's actually pretty easy to use.

Non-verbal communication.
This is rare, but very handy. Just stay alert, so you can figure out what people are trying to tell you. For example:

Anyways, not all non-verbal communication has to be so obvious. You probably use non-verbal comm all the time even without realizing it. For example, if you're trying to go through a doorway, and someone else on the other side is trying to come through. Then you back away from the door, in effect telling him "OK you go through first". The key is being alert and sensitive to what your teammates are doing.

Try to avoid relying on NVC too much though- for example if you want ammo, you can fire some bullet near a field ops, but also hit v22; you can't always expect that other people will be paying such close attention.

Doing your job.
In ET, every job is important. You should choose your class based on what you're good at, but if you notice that your team doesn't have any medics for example, then go medic or ask someone to.

Here are the major functions of each class:

That's it in a nutshell. Make sure you focus on the objective and help out your team. Try to be smart about it, too. For example, if you are mortaring but not getting results, maybe switch to panzer. If you're a covert ops, don't just go around stealing unis and fragging- put your class to good use or switch classes.

Try to communicate what you are doing. For example, when I am engineer, I often go and construct the command post immediately and other main objectives. So I tell my team that I'm doing it so that all the engies don't just run to the same place. If you're a field ops throwing an airstrike, say "Fire in the hole!" so people have some warning. If you're an engy planting mines, tell your team where you're planting.

Another thing to keep in mind is, while you're doing your job, you should still be helping out in fights as much as possible. If engineers ONLY concentrate on constructing, and medics ONLY revive people, and covert ops ONLY focus on infiltrating the enemy base, then you'll end up with a team where only soldiers and field ops are really doing much killing... You'll get slaughtered, and you'll find that every time you get into a fight, it's against 3 other people. So, just remember, no matter what your job is, fighting is also your job! If there's an enemy in sight, you should be running with your gun blazing. If you hear gunfire, rush to that area and help out.

Sometimes you have to play defense in ET. It's maybe not as fun as going out and being a rambo, but a good defense allows you to concentrate fire more since you'll have your teammates all staying around a choke point or objective. If everyone just goes off running somewhere, it's more difficult to set up effective crossfire, even if you travel as a group. On pubs, a lot of people hate to play defense because they'd rather go running into action. If you are willing to take one for the team and stay back, you'll be a real help to your team.

Supporting your teammates.
Try to travel with other people, don't just go out on your own trying to take on the entire enemy team. You should work on seeing the "big picture" and how you fit into helping the team. Try to focus on the right thing at the right time- don't go off trying to accomplish one thing if your team is struggling to do something else. For example, on pubs, there are big wars over who controls the command post. But, if you worry too much about secondary objectives like that, you might lose the map!

Travel with your teammates instead of traveling alone; it will also benefit you! You'll live longer and kill more enemies. You can also concentrate your fire more so your enemies will go down quicker.

Paying attention to where your teammates are.
It's shocking how many people don't do this. Don't stand in front of MG's or panzers. If you're calling for a medic and you notice one chasing you on the compass map, stop running so he can heal you!

Getting ammo
Ideally, the field ops should have ammo placed outside of the spawn point. When you take ammo, take only as much as you need. Generally, the only people who need ammo are medics, MGs, and to some extent, mortars. So, if you're not one of those, then don't pick up any ammo until everyone else gets a chance to.

Try to take responsibility for getting ammo- if the field ops aren't dropping it on the way out of the spawn, tell them to. If there isn't any available, then go to the ammo cabinets and get some. If you can fill up on ammo at the beginning of each life, then you probably won't ever have to ask for ammo again. If you do run out of ammo later on, either commit suicide or seek out the nearest field ops and ask him for ammo. Don't just call for ammo and keep on fighting, expecting the field ops to drop what he's doing and come resupply you.

Getting medics
If you are low on HP (yellow or red zone), start paying more attention to the compass map. If there's a medic near you, ask him to heal you. Actually, medics are generally scanning everyone's health so if you're low on health and there's a medic there, chances are he's chasing you to heal you anyways.

Tap out immediately if you don't want to be revived. There's no point making the medics run into danger unnecessarily. Also, tap out if the area where you're wounded is too dangerous. No point sacrificing a medic.

Try to be careful too so you don't constantly need a medic. I see a lot of people on pubs who just run out recklessly into danger and get themselves killed. Then they spam the chat with "Need a medic!" When someone doesn't revive them within 5 seconds, they start complaining about how the medics on the team suck. Of course, danger is unavoidable sometimes, but if you can help it, try not to take stupid risks like running past artillery, taking on 5 enemies at the same time, fighting someone with a pistol, etc.

Don't hesitate to "/kill" (i.e. commit suicide- read more in the "Tweaking" section). If you're very low on health or low on ammo, and you can afford respawning, then you should do that instead of bugging your teammates to interrupt what they're doing and resupply you.