If, like me, your reactions feel more akin to those of a sloth on a cold Monday morning in January than, say, an elite gamer who spends hours a day submerged in frenetic action, jumping into the online multiplayer version of Ghosts can be quite an intimidating prospect. Indeed, whether you’re an FPS newbie, or an experienced player, starting from scratch on any new game can be a bewildering, and at times extremely frustrating experience, and there is, by almost any conceivable standard, a pretty steep learning curve (Personally, I didn’t just want to give up almost as soon as I’d started, I wanted to sit in a darkened room and cry, such was the totality of my humiliation). And yet I persevered and now, although I’m still not what anyone could class as elite, I’m just about starting to get the hang of things, and more importantly, I’m really starting to lay the smack down.
Given this, I thought I’d share a bit of my experience, and a few of the tips I’ve picked up along the way, knowing that plenty of you out there are in a similar situation. And it’s not an exhaustive list, by any means, so if you’ve got your own ideas, tactics or tips, please do share them in the comments below.
Firstly, just as with the campaign, it has to be said that Ghosts online looks really, really good. Most of the maps are well thought out, with places to hide, storm, ambush, or whatever it is that suits your own particular playing style. Some levels are naturally more suited to a stealthy/cautious approach, and some are smaller, thus lending themselves to more of a running around all guns blazing style, but if you’re willing to explore levels, you should be able to find little areas of Zen that give you and your abilities an advantage.
Tip number one: Get to know the maps, and how you can best utilise them.
In any map, for example, “covering your six” (to use the military parlance) is really good advice, so something as simple as knowing where you can do so, or conversely, where others might not be doing so, can offer immediate rewards. Similarly, lines of sight and strategic use of explosives and particular weaponry can give you a relatively successful outing. In the Overlord Map I found a little corner, covered both entrances with IEDs, and picked off people running through my field of view. It’s not foolproof, but I managed to pick up several kills before finally getting rumbled. In other levels, there might be a particularly sweet sniping spot, or a bottleneck allowing you to mow down several enemies as they rush through it, or maybe there’s a room where a tossed grenade can offer excellent point rewards. The Stonehaven map in particular, is not only breathtaking in its beauty and detail (I once got shot reading the English Heritage Information board, and was all like ‘worth it!’) but features places to do all of the above, and more, and I had success playing it as a sniper, cautious mid-ranger, and a devil-may-care stormer, adjusting my tactics and positioning for each approach!
Anyway, whatever the map, and whatever your style, it’s all about finding what works well, and what doesn’t. So get out there soldier, and do the reconnaissance. Even if you get chewed up while you do it, taking time to learn the maps has massive benefits down the line.
In terms of actual gameplay, Ghosts is pretty much what you’d expect. Shoot, get shot, respawn, etc. That said, there are cool little features that can break up the cycle. At one point, I shot a guy, and a little briefcase appeared over his body. When I collected it, I was given “field orders” to get a kill with my secondary weapon, which against all the odds I managed and I was rewarded with bonus XP and squad points (more on which later). The thrill, though short-lived thanks to a particularly accurate sniper interrupting my victory strutting, was undeniable, and I’ve since become a devoted briefcase hunter. Ghosts also features an impressively large number of game modes, from your standard ‘Everyone for themselves’ mayhem, to Drop Zone or Domination, which are decidedly more tactical and mentally engaging – in essence, enough variation to keep most people happy.
Tip Number Two: Play around with game modes and objectives.
Even though the Team Deathmatch is by far the most popular mode, and not a bad place to start your Ghosts online career, there are others that might be better suited to your style, or preferences, or that can just break up the seemingly endless having-your-ass-handed-to-you-ness of the Team or Individual Deathmatches.
For example, in Gun Game everyone starts with the same weapon, and is promoted to the next one upon achieving a kill, until somebody achieves a kill with the final weapon in the series and the round ends. If (admittedly, that can be a big ‘if’) you manage to get a kill relatively early, this can quickly develop into an increasing advantage, and it’s also a pretty good way to try out weapons without having to pay squad points for the privilege.
Likewise, the Infected mode can be fun, rewarding and a great way to hone your skills in a slightly different environment. Here one player is randomly selected to be a zombie, and thus begins the exponential spread of the virus, unless of course, you can hold out long enough to stop it. You get points for every infected you take down, but also every time somebody else gets infected and you don’t. And, if you do happen to get infected early on (several times the “randomly infected guy” happened to be the one stood right behind me, giving me just about enough time to turn and scream before I too joined their ranks), fear not, because every kill you get with a virus infected knife gives you a fairly generous points reward.
Drop Zone, Domination, and Kill Confirmed all provide a focus slightly beyond that of kill and be killed, although, obviously, there’s still a lot of that involved. Nonetheless, it might be that holding an objective for a few seconds gets you a bigger points tally than you’ve so far earned in your best Team Deathmatch, so it’s worth considering just for that.
My highest score in any match, incidentally, came in Infected, and because I’d followed tip number one, I knew of a spot in the Freight Map, with only one entrance, accessible only by climbing up some stuff. This meant I could lie down and blast the infected hordes as they scrambled up towards me. Because I held out for ages, got multiple kills, and loads of ‘objectives’ specific to the weapon I’d been given, I did better than I could’ve even dreamed about in a Team or Individual Deathmatch.
Tip Number Three: Be smart, be aware, and use all available information to become the best you can be (or, at least better than you currently are)!!
First and foremost there’s a reason you’ve got a little radar/map in the top left corner of your screen, and a reason one of the most sought after perks/bonuses is the ability to interfere, jam, or generally mess up an opponent’s. It’s not perfect, by any means, and some people will have paid a decent amount of squad points not to appear on yours, but it’s not a bad guide. If you see a big orange blip coming up behind you, you’re going to want to deal with it. If there are several orange dots in the room you’re just about to enter, lob a grenade, or at the very least, think very carefully about just wandering in with your hand in your pockets.
Next, pay attention to what you can see or hear happening around you. If you notice a massive gunfight nearby, and see a few dots disappear, but one remain, there’s a fairly big chance that last dot’s taken a bit of damage. That might be an easier kill for you to pick up. In a similar vein, if you’ve got some headphones, use them, because they might provide you with valuable information.
At one early point in my experience, I was being bullied by a team of youngsters, who, thanks to my rank of 4, figured (correctly) I’d be easy prey, but who also thought (incorrectly) that I couldn’t understand Portuguese, and were coordinating their attacks ‘over comms’. BOOM, the next time they had me pinned in a room, and gave the order to storm it, a couple of strategically placed IEDs, a stun grenade and some concentrated fire got me a three kill streak (plus bonuses for first and second place kills – woo, and indeed, hoo)!! I’m not saying ‘learn Portuguese’ – but DO use your ears!
Also, and I can’t emphasise this enough, learn from your mistakes, and learn from others who’ve just punished them. Although it can seem masochistic watching yourself die on the killcam, avoid the temptation to press the respawn button before doing so. There is all kinds of useful information contained in those few seconds of abject humiliation. What did you do wrong? Where was the guy (particularly useful for dealing with Snipers), did he aim, fire from the hip, crouch, jump or move around as he sent you packing?? All of this is vital if you don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and if you want to up your own game. Indeed, if Sun Tzu was a CoD player , he may very well have said ‘a good soldier learns more from his death than he does from his kills’.
Finally, pay attention to what you were killed with, and whether you might want to try it out. In fact, most levels will be littered with dropped weapons, so pick them up and try them out for free, and make a note of what you have success with, not least so that when we come to the next tip, you’re in a better position to make informed decisions.
Tip Number Four: Think carefully about your Loadout, Perks and Support Package.
In terms of equipment, loadouts etc, Ghosts is reasonably standard, but with a bit of forethought, you can buy or tweak weapons to suit your style, and mitigate your weaknesses, and using the aforementioned squad points you can add scopes, upgrade ammo, etc, in a fairly limitless set of combinations. Obviously, earning ‘squad points’, at least initially, is going to take some time, and I’d strongly suggest you make your peace with the fact that many, many times you’re going to pepper an opponent with lots of bullets, to little or no effect, only for them to nonchalantly wave their Superweapon in your general direction, and for you to die instantly. I spent my first few games feeling like I’d turned up to a thermo-nuclear war armed only with a plastic picnic spoon, but, thanks to a reasonably generous squad-points-for-noobs system, I managed to upgrade to something slightly less rubbish pretty quickly.
Now, on this point, some of you may be wondering why I’ve left this tip until now, but I found that figuring out all the stuff I’ve already mentioned first, really helped me spend my squad points wisely, and customise both loadouts and strike packages more effectively. Choice is good, but too much choice can be confusing, and it helps to know what you need to focus on.
For example, there’s a scope which, when equipped, will “highlight” enemy players briefly, allowing you to both spot them more easily, and track them for a few seconds afterwards. I was having real trouble spotting enemies in some maps (particularly Prison Break and Whiteout), usually doing so only after they’d already ended me, so this proved a God-send. However, the cost of this scope seemed to be an increased ‘zoom in’ time, so I bought the ARX-160 assault rifle, which has built in laser-targeting, making hip-firing easier and more accurate, and this then went some way to offsetting the aiming issue in close combat situations. Nevertheless, even having tipped those odds in my favour, I was still having trouble picking off the more mobile opponents, or groups of them together, even when they were highlighted. Thusly, I then changed my secondary weapon to the super-cool MK32 launcher, and this enabled me to spot/highlight multiple enemies with my primary weapon, quickly switch to my secondary, and fire off explosive rounds in their direction. Finally, as I’ve previously mentioned, I was literally getting stabbed in the back quite a lot, so I switched my ‘lethal class’ from grenade to IED, which allowed me to cover my back, and also pick up a few bonus kills whilst I was otherwise engaged elsewhere.
And then, crucially, thanks to the Perks system, I was able to double this advantage. The Perks aspect of the loadout allows you to further adjust your playing style, and is especially useful if you’ve already followed the above advice. Having trouble sneaking up on enemies? Try using Dead Silence or Incog. Having success as a long-ranger, but still missing some shots because you’re swaying like a drunk at Christmas? Buy yourself the Steady Aim Perk! If, like me, IEDs are getting you more points than actual shooting, buy yourself the ‘extra lethal’ perk, giving you the opportunity to deploy two instead of one.
Again, precisely because some perks take up more slots than others, by knowing what’s going to be a genuinely big bonus for you, and what isn’t, in the way you play your game, you’re going to be in a really good position to utilise the board, and the limited amount of slots, in order to give yourself a distinct advantage.
Finally, there’s the Strike Packages to consider. These are, essentially, the bonuses you’ll receive when achieving a killstreak of varying lengths. I’m going to level with you, although some of them are very, very cool, I only occasionally get anywhere near to deploying them. And that’s why I changed my Strike Package to Support; precisely because your killstreak doesn’t reset upon death. Bada-bing-bada-boom, that one simple change has brought killstreaks into play for me, along with all the associated benefits!!
Tip number Five: Be flexible, and be prepared to change on the fly, if and when necessary.
You can have more than one loadout! I know it sounds obvious, and I also know it can be tempting to stick with the loadout you love, but use the others to give yourself options, and tie together all of the tips mentioned thus far. If you know a level is great for sniping, figure out a sniping loadout in the same way you did your primary one, and then equip it for that level. Likewise, there’s the option to change your loadout whilst playing a game. So, if the killcam shows you’ve been picked off by the same sniper several times while you were running from point A to point B, change to your own Sniper package, and give them a taste of their own medicine while they’re busy concentrating on getting the people who aren’t willing to adjust. I did this a few times in Stormfront, Stonehaven, and Flooded, and not only was it personally satisfying, and rewarding points wise, I genuinely think it helped my team to go on and win the game. I perhaps didn’t get the kudos I deserved for this, but hey, there’s no “I” in team, right!? Conversely, if you’re primarily a Sniper, but struggle to get to your favourite perch in some levels, have an assault loadout ready to turn to as and when.
So, anyway, that’s about it. I genuinely hope you found some of this useful. Ghosts online is about reactions, and skill, sure, but just approaching it in a thoughtful manner, before, after, or during a game, can really help you out, and tip the scales in your favour. As you progress, you’re going to be able to switch weapons to chase their particular objectives, or deploy ever more spectacular perks, but, when you first start out, it’s all about getting into your groove.
Got your own tips to add? Share in the comments below!