One of the most valuable skills you can develop in online gaming is situational awareness. Generally speaking, this is when you take a moment to find out what’s really going on around you. Doing this allows you to make a better decision on what to do next, rather than running aimlessly at the nearest baddie.
One of the easiest things to look up and probably the first thing you should look at is the current “state” of the game. Most if not all games have a scoreboard that you can see mid-game and it shows you a lot of stats. What you want to see here is how many points each team has and how much time is left until the end of the game. As basic as it sounds, you now know if you’re currently winning or losing and can adapt your behavior to suit. If you are winning, you may want to consider playing more cautiously. The enemy has to chase the game, and as they do, they will start playing more recklessly, taking more risks, giving you a great opportunity to take them out and increase your advantage. If your team is losing, you may need to take more risks and go a little further to get more kills or points.
Also see how much time is left. If you still have plenty of time, say 5 minutes or more, then there is no need to panic. You can afford to be a bit more relaxed, however, if you only have 30 seconds and you’re just a couple of points behind, you should drop all caution, go after the enemy with everything you’ve got, and get those last few kills to go! take the lead and finally win the game!
One of the most important tools at your disposal that is available in most FPS games is the minimap. I think if you want to be fully aware of what’s going on around you, you should watch this at least once every 10 seconds. The minimap gives you essential information, the most important of which is the location of enemies. By knowing where enemy players are, you can plan an attack or defense and catch aggressive players trying to sneak around you. It helps you stay one step ahead.
You can also use the minimap to see the position of your teammates. I’ve often noticed that players tend to be drawn to a specific area of the map and you’ll end up with a huge firefight with lots of players from both teams grouped together. Keep an eye out for this to happen, because this is your chance to move through the quiet areas of the map where there are no enemy players. This happens a lot in objective style games where everyone is focused on gaining control of a point on the map or gaining control of an object. One tactic I like to employ at this point is to move around the enemy’s flank and then shoot them as they run towards the focus area. Lots of easy kills plus it takes some pressure off your teammates so they have a better chance of doing what they need to do.
At the end of the day, situational awareness is not an overly difficult skill to develop. Just take a few seconds during a game to see the big picture. Take a moment to process that information, understand what it means, and then use that to decide what to do next. You will find yourself becoming a much more effective player.