How to be a Good Gamer: Action Games Part III

Welcome to the final part of our tutorial on becoming a better action gamer. Today we’ll be talking over some of the really advanced techniques used by professional gamers and, speedrunners, and for anyone playing a hardcore platformer such as Super Meat Boy or Celeste. So let’s get started!

First let’s talk platformers, starting with the sidescrolling variety. If you’ve read the previous articles you should be able to get past just about any level with time and practice, but let’s talk about speedrunning those levels. If you want to really challenge yourself by getting through those levels in record time here’s a couple tips. Firstly, most expert speedrunners for sidescrolling platformers keep their eyes on the right side of the screen. Now, this takes a whole lot of practice and getting used to as you won’t be watching your character, but instead reacting based on what you see coming. This will allow more time to react and let you run straight through a course with minimal stopping or slowing down. Now obviously if the intent is speedrunning, practice and memorizing your path are of major importance, but even if you have the shortest path you still need to move as fast as possible. This is where speed moves come into play and this also applies to 3D platforming. Speed moves are a move you can repeatedly use that is faster than your usual running. If you watch a Mario 64 speedrun you may notice them long-jumping everywhere. In Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, people will often use sidehops to move from place to place. If you’re going for record breaking, these moves save precious seconds that add up. This doesn’t go for just speedrunning either, as many of the hardcore platformers will require what seems to be near impossible reaction time, so using these tactics can help you get a little bit of extra time to react.

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Now as odd as this may sound, my next couple tips apply to both shooters and fighting games. Both games are incredibly different, yet require some of the same mindset to win. Now let’s split this up between PvP (Player vs Player) and PvE(Player vs Environment or computer.) In the case of PvE your tactic is very simple as computer AIs are not nearly as complex as another player. In fact, they are fairly predictable. This is where meta-gaming comes in as we’ll go further into on a later article. If you can predict what an AI opponent will do everything becomes much easier. You can lead them into traps, you can hide from them even though they were looking right at you when you hid, you can use very basic tricks and tactics and they’ll almost always fall for it. Devs are always working harder to give AIs more randomness and learning capabilities, but as of right now they can mostly be exploited fairly easily.

Now let’s talk PvP, which is arguably much more difficult than PvE. For PvP you’ll have to use a combination of strategy and meta-gaming in order to come out on top. Now in the case of PvE, meta-gaming means being able to predict how the game will function and/or react, whereas PvP means predicting how the other players may function and/or react. Use this to your advantage and put yourself on the other side of the situation to outsmart them. Once you have a clear idea, step two is strategy. Now, these are things you’ll have to think over before the situation happens, as you won’t have the time to put all of this together mid-match. It’s possible, but very difficult. Let’s give an example situation. As mentioned in the previous article, if you’re in a losing fight in a shooter game and you take the advice of running and hiding until a better opportunity arrives. You can predict that your opponent will likely chase after you to get their kill, and then use that against them by placing a grenade at your feet as you’re running which creates and obstacle between you and them. Either they run through it and are weakened when they catch you, or you buy yourself precious seconds. Or say there is nowhere to run and hide and you know you’re about to go down. A smart move might be to place a grenade at your feet just before you die so anyone closing in on you might be taken down with you, or at least weakened for your teammates to pick them off.

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Fighting games will of course have different scenarios and tactics, but the principle remains the same. People tend to stick to what works, so when facing another player, keep an eye on what moves they tend to prefer. What’s their backup move if the first one doesn’t work? What combos do they like to pull off? If you manage to learn these things, you then have the tools to exploit them and use them against your opponent. Know how to block/dodge/counter their favorite moves and the telltale signs they’re about to use that move such as when a certain condition is met. Do they like to use a flying high kick when at a range? Be ready to block high or duck when at a range, or uppercut if you have the ability. If you’ve practiced based on the other articles up till now, you should be able to get the timing down decently.

And that’s all for action games! If you read through these three articles, study, and practice your games, you should be up to any challenge you can face in gaming. And if you ever fail, learn from why and adjust to it. Now in this article we talked a little bit about meta-gaming which is important in so many games, so next week we’ll be covering that topic in a lot more depth about how to meta-game! Let me know if there’s any specific game you need help on!

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