HL2DM 103 - Fundamental Skills
This course is designed to help a new player develop the skills needed to survive in a typical public server. It is also designed as a review for experienced players who want to evaluate and sharpen their basic skills.
Spawning and Gathering
The first thing you should think about is what to do when you spawn. Make it a habit to sprint or jump off your spawn point immediately, even if the server you are on has spawn protection. This will ensure you develop good habits that will carry you through any server you visit. The goal is to minimize deaths from players that monitor spawn points, and at the same time give your enemies less time to locate you and predict your next move.
Once you are in motion, you should be evaluating where you spawned and what your next move should be. This must be done quickly so that you do not waste any time in execution and do not hang around areas of immediate danger. Formulating a strong plan of action takes map knowledge, prediction, and good instincts developed through experience. In team deathmatch, teamwork and communication also factor in.
At an advanced level, the path you decide to take may be based on several strategic factors. For now, you should just attempt to gather pickups in the most efficient manner possible, and try to avoid fighting until you are sufficiently stocked.
As you gather, try not to engage the enemy, but be ready to defend yourself if you are forced to fight. If you know how to grav-nade, you should have a hand grenade out, or if there are a lot of props in the immediate area, you may want to have your gravity gun ready. Typically you should not attack an opponent with the SMG, pistol, crowbar or stunstick immediately after spawning. These weapons are too weak to use as an initial attack, and will give away your position. An example of an exception might be during teamplay when you know your opponents are weak and are busy fighting other members of your team. Additional SMG spray, or leaping in with a melee weapon might be an acceptable way to distract or confuse your opponent, or take the heat off your teammates so that they can grab health and armor. For the most part however, attacking with these weapons will just get you killed. Try to get out of the habit of leading with them, even if you don't know how to grav-nade yet.
The importance of gathering as a skill is one of the most overlooked aspects of the game. If you ask someone what skills they are working on, often they will tell you they are working on their aim and movement, possibly even studying a map. Few will tell you they are taking the time to practise efficient gathering.
The first factor in strong gathering is knowing the pickup locations and setting priorities for obtaining them. You should try to determine which weapons are the most effective within the context of the map and then develop efficient paths and methods to obtain them. Gathering armor should also be high on your list of priorities (or health if you are low). When you spawn on a map where someone is likely to lead with the crossbow, you should try to grab at least one pickup of armor immediately, so that you may survive one crossbow bolt as you continue to gather. The same goes for other weapons. In a map where the mag dominates, staying above the one body shot theshold of 75 points is crucial. In an RPG heavy map, try to stay at full health and armor as much as you can so that you have the chance of surviving one rocket blast. Obviously the ideal situation is to be at full health and armor at all times, but this is not always possible, and it must be balanced with gathering weapons and ammo so that you are prepared to defend, or are ready to attack when the opportunity presents itself.
The second factor in strong gathering is remembering to grab pickups as you move through the map, especially when under pressure. If you are too focused on getting to a certain location on the map, you may forget to gather important pickups along the way. This is something that comes with experience, but it is always good to be conscious of it as you will never know what you neglected to gather until you need it. Recording demos of yourself and watching them back is a good way to see how many items you pass up as you move around the map.
The third factor in strong gathering is dexterity. This means moving rapidly through the map grabbing pickups as you go, using your gravity gun to snatch them from places without having to actually go there, landing on items as you fall to the ground, and knowing how to move so you can get to hard-to-reach pickups. Note also that when you grab a pickup with the gravity gun that is above your head, you need to pull it down to body height in order for it to be placed into your inventory. Practise this grabbing and pulling down motion until it is second nature.
The fourth factor in strong gathering is being creative and using all the tools at your disposal to obtain the pickups you desire. Note that weapons such as hand grenades, smg nades, the crossbow, explosive props, and even the rpg can be used to knock pickups into more accessible places, or blast them away from your opponent, possibly giving you the opportunity to grab them instead. There may be many ways to creatively gather in any given map, and it can be quite an advantage to take the time to learn them. You can also watch other players to see if they are using creative methods for gathering.
Although there are other considerations that should be made when gathering, these are the things you should focus on for now. Advanced gathering strategies relate to starving your opponent by controlling and timing pickup spawns, but these strategies will be discussed in a later course.
Drill 103.1 - Prioritization
Drill 103.2 - Gravity Gun Practise
Drill 103.3 - Pressure Gathering
The average player develops map knowledge simply by play and experience. Advanced players take the time to analyze a map and then pressure test the resulting strategies. This is a much more efficient and informative way of learning a map. In this section a simple map analysis methodology will be described to show how it is possible to develop more than just a very basic knowledge of a map. Depending on how serious you are about learning a map, you could decide not to bother, or you could expand on the process and develop your own custom methods.
Note: The more training partners you involve the better. Each person you train with will be able to offer a unique perspective during each of the following steps.
Step 1: Walkthrough
Step 2: Develop Routes
Step 3: Spawn Analysis
Step 4: Strategy Development
Step 5: Look for Angles
Step 6: Test and Tweak
Movement and Sprint Management
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to stand perfectly still while scanning the map, or while firing at their opponent. This is a sure way to get yourself killed as most good players will kill a stationary target in one or two quick shots. Learning to move in an evasive manner is essential to your survival and your development as a player. At the basic level, this means knowing when to use sprint and when to conserve it. For now, try to focus on conserving sprint for when you are in the heat of battle, or need to make a hasty escape. Using sprint to move off your spawn point is also a good habit.
For evasion purposes, try not to run directly at or away from your opponent in a straight line. Doing this effectively gives your opponent a stationary target to fire at. Get used to using your strafe keys to sidestep incoming fire. Also combine strafe keys and mouse movement with your forward and back keys so that you are shifting sideways slightly as you advance or retreat. Also experiment with various combinations of movement keys and sprint, duck and jump. Various combinations can help you to move more erratically, thereby making you a less predictable target.
Although you can spend a lot of time learning to manage your sprint and evade incoming fire, you will never reach your full potential until you learn advanced movement techniques. Integrating advanced movement into your style of play takes time and experience, so it is recommended that you start learning advanced movement techniques as early as possible. See HL2DM 202 - Advanced Movement (coming soon).
When you are first learning your weapons, try to spend a few days of play using a specific one. When you feel you have improved with it, do the same thing with a different weapon. Choose maps that you know fairly well so you can get quickly to the weapon you are practising. By doing this, you are forcing yourself to improve your skill level using weapons you might not select otherwise. Do not fall into the trap of only mastering one weapon and then being completely dependent on it.
There are two key factors that contribute to weapon selection. The first has already been discussed and that is strong gathering. In order to have a choice, you must first gather the weapon you need. The second is understanding how a weapon functions in the context of the map and the situation you are in. This ties back into map knowledge and weapon familiarity. As you analyze a map, think about which weapons are strong in each area of the map, and which positions give you an advantage or disadvantage with each. Attempting to kill someone with an orb in a wide open area is not as effective as an enclosed space. Attempting to hit someone with an smg nade as they fly through the air is a low percentage shot at best. Always try to select the best tool for the job, and be sure you know it is in your inventory before trying to switch.
Although there are many creative uses for the gravity gun, the most frequently used are:
In this section we will look at a few fundamental gravity gun concepts that will get you on the way to holding your own with the gravity gun.
First, the gravity gun has two functions. Primary fire zaps things with a pulse of energy, or fires objects if you are already holding them. Secondary fire grabs and releases objects. Note that there is a cooldown on the gravity gun. This means that if you throw something at someone and then try to catch it again right away you will not be able to until the gravity gun resets. This frustrates many new players as they don't understand why they couldn't catch an object thrown back at them, not realizing their gravity gun hadn't reset.
Props, grenades and orbs can be caught or deflected using the gravity gun. It is recommended you start practising these techniques as early as possible so that you get good at defending yourself this way. To get used to drawing your gravity gun for defense, practise switching between it and your weapon of choice while running around the map and not engaged in combat. This will start training you to make fast switchouts and block incoming objects.
In addition to throwing props at your opponent, you can also use them to shield yourself from incoming fire. This can be particularly useful if you are low on health and are taking spray damage from the SMG or AR2. Just be aware that some objects like wooden crates will break if they take too much damage, and you cannot deflect orbs with props.
Drill 103.4 - Target Practise
Drill 103.5 - Combo Practise
Drill 103.6 - Weapon Context Analysis
Drill 103.7 - Gravity Gun Tennis
Drill 103.8 - Revenge Nading
Drill 103.9 - Orb Bouncing