OK everyone, this is a biggie! This is what sets the really great Ghosts players apart from all the rest. You may aim better than Jack Bauer and his mom. You might move with more intelligence than anyone else.
But to get to the top – every time – you have got to have situational awareness. And a lot of it, too.
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. Situational awareness is not something you get simply by pushing a button.
You can read and watch as many guides as you want – this quality grows over time. It develops and matures as you play more and more.
As always, there are shortcuts. This guide’s one of them. Read it – the road to mastering awareness will become shorter.
– What is it you’re on about, really?
Here’s my explanation: situational awareness is knowing where the enemy is (without SAT COMs or other aids) and then predicting what they’re going to do.
I read an interview with him a while back. He was asked, among other things, why he’s so bloody good.
– Because I can predict what my opponents do.
Now, obviously there are more things than just this that explain his FPS success match after match – like reaction times, the ability to think fast, and obviously possessing great aim.
But in this context – situational awareness – you’re well off paying attention to what he says about predictability.
The key to predicting events in games like Ghosts multiplayer is all about what and how much of what’s going on around you you’re able to pick up on.
One Cup of Situational Awareness, Please
Situational awareness isn’t something that you’re born with. It’s a skill that’s developed over time, and that comes with experience.
So what can you do to develop this skill?
I’ll get to that soon. First we’ll need to get our fundamental factors into place. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran doesn’t matter – here are the basics:
You need to be focused the whole time you’re playing. You can rarely or never relax. You need to be alert all the time. If you are, you pick up on all the hints, big and small, that the game gives you.
It’s a Cliché, Ladies and Gents
You need to know your maps. And you need to know them well. Having half-decent map knowledge ain’t gonna cut it.
Yes, I know that’s a cliché. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Here are some of the things you need to keep track of:
- Routes and shortcuts.
- High traffic routes and choke points.
- Placement of different objectives.
- Buildings – entrances and exits.
- Covers and hideouts.
- The spawn points.
- The dynamic elements.
- How exposed are you? Where can you be seen from?
Learn every single map well enough to be able to close your eyes and picture what it looks like.
The Origin of Life
An important part of knowing the maps is knowing where the different spawn points are – both your team’s and the opposing one’s.
Each map has set areas where your team and your opponents’ team spawns. The better you know these areas, the better equipped you’ll be to predict the other team’s movements.
You could, for example, play Wargame in Squads, where you choose the maps for yourself, in order to speed up the process of getting to know all the points.
Tools of the Trade
You need tools to make use of situational awareness to the fullest. Your eyes and ears are the most important ones.
What you see and hear in the game give you countless hints about what’s going on, and what’s about to happen.
What you see on screen is important. And not just what’s going on directly in front of your character, but what’s happening on the sides, too.
The ideal situation is when you can see as much as possible of the screen without having to move your eyes too much.
Are you sitting close to your big, badass flatscreen?
Try keeping more distance between you and the screen. That way you’ll pick up on more game events – and avoid neck injuries from excessive head movement.
Ghosts multiplayer contains tons of audible clues. Not all of them are equally obvious. This is where a gaming headset can give you a helping head.
You’ll hear all the details much more clearly. A good headset shuts out noise from your surroundings and allows you to focus on the game.
You can read more on headsets for gaming on my other website (click here).
Situational Awareness in Practice
OK. So I hope we’ve agreed that your vision and hearing, along with map knowledge and focus, are crucial for situational awareness.
So – how do you turn this theory into practice?
I’ll get to that now.
Stuff You Can See
Let’s start with the things we can see.
First off, we’ve got the minimap. It’s a brilliant tool, which will help you considerably when planning your actions.
How the Minimap Helps You
Learn to throw quick glances at the minimap, preferably every five or six seconds. Just don’t lock your gaze on it so that you lose your focus on everything else going on your screen.
Here are some of the clues you’ll get:
When an enemy fires his or her weapon, this’ll be marked on the minimap with a small dot. This is obviously important information that enables you to plan your movements.
But don’t trust it blindly. When opponents use silencers with their weapons, they won’t be marked, even when they fire.
SAT COMs will mark your enemies as small dots on the minimap (as long as they haven’t got a perk hiding them).
The dots show you where your opponents are, and where they’re headed. And most importantly – you see where they’re not situated.
This last bit’s important when you want to flank hostiles, or attack them from behind. Empty areas on the minimap when a SAT COM is active often means a safer route to your destination.
Video break: SAT COM Tips
Empty Areas Without SAT COMs
Empty areas when a SAT COM isn’t active are more dangerous. Be careful if you’re moving into these. You’re most likely not alone.
These areas, which contain neither your teammates’ triangles, or ominous dots, could be the enemy’s spawn points.
The Spawn Points Change
All spawn areas on a map are predetermined. During a match, you and your team will take turns spawning in several of them. So will your opponents.
– Why don’t we spawn in the same area all the time?
The reason is this:
The game is programmed to let you spawn in fairly safe areas. Which areas are considered safe at any given time is determined by where the rest of your team is situated and where your opponents are.
If enough friendlies are situated on the left side of a map, while the opposing team’s mostly to the right, you’ll spawn in one of the areas to the left.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: your opponents almost always spawn on the opposite side to your spawn point.
No rule goes without exceptions, of course. But you’re fairly safe to assume that this rule holds most of the time.
So, back to the minimap.
- Notice where on the map your character spawns. Assume your opponents spawn on the opposite side.
- Notice where your buddies spawn. Again – assume that the hostiles spawn on the other side.
- Plan your movements in relation to this.
Just know one thing: there will almost always be enemies close to your spawn point. At least you should assume so.
Where Are All My Friends?
Use the minimap to follow your friends’ locations. They’re symbolised with small triangles.
- Knowing where your team mates are situated is important at any given time, most of all in objective based game modes like Domination and Search and Rescue.
- It doesn’t matter which game mode you’re playing in – wherever several of your fellow players are lumped together, there’ll usually also be, or soon be, a larger group of opponents.
- You just discovered you’re alone in an empty area of the minimap, while the rest of your team’s a way away? Then you’re most likely in hostile land. Keep a low profile or get back to your own team ASAP.
This latter point might be caused by so-called spawn flips, or a change in spawn areas, if you will.
If you end up on the wrong side of a spawn flip, you may suddenly have enemies all over the place. And believe me, this is rarely an ideal position to find oneself in when flying solo.
So, how do spawn flips occur?
Here’s the explanation.
Let’s imagine that you and your team spawn in the southern part of a map. Your opponents spawn up north.
A bunch of your teammates move north to face the enemy. A few remain, you included.
Several hostiles move into your area. They kill everyone except for you. And because they’re now a majority in your spawn area, and a minority in their own, the game mechanisms ensure a spawn flip.
Your character, if it’s alive, is suddenly trapped in the enemy’s new spawn area.
So learn how to spot spawn flips before they happen.
Well, pay attention to that minimap of yours. Is the area around you about to be emptied of friendlies? Then you should assume a spawn flip’s just around the corner.
Get away, or (as I mentioned before) keep an extremely low profile.
What are My Friends Up To?
Keep an eye on your friendly characters on the minimap.
- When one of your teammates fires its weapon, the character’s triangle will light up on the minimap. This is a good indication that one or more crooks are situated close to your friendly.
- Try noticing which direction the triangle’s pointing. This’ll tell you where your friend is looking, and shooting.
- If the triangle disappears, your teammate just died. And there’s a pretty fair chance that his perpetrator is still at large.
Situations like these reveal your opponents. Now you know approximately where one or more of them are. As such, you can choose between commencing pursuit, or letting their crimes go unpunished.
Objective Based Game Modes
Take a game mode like Domination. You and your team fight against the other team to control more areas on the map.
Each area is marked with symbols on the minimap.
Neutral areas have a neutral color. As soon as an area’s captured, the symbol will change color. This symbol color is determined by which team is in control.
Use this information to reveal your enemies’ movements. Here are a couple of examples:
Is an area marked with a neutral color?
Expect a group of hostiles either trying to capture it, or circling it in an attempt to capture.
Did the symbol just change to the hostiles’ color?
If so, one or more of them just took over the area. They’ll usually do one of two things:
- They’ll chill (well, not chill, but you know what I mean) around the area to defend it.
- They’ll move towards the next control point which you control, or which is neutral.
Do all the control points have the enemy’s color?
Expect most of them to be situated between the center control point and the one closest to your spawn point.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Simply by throwing quick looks at the minimap, you receive tons of information on what your opponents are up to.
Suddenly, the events in Ghosts multiplayer aren’t as random as many think. The minimap will reveal a lot of the patterns in a match.
How the HUD Helps You
The HUD is all the things you see onscreen, in front of you, while playing. Since we’ve already talked a fair bit about the minimap, we’ll forget about that for a second. Let’s focus on the rest.
The more you study what’s happening on the screen in front of you, the more leads you’ll pick up on.
Keeping situational awareness in mind, it’d be best if you could stand completely still to register everything that’s going on.
But everyone who’s tried standing still for more than three seconds at a time in a Call of Duty game knows that it’s a big no-no.
You have to keep moving. If not, your character’ll die.
This doesn’t mean that you need to constantly be running. The quicker you move, the greater the chance of you missing out on vital information.
If you want to get good at making use of all the clues in Ghosts multiplayer, you’ll need to balance running and walking.
Here are some of the things that’ll help you, simply by paying attention to the screen.
Scan from Side to Side
A lot of players move with their gaze locked forward. That’s not particularly smart now, is it?
You have to try to register what’s going on around you. Enemies can show up at your sides; grenades might land behind you.
You need to try scanning the area in front of you – from side to side – while you’re on the move. Sometimes, you should also do a quick 180 to see what’s going on behind your back.
The more information you’re able to gather on events and movements around you, the better a foundation you’ll have for making decisions.
When you scan from side to side, the chances of you seeing that hostile running into the building to your right are bigger. Now you can run to the back of the building and give your opponent a warm welcome, should he come out on the other side.
Navigating by the Skulls
Skulls, which show up on screen, tell you that one of your teammates’ has been killed in action.
The skull will also mark where the fatality happened.
Thus, you’ll get a fairly accurate indicator of where at least one hostile is situated.
If you also picked up where the now dead friendly was looking right before the kill, you may have everything you need to pinpoint the hostile’s location (if your teammate wasn’t shot in the back, that is).
Revealing Care Packages
Pay attention when the other team receives a care package, ‘cause you can see the chopper fly in to drop it.
A lot of players will try to have these packs delivered to a safe location, like the team’s spawn area.
If you’re able to see approximately where the pack lands, you’ve got a ballpark estimate of where one or more of the hostiles are situated. And you might’ve revealed the opposing team’s current spawn point.
Lethal and Tactical Body Sensors
The foundation for this tip is the crosshair (those four lines that don’t meet, remember?), which is always visible on your HUD, as long as you’re not aiming.
When you throw a grenade, lethal or tactical, you’ll notice four, smaller lines – in between the bigger ones – if there are one or more enemies within the blast radius. Those smaller lines are what we call hit markers.
With these, we’ve got a tool we can use to reveal hostiles we otherwise can’t see.
Headed into a building? Or are you turning a corner? Throw a flashbang or a frag grenade ahead of you.
Even though the latter grenade type doesn’t kill potential hostiles, the hit marker’ll reveal their presence.
Stuff You Can Hear
Your ears can be of great help to you in Ghosts online. The game contains loads of audible clues.
Some are very obvious. Some are harder to pick up on.
That’s why playing with a gaming headset will help you. These babies block out noise from your surroundings, and allow you to focus on that precious game sound instead.
You’ll also hear other players talking more clearly when using a headset.
This is an advantage; some players are good at talking about what they’re experiencing in the game. And when you can actually hear what they’re saying over the sound of explosions and gun fights, this can be of great help to you.
Hear Where It’s At
Most events in Ghosts multiplayer produce sound. Shots and explosions are obvious sources.
But you’ll also hear footsteps, weapons being reloaded, grenades landing nearby, windows breaking, and so on.
Not only will you hear them – with a decent sound system, you’ll also be able to pinpoint where the sound’s coming from. The 3D sound is good enough to be of tactical help to you a lot of the time.
If you’ve played previous titles in the Call of Duty series, I’m sure you’ve heard a voice say things like “Reloading!” or “Move!”. These are callouts.
In Ghosts, you’re not just told about teammates throwing grenades or who’s just killed a hostile.
You’ll also be warned of hostiles approaching, or situated by different landmarks. You will, in other words, be told where on the map one or more opponents are situated.
Paying attention to what’s being said, along with extensive map knowledge, will give you a great upper hand – and one most players don’t have.
Better Sound Effects
In Ghosts, you’re also able to determine where a weapon is fired simply by paying attention to its sound.
Gunshots sound considerably different in small, muffled rooms compared to how they sound inside a container, or a much larger, more open area.
After a while, you’ll often say things like these to yourself:
– Aha! That clever chap’s gotten into that room over there.
And this is with just the sound from the shot guiding you.
This is yet another good reason why you should be hearing the multiplayer sound via a decent sound system, like headphones or a headset.
That Green Day Song
In every single multiplayer game I’ve every played, patterns have formed. This has happened in Ghosts, too.
I’m talking about player behavior here.
Countless players repeat themselves – all the time. Or, they do what everyone else does. From this, the patterns I’m talking about arise:
- Every single multiplayer map contains routes that are more heavily trafficked than others.
- They’ve got areas that are always more populated than others.
- They have positions where you’ll almost always find one or more snipers.
All of this can be used to your own advantage.
- Play a few matches on each map.
- Focus on what your teammates are doing. A lot of what they’re doing, your opponents will do too, when the tables are turned.
- Notice what the other team’s doing, too: where they’re moving, and how they position themselves.
After a while, you’ll be well versed in how the patterns form. Thus you know a lot about what your opponents are going to do next time – and countless times after that – before the match has even started.
So spend some time looking for the patterns that repeat themselves on the different maps.
Do you know which Green Day song I’m on about now?
This one, of course:
The Recipe for Success
Situational awareness is a complex thing which it’ll take time to get a grip on.
But the principle’s fairly simple: it’s about understanding what’s going on around you while you’re playing.
It’s about using your senses and tools to discover and predict the enemy’s actions.
The better you are at doing this, the more the odds will turn in your favor.
In reality, this is a symphony, where focus, vision, hearing, and game understanding each play their own important part.
To start off with, I guarantee you’ll find it all overwhelming. But with practice and experience, the interplay between these different elements takes place increasingly automatically.
In the end, you won’t even think about what you’re seeing and hearing. You just act, often correctly, based on intuition. You’ve become a master of situational awareness!
Over to You
What are your thoughts on situational awareness? What tips can you share with us?F1sTDaCuFFs