How To: Play Better in Counter Strike Source

Play Better in Counter Strike Source

So You're New to Counter Strike Source?

So you're new to Counter Strike Source and you want to improve your gameplay?  Great.  You've come to the right place.

The first step to improving your game is to admit that you are a NEWB or NEWBIE.  Do not confuse this with NOOB.  A "newb" is someone new to a game.  Everyone is a newb at times.  But you are willing to learn the game, better your skills, and to have fun.  A "noob" is someone who is not new but still lacks skill, either because they never bothered to learn the game or are too stupid to learn.  Hopefully you will outgrow your newbish ways and not become a noob.

Ok.  Admit you are a newb.  You do not know how to play.  You do not know the maps.  You do not know the tactics or the weapon balances or anything.  So what do you do?  Sit back on the team.  Try spectating a few matches (or spectate others when you die and watch their tactics).  Do not Rambo style AKA "lone wolf."  This means do not go out by yourself.  You will die.  Stick in groups and you will survive longer.  Watch how your teammates work and look at all the typical hiding places for both teams.

The Basics

The first order of business is to learn the basics.  This is not your typical run and gun shooter.  You will die fast.  About 4-5 shots is all it takes to kill you in most cases.  Remember this.  Don't run around thinking your are invincible.  Headshots are instant kills.  Snipers, rifles, sub machine guns, and even pistols can headshot you.  It is always best to aim for the head.  Instead of trying to hit someone a few times to kill them you will kill them instantly.  Always aim for the head.

I recommend the first thing you do before you try to play regular servers is play against bots or Gun Game or Deathmatch servers.  To play against bots (Artificial Intelligence AKA computer controlled characters) create your own server.

How To Play Against Bots

  • In the main menu click "Create Server".
  • Choose an easy map (de_dust2 or cs_office are best).
  • Check the option "Include CPU players."  Select 3 bots (you can have more than 3 without changing a couple of advanced commands).  Choose "Easy" difficulty.
  • Click the "Game" tab.  For starting money put 16,000. For freeze time select 5 seconds so you can have time to navigate the buy menu without having the bots come rushing at you.
  • Click the "CPU Player Options" tab. Under the section "Bots can use", deselect all weapons. This will make the bots come at you with only knives. 

Now practice. Practice and practice against the bots and see how different weapons handle. See how hard it is to kill the bots by spraying or burst fire.  See how fast they die. 

Another good starting point is to play online in Gun Game or Deathmatch servers.  To find a Gun Game server sort the servers by map and find maps with "gg_" prefix.  "gg_" stands for Gun Game.  I will refer to Gun Game as GG.  In GG servers you spawn with a specific weapon.  Every time you kill someone you get a new weapon.  The goal is to get the last weapon and win.  This helps because it lets you play with a variety of weapons and see how much recoil they have, how much damage they do, and general aim/play styles with each.

Deathmatch servers are maps beginning with "dm_". However, these are generally not populated.  To find a populated server sort the server list by players. Usually somewhere within the top 10 or 15 spots will be a Deathmatch server. You will have to look at the server name. Usually they will say something like "24/7 Dust2 Deathmatch" or "24/7 Office DM"  (Dust2 and Office are the map names. "DM" is short for Deathmatch.) These servers are exactly what they sound like. You kill people. That's it. No objective. They are good for learning because you spawn over and over and over in a round. There are no one life rules. Also, you don't have to use money to buy weapons. You get to choose what weapon you want. DM servers offer good practice on all weapons.

Beginner's Information

Now you're ready to start playing.  Here are some tips and basic gameplay knowledge that you probably don't know. A lot of people will not share this information in game. For some reason when you ask for help as a newb most people seem to say "Press Alt+F4" (this just exits your game).  An important feature you should enable for some of these tips is the "console" (AKA Devloper's console).  It lets you input some advanced commands into your game.

Step 1 To enable your console, go to Options and then Keyboard settings.  Click the "Advanced" button and check "Enable developer console (~)"  Then to open the console ingame press the "~" key which is to the left of the number "1."

  • Amount of kills is NOT important.  It is better to listen to your team and use strategy than to brag "OMG I GOT 20 KILLS AND 4 DEATHS LOLOLOL!" Your kills will increase over a few weeks of training.
  • ALWAYS buy Kevlar + Helmet. It gives you 100 armor which greatly reduces damage taken. You will be able to absorb a few more shots. The Helmet protects you from headshot instant kills from most weapons. Buying just the Kevlar will not protect your head.
  • Grenades are not instant kill weapons. They do a lot of damage but you will almost never kill someone instantly. They should be used to soften an area before entering or to finish off someone who was already hurt before.
  • Burst fire your weapons. If you burst fire you will have better accuracy than if you just hold down the trigger (Spray and pray technique). The longer you hold the trigger the more the bullets spread out. If you just tap your fire button the weapons are deadly accurate. You can even pick off headshots at long range with rifles.
  • Always use a silencer.  Right click (or alternate fire if you changed your buttons) with some weapons to equip a silencer.  The shots do a little less damage but have less recoil.  Less recoil is always good.  Plus, you won't show up on the radar when you fire your weapon.
  • Aim for the high chest area.  If you aim for the high chest then those few burst shots that you do may kick up and hit the head for an instant kill.  And if they don't then chest shots do the most damage.
  • Standing still and/or crouching give the best accuracy.  If you run while shooting your shots will be more spread out.
  • Fix your video settings. If you have a low end graphics card or if you have integrated graphics turn all your graphics settings to the lowest possible. The more Frames Per Second you get the better. It will help your reaction time and you will survive longer than if you try to keep your game pretty when your computer can't handle it. Even getting 10 more FPS will be better.
  • Turn off High Dynamic Range (HDR). This is a setting that tries to emulate the human eye. If you are in a dark tunnel and step into a bright lighted area the screen will be super bright and you won't see much for about 1 or 2 seconds. Then the light will adjust and you can see. This may be a cool concept playing Half Life 2 solo, but in a competitive match it hinders you. Nobody plays with this online. You shouldn't either. To turn it off go into Advanced Video settings and under the "High Dynamic Range" option select "None."
  • Play with sound on or use a headset. You can tell where enemies are coming from most times by their footsteps. Or if they are around the corner and you hear them reload then you can jump out and catch them off guard.
  • Walk to be sneaky. Your character is always running. Holding "Shift" while moving makes you walk. You do not create footstep noises when walking so this helps you sneak up on people.
  • Pick the right camouflaged character. If you play on the Aztec map which mostly has green and brown textures and you choose the snow camouflaged Terrorist you will be an easy target.
  • Fix your crosshair. You have a dynamic crosshair by default. What that means is when you run around your crosshair spreads out to tell you that your shot won't be as accurate. This is bad because then you can't pinpoint where you're going to be shooting. Turn it off by going into your console and typing "cl_dynamiccrosshair 0" without the quotation marks. Also, make your crosshair very small so you can pinpoint exactly where it's pointing at so you can pick off headshots with better accuracy. Go into your C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\ACCOUNT NAME\counter-strike source\cstrike\cfg folder and find the file "autoexec.cfg." If it's not there create it with Notepad. Open the file with Notepad and put in "cl_crosshairscale 3000" without quotes. This will make your crosshair very small. You can mess around to find your exact fit. 3000 is the highest you can go.
  • Bullets can go through corners. Bullets can go through about the first few inches of the ingame walls and out the other side. If there's someone around a corner you don't have to jump out to try and shoot them. Shoot the corners and try to get them on the other side.  You can even do this at popular hiding spots and hope someones around the corner.
  • Use your radar. If enemies shoot or are spotted they will show on the radar for you to see. Your teammates also show up. If you see an "X" that means they died and there may be an enemy nearby.
  • Look at the wall to counter a flashbang. If someone throws a flash your way quickly look into the closest wall. This will help reduce the time you are blinded.
  • Play your position on the map. In hostage situations the Terrorists generally stay on the defense because the Counter Terrorists have to either kill all Terrorists or escort the hostages. If you wait for them to come to you then you have the advantage. Some people get mad and call you "noob" for doing this. They are just part off the 90% ADD ridden people who can't stand still for 2 minutes. At other times the other team may get anxious and come running into a deadly situation.
  • Fix your "rates." Every server has different rates. You can usually find these by typing "!rates" in chat in game or by looking at the server home screen when you first join a server. Sometimes they are not there and you will have to ask an admin what the rates are. What rates do is they decide how your computer and the game server talk to each other. Basically it is how fast your computer updates with the server info. Adjusting your rates to what the server recommends will give you a better play experience. Each server is different.  Once you set the rates once for a server you will not have to set them again on the computer you are using unless you change it somehow. The most common rates you will change are "rate", "cl_cmdrate", and "cl_updaterate." These are applied by going into your console and typing each one and pressing enter.  For example "rate 30000" then press ENTER key, "cl_cmdrate 100" then press ENTER key, and "cl_updaterate 100" and pressing ENTER key one last times. 30,000, 100, and 100 are the most common rates, respectively. Again, you should ask the server admins what the rates are for the specific server you are on.
  • NEVER use "scripts." If you play World of Warcraft or even most MMO's you may have used scripts. They are short commands that do repetitive tasks for you. In Counter Strike they kind of "cheat" for you. For example, there was a burst fire script that let you do EXACTLY 1, 2, or 3 shots. This is almost impossible to do on a regular basis in game.  This kind of stuff is bad. Also, with the latest updates most commands that scripts use are broken and don't work anymore. Some scripts may even be bad for your settings. When I was a newb and people didn't help me I tried to figure things out myself.  I was used to scripts in WoW and figured I'd use a burst fire script. It had lines inside of it like "cl_updaterate 15" and such. Instead of helping with anything it was changing the server update rates and lowering them to make you lag a little so you can hit people easier. This will get you in trouble with most servers. Also, like I said before, MOST COMMANDS USED IN SCRIPTS NO LONGER WORK!

That's it!  You're done.

That's the end of the most basic info you will need.  The next step is to practice, practice, practice.  It sounds cliche but it's true. In about 2 or 3 weeks time you will be out there getting kills and helping your team to victory. Nobody got good at Counter Strike in 2 days time. And those good players on a server don't just run into the thick of things and bring down 5 enemies at once without dying. It's about being in the right place at the right time, sticking with your team, coordinating your efforts, and sometimes a little sprinkle of luck. In no time at all you'll look at the score board and see yourself racking up the kills with the best of them.

Want to master Microsoft Excel and take your work-from-home job prospects to the next level? Jump-start your career with our Premium A-to-Z Microsoft Excel Training Bundle from the new Gadget Hacks Shop and get lifetime access to more than 40 hours of Basic to Advanced instruction on functions, formula, tools, and more.

Buy Now (97% off) >

Other worthwhile deals to check out:

Join the Next Reality AR Community

Get the latest in AR — delivered straight to your inbox.


It's surprising just how many people play CS to this day. It's over a decade old and it's still the number one game played at any time according to source statistics (beating Modern Warfare 2).
As of right now for example,

Current Players Peak Today Game
40,955 66,217 Counter-Strike
38,920 65,550 Counter-Strike: Source
36,629 62,879 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Multiplayer
35,484 40,839 Sid Meier's Civilization V
20,958 28,334 Team Fortress 2
14,588 16,895 Football Manager 2010
10,241 12,974 Medal of Honor Beta
5,586 6,445 Empire: Total War
5,239 5,239 Left 4 Dead
4,579 6,465 Condition Zero

hell I still play from time to time. its a timeless classic.

Well there are constant updates. Vavle takes care of it's products. Unlike other companies (especially consoles) who rarely release updates or charge money for addons like new maps, Valve constantly fixes it's game and releases new free content. On top of that they embrace the mod community and let people use their SDK and mod servers how they want, you get a winning combination.

Share Your Thoughts

  • Hot
  • Latest