Every gamer knows the taste of defeat can be bitter, especially when opponents teabag you or when the game rubs it in your face with a big You Died sign. That feeling of disappointment can weigh heavy on one’s heart. Gaming, after all, is a passion.
Whether you’re playing for competitions, for the story, or just for fun, maximize your enjoyment by knowing how to play better.
Here are some tips and tricks that every PC gamer should learn.
Upgrade Your Machine
There’s only so much you can do with a weak machine. Playing the latest games or even some of those hardware-demanding ones that aren’t well optimized may be next to impossible with a computer that isn’t powerful enough. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get a decent gaming PC.
Gaming PCs may cost more than gaming consoles do, but they’re versatile and upgradable. You can crank more performance out of them by replacing outdated parts with next-gen components. Sometimes, midtier parts can even add significant improvements.
When upgrading your PC, buy components according to the recommended order of priority: CPU > RAM > GPU. However, if you don’t have a GPU yet or if it’s an integrated one, then a dedicated GPU should come first.
Once those three are set, consider replacing your HDD with an SSD and getting a liquid cooling system to keep your new setup from overheating.
Keep Your Graphics Low
Graphics aren’t everything. Setting them to high or ultrahigh can eat up your CPU and memory, leaving you with a less-than-ideal frame rate per second. When you just want to play competitively or you’re in it for the gameplay and not the immersion, you may benefit from turning your graphics to the lowest settings.
For example, in a shooter like PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG), many pros like to turn off grass rendering and anisotropic filtering.
Grass can conceal enemies while not actually providing cover. However, turning grass rendering off or keeping it at the lowest setting will remove those objects from the game, allowing you to see any fool who tries to hide in a field of grass.
In the same manner, smoke from environmental fires, grenades, or smoke bombs can be reduced to mere wisps or disappear entirely if you switch anisotropic filtering off; thus, it can no longer obscure your aim or line of sight.
Or Do the Opposite and Raise All Settings to High
Of course, playing a game with ugly visuals for too long may get tiresome and bland. If you can’t get any enjoyment from doing the previous point, you can revert a game’s graphics to default so you can play it the way it’s meant to be played.
This is especially true for artsy video games that rely on immersion to deliver a satisfying experience. Shadow of the Colossus 2018 remake (and the 2005 original) comes to mind. Another good example would be the first entry in the Tomb Raider reboot series.
The game has beautiful aesthetics and visuals relative to its release date, 2013. But for low-tier and some midtier PCs to run it, the graphics must be tweaked a bit. One option to drastically improve the frame rate is to turn off reflections, especially in areas with a lot of water.
But (minor spoiler alert) doing that will make a certain scene where Lara, the heroine, glimpses her battered self through a mirror. If reflections are turned off, that scene will look awkward, with Lara staring and contemplating at a piece of wood rather than the mirror.
As you can see, graphics may not be everything, but they are something.
Survive Roguelikes and Iron Man Mode
Most video games allow you to save your progress so you can reload it later or when you want to redo a certain level. But then there are roguelikes, a genre of games where saving is automatic but not player-prompted and character deaths are permanent (unless you restart from the very beginning). Some nonroguelikes allow the same features through a game mode called Iron Man.
Many roguelikes are fun, but it can be devastating for a cherished character to die because of a bad decision, especially after you’ve invested a lot of time (and emotion and attachment and blood and sweat and tears) in them.
However, it may be possible to cheat death by crashing your game on purpose. Some roguelikes only save after certain conditions are met (e.g., ending a turn, ending a battle, exiting an area, leveling up, quitting the game via the menu, etc.). By crashing the game before it has a chance to save your progress, you can redo a decision and potentially save your character.
Alt+F4 is the quickest way to crash a game. You can also open the task manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del or Ctrl+Shift+Esc), go to the Processes tab, right-click on your game’s running .exe process, then select End Process Tree.
A couple of games where you can try this are Battle Brothers and Mount and Blade: Warband. Do note that it may be difficult to do this with games that save after every move you make (e.g., XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2, and the Fire Emblem franchise).
Are You Feeling Savvy Now?
Don’t get cocky. “Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer,” as the narrator of Darkest Dungeons likes to say.
The definite way to play better is by playing a lot, and perfect practice makes perfect. Don’t just mash those buttons; develop your hand dexterity or outwit your foes. Figure out the pattern of the game and exploit it. Git gud .
You’re playing the game; don’t let the game play you.
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