I've been playing CoD games on my Xbox for a few years now, and I feel like I've hit a plateau. At first I got shot up so quickly it made my head spin, and I'd easily die 20 times a round and perhaps get one kill.

These days I can hold my own, and I typically average around 1.4 K/D (If I'm playing K/D focused). However, I still feel like there is a class of player that is far beyond my skills. I encounter these players and they win against me 90+% of the time, and I don't understand why. Sometimes I feel like I may as well toss a coin at the start of the round to determine whether I crush the other team or they crush me.

I generally just blame it on lag, or perhaps that other people practice more or have better reflexes. (kids these days, get off my lawn, etc) However, I feel like I'm missing something here that's preventing me from doing better.

If you're an "excellent" or "pro" CoD player, what's the secret? How do you consistently win encounters with other players? Are there any specific strategies you employ? Is there anything I can do besides practice more, and hope for the Lag Gods to shine down on me?

Currently I'm playing MW3, so any MW3 specific strategies are welcome, but I feel like there's enough overlap between CoD games (which has its ups and downs) that even generic advice would be useful.

  • One small obvious tip: Turn up your sensitivity. You (usually) can't be good if it takes you 5 seconds to make a 90 degree turn. (Though one of my friends is "beast" and plays on default (2) sensitivity)
    – Earlz
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 17:48
  • I actually play with a Razer Onza TE, which in addition to having higher sensitivity, it has variable resistance on the analog sticks, and OMG is that awesome. The controller's got some other issues (this is my 4th due to quality issues!) but it's a lifesaver.
    – agent86
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 17:56
  • heh After having 3 official XBox controllers crap out on my aggressive playing style (left analog click is broken on all 3 controllers) I've been considering alternatives and that looks pretty nice
    – Earlz
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 18:07
  • This probably won't help you, but after starting treatment for sleep apnea last year my k/d ratio in various FPS games went from ~1:2 to ~2:1 over the course of a week. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 22:38
  • 4
    Play it. A lot.
    – Machado
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 0:05

11 Answers 11


I've been doing quite a bit of research on this topic (reading FAQs, watching replays, and consulting with others) in the last few weeks, and I think I can put together a pretty good strategic overview at this point.

Know Your Role

In CoD multiplayer games, you are generally doing one of three things:

Defending - You have an established position and you are actively attempting to hold it. In some game modes this is actually the point (ie, Domination) and in others this might be considered "camping." Camping has some negative connotations in first person shooters, but in CoD it's a perfectly valid and encouraged strategy. Determining the right position to defend, and the manner in which to defend it is map dependent, but having several friends with which to divide up the responsibilities can make even the most vulnerable position almost impenetrable.

Defenders generally need to focus on close range weaponry and anti-personnel equipment. Shotguns, SMGs, mines, and close range perks such as Steady Aim are all important. It is possible, however, to be defending players who are entrenched in sniper positions who are focusing on long-range kills. In these cases, it's best to ensure you have struck a good balance between close and long range firepower in your team/group's classes.

Assaulting - You are aware of enemy positions, and you're attempting to overtake them. The assault player needs to focus on disrupting enemy defenses with tactical grenades and indirect fire weapons such as the RPG. Bullet penetration is also important.

Playing assault can be a great benefit to your team, by allowing them to break up enemy sniper nests and disrupting player killstreaks. However, having assault players running into a heavily defended area one at a time is the defender's best case scenario - they are ready for you and they need your kills to earn points. Be aware that sometimes the best idea is to avoid areas that are heavily defended, especially in non-objective games. In objective games, consider an alternate objective point if the one you are assaulting is heavily defended - there are only so many people on the enemy team, and they are likely to be focusing on fewer points.

Advancing - When you are unaware of the enemy's location, and you are actively seeking them out, you are advancing. Advancing players may be trying to get to an assaulting or defending location, or they may be playing a "run and gun" class where they hope to encounter players who they can quickly and/or quietly dispatch.

When advancing, pay attention to corners and lines of sight. Tactical grenades and indirect fire (lethal grenades, grenade launchers, etc) can help flush out other advancing players and defenders.

Two groups of advancing players frequently clash with one another, and the result can be what I refer to as "civil war" - both teams are assaulting a location with limited defensive capabilities, dying, respawning, and running back to rejoin the fight. In this situation, it's important to realize that spawn points can shift, and players can frequently flank. Be ready for a surprise coming from a direction you're not expecting, and look for alternate routes to the current area that you can use to surprise your enemies.

Know Your Class

There are, in general, 3 types of classes in CoD.

Close Quarters - Close quarters weapons include SMGs, shotguns, pistols, and the like. They are lethal at close range, although their damage output quickly falls over distance and they do little to nothing when you are far from an enemy. In addition to damage falloff, they tend to have serious accuracy issues at range.

The close quarters player needs to move fast, melee often, and may prefer to hip-fire or sneak to get close before engaging. Avoid open areas or long lines of sight. Play the "corners game" - you always want to be close enough to a corner that you can be at close range to whoever is in front of you, and close enough to duck around it in case a firefight erupts behind you.

Balanced - Balanced weapons include primarily assault rifles, although some light machine guns can also fit into this category. They can fill almost any role, although at extreme close range they are at a disadvantage to fast moving close quarters players.

The Balanced player can pick a variety of perks to accentuate their play style. For instance, add a silencer or a heartbeat sensor and some perks to counter enemy UAVs, and you've got a fairly mobile short-range flanking class. Add an ACOG scope to a rifle with low kick, and you can provide deadly long-range cover fire.

The balanced player will want to keep close range players away, while making sure to avoid extremely open areas, although they may be somewhat more evenly matched against a distant foe.

Long Range - All sniper rifles, certain assault rifles, and many LMGs fall into this class. The long range player is generally easy to blindside, but can take out foes at great distance before they have a chance to become a threat. Thermal scopes, point defenses (claymores, etc) and a strong secondary weapon are important to this class.

The long range player needs supporting players more than any other type, in order to protect against close threats and to give them time to line up shots. They can support other players who are engaged in direct firefights by doing heavy damage to and finishing off players who might be out of the line of sight of others. Knowing the proper positioning of point defenses and the optimal lines of sight are important to the long range player.

Miscellaneous Concepts

Heat is an important topic when discussing CoD multiplayer. "Heat" is a term I use to describe what parts of a map see action. Managing heat is an important part of playing the game. As a defender, you want the area you are defending in to be somewhat hot - enough that you're getting kills, but not enough that the enemies are overwhelming. When you are moving behind enemy lines, you need your heat to be low - using silencers and perks that keep you off enemy radar will help cement the element of surprise.

Some areas of a map are naturally hot, and some naturally cold. However, using unsilenced weapons and making many kills in the same location can increase the heat. If defending, you can switch up your positions in order to avoid the effects of overheating a particular location.

Lag and reflexes play an important role, although by and large they are beyond your control. Dealing with these issues can be frustrating, but it's important to keep a cool head, and be thinking about your tactics. If someone is killing you in a location repeatedly, you may be tempted to continue attempting to break their defenses by running into the same area over and over again. However, because of the way killstreaks work, this is just feeding the enemy team and making things harder on your team. If an area is home to an enemy you just can't seem to defeat, make that area cold. Keep away from it and encourage your teammates to do the same. This will force the enemies to change their tactics in order to get kills. These new tactics might be easier for your team to break.

Balance is a touchy subject in CoD games. Usually, there are weapons and perks that are clearly superior in a given situation. Know your class' strengths and weaknesses, and avoid areas where you would be at a disadvantage. For instance, a class that is heavily close quarters should not run out into large areas or down long halls. Experiment with different weapons in a given class to find the ones that are superior, and mold your classes around these weapons and equipment.

Remember that death is cheap in CoD games. Don't be afraid to consume your loadout, because it is likely that you will respawn many times. Nothing is worse than dying because you didn't utilize your tactical grenades. On the flip side, nothing's more satisfying than laying a random claymore that gets you a free kill.

Know the maps whenever possible. It's a good idea to load up a private match with a friend and practice various grenade throws and approaches to common camp spots. You can even do this in split screen or with bots - move someone into position, and then practice various angles of attack to get maximum benefit.


Take your time

It's slightly heading towards being a camper, but take your time. You don't need to run all the time, only run at times where you know you are very unlikely to be shot or can do anything about it if you are. It's a little bit frustrating, but then balance that with having to respawn.

For example, stairwells - no point walking slowly up them as someone at the top will slot you more than likely.

If in doubt, flash the corner.

Heard gunfire? Seen dots nearby? Flash a corner before running round it. You always get more flash grenades at respawn :)

This includes areas that you know there's a likelyhood of someone being there. Going to a point in Domination? Flash it. A flag in CTF? Flash it. Even if you don't actually get the person properly disabled - the hit markers will indicate someone there.

Look for gaps that others won't.

MW3's terrain is quite complex, and there'll be spaces in the fences or gaps in bushes that you'll see before you are seen. Not saying you should hang around them - but they can be useful as you move forward.

Stick to the shadows.

Simples. More difficult to see you if your opponent is in the light and you are in the dark. Also, if you can, mix it up with crouching, dropping or sidestepping on encountering an enemy. Take the initiative from them, make them react.

Think about the map.

Where are the kill zones? Should you be in the kill zones? No, thought not. Big wide open spaces with areas of cover all around? Why go through the wide spaces? Always run that way? Why? Do you think other people will do the same? Probably. What about trying a different route?

Just some things to think about.

  • Nice list, especially the kill zones. Those are the first mistakes a beginner makes. Map control separates good players from the bad. And also, flash or stun grenade usage might be an important preference. While using stun, people can still fire, if they are guarding an entrance, so I would suggest equipping flash grenades on tighter maps with a lot of rooms.
    – DrFish
    Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 12:38
  • About to enter the elementary school? Flash it! Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 18:02
  • 4
    Would like to add: Dont run and gun. Pretty much what distincts noobs from decent playings in CoD. Take your time, and if you have an occasion then run. Don't always just rush in the fight like there is candy on the other side. Learn to find the right occasions to push.
    – Fredy31
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 22:00
  • I'll upvote that one @Fredy31. Sometimes you get lucky, but most of the time you don't.
    – Spedge
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 8:54
  • Building on Fredy31's comment.... Don't sprint around corners. That's the biggest noob mistake I was making. As soon as I started aiming around corners instead of blundering through, my game improved tenfold, no kiddin.
    – Sid
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 2:46

I feel that you should run and gun, but be super careful. I started out slow, crouching and moving everywhere. I had my sensitivity low so I could get a clean kill (not a sloppy spray that you get when you are surprised) and I stick to the walls. Eventually I started sprinting again, but using the same principles.

  1. Never sprint around corners, flash or stun them if you must but always go slower around them.
  2. Use stun grenades first you can use flash later but stun slows them and makes them an easier target for you.
  3. Don't run into the danger zone. Skirt around it, pick off any that you see.
  4. Common psychological sense. If there are 6 enemies behind that corner, you could either get 6 kills and bump up your score by a huge amount (5% chance) or die... again (95% chance) just don't do it man.
  5. Silencers and Hardline. These are just personal preferences that I like because I hate it when someone has a UAV up and they see me shoot, so they jump out from behind the corner and kill me, so I suppress my guns so that If I'm in a danger zone, if they can't find me, it's easier to get out. Hardline because, as a noob, I just couldn't get those darn 4 & 5 killstreaks, so I used hardline. I still like it because, well, why not?

You simply just have to practice some more, I have been playing COD right from PC, to PS3, I have all the COD games on PS3 and over the years during online plays, you get to see other players that are way better but don't just give up like that. It only takes a better player to win other better players and for me, the same thing you're saying was happening to me at first.

Then I got tired of the whole thing and started playing the entire campaign mode on veteran level, that way you'll be able to make quick turns, dodge and switch between weapons ones your ZMG or AK47 bullets runs out. And now, I can comfortably say am way better in online plays because i made myself shooter better and accurate.


Find your gun that you are most successful with and then set up perks that will really make that particular gun shine. After that you just need to learn in which spots that setup will be effective and in which spots it will not.

Generally on every map you can find places with varying distances between cover. If you have a lot of cover and not much open space try for smgs, also even shotguns can be great sometimes. If you have a medium to long range amount of space in an area try out assault rifles. Chances are there will be spots for both on most maps, it's up to you to find the spots where you will shine!

Best of luck.


I am at a strange stage in my player development. Half the time I am one of the top three players in a game and the other half I look like I just bought the game. I only started to hold my own when I realized how to pay close attention to other player's habits. Sometimes the top players know what works and utilizes the same plan over and over again because noobs are easily drawn over and over again into the same traps. If you keep getting killed by the same player at the same location there's only two things you can do, attack from a different route or don't go at all and make them stop hiding. Don't forget, if they are leading by a lot of points they will stay hiding because they know they will win whether you attack or not so don't let revenge overcome your good judgement, being kill streak fodder only hurts your team at an accelerating rate.

I also have a hard time finding other players close to my skill level or better to play with [Friend me on x-box (bloodrocutor87) if you are interested in mid-level clan/team style practice]. Strangers are less inclined to play with you enough for you to benefit from constant practising. I recently started playing with a friend of mine, his wife, and my girlfriend. The only problem is there is no team work unless I follow one of them around and cover them. My next plan of attack is to work out some team strategy and practice. It is easy to kill four people running around without a plan but once you develop a good strategic foundation for each map that includes covering fire, suppressive fire, and fire superiority we will dominate.

  • KillStreak fodder...:) Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 10:15

The first thing is to make a decent Class. On MW3 i would suggest the MP7 with Silencer and Rapid fire on primary, Scorpion Akimbo on Secondary, perks you should use Sleight of Hand/Extreme Conditioning (Depending on your play style :) ), Steady Aim and the Assassin. then use flash grenades and semtex to frag all those ppl away.

You should move slowly, not always rush through the whole map. Keep your sound high so you hear anyone krawling from the back.

im always running about 16:5 Kill/Death Rates with this class, so this could be a decent start.


The answers given are extensive and excellent. I only want to add a few things...

  • Practice practice practice. Playing will hone both your instincts and your reflexes, though the latter naturally has limits that are beyond your control. It will also teach you the maps -- what routes are commonly used, where you are exposed, where you can find cover.

  • Make use of cover! I can't speak for using cover on the run -- I tend towards a defensive playstyle -- but any bit of cover you can find can save your life. Unless you're behind your enemy or right in their face, try to keep something waist- to chest-high between you and him -- if he lands a hit or two on you, you can slam your prone button and get out of the way of his bullets, giving you a chance to change location, turn and run, call for help, etc.

  • Communicate! I understand that you may have trouble with this, especially if you don't have a lot of people to play with, or if you play with pubs exclusively. I only discovered the miracle of communicative teammates about 6 months ago, myself, and boy is it helpful! Having people you can reliably and easily communicate with (agreed-upon callouts are a godsend here) can allow you to know where enemies are, even if they're all running Assassin Pro and using silencers. It can also let you set up traps and crossfire patterns, zones of control, all sorts of great stuff, if you have the right group.

  • This flows into my last suggestion: Find an organized clan! A small clan may be difficult to get into -- they are often more selective of their members -- but larger clans often have groups dedicated to everything from casual to competitive play, with relatively low requirements -- my own clan, Tactical Gaming, requires 2 hours for practice, twice a week, plus that you behave yourself when interacting with others (both in and outside the clan). Having a clan means more than a tag by your name and a fancy sense of elitist entitlement. It means you have people there to play with you regularly. Some may be better than you, and be able to teach you a few tricks; some might be newer, and you can teach them. In the 6 months I've been playing with my clan, while I don't feel my gun skills have improved much my overall gameplay skills have gained drastically.

I hope these suggestions help you. I'd say I look forward to seeing you on the battlefield, but you're on the wrong platform for that. I play PC.


If you want to be a better Call of Duty player: Pick a class that fits well for you( including kill streaks) start of at a streak that is a easily accomplishment, then start going up trying for Nukes and M.O.A.B.'s. The key is to pick classes that are easy for you to play with(including perks, death streaks etc...) Also know your map. Go on CoD Elite and take an overview of the map or get in a private match and take it slow through the maps.


In all COD games I have played to date I have had no problem getting kills. While many will disagree with my style, every player has their preferences. I typically use fast guns with a high sensitivity. I run through the map taking out enemies before they can even see me - Using cover to my advantage while sprinting full speed towards them. On black ops I can knife run (Use Ballistic Knifes, (primary is a sub machine gun), and a tomahawk and get a 15-3 KDR. This takes some serious practice. But my suggestion to you is constantly move around and keep your eyes glued to the mini map and run towards red dots! Anticipate their movements.

So basically what I'm saying. Is if your good at running fast run fast, if you take it slow take it slow. But all pro players I have seen are moving around fast. One last thing, pick a gun and use it a lot - get familiar and you'll get good with that gun. It helps!


I'm not a "pro" player at COD however I've played at a high CSS level and I can tell you a few things about shooters. The most important thing is to get the basic aim so if you are able to kill some players this is fine. After this try to learn your surroundings and learn to adapt to your team's style, however don't rely on them much when playing public (just use them to know where the enemies are).

When you've mastered this it's time to get to the hard part. Your aim is probably improved a lot when learning your surroundings so don't worry about your aim that much anymore. Try to guess where your enemies are because most of the time you can know where players are heading before the game is started (this is harder on public than a real match though). If you've mastered this you should be able to kill everyone on console gaming since most won't reach a skill like that.

Three more tips before mastering the last point:

  1. try to play with sound so you can hear them approaching.
  2. never listen to anyone about sens, as this is the most worthless tip you can get from people since you need to start all over again and it doesn't make you a better player.
  3. always try to add better players and try to play with them a lot this is more fun and helps a lot

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