This is not a guide to improve your aim but rather a guide to setting up your game, OS and hardware properly in order for you to improve your aim. Many people may know about these tweaks and some may not but either way they will help you to improve your aim by means of more consistent practice.
Getting a decent mouse and surface
This step is probably the most important especially if you are using a low sensitivity. I am not going to go into details on the different types of mice and comparisons etc because the mouse you choose is very dependent on your play-style and budget. I can say that there isn’t much point on spend loads of cash for a seemingly ‘better’ mouse when in practice there usually isn’t any realistic difference. This said, there is a great difference between a regular mouse and a ‘gaming’ mouse and I advise that do a bit of research into what you need/want in terms of a gaming mouse before purchasing one that may be overpriced and/or useless to you. There also seem to be mixed views in terms of installing mouse drivers from the company who developed the mouse or leaving the default windows drivers but ultimately this is up to user preference. It is also important to get a decent mouse pad or surface that you will use for your mouse as this can greatly increase the accuracy of mouse compared to using say a tabletop.
Mouse acceleration basically means that the speed at which your mouse moves in-game is relative to the speed of its movement. So if you move the mouse quickly you will turn faster compared to moving the mouse slowly. Because of this mouse acceleration needs to be turned off if you are playing a FPS game such as TF2.
With mouse acceleration on you do not have constant control over the amount you will turn in-game. With mouse acceleration on it will be much harder to ‘learn’ how to turn a certain amount quickly in order to land a hit because the speed at which you move your mouse along with the distance you move it will determine where you will end up aiming. With mouse acceleration off the amount you will turn is dependent only on the distance you move your mouse and thus you can ‘learn’ how far to move your mouse to aim a certain distance only relative to your sensitivity and not the speed at which you move the mouse. It’s all about consistency.
These steps should work for all windows OS’s that you can run TF2 on.
1) Firstly go to the ‘Mouse Properties’ in the ‘Control Panel’ and get to the ‘Pointer Options’ tab. Un-tick the box ‘Enhance pointer precision’ and make sure that the ‘Select a pointer speed:’ bar is in the middle (6th position from the left) as in this image:
2) The second step you need to take is to completely remove all other ‘hidden’ windows acceleration via the registry:
If you have any version of Windows XP download this file: xp mouse_fix or if you are running any version of Windows Vista download this file: vista mouse_fix. I am currently running Windows 7 and couldn’t fine an adequate .reg file on the internet for the OS so I had a look around in the registry and found that the variables that are edited in both the XP and Vista .reg files are in the Windows 7 registry so I simply ran both of the two .reg files for XP and Vista and I have no traces of mouse acceleration in TF2.
Run (double click on) the .reg file and hit ‘Yes’. If you are paranoid about .reg files you can open them to see exactly what they are doing by right-clicking on them and selecting edit. This said, if you don’t know what you are doing don’t go messing around in your registry because you can really mess up your OS.
You will need to restart your PC for these registry changes to take effect.
3) To make sure that TF2 is not going to use any built in mouse acceleration, three launch options need to be added. This is done as shown in the images below (descriptions in the captions):
To make copying easier here are the launch options: -noforcemaccel -noforcemparms -noforcemspd
There are quite a few more launch options that can be added to effect different aspects of the game and a list of all of them along with descriptions can be found here: Command_Line_Options
Once all three of the above steps are complete you should have no mouse acceleration in TF2. You can check this by hosting a listen server (‘Create Server’ from the main menu) and setting your crosshair on a specific fixed point, move slowly to another fixed point and finally moving the mouse quickly back to the initial point. If you come back to the same spot on your mousepad you are moving the same distance irrelevant of the speed of your mouse therefore your mouse acceleration is off.
Unless you have worked some magic in the form of tipple buffering or some other advanced GPU setting (let me know if you have) vertical sync should always be turned off in TF2 because it causes input lag when it is on. This means that there is a noticeable delay from your actual mouse movement to the mouse moving ingame. Although this delay is very small and can only really be noticed when you know about it and are looking for it, it does effect your aim in that you can not ‘react’ as fast as someone with it off. As much as we all like a visually smooth TF2, vertical sync is not the way to go.
You can check if you have vertical sync on by going to your advanced video options in TF2 and checking that ‘Wait for vertical sync’ is set to ‘Disabled’ as shown in this image:
With weapon models off you can see more of what is happening on-screeen (especially whilst reloading certain weapons) and thus giving you a slight visual advantage over players playing with weapon models on. There are two methods of removing weapon models from your game the first being to turn all weapon models off in the advanced multilayer options as shown here:
While you are here also make sure that ‘Automatically reload weapons when you’re not firing.’ is ticked as there is no reason to have this unticked because you can halt the reloading of any clip based weapon by firing. The automatic reload does create an annoying animation ‘glitch’ with weapons such as the medic’s syringe gun but when you have weapon models off you completely avoid this problem.
The second method of removing weapon models is through the use of scripting. The main reason for using scripting over simply removing the weapon model in the options is the fact that you can have full control over which weapon’s models are shown/hidden along with being able to sett custom crosshairs for each individual weapon so you always know from your crosshair which weapon you are currently wielding. You can download my current per class config files from here: cfg. Extract all the .cgf files of this .rar to your tf2 config folder found at this location: C:Program FilesSteamsteamapps(yourusername)team fortress 2tfcfg
My config displays the melee weapons of all the classes whilst hiding the primary weapons of most of the classes. The way the heavies minigun works does not allow for the use of scripting to change weapon because of the ‘cool down’ after you have ‘spun up’ the weapon so all of the heavies weapons are displayed and the class has default binds and default ‘q’ ‘lastinv’ functionality. For all the other classes ‘q’ switches between the two main weapons of the class so for example it will switch between the rocket launcher and shotgun of the soldier. This is only different to regular TF2 in the case of the spy because in competitive play the sapper (usually slot 2 in the spy’s inventory) is very rarely used so it has been bound to ‘3’ (the position of the spy’s knife by default). So by using ‘q’ as a spy you will switch between your revolver and knife with only the revolvers weapon model being hidden. For every class except the heavy the corsshair will change based on the weapon you are currently wielding, a dot for your primary, a + for your secondary and a X for your melee. When switching back from your melee weapon by using ‘q’ you will return to the last weapon that you used. There is one unavoidable bug in this config that occurs either if you run out of ammunition for a particular weapon or if you die wielding a non-primary weapon. What happens is that the key binds will be incorrect if you spawn after dying with a non-primary weapon out, you simply need to tap ‘q’ twice to get everything back to normal or make sure that you have the primary crosshair displaying before you respawn. There is also a rocket jump script bound, only when playing as soldier, to your right mouse button and an addition to your right click as a medic that says a message to your team via the ingame text that you have used your ubercharge. All other aspects of the game have been kept (but not set) to default.
Obviously feel free to edit any aspect of the above script such as (crosshair type and size) to suit your needs.
Frames Per Second
If you are getting major FPS drops when there is lots of action on screen it becomes a lot harder to land hits consistently. Because of this it is advisable to use some form of FPS config to keep your FPS high enough at all times in order keep your aim consistent. Everyones opinion seems to be different about what is an acceptable FPS value to be getting in a 6vs6 situation but if you take rates into account it is a lot better if you are getting over 66 frames at all times in a 6vs6 situation. You can read up as to why this is in my rate guide found here: https://tf2.co.za/news/rates-guide/ .You should set up your rates properly if you are wanting to improve your hit registration and entity lag ingame which in turn will affect the consistency of your aim.
If you have decided to use a FPS config, a good one to use is one of m0res configs found here: http://m0re.nocrits.com/index.php?site=files&cat=1 select either the FPS or highFPS config depending on how much of a boost you want. The highFPS does look quite a bit worse than the FPS one but there are some benefits from it if you have a low end machine. You need to extract the autoexec.cfg from these .rar’s to your tfcfg folder (the exact same location as explained in the ‘Weapon Models’ section). Make sure to edit or remove the network related cvars at the top of the configs to suit your needs.
Aim Training Maps
There is currently a discussion on TF2 training maps in the tf2.co.za forums located here: https://tf2.co.za/forum/tf2-sa-general/training-maps/. The maps mentioned here are worth downloading and practicing on if you want to get better at a certain aspect of the game quickly through repetitive practice but no matter how good your ‘airshots’ are, if you aren’t using them to better your team or to win a round they are effectively useless. Have a mess around with these training maps if you want to but it goes without saying that playing clan/pug/pickup games will improve your overall play a lot more.
Off track slightly from aim here. The default TF2 hud is pretty decent if you set it into minimal mode via the ‘Multiplayer’ options ingame or using the console command cl_hud_minmode “1” but can still not display your health and ammo count in an easily visable location whilst you are playing and because of this quite a few TF2 players have adopted one of many custom HUD’s. A quick google search will get you to quite a few of them but one of the best I have seen and currently use is m0re’s HUD found here: http://m0re.nocrits.com/index.php?site=files&cat=3
You can look at the images on the website to see what it changes but basically it moves your health and ammo count closer to the center of the screen and shows the exact health counts of friendly players when you mouse over them along with showing the numerical health value of a medic healing you. It has many other features as shown in the images and is relatively easy to install as explained in the readme file contained in the download. One thing to note is that TF2 updates in the future could potentially cause this HUD to not work and in this case you simply delete the files that were installed with the HUD and your game will revert back to its default HUD.
I hope somebody gets something useful out of this and as per usual I can be contacted in #tf2 on IRC and on steam if you have any queries, comments or corrections.