Welcome to the osu! beginner tutorial. The world of osu! can sometimes be a very competitive place. Whether you are looking for an extra push to help lift off your career, wanting to be competitive in osu!, or simply hoping to improve yourself to enjoy the game more, this is for you! This guide will span everything you need to get off the ground and soar around the world of osu!.
Types of Input
By default, a lot of players will start out with the mouse, since it’s often the quickest available aiming tool by far. But there are actually multiple means of input to control the cursor and pop the circles:
- Touch Screen
- Keyboard Clicking
There are other ways you can control the cursor (Wiimote, motion sensor, technology stuff) but for the purpose of the guide, we will focus on the four bulleted points.
If you are going to stick to use the mouse, it’s suggested to get a mouse with a cord for stability, as wireless mice can disconnect or stutter. Any mouse can work just fine, though; some people use mice from a dollar store! It also helps to continue using the same mouse for a long time, so try and get one that will last you a good while! Mouse play tends to excel at:
- Jumping, especially in right angles or straight angles.
- Stability and aim, making it easier to click “smaller” circles.
Mouse play tends to struggle with:
- Jumping back and forth in succession.
If you are going to use a tablet, you should try and pick an area on the tablet that you can comfortably play with. Additionally, buy some spare nibs, you never know when you will need another one since they tend to wear out quickly, especially in highly active play. While you can use the tablet itself to tap the circles, most players prefer using a keyboard which we’ll cover a bit later on. Tablet play tends to excel at:
- No cursor drift.
- Precise movement and speed.
Tablet play tends to struggle with:
Although rare, quite a few users play on a touchscreen. You should try not to press too hard on the touchscreen or find one that is quite sensitive to your tapping on the fingers, and better yet one that has a low latency. This should help increase the longevity of the screen you are using. Touchscreen tends to excel at:
- Streaming long periods of notes and stamina.
- Jumping long distances, especially corner to corner.
Touchscreen tends to struggle with:
- Aim, especially with smaller notes.
For mouse and tablet or any other input device, you may also use your keyboard (Z and X by default) to hit the circles instead. The benefit of doing so is spreading the physical movement across two hands, rather than doing the clicking with your aiming device, thus allowing you to more easily hit faster sections of notes. This takes some time to get used to, but if you decide on using your keyboard to tap circles, it’s a good idea to get used to it early on.
Accuracy and Timing
One of the most important factors when playing osu! is your timing, much like other rhythm games! In this sense, if you’ve listened to a lot of music, it should be fairly easy to pick up on. The goal of accuracy and timing is to tap the notes at the correct time as precisely as possible.
Each object in the game has an approach circle; a large ring that slowly approaches the hit circle itself. When the ring reaches the circle, it’s time to tap it! If you pay attention to them carefully, it will help you recognize whether some notes are on half-beats or full beats, or whether you need to wait for the next note.
Music works in beats and a rhythm. When you start a map (or even before you play) pay attention to the how the song sounds, and you can get a pretty good idea on the melody that you will be hitting circles to. Getting along with the music more closely will help you out in achieving better timing and coordination over it.
In a point-and-click game like osu!, aiming is also another important factor. Being able to get the notes at the right time is pretty pointless without being able to get your cursor to the right location. In this case, the most effective way to improve in this sector is to simply play the game. It also helps to play harder and harder maps, since the spacing between notes will likely get bigger, making you move around more and tap the notes from wider distances.
The best way you can get practice for aiming without osu! is using your computer with the input device. Don’t be afraid to practice by clicking around files on your computer if you’re a mouse user, or to draw some art with your tablet. The added coordination will help you wonders later on!
Eventually, when you get to harder difficulties, you will need to click the notes more rapidly. Improving in this fact is actually quite simple; all you need to do is push yourself into clicking or tapping the keyboard faster. You can play games that require you to hit input as fast as possible, like Cookie Clicker or other button pushing games (they are very easy to find online if you just Google it).
Another heavy topic, is the fact that osu! is a game with an infinitely rising difficulty curve, meaning there is no “winning” the game. Instead, you’ll be focused on improving yourself constantly. Instead of playing one map over and over, you will need to eventually move onto other maps once you start outclassing their difficulty.
The best way to improve is to challenge yourself. The only way you will get used to more and more tenacious difficulties is by exploring past your boundaries. Playing a map that makes you miss quite a few times grants ultimately more game-play experience than playing many that you can get a full combo on or even get an SS rank on. This works much like an MMORPG, the harder the enemy, the more experience you will get for it.
Don’t be afraid to practice something that always makes you miss for one reason or another. You will need to find the challenge, and see what you need to do to meet that challenge. Do you need to hit the buttons faster? Do you need better timing? Do you need to be more precise when moving to notes? These are all questions (and more) that you can ask yourself. This will help you find your answer a lot more quickly and make your experience all the more worth it.
Getting More out of Gameplay
Depending on the devices you use to play osu! with, you may find that the hit circles aren’t quite on beat with the music. To correct this, you can change the global offset value in the Settings menu. Global offset will change when the first note appears on beatmaps (either earlier or later than default), which in turn delays the rest of the notes by the same amount. A negative offset value will make notes appear slightly later, and a positive value will make them appear earlier.
In the Offset Wizard, which you can access from the Settings menu, a sample song will play with a metronome beat on top. Adjust the offset gradually using the up/down arrow keys or your mouse wheel until the beats of the metronome match when the bars cross the centre line.
When you are playing a beatmap you will notice the Hit Error graph at the bottom of the screen. Hitting a note causes a white line to appear somewhere along it depending on how accurate you were. If all of your hits are to the left of the centre, try increasing your global offset slightly. If they are all on the right side, try decreasing it.
Adjust your global offset until you are happy with it. Getting the right value will help to increase your overall accuracy!
A commonly overlooked feature of the game is the Raw Input function. This allows for direct reading of your input device into osu! itself. You may use this too if you don’t like how Windows handles your mouse cursor, or especially recommended if you use a tablet. Give it a try and play a few maps with it, you might find yourself a lot more comfortable with it!
There are many, many skins to pick from; you can find them on the forums, linked in chat, or even by asking the other users! While these will not improve your gameplay, they can help motivate you, or make playing osu! easier on the eyes. Or, if you prefer to not have a lot of the osu! HUD blocking the screen, you could find a skin with a minimal approach. You can even find skins formed by the pros and see what makes those skins more successful. Some skins have been built for ease of sight, while some are quirky and just for fun. Alas, it’s another way you can get more enjoyment out of osu! and make your experience while climbing up the ranks a little nicer. 😉