I wrote this for Dust University, figured I'd share it here.
Modern media has painted for us a very romantic picture of the sniper archetype. "One shot, one kill," and other pithy phrases make Sniper a very appealing role for many players, but you often hear squad leaders complain that, "Our side has too many snipers buffing their KDR, that's why we're losing!" So as a new player, or even as a vet, you might wonder just what constitutes a good sniper? When is it not okay to skulk about on the rooftops and hills looking down on the enemy? What if you're not in it for KDR, but because you just really wanna be "that guy"? Well, here's some things you need to know!When to snipe
When not to snipe
- -The team is ahead or relatively even, there is a lot of open ground at or around objectives (creating a wide killing field), or you have a vantage point overlooking a bottleneck between the enemy spawn/MCC areas and one or more objectives. Sometimes it's unwise to pop an enemy drop uplink!
- -The team is getting stomped and clearly isn't going to win anyway.
- -You're in a full squad that already has a heavy or two, a logi or two and someone else on cloaky scout duties or a beastly assault-type and you know how to perform your duties with cover-sniping and overwatch.
How do I sniper?
- - The team is getting its face kicked in, all of the objectives are in enemy hands and there's little or no fighting around most of them. This is an opportunity for you to go ninja-hack one away from the enemy. Even if you can't hold it yourself, it will force the enemy to recapture them - this means they have to spread out instead of protostomping us over one objective. Even in Domination, a cocky enemy team will start pushing toward our spawn/MCC areas, leaving Alpha open for shenanigans. In these situations, you should also be going after CRUs and Supply Depots, especially if you're in a Light or Scout suit.
- -When you get to your ideal snipey spot and find 2 or more snipers already dug in. In this case, you should either relocate to another spot where you can cover an area not observed from that vantage point OR create a crossfire between yourself and that vantage point. If this isn't possible, you might try to hunt down enemy snipers with shotgun or nova knives, or just switch to another fitting and get your hands dirty in the fighting because sniping duties are already being handled.
- -When you find yourself killed by the same enemy sniper three times and still have no idea where he's at. In this case, you've officially lost that Snipers' Duel. Tip your hat respectfully to your death screen, remember the name for future reference, and carry on by getting your hands dirty in the fighting.
Obviously, with a sniper rifle. If you're in a squad and running a Scout suit, your scope acts almost like an active scanner for your squad. You will notice that you often see Red Dots and uplinks/nanohives through walls/obstructions; this is visible to your squad mates! Often, painting the target objective with your scope is helpful even if you don't have a shot.
Avoid sniping heavily armored/shielded targets if you can't pop them with one or two shots - this announces your direction relative to them and they will send a shotgun scout or an assault dropship looking for you. Prosecute softer targets first, paying attention to the Target Intel for the target's suit type and shield/armor HP. If you can put the Logibro down in two shots, why even bother tickling that proto-sentinel?
If you take a hit and are lucky enough to still be alive, MOVE. An enemy sniper has discovered your position and if you don't move now, he will try to farm you for kills if you return to the same spot. If he kills you, judge by his suit and rifle whether you have a chance to put a stop to his sniping or not. If you're running the Standard Sniper Rifle and he's in a proto-Commando suit with a proto rifle... leave it alone.
If you find yourself sighting in on two or more snipers closely bunched together, you may have much more luck killing them all if you hoof it over to where they are and put them down with nova knives (if you're in a Scout suit) before they even know you're there. If you snipe one, the other(s) may get spooked and lay low long enough for you to stop watching them, and it's more convincing to them that they should stop if they get killed at close range.
Pay attention to the Efficiency Rating when you have a target in your sights. 90% means you'll hit them square. 175% means you have a headshot lined up. If they're close enough, try to get the head shot - especially on an enemy sniper or a heavy/commando target. I've taken a proto commando in 2 shots with an NT-511 rifle, headshots both times. I've taken 4 shots to kill the same guy, because I couldn't line up the head shot.
Watch for head glitch! This is the phenomenon of seeming to have a square shot lined up on an apparently unobstructed target, but hitting nothing. At first, you might think this target has exceptionally tough shields. In reality, you're seeing polygon breakup and the target has cover from you. But you've announced your attention to him by pinging shots off of the bulkhead he's standing next to by shooting at him 5 times for zero damage.
Finally, watch the edges of your screen for the tell-tale red chevron of an approaching enemy. Especially if you have a Precision Enhancer fitted, your suit may pick up even an approaching scout if you've been spotted and someone's coming to take you down. Most often, you will see the red dot appear on either the left, right or bottom edge of your screen - even when you're looking down the scope of the sniper rifle. This means someone is quite close and you need to switch to your sidearm and see who's coming to visit! I have managed to kill a heavy who was trudging uphill at me by switching to my nova knives, running behind a berm, charging the knives and dodging around the berm as the heavy was emerging from the other side of it. I hit him full on in the back with the charged knives, then jumped around and tagged him three more times with uncharged knives. Of course, I remembered to terminate before moving on to a different sniping spot. I only survived because I knew he was coming before he wanted me to know. I've also died because of not heeding the warnings at the edge of the screen because I was too focused on trying to resolve a headshot.What to snipe in
I favor the scout suit. I currently don't have enough SP in scout suits to fit a cloak with a rifle, but I like to carry either a nanohive and active scanner, a nanohive and uplink, or an uplink and remote explosives. I fit reactive plates, a precision enhancer (to spot those enemy snipers earlier when I have to go stab them in the back of the head on their ridges, sometimes beyond the red line), a Light Damage Enhancer (only one, the stacking penalty makes even a second pointless). If I plan on actually ninja-hacking, I have an alternate fit that uses a Magsec SMG instead of knives (in case I'm surprised by an enemy scout and see him on scan before he shotguns me in the back). I do not use the active scanner when approaching enemy snipers (seeing the "Scan Attempt Prevented" or "You Have Been Scanned" notifications makes any sniper switch to their sidearm and look around); it is instead used to scan the area around an apparently clear objective before going in for the ninja-hack. "Some Margin of Error" means there is an enemy scout defending it and you need to flush him out before hacking. "No Margin of Error" on a clear scan means you have time to hack the point and back off to wait for an enemy scout to come try to counter your hack. You should take the minute to sit and defend your hack, watching quietly from a discreet distance, so that you actually get the 100 WP you've taken this risk for!
I have observed enemy snipers using both Caldari Assault and Commando dropsuits. The Caldari Commando suits get skill bonus toward the damage of light/sidearm hybrid-railgun type weapons. These weapons include: Forge Gun, Sniper Rifle, Magsec Smg, Rail Rifle, Bolt Pistol. Railgun type weapons receive a -10% damage penalty against shields and a +10% bonus against armor. The Caldari Assault suit gets a bonus to the reload time of these same weapons. If you're going to train into the Commando suit for its obvious benefits (damage bonus to the rifle, heartier defenses), I recommend using the Rail Rifle as your secondary light weapon, so that you also receive the damage bonus when using it in short/mid range. The Assault dropsuit, obviously, benefits with the Magsec or the Bolt Pistol. It also offers hardier defenses than the Scout suit, without being as bulky or boasting such a large scan profile. I could see sneaking up on enemy snipers/scouts with the Assault suit in a pinch, but the Commando suit is unlikely to surprise anyone on approach (fortunately, the Rail Rifle is effective well beyond the range of most sidearms!)
You will also see random Logistics suits sniping. None of the logi suits gets a specific bonus that makes this desirable, they're simply meaty medium suits with lots of CPU/PG to spare from the equipment slot bonus, and sniper rifles start to get heavy on CPU/PG usage... I don't recommend it, but your mileage may vary.