Team Fortress 2: Advanced Techniques/Tips for the Sniper Class
Hey, Frayed Wire readers! This is a post Josh made on his old site, but is now being moved here!
Nothing is more annoying than when you manage to infiltrate the enemy base, only to be immediately silenced by a distant, steady handed sniper. And nothing is more satisfying than being that all-powerful sniper, waiting in the shadows for that opportune moment; when you can expertly plant a bullet in your opponent’s head.
The sniper is a hard class to master, but with patience, a bit of luck, and the following tips and strategies, you could be racking up dozens of head shots in no time. And you’ll undoubtedly develop an ego as big as Kanye West’s. If that’s possible.
1. Only shoot heavies when your gun is charged.
If you’re going to bother going for a Heavy, make sure you charge your gun (this is done by simply waiting in the zoomed view – a lighting bolt will appear next to a set of bars when it is fully charged.) Heavies have a huge amount of health, especially when there are medics accompanying them. If you don’t bother to charge your gun, even a well-placed shot to the head most likely won’t kill the heavy. However, a head shot from a fully charged sniper rifle will kill the heavy instantly, guaranteed.
If your shot fails to kill him your cover is blown and you’ll be murdered within seconds by him and any of his team members. With a charged shot, you’ll have a much better chance of quickly eliminating this powerful enemy.
2. Hide your laser dot.
Nothing gives a Sniper away like his laser dot – the result of zooming in your Sniper Rifle. If the enemy sees that colored dot resting on the wall right outside the door they’re about to exit, they’re going to stop and come up with a strategy to kill you. Don’t think so? You think they’ll just blindly run on through and you can take them out quickly with a headshot? Believe me, it’s not that easy. Maybe you’ll find opponents dumb enough to fall for that at first, but when the others see their teammates falling to some unseen force, they’re going to launch a counter attack. This counter attack could consist of a cloaked Spy backstabbing you, a Soldier shooting rockets at your location (forcing you to move), a Demoman lobbing grenades or sticky bombs at you, a couple Snipers of their own taking you out (from out that doorway or not), or a number of other things.
So to avoid all this pain and death, what should you do? HIDE THE DOT. Instead of putting it on the wall just outside their doorway (where they can plainly see), try positioning the dot on the doorway. This way, only you and others already outside can see it, and those who still haven’t passed through the doorway have no idea there’s a Sniper watching their location.
Of course, even if you are hiding the dot, after a few headshots the enemy is going to know there’s a Sniper aiming at that doorway. You’re going to have to switch locations, which brings me to my next point.
This Sniper is practicing two good strategies – Hiding the dot and charging the Rifle. Enemies coming in from that entrance will not see the laser dot, and therefore will not worry about a Sniper attacking them. They will be surprised once a shot comes out of nowhere towards them.
3. Repeatedly change your location.
A necessity to being a good Sniper is the element of surprise. If you stand at the same spot (even if it’s a good spot) for too long, you’re certain to be killed, whether by Spy, Soldier, another Sniper, or whatever. Other Snipers on the other team may even copy your location strategies, which is always annoying. I never follow a solid rule about when to change locations, but I think it’s safe to say that in general locations should be switched about every 3-5 kills. However, like I just said, this is a general bit of advice – do as you see fit. If you are well protected, you really might not have to switch. If there are turrets and other teammates all around you, even the Spies will have a hard time getting to you. Also, think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try new strategies every once in a while. I remember a game I played at 2Fort where I sniped about 3 people while swimming underwater!
4. Don’t underestimate your kukri.
People seem to rely on the Machine Pistol when it comes to close combat, but in my opinion, the kukri, with it’s great range, works much better. If the enemy infiltrates your base or your hiding place, sneak up on them and slash them in the back if you can. From a point blank range, the kukri can do anywhere from 45 to 85 damage. While the Machine Pistol isn’t bad, it isn’t nearly as strong as guns other classes use, and it’s loud noise will grab other players’ attention as well as the one you’re attacking. Use the Machine Pistol if there are multiple enemies surrounding you, but with one opponent and the element of surprise, the kukri will get the job done.
5. Avoid Pyros.
Snipers suck at close combat. Pyros specialize in it. If you see a Pyro approaching your location, you need to either kill him quickly or run away. You might suppose that strategy would apply to all classes, and maybe it does. I’m just warning you to be especially vigilant in your look-out for Pyros. If one of them gets close to you, that Flamethrower will kill you very quickly, mostly because you’ll have little chance to fight back. If you were in the zoomed view with your Sniper Rifle, the time it takes to zoom out, pull out your Machine Pistol (Using the Kukri against a Pyro isn’t a very good idea at all – you’ll have to rush into the flames to get close enough to use it) and attack will be enough time for that Pyro to burn you alive. Call it a bad strategy, but I’m not exaggerating the abnormally large danger of a Pyro to a Sniper. You’ll see what I mean after you’re burnt to a crisp again and again.
6. Crouching makes you a smaller target.
When there’s a chance that another Sniper may be trying to shoot you, crouch down to make yourself a smaller target. It greatly cuts your walking speed (especially if you’re zoomed in with the Sniper Rifle), but it’s well worth the extra cover. If you can see the opposing Sniper aiming for you, then you shouldn’t be crouching – you should be running away! Then you can come out of your cover and try to shoot him before he shoots you. You should crouch only when there’s a chance an enemy sniper is around. Plus, crouching makes you harder to see in anyone’s eyes, so soldiers/whatever might not be so quick to shoot at your location.
7. When it comes to Scouts, aim for the body.
Scouts are very fast, so aiming for the head is futile when they’re running away. Aim for their body – it’s a much easier target. This is if you’re using the Sniper Rifle, of course. Close up, the SMG should work, but it takes a VERY long time to kill them when they’re at full health. Once again, I’ll recommend the Kukri. They might use their Scattergun on you at point blank range however, which is incredibly lethal… it seems the best strategy is to finish them off when they’re far away from you, and run if they get too close.
8. Set your mouse sensitivity to fit your needs.
Some people are better with the Sniper when their mouse sensitivity is low, but most prefer it at a higher setting. This gives you the ability to turn around fast, or follow a quickly-moving enemy that tries to escape. It isn’t a good idea to go straight from 1 to 12 in one round, because I can guarantee you won’t be used to the new settings right away. Gradually go up by a single number, or half of a number, every round. This will ease you into the higher sensitivity.
9. Who do you kill first – the medic or the person they accompany?
Most people would assume that killing the medic first is the best idea, but there are actually a few reasons why it would be better to kill the person they are healing. The first is that upon killing the medic, other players on that medic’s team will become instantly aware of a sniper aiming at them. So will they run for cover? Probably not – in fact, they’ll most likely look for your laser dot and trace it to your location, then release a full-out assault on you. The second is that it would be better to get a medic fighting alone than a Heavy/Soldier/Demoman, etc. If you kill the medic, the recipient of the healing won’t be getting a huge health boost anymore, but they could probably fit in a couple more kills before they die. The Syringe Gun is a pathetic weapon at best, and the medic will most likely take a more defensive strategy when they realize no powerful ally is covering them.
Another reason to kill the medic last is because of time. A single fully-charged headshot will kill anyone instantly, so if you just wait a little while to charge your shot, you can kill the heavy/soldier/demoman, etc. and thus cause the weak medics to run away in a hurry. If you try to pick off the medic(s), you’re only giving the player being healed more time to attack. It takes less time to charge a shot, kill the heavy/whatever and cause the medics to run away in panic than it does to try to kill the medic(s) and then try to kill the player they were healing (who’s probably still on a killing spree).
However, there is a risk you are taking if you choose to go for the fighter first. If your shot fails to kill him, his health will be quickly filled, and the Medic’s Uber will charge faster. If you are new to the Sniper class, going for the Medic may be a better idea after all, so you don’t end up helping the other team through your amateur shots.
In the end though, I think we can all agree that this is a very situation-specific issue. I guess my tip here is to kill the fighter first if you can. The order really isn’t anything worth arguing over as long as the enemy is killed.
10. Turn on the fast weapon change.
Absolutely essential for all Snipers is the fast weapon change. When turned on, you won’t bring up the list of weapons when you press 1, 2, or 3 trying to switch. This is very important because when you suddenly find yourself being attacked when you’re zoomed in with your Sniper Rifle, you’ll need every second you’ve got to turn around and start sinking bullets or blades into the guy. Pressing the button twice to change weapons is just simply too slow, so make sure you turn on the fast weapon change in the options menu.
11. When on the move, keep the Machine Pistol equipped and stay with others.
Like I’ve said before, a Sniper can never be safe for long in the same spot, so you have to be on the move continuously during the round. However, some precautions must take place in order to avoid a lonely and/or embarrassing death. The first of which is to stay with others. The Sniper isn’t the best at defending himself, especially against a more powerful enemy like a Soldier or a Heavy. If you stay in a group (even if that group is made up of only 1 or 2 other people), your chances of survival are much greater. It’s a good idea to stay with strong classes, but it’s still better to stay with a group of Medics or other Snipers than to stay by yourself.
Next you’ll need to make sure you keep the right weapon equipped while on the move. While I prefer fighting with the Kukri, the Machine Pistol is the best choice. If you run into an enemy while scouting out the next sniping spot, a Machine Pistol attack will be able to reach them whether they’re close to you or far away. You can definitely switch to the Kukri if the situation calls for it, but start with the gun.
By the way, you definitely will not want to try to quickly zoom in with your Sniper Rifle. It was not made for close-range, one-on-one fights, but long range shots while the user is in cover. Try it if you want, but you’ll see that it’s not going to work.