Go Team! Part 5: The Sniper

I don’t know about you, but The Sniper seems a little, well, disconnected. I mean I’m there in the fight alright, but I’ve usually got something on my mind. That thing is usually the other sniper.

While Team Fortress 2 happily throws up the “Nemesis!” tag for those enemies you give you a kicking once too often, it doesn’t acknowledge the real battles that are taking place. The most defined of these are the duels between opposing snipers. There’s always one, and he’ll always be devoted picking you off first. And so the sniper respawns and has one target in mind: the guy on the enemy team. The fight devolves from one where the sniper is an element of supporting, long-range firepower, to one where there’s only a single goal: to stop the other sniper being effective. It’s a duel like no other in the game.

Nudge, nudge, round the corner, just a few more pixels – HEADSHOT! Usually me tumbling to the floor, it has to be said. But occasionally I’ll sweep him into my reticle and deliver the deathblow. Sweet, sweet, poetic justice. Of course the power of the sniper rifle means you’ll cap plenty of incidental targets too: charging scouts being a particular favourite of mine. But really you’re going to be making sure the enemy sniper can’t abuse his favourite camping position, and that your slower team-mates aren’t going to find themselves with brains removed as they gallop across open ground.

As the team fights its way through a spammed chokepoint, or holds down a capture point, they are always going to have more firepower than they expect. The sniper’s single shots are just as potent as any raucous heavy’s whirling bullets – more so, perhaps, when you consider that the damage is delivered instantaneously.

Yet, as a sniper, you’re at the back, and you’re alone. You’re exposed, not moving too much, and are the perfect target for more than just that opposing sniper. Scouts, or worse, spies, are going to prey on you. You really need to operate as a pair, with another sniper, because how else are you going to cover yourself when a spy turns up? You’re goggling through a scope and the spy can take his time about stabbing you into that ghost mode in the sky.

When you do see them coming, however, you can be ready for them. The Sniper’s sidearm – a submachinegun – is surprisingly effective. It’s low damage, sure, but it spits out bullets at a rate that will cow a spy and allow you to spray a scout to death in moments. Moments like those are some slight respite to the long, ugly camping session that is the sniping existence. Even on the less symmetrical of TF2’s maps, you’re going to be moving from prime spot to prime spot, seeking the headshots. Other classes may choose to camp, but with the sniper it’s occupational.

So yes. It’s a tough, lonely life being the sniper. No medic is going to come running, no demo or heavy is going to hang around to give you support (although they probably should – a long range and short range amalgam works wonders). It’s just you and the will to headshot. Ha, and the pyro thinks that no one likes /him/.


  1. Feet says:

    Is he an Australian monarchist or a cockney? I can never work it out.

  2. arqueturus says:

    It strikes me that a Sniper and a Pyro is a pretty good pairing actually, especially for anti spyness.

    I love playing the sniper on 2Forts although more often than not I come off worse.

  3. Martin Coxall says:

    I ‘ate those sniping mothers. SHOOT THE MEDIC, yes. But also, please do kick any snipers square in the sack while you’re at it. Kthx.

  4. Feet says:

    Snipers I can live with. You can work out where they are from their blue\red laser sight and stay out of their line until you can get up close. It’s those thrice damned, yellow bellied coward spies that need the kicking.

  5. Ghiest says:

    2fort is the only map where I play a sniper, as it’s a valid defence tool as well as a nice distration (and 1 of 2 maps where they are useful). But Soldier is just more effective at suppressing the enemy snipers anyway.

  6. MPK says:

    “Thanks for standing still, wanker!” may well be the best ever taunt in the history of ever.

  7. Savage says:

    @ arqueturus: Re: Pyro/Sniper. You’re absolutely right, it’s a killer combo, but requires an unusually patient Pyro player, someone who’s willing to sacrifice personal glory for team success. The combo works at it’s best on 2Fort, where there’s really only one way for the spy to get to the battlements. I guess the uncool kids can get by pretty well if they stick together!

  8. Yargh says:

    I wouldn’t count too much on the laser pointer being a giveaway for very long. I’ve noticed snipers aiming at scenery just next to, below or above the real target so as not to give any warning.

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Aye, it’s all too easy to hide the pointer, especially if you know where enemies are going to emerge from.

  10. Cigol says:

    A good sniping vantage point (if you want to mix it up on an averagely populated server*) is in the water, underneath the bridge on 2Fort. Enemy snipers rarely look down there and it’s easy to pick them off. Mix it up by retreating back up to the battlements (getting the health on the way) and also using the area underneath the battlements to give your enemies a hard time predicting your movement.

    *heavily populated servers are more difficult as the underwater route is more well trodden and you don’t want to get caught down there… Particularly don’t let anyone see you drop down – as you’re easy prey and you’ll be followed.

  11. drunkymonkey says:

    The sniper has to be one of the most contemporary classes here, and yet it’s one of the ones I want to try the most.

  12. teamonkey says:

    If the sniper’s right-handed, why is the left side of his hat turned up?

  13. Pentadact says:

    What I love about that hide-the-laser game is that it makes the class about snap-aiming, rather than just keeping your sights trained on the headshot position and waiting for people to wander into it. That and the stay-scoped-to-charge tradeoff are what made me fall in love with Sniping in this game, where I hate it in most others.

  14. Iain says:

    Yeah, it’s good especially on the battlements of 2Fort, where you can keep the scoped view, but duck in and out of cover quickly, allowing you to hide your laser pointer. I still usually keep getting my head taken off because I am old and slow, but it’s nice to get revenge kills like that. When you get full-blown sniper duels on 2Fort (more than two per side) the old adage of “speed is life” is never more appropriate – if you stay still as a sniper, you’re toast.

  15. Star69 says:

  16. slightly_peeved says:


    I think the Sniper is meant to be an Australian, as perceived by the rest of the world – the cockney accent and occasional cockney saying, the slouch hat, and the “knife” out of crocodile dundee as his melee weapon.

    Considering Team Fortress was originally developed by Australians, they know what Australians are actually like – I think they decided to have fun with it and do a completely stereotypical Australian.

    The hat’s a part of Australian army parade dress, and is in most cases worn with the left side turned up – see the wikipedia entry on “slouch hat” for more details.

  17. Garth says:

    “arqueturus: Re: Pyro/Sniper. You’re absolutely right, it’s a killer combo, but requires an unusually patient Pyro player, someone who’s willing to sacrifice personal glory for team success.”

    /waves hand. On maps like Gravel Pit, I’m always supporting the Snipers. Anyone who approaches them gets a nice tan via a tanning salon no man enters on purpose.

  18. sniper says:

    What I dislike about the sniper is that it is just too bloody easy to snipe people in the head. Just about any other game requires skill + a little luck to get headshots consistently, but in tf2 it seems that you have to almost try to miss. Sure scouts can be difficult if they actually dodge but those are really rare so its just a matter of racking up the kills until you get stabbed in the back. As well, the charging up of the shots completely eliminates the entire skill of quickscoping as seen in cs.