Team Fortess 2 Sniper guide
Team Fortress 2 is now free, so everyone with a Steam account owns it. If you haven’t played before, it can be an intimidating, hat-riddled game. Previously we gave you a handle on the basics, items and classes, now we're going in depth on each class.
The Sniper should be at the back of the team, slightly obscured by a stack of crates or lurking in the shadows, quietly taking out the rest of the enemy team with a steady stream of headshots. He’s the kind of efficient, calm, entirely stable mass-murderer you want behind you, rather than in-front of you. His starting sniper rifle does excellent damage when charged, but it takes a few moments to power-up. A fully-charged head-shot will kill every class, regardless of their current health.
Snipers, though, are extremely fragile. Not only do they have a minimal health-pool, they tend to get focused on peering down their scope, making them easy prey for spies, or other snipers. If they can close to range, a Sniper is easy pickings for nimble classes like the Pyro or Scout; their alternate machine gun is weak, only really useful for finishing off the wounded or infirm.
To zoom in with the Sniper’s rifle, click the right mouse button. The meter in the bottom left of the scope view shows how charged your next rifle shot will be. You’ll lose that charge if you fire, or if you unscope. While it’s tempting to wait until fully charged, if you’ve got a clear shot on the head of a stationary enemy, unless you’re absolutely sure he’s not going to move, it’s usually better to take the shot now, rather than waiting.
When you’re defending, the Sniper should be behind, or near to the capture point, with a clear view of both where the enemy will approach from, and the capture point. When attacking, the sniper should be, again, just behind the front line, supporting the other classes in their push.
While the Sniper is lots of fun to play, your team only needs a couple of them at most. If there are more than two Snipers on your team, think very carefully before switching the Sniper. You almost certainly don’t need any more. Snipers should also be very wary of being caught in a sniper-duel, or entirely focusing on kills to the detriment of helping your team. Just because you’re fragile, doesn’t mean you shouldn't capture points when you spot the opportunity. Just because you fight from range, it doesn’t mean that you can’t throw yourself at the Payload map in the final seconds of a round. Remember that your kill count means nothing if the team doesn’t win.
The most valuable alternate weapons for the Sniper
Jarate is a jar of piss that can be thrown at your enemies (in which case it will turn any damage done to them into mini-crits - a significant increase) or your friends (which will douse any flames). It will also ritually humiliate them. It’s basically brilliant, and a far more entertaining alternative to the Sniper’s boring sub-machine gun.
The Huntsman is a bow-and-arrow that replaces the sniper rifle. Huntsman arrows don’t hit instantly, unlike the rifle, and drop slightly in-flight, so it requires a slightly higher level of skill to hit with. Because of that, Huntsman snipers tend to fight closer to the front-lines, and fire head-level into crowds around a capture point or Kart, playing the law of averages, assuming that an arrow at head-height is likely to score a kill. While it’s arguable whether the Huntsman will make you a more effective Sniper, most of the PC Gamer team prefer it to the standard rifle, or any rifle alternatives. It’s awesome to kill with.
Is the Sniper Starter Bundle worth buying?
Definitely. It contains the jar of piss (Jarate) and a bow and arrow (the Huntsman). It’s the recipe for a very, very exciting evening’s entertainment.
How to help a Sniper
If a Sniper is scoped, he’s focused entirely on what’s at the end of his gun. He has no idea of what’s behind him, or to the side. He’s outrageously vulnerable to being backstabbed or flanked. Do everything you can to warn him of impending doom; shoot the baddie, or just tell the Sniper via voice-chat that he’s in danger. All it takes is a word, and he’ll thank you for it.
How to fight a Sniper
Fighting a Sniper at range is pointless; his rifle is more accurate, it hits instantly, and the damage it does has zero drop-off due to range.
In fact, you might not even need to fight him. The reality is that most Snipers aren’t very good, and miss far more often than they hit. Duck, weave and jump and they’ll almost certainly miss. And if they’ve missed once, they’re probably going to miss again.
So get in close, and fight them where they’re uncomfortable. Get a Pyro to harrass them, get a Spy to backstab them. They’ll become so frustrated that they’ll ragequit in disgust. Job done.