“Snipin’s a good job mate”… just like being a nuclear physicist

Let’s get something straight. Our bushwhacking friend the Sniper, that lean, mean shooting machine, is an interesting class. He’s got more firepower than Pyro’s toaster and more attitude than a diving plane. His accent alone makes him a respectable character. Small wonder so many people like slipping into his sunnies when they first try out TF2.

For the good of your team, DO NOT DO THAT.

What we should all know already from movies, books and common sense is this. The job of a sniper requires high specialization, that is, a unique skill set. Snipers must have superhuman patience, an ability to predict where a target may appear, and obviously critical aim. (side note: real-life snipers always have a helper to cover them, so it’s not as lonely a job as most people think)

TF2 Sniper is no different. Well, except he’s also a fan of machetes and the W-word. Point is, he is a very special class meant for special situations. He is not an offensive infantry unit, nor is he a frontline defender. He is a sniper. He hides in the shadows, waiting for the moment when a single shot from his rifle can make all the difference for his team.

So when I jump into a server and find I’m the lone Soldier among a dozen Snipers, I assume they’re expecting me to capture points or push the bomb-cart all by myself. But no, they all rush in to battle, expecting their precision rifle to help them against those charging Pyros or the cloaked Spy running around. Then there’s lots of blood, a few explosions, the sound of a wrench striking a Sentry. Then they get to me, and with all support guys waiting to respawn, I’m left in a bit of a pickle.

TF2 presents 'Meet the Pyro Bait'
TF2 presents ‘Meet the Pyro Bait’

If you are new to the game, I’m afraid the Sniper is not for you. It takes a lot of experience to know how he is to be used and how to use him. Please, for the good of your team, practice as one of the more basic classes and get the mechanics of the game nailed. Learn from other players how to snipe effectively.

When I first tried playing Sniper, here’s what happened. I spent too long looking for a good position to shoot from (like a high ledge) and got blazed by Pyros. I kept changing positions every five seconds because I was impatient, probably missing many potential targets. I rushed forward and tried to take a control point, then got hammered by a Heavy. When I finally did get a shot lined up, I missed the critical headshot and was subsequently turned into lasagne by the very Soldier I’d been aiming at.

Now, I’ve heard a theory that being good at an activity in real life makes you even better at it in video games. Absolute trash when it comes to the Sniper. When I was in high school I took up rifle shooting as a sport and kept it up for two years. It was a challenging sport but I made rapid improvements and my team dominated the inter-school competitions. Our targets were 20 feet (about 200 hands) away and looked like black dots rather than gunslinging mercenaries.

In theory playing as TF2 Sniper should be way easier. First of all, he has a scope. I’ve never used a rifle with a zooming scope on it before. Also he’s from Australia, a little island just to the west of New Zealand, which is where I live. If you want to learn survival skills, go to Australia. If you want to learn how to eat five pies at once, come to NZ. Sniper was bred tough, as they say.

The take-home message: if somebody like me can’t get their head around playing Sniper (I’ve tried a few times since), there is no reason for new players to start out with him. He is a specialist class for “professional” players who have been playing for years and know exactly what they’re doing. Besides, what about the TEAM in Team Fortress 2? A dozen Snipers and one Soldier is not a team, it’s a jar of piss. I mean, Jarate!

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