I hate playing Sniper, so thankfully I rarely get the chance to, leaving it up to people who can aim to fill that role. But every so often, once in a blue moon, I’ll pick up Sniper, only to throw him back again. Every time I do play Sniper though, I’m stuck with the same old question. “Why the hell am I still using the SMG?”
Well, what are the other options? Everyone’s favourite jar-based karate has been around for a long time. Then there’s Sniper’s various backpack items – the Danger Shield, the Razorback and the Cozy Camper. Oh and the Cleaner’s Carbine.
Jarate is so good. You see someone on fire, or someone who may be a Spy, or a choke point, or, well, anything, you chuck a jar of piss at them and hope for the best. Coupled with the Bushwacka, it makes anyone covered in urine and in melee range of said Sniper think twice. Or three times. Or not at all, since melee crits really bloody hurt. There’s also the sheer stopping power that Jarate has, particularly if timed well and thrown down a choke point. Enemies attempting to push through will have to wait off the effect or, well, die.
Sniper’s other options are way more passive and all worn on one’s back. Out of the three of them, two could be considered complete counters to other classes – to be fair, so is Jarate – but the Cozy Camper tries to go in an even more passive direction. In exchange for being killed with one rocket or a grenade and a half, you get a tiny bit of health regen (1 health every two seconds) and the rather amazing ability of not flinching while being shot at. A great ability for someone who relies on being very accurate. But alas the downsides are too big, so the Cozy Camper remains somewhat unused.
The Danger Shield and the Razorback though are just weird. The Danger Shield was great when it just gave you 25 health, people just put it on and ignored it. Now it’s a pain in the backside because of its new bullet resistance upside. (Oh hey that rhymed!) If you want to take out a Sniper wearing the Danger Shield, you need to charge up extra to be able to counter the bullet resistance. Meanwhile, the Danger-Shield-wearing Sniper can still quickscope you to death. It’s like having a very small Vaccinator Medic strapped to one’s back. You can see why Snipers themselves dislike this ‘weapon’.
The Razorback is single-use, like the Caber, but far better, due to its reliability. Spies have always been chalked up to be the great anti-Sniper weapon, designed to take out unaware targets with clean backstabs. Unaware targets like scoped in Snipers. So why not give Sniper a weapon that can completely and utterly block a single backstab and give a Spy a nasty shock in the process? Seems like a silly idea to me, but oh well.
Finally there’s the Cleaner’s Carbine. But let’s not talk about that, because it’s crap.
So, Medic, why don’t you use any of these fancy weapons, I hear all none of you ask? Well, none of them really feel Sniper-y to me. Sniper has always been that guy who excels at hiding behind everyone else and taking out high value targets from a distance. All these shields and stuff feel like huge comfy bumpers in case a Sniper screws up, which seems, well, un-Sniper-y. Nothing screams “I screwed up, help me!” more than a blast of SMG fire.
Plus, the SMG is a nice automatic weapon. TF2 doesn’t have a lot of those really. A spray and pray sort of thing.
A bit like playing Medic then, and failing miserably.