“Hang on there, Mr. Wolf!” You spurt, your glorious moustache twizzling in anticipation of a preconceived ramble “You said you LOVE the Sniper!” Thanks to your eagle-eyed vigilance, I can not deny this, however, our friend doesn’t have his downsides!
You see, playing Sniper relies on more than simple aim and reflex. (Blasphemy! I know!) A Sniper should always have a heightened sense of situational awareness. Knowledge of the battlefield (sight lines, elevation) and the progression of said battle, where people are moving, and, more importantly, where they will be. Unfortunately, a certain Mr. Hale was unaware of these facts and decided the only solution was
hippy killing a more… Blunt approach.
Shields. An invention that changed the face of war. Existing for thousands of years, they’ve turned the tide of many battles through vigorously taught training resulting in perfected technique and co-ordination. However, surprisingly, the shields of TF2 behave rather differently to their real-life counterparts as being completely passive weapons of war without the need for that silly “effort” malarkey I’ve heard so much about.
So what’s the result of this?
Well, to know this we first need to get to know the properties of both of these back-hugging compadres. The first is the “Darwin’s Danger Shield” giving the Sniper a decent +25 HP upgrade in exchange for his secondary as well as a +15% bullet resistance bonus, for the small fee of one human soul! The only downside to this shield is an extra 20% explosive damage vulnerability, though with the added health it may as well not exist. The huge upside to the weapon is due to the bullet resistance, it makes the user wearing it capable of surviving a non-charged headshot.
Secondly, we have the “Razorback”. It is capable of blocking a single backstab attempt on the user wearing it. Breaking as it does. It can be replenished at a resupply locker or spawn. Apart from having to equip it over your secondary slot, there’s no downside to wielding the Razorback as, like the Darwin’s Danger Shield, it is completely passive.
Thanks for bringing up the obvious, but what’s your point?
It’s not the items themselves, but rather the change of mentality they have on the player. By wielding one of the shields, the player suddenly has no need to be wary, to be vigilant and easily gets lost in tunnel vision. One of the few classes that could truly deal with them becomes little more than an irksome bother as opposed to a genuine threat.
I’ve seen people with the Darwin’s Danger Shield be intentionally shot in the face in order to score easy kills on enemy Snipers who are still stuck in the delay after firing. The firing discipline is thrown out the window as there’s no reason to fear death from a headshot while in the slow, vulnerable state. Strafing left to right, spamming shots into the same area repeatedly knowing they only need the single hit and can tank the same hit back.
I see people with the Razorback swat away spies like flies. Standing in the middle of nowhere, never looking outside their scope based existence because there’s no reason to. If a Spy attempts to stab them, they are meat to the grinder while defenceless and only slightly less than that afterwards. The only thing that makes this better if the existence of the Ambassador. Otherwise, the Sniper simply kills the spy or flees to safety only to grab another shield and start the process off again.
Similar to the B.A.S.E. Jumper or the Phlogistinator, they reinforce bad habits. They can be put to great effect in some cases, but it’s not the place to start. You won’t learn reflecting or crit combos with the Phlog in the same way the B.A.S.E. Jumper won’t teach you how to rocket jump properly. I believe the shields belong in the same branch. You can’t teach great aim or how to detect spies just by looking at them. It’s just something you get the feel for with experience.
Yet, the shields stop newer players from developing this muscle memory by bundling it into the secondary slot. With experienced players, it’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Same goes for the Cozy Camper. You shouldn’t try to incentivise marksmanship while being shot to pieces or burnt alive. If that’s happening to you, you’re doing it wrong.
The Sniper has the ability to take the life of any class he chooses, from any distance, from wherever he likes and there’s no direct counter the enemy can use to stop it. So why is it the Sniper, of all classes, has the ability to flat-out negate his few threats with a mere passive item? Especially when he’s the one dealing out such punishment to begin with.
I’ll leave you all with one of Scout’s great philosophical proverbs. “Grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and brother, Abby loves being nude. Seriously, it’s creepy. Tell him to stop it.”