I’ve never really been someone who picks the Sniper class in any sort of game. My aim isn’t absolutely horrible because I have been practicing and have finally got my mouse working at speeds I like. But I’m still not really Sniper material. The fast-paced, middle of battle headshottery isn’t part of my skill set yet.
I should clarify though. I am not ready to play as a Team Fortress 2 Sniper. TF2’s Sniper is a weirdly weak class when it comes to sniping classes in general, with the inability to score headshots unless scoped in and after a brief delay, but he’s still very powerful within TF2’s world due to his long-range gun play in a short-to-mid-range game, the fact that his weaknesses can somewhat easily be removed with Jarate, the Razorback, the Darwin’s Danger Shield and the Bushwacka and the problem of his sight lines have steadily increased over the years. But playing Sniper effectively in TF2 is incredibly hard because everything is incredibly fast paced and you need to constantly readjust to your settings and move around. It’s all twitch and flick aim, fast-paced insanity that is nothing like what a real sniper would do.
You see, the more realistic sniping stuff is more my cup of tea. If I have the time to line up every shot, I will get a kill (or at least hit my target) most of the time. Even accounting for things like arcing and wind and stuff. With practice of course. The one time I fired a bow, I was pretty accurate. There are a few games where you can actually sit down and plan your kills, and while they look interesting and I’d probably be quite good at them, I’ve never owned such a game and even then, I probably wouldn’t play it.
So, in games where there are no healers, or they are not accessible for a very long time (looking at you, Warframe!) I need to find something else to carry me along, but also something strong enough that I can actually kinda do things on my own as well. Thing is, a lot of the games I play don’t really have all-rounder classes like the Soldier, so I end up doing something weird.
Introducing the Stealth Archer.
The Stealth Archer is probably one of the easiest and strongest ways to play, of all things, Skyrim. Both Sneak and Archery are really easy to level up at the start of the game, and using Sneak, you can get a lot of kills on unsuspecting enemies. The hit and miss AI in Skyrim (“Got an arrow stuck in my head, but it must have been my imagination!”) coupled with the double/triple damage on sneak attacks means that you can dispatch enemies one at a time at your own pace. There is of course a downside, as stronger enemies are smarter and WILL find where you are, either by listening for you or by you missing your shots, so this means that you have to make your sneak attacks count – using a bow in close-range combat is a really bad idea.
It’s a nice style, really. There is a form of punishment if you mess up, but it allows me to take my time and line up those shots. I found that the more I played Skyrim, the faster I could aim my bow and the more quickly I could clear areas of enemies. This style of gameplay also helped me greatly in Warframe, where the idiot that I am picked up the shitty starter bow and not the shitty starter shotgun, but at least my flimsy self could carry me through missions by sneaking around and being awesome – especially as one of the very first missions is a solo-only sneaking spy mission.
The Sneak Archer isn’t a play style suited for most people. It’s a slow, tactical approach to playing games, and it is very heavily reliant on timing your shots. Oh, and shit AI. If a real person suddenly saw their friend drop dead from an arrow in their chest, they’d immediately sound an alarm.