Snipin’s a tough job, mate. Bloody Spies are always rootin’ to slice ya in the back, yer whole soddin’ team’s a bunch of hapless ingrates, and it just so happens that everyone hates the air your breathe.
How does one create viable unlocks for the Sniper? It’s a bit tough, since “viable” is largely contingent upon whether you’re a casual Sniping enthusiast or a die-hard headshotting pro. If you’re in the latter category, odds are you have a very narrow margin when it comes to unlock viability.
So, when the Sniper receives new toys, it’s not particularly surprising that they’re universally hated by “pro” Snipers.
The problem is this: “professionals” have standards. And those standards were met by the Sniper Rifle, SMG/Jarate, and Kukri a long time ago. People who are adept at turning enemy heads into brain pudding have no interest in new weapons, as almost every gimmick imaginable has the potential to lower the skill ceiling.
I wouldn’t be surprised if pro Snipers demanded Valve create a new type of rifle that does 10x damage on no-scope Eyeshots.
These players can’t be pleased, so Valve doesn’t try. They already have their ideal weapons.
And, if you’re a pro, odds are you hate the Polycount Sniper update more than you already hate lower-tier Snipers. As for everyone else? Well…
Just look at how many people on your team are running around in crocodile skin.
Darwin’s Danger Shield
I don’t know why this shield is named “Darwin’s” anything. Is this Valve’s attempt to bring God’s wrath upon them? Is that what you want, Valve?
Regardless of the developer’s anti-Christian beliefs, it’s hard to argue the pros and cons of such a simple item. Granting the wearer +25 HP (+20%) seems like a reasonable bonus, but most of the time it simply isn’t worth the tradeoff.
Think about the most common causes of death for your average Sniper:
- backstabbed by a Spy
- headshot/charged bodyshot by enemy Sniper
- juggled/killed by 2 Soldier rockets
- strafed by Scout, killed in 2 shots
The reality is that in most of these scenarios, having 25 more HP doesn’t do much.
You still die to backstabs, headshots, and charged bodyshots. You are still 2-shotted by most other weapons. Really, +25 HP just gives you a little more breathing room in the face of long-range splash, but the Sniper was already pretty well positioned to deal with this.
And, just by using DDS, you give up two much better options.* Both the SMG and Jarate offer the Sniper good emergency buttons for when he gets caught fighting at mid-close range. Meanwhile, Darwin’s Danger shield just lets you run from enemy fire 20% longer (you live for 3 seconds instead of 2.5 ).
I recommend every Sniper worth his piss sticks with being a glass cannon, just as nature intended.
Besides, would you really want to use an item that specifically calls down the wrath of God on you?
There’s only one thing to say about the Bushwacka: If you’re using Jarate, it’s good. If you’re not, it’s bad.
While Valve may have attempted to connive you into believing the Bushwacka and the Sydney Sleeper have some kind of synergy, don’t be fooled.
The Sydney Sleeper is for long-range fighting. The Bushwacka is for short-range fighting. The Sydney Sleeper requires a ~50% charge to apply Jarate. Charged shots at close range = your death.
The odds that, in any given life, you will hit an opponent with a charged Sydney Sleeper shot then attack that same foe in melee range, are exceedingly low. You’d have better luck firing random charged shots into open space and hitting a cloaked Spy.** The odds that, in a given life, you will hit an opponent with Jarate and be able to finish them off with a critical hit is very high, by comparison.
In summary, if you’re using Jarate, there’s no reason to not use the Bushwacka.
If you’re not using Jarate, don’t use the Bushwacka.
The Sydney Sleeper
Ah, I saved the best lulziest for last. See, the Sydney Sleeper has divided the Sniper “community” (I use this term as loosely as possible) by singular merit of its rewarding bodyshots over headshots.
Remember the ultra-competitive days of Counter-Strike? When the most pro weapon was the AWP sniper rifle? While many guns like the AK-47 required the user to become an expert in instant headshots, the best players always used the AWP as soon as it was available. This was despite because of its ability to 1-hit kill with any bodyshot.
Do you know why competitive players didn’t whine, and actually favored the less precision-minded weapon?
The same reason nobody goes for headshots in real life.
Ask any NRA member worth his salt if, when the government comes to steal his wife, he’ll be aiming for the head or the chest. 9 out of 10 will say “chest,” since it’s an easier tactical target. The 10th guy? He’ll be holed up in an underground bunker with a 30 year supply of baked beans.
Regardless, no matter how much the elitists want to believe that headshots are the only legitimate way to kill an enemy, all reason, realism, and competitive analysis indicates this mentality is completely idiotic. The strategy that should always be employed is the strategy that wins. And in many scenarios, a bodyshot is a winning stratetgy.
Especially when it coats your enemy in urine.
Of course, the best strategy is to have the option to go for the twitch-reflex headshot or the long-charged bodyshot. With the Sydney Sleeper, the former option is lost, but (nearly) all bodyshots are also debuffs on the enemy.
The result is simple:
- If you are capable of consistently nailing headshots, stick with the Sniper Rifle.
- If you can only consistently land bodyshots, use the Sydney Sleeper.***
Ultimately, the goal isn’t to compare e-peens with enemy Snipers; it’s to help your team by picking off important targets.
Worry first and foremost about putting bullets/darts/urine into your enemies.
Leave the forum rage to the people who don’t actually understand what competitive anything means.
The merits of Ol’ Snaggletooth are infinite: as part of the complete Croc-o-Style set, you can’t be killed by headshots.
But, more seriously, this presents a conundrum. More skilled players can no longer headshot you. Of course, they have the same option as you do (charged bodyshot), but their bodyshots are worse, since they don’t come lined with piss.
While the argument can be made that hats shouldn’t grant non-cosmetic bonuses, I’ll submit a better short-term thesis:
Anyone wearing the full COS set is already gimped to hell.
A player wearing Darwin’s Danger Shield while sporting a Sydney Sleeper and a Bushwacka is, more than likely, terrible. Not only is this player terrible, he/she has no good close-to-mid range fighting options, and is of little threat to everyone on your team except you.
If someone is wearing this set and consistently kills you with charged bodyshots, the fact is you are bad. Sure, they have a slightly unfair crutch, but let’s face it: if charged bodyshots were so powerful, wouldn’t you already be using them instead of headshots?
I didn’t think so.
*The Razorback is never an option.
**Note: The probability of this event is approximately 1.6%. Interestingly enough, the probability that a person playing as a cloaked Spy will be randomly killed by a charged Sydney Sleeper shot is 98.4%. This is known as Spy Luck Inversion.
***If you can’t hit anything with anything, it’s time to whip out the rage-inducing Huntsman.