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Published January 27, 2013

Marksman Misconceptions

Players have forever tarnished the reputation of the sniper class in many games. Snipers are seen as lazy and opportunistic, a toxic mixture of selfishness and cowardice. Call of Duty taught us to often attribute their success to hacking and their failings to our "L33T skillz." We've accused them of camping and stealing our kills - and some among us have marked them for death, dropping all other pursuits to get a chance at driving a knife through them as they stare, distracted, through their scope. We hate snipers, we really do! That is, until we take on the challenge of marksmanship ourselves...

Breaking the Bloody Mold

You've heard many of those gripes before; some of them are more justified than others. But instead of embracing them, you should make every possible effort to defy the stereotype. Planetside 2 is the kind of game that rewards experimentation, and furthermore, surprising your prey or assailant will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of the sniper class. This section will provide some basic tips and tricks, so if you think you are incredibly awesome™ already you can skip on to the next section.

Still here? Okay, let's take on some basic challenges that most new and even some experienced snipers fail at. Here's the scenario: you've been spotted and fire starts raining down on you; you activate your cloak and sprint to the nearest cover only to be chased down and killed seconds later when your cloak ability runs out. Congratulations, you are now a card-carrying member of the "majority of snipers fuck this up" club. If you are spotted by an enemy soldier at some distance they will have a hard time hitting you when you are on the move even if they can see you. Your first task should be to break the line of sight, look for the nearest cover and run there. If you are still alive, there's no time to celebrate, for that person is very likely to be going through a bad episode of battlefield blindness. 

Spotted snipers are perceived as easy prey and the spotter is now likely hunting you down just to teabag your corpse. It's time to turn the tables. The "predator distortion" caused by your cloaking device makes you easy to spot at close range, even to the most myopic of nerds with a good gaming rig. Its strength is that at long range, a cloaked up sniper is very difficult to track even while standing perfectly still. "But you just told me not to use it!" No, dummy, I told you to save it because you are going to need it. If you are particularly devious you can plant proximity mines near where you expect the enemy to come looking for you, and then cloak up and wait - that little surprise is bound to have your pursuer change his tactics next time he chases after a lone sniper. If mines are not an option, its easier to lose an enemy when they last see you running behind a piece of cover - you can then cloak up and run in a completely different direction. If you do this right you can even set yourself up to take a shot at them when they come looking for you.

Your cloak is not a crutch for your clumsiness. Sure, you can use it to get out of a sticky situation, but you don't get points for surviving, you get points for engaging and killing your enemy. So get out of the mindset that nags at you to use the cloak at the very first sign of trouble. And while you are at it, you may want to become acquainted with your sidearm. That pistol may seem weak, but its your best resource in a close range fight. It will help you to maintain a better awareness than what a 12x scope can provide when staring at the rivets on the wall at the end of the hallway. 

Last, but by no means least, even a lone sniper can make a killing (heh) without ever firing a shot from his rifle. Your hacking tool can disrupt enemy base defenses and your mine can lay waste to light vehicles and damaged aircraft attempting to land on rearming pads. Use this to your advantage. Your enemy will not expect you to brave an assault on your own and will often fall to complacency in their secured structures. Cause a little havoc behind enemy lines and you will have entire squads dedicated to hunting you down - thus taking them off the frontline and helping your team advance.

Metal Gear Solid: Planetside Edition?

There are no patrol routes in Planetside 2. I have encountered very few organized groups dedicated to defending captured structures. Most people move on to the next capture point, blood zeal in their eyes, looking for the next kill. That means infiltrating most structures behind enemy lines will be a cakewalk with few exceptions. And those exceptions will often force a sniper into a very difficult choice: should you take that easy shot? Some scrub is sitting just outside the forcefield, tabbed out or looking at his map, well within your range. Should you shoot him? Its a sure boon to your points, but in 99.99% of the times I would advice you save your shot and spare the idiot, just for a little longer. 

Look around. Where are you when you take that shot? Is this a proper perch? Do you have a place to run to to break line of sight? Are you in the path of advancing enemy vehicles? There are literally a hundred little calculations and observations that you can make in the blink of an eye, all you need to do is take your time and take stock of your situation. You can then make a more educated decision to take that shot or move on to a more advantageous location. Remember that the moment you fire that round you've made your move and the enemy will now make every effort to disrupt your next one.

If you are trying to avoid detection remember that the report of a sniper rifle is unmistakeable even to the greenest of noobs in the battlefield. It's a distinctive sound that will send most experienced players running for cover as they scan their views for any sign of your location. A good sniper won't take that second shot from the same place. Shoot and scoot - take your shot and run like hell, find another perch, take a breath and regain your awareness before your next shot. Keep the enemy guessing instead of delivering your location to them in a silver platter. The old addage rings true - one shot one kill. Unless you are supporting an advancing squad and suppressing the enemy, you should take your time and aim for the head. Even if you don't kill them outright it will teach you the nuances of careful aiming so that you can choose your style when the time comes - slow, calculated shots or fast, but precise cover fire. 

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

There is no practice ground for Planetside 2. Your gameplay style is your boot camp. Challenge yourself to change things up from time to time and you will find your adaptability as an infiltrator to be a great resource to you and your team. Couple this with a good measure of caution and an augmented awareness of the battlefield and you are sure to score some serious points. I hope this brief guide brings you some success, and helps you and others change the image of the much-hated sniper.

Good Samaritan
I play all kinds of games as evidenced by my ever-expanding Steam library. Glad to be back!

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