Gibbed.com: Sniper Tactics by Dr. Doomsday
Disclaimer: I am not the best AQ2 sniper by a longshot. This guide will not turn you into a killing machine, nor will it guarantee you more kills. It is, however, good practical advice that has helped me stay alive longer and take more people down.
How To Play
Probably the favourite of all AQ2 classes, the sniper is both extremely enjoyable and extremely challenging to play. It requires a very different style of play than any other class. In order to play like a sniper, you have to think like one. Your REAL weapons are range, aim and stealth.
No doubt about it, the SSG 3000 and MK23 (your weapons) are far better at long distance than up close (although the MK23 is decent up close). Consequently, the more distance you have between you and your target, the better chance you have of taking them down without getting hit yourself. ALWAYS keep this in mind.
The reason for the sniper’s power is their deadly accuracy. If you’re going to take a well-aimed, calculated shot, make it count. Make it a head shot. Also, your MK23 is much more accurate in semi-automatic mode (as opposed to automatic mode), and while you are kneeling. You can effectively “snipe” with a silenced MK23 while kneeling and in semi-auto mode almost as well as with the SSG 3000.
The most obvious part of sniping is the element of non-detection, or at least surprise. If you can see your target and they can’t see you, then you likely have time to line up and pull off a decent shot before they can move. The important thing to remember is that surprise can be just as effective as stealth. You can snipe from high-visibility areas with an unsilenced SSG 3000 (which makes a hell of a bang) just as well as with a silenced one in a dark shadow, provided that you keep moving and taking shots from different points.
Your best two items are the kevlar vest and the silencer. Which one you choose depends on the level you’re playing (which brings me to the point: ALWAYS know the level you’re playing like the back of your hand. This might not be realistic, but it’s a MAJOR advantage). Clearly, if it’s a large level with a lot of dimly-lit areas, then a silencer will do much better to hide your position than a vest would. If it’s a smaller level or more brightly lit (and most sniper points are brightly lit to cut down your advantage), then the kevlar vest can keep you alive much longer than a silencer would.
Attacking follows a fairly simple cycle: plant yourself, aim at a target, fire off a round, take cover, move to a new location. This cycle of plant/aim/fire/cover/move is what all good snipers do to keep from being detected while still always having time to line up their shot before they take it.
Once you’ve chosen a spot to use (probably one next to a wall/crate or one that is nice and dark), figure if you need to crouch or not. If you can crouch and still maintain a decent field of view (FOV), then do so. You’ll be a harder target to hit (especially if you’re on the high ground), and your accuracy stays the same (or increases in the case that you’re using the MK23).
I’m pretty surprised at how many snipers I’ve seen that are constantly at 2x zoom while moving around. There’s really no need for this, all you do is cut down your FOV and increase your chance if getting blind-sided (attacked from behind or your side). That having been said, when you’re planted, 2x is probably what you’ll want to stay at if you’re scanning around for a target. You maintain a decent FOV but are still ready to aim a good shot immediately. I’d only recommend 4x or 6x for centering on a target that is both far away and stationary (ie. likely another sniper). Get used to the 3-button click-click-click to switch from 2x back to unzoomed view. This is the fastest way to unzoom before you start moving again (I suppose you could bind it if you really wanted to).
Aiming with the MK23 is an absolute must. Whenever you’re using the MK23, take your shots crouched. If this is not possible, then stand still. If this is not possible, then walk instead of running. Aim for the head – if they have a vest, a chest shot will do nothing, and even unprotected chest/stomach/leg shots do only partial damage. Take your time and make it count. I’ve had people charging at me full steam with a blazing M4, and I’ve stopped them dead in their tracks with a crouched headshot from my silenced MK23, without taking a hit. They usually get pretty upset about this. :)
Your SSG 3000 is more efficient if you have a full 6 rounds in the chamber. ALWAYS know how many rounds you have left in the chamber. Nothing is more disappointing than lining up a nice headshot at 6x on a hard target, pulling the trigger and hearing <click>. Try to fire off 2 or 3 rounds and then reload. It takes less time, and you’ll always have those “extra” bullets in the chamber if you need them. Most Team AQ2 games (IMHO the only way to play AQ2) will have you against 1-8 enemies. With 16 rounds available to you, this means you have roughly 2 shots to spend each target MINIMUM. In practice I rarely run out of ammo, but try to keep a rough idea of how much ammo you’ve spent during the round so far. I’ve cleaned out entire teams by myself using this technique.
Once your shot is off, your best strategy is to conceal yourself as quickly as possible. A lot of snipers do this by “popping out” from behind a crate or vent, taking the shot, and then immediately ducking back behind the crate/vent. If someone sees you take the shot, they’ll likely return fire and your cover will protect you. If you have an unsilenced SSG 3000 you can pretty much assume that you’ve been seen.
It’s a good idea NOT to leave your cover until the enemy fire has stopped (either they stop shooting or finish their clip).
Always assume that your last shot (and therefore position) was detected and that your target or his teammates are either aiming at it waiting for you to pop back out, or are coming to bumrush you (attack you up-close-and-personal). This requires immediate relocation. If you’re in a dark or heavily covered area, it might be a better idea to move while crouched, to minimize your footstep noise. Sound plays an important part of detection in AQ2 and you should aim to be as quiet as possible constantly. If you’re going to be moving in the open, then pick a spot nearby that has cover, and run straight for it. The keys here are NEARBY and running STRAIGHT. Here’s the reasoning:
You don’t want to be running a large distance out in the open. Sometimes you have no choice, but this makes you easy prey for enemy snipers. Leapfrog your way to your next planting spot by moving from one cover point to another in small bursts. This keeps you covered as much as possible and hard to hit (and also easier to lose).
Zigzagging may be great when someone’s chasing you in close quarters from behind, but at long range it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of difference. It’s more important to get exactly to where you want to go without getting caught on anything than trying to evade fire while you’re in the open.
Lastly, relocating is the best time to reload. You’re already unzoomed, and while moving you’re more or less defenseless, so reloading carries no penalty. If you only take 1 or 2 shots from each point (like I told you above), then you should have plenty of time to fill your chamber while moving. This way you always have a full chamber when planted, and are maximizing your efficiency while relocating.
If you get picked off by another sniper, either you didn’t see him/her (and they saw you), or they simply beat you to the punch. Such is life, and part of the game. However, the most common situation you’ll find yourself in is the one where you’ve come face to face with an enemy at close range, likely because they’ve sneaked up on you. This will happen nearly every round. DO NOT FREAK OUT. Your best bet is to keep your cool and take your time.
Remember what your weapons are: range, aim, and stealth. Stealth has gone out the window, so now you have to rely on aim and range. Let’s take a look at your opponents possible weapons to see what your best options are:
SSG 3000 – Your opponent is a fool or a really good close-range shot with the sniper rifle :). The SSG 3000 has a very long reload time between shots, so you should rely on your MK23 and hit him/her before he/she hits you. Crouch down, relax, and aim for headshots.
M4 – This weapon is deadly at both close and long range, but it carries very little ammo in each clip. Don’t crouch down and take aim, it’ll be very easy for them to hit you while you’re motionless. Instead, try to dodge and weave (behind obstacles if possible), and get him/her to exhaust his/her ammo. Stand still and aim for the head while they are reloading, or of they run out of M4 ammo entirely and have to switch to the MK23, run up and pop them from point blank.
MP5 – The MP5 is very powerful at close range, but becomes much less effective at distance. Put as much space between yourself and your opponent as possible. They’ll likely keep shooting on full automatic mode (which is not the best idea for them, but anyway…) which will exhaust their ammo quickly. If you have a vest you can laugh as most of their shots bounce off you (who needs a silencer now?). Backpedal and pop aimed shots wile retreating. You may get lucky, but at the very least you want to take as little damage as possible.
M90 Shotgun – Similar to the MP5, the shotgun is devastating in close quarters, but less effective at range. Use a similar strategy of retreating and taking aimed headshots. There is a possibility that when they run out of ammo they will only reload one shell before firing, but typically only veteran players do this. Most players will reload the entire chamber when they run out, and this is a good time to stop, rush them and try for a point blank shot.
Handcannon – Obviously this is a close-range weapon only. Try to draw the shot out of them by ducking behind cover or dodging and weaving. Chances are they’ll miss (or at least not hit directly, getting a kill), in this case the strategy is similar to that of the M4: stand still and aim for a headshot while they are reloading.
Akimbo pistols or MK23 – This is probably your hardest target to fight in close combat. Your opponent has the same weapon as you (or two of the same weapon), so the difference here will be luck and pure aiming/dodging skill. All you can do is try your hardest and pray. Sorry. :)
Combat Knife(s): – Get as far away as possible. Don’t worry too much about stopping to take aimed shots. Try to lure them into throwing their knife(s), and dodge them as best you can. If they’re on their last knife, and they throw it, crouch down and take your shot. If they are trying for a close-range stab/slash kill, keep your distance and take aimed shots.
NEVER use your SSG 3000 in a close-combat situation unless you’re out of MK23 ammo (or already have it drawn and an obviously easy shot). Your reload time is far too long to compete with the other weapons, and you can shoot just as accurately with the MK23. The choice of using your MK23 or Akimbo pistols (if you have them) if a personal one, but I prefer to use one pistol. This gives me more ammo (and hence more shots), and since I’m making aimed headshots anyways, the increased chance of hitting with two pistols is negligible.
I like to use “crosshair 3” (partial arrow) when using the MK23. Because of the way AQ2 fires shots, they often end up slightly down and right of where they would be in regular Quake II. Pretend the crosshair is the top and left sides of a square, and place your target (preferably their head) inside where the completed square would be. You’ll get more accuracy, and more headshots.
Practise the MK23 like mad. You’d be surprised how much this weapon is actually used in AQ2, especially by snipers. Practice aiming and crouching with it, and make it a habit to switch to your MK23 whenever there’s a chance you’ll be in small areas or where you have a high probability of having a close encounter. It’ll save you the time to switch from the SSG 3000 and you’ll be able to take the first shot (preferably crouched and aimed on the head, right?).
Whenever possible while sniping, get a partner with a shotgun or MP5 to cover your rear. A great example of this is on Urban on the highest building with only one ladder leading to the top. Get up there and snipe away while your partner covers the ladder and lower area. They’ll be able to take good shots from a distance, and will love filling the head of anybody coming up the ladder with lead from above. The entire time you can snipe in relative safety, knowing you won’t get attacked from behind.
Sniping is more of an art than other firefighting. When you have a target moving around in your scope, and you’re moving across them, try to be relaxed and thoughtful. As soon as you think to yourself “Am I on them enough to make the shot?”, don’t hesistate – take the shot. Trust your instincts and more times than not they’ll be right and you’ll hit. Like I said before, I rarely run out of bullets before I’m killed our the round ends.
Think, think, think. Try to imagine where your target is when you lose them. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine that a sniper where you are is targetting you. Try to guess where they’ll pop out. As above, if you trust your instincts they’ll often walk out into your crosshairs.
Also try to keep a rough idea of how many enemies you know are left (although this is difficult with silent and unannounced kills). That way you’ll know if your target is the last one on their team or if they’re just playing decoy while their partner sneaks up on you from behind.
Always stay calm. Have fun. This is a game. :)