Monday, January 20, 2014

Keeping the Sniper Relevant

Understanding the sniper in Dust 514 first requires unlearning everything you have experienced as a sniper in 99 percent of shooters. It was CCPs intention to turn the shooter upside down by replacing casual mechanics with tactical ones in what was first described as 'the most hardcore shooter ever' by the former EP. Most casual shooters that try to implement objective based gameplay find themselves polluted with what we call the 'toxic sniper' simply put, this is the player who is only concerned with his KDR and seeks out the most low risk, high reward gameplay he can find.

Online experiences are flooded with players like the Toxic Sniper because players are still adverse to putting objectives or teamplay as their priority. Shooters have been an individual sport for so long [and most titles still promote individual stats as an endgame] that the sniper engaging in avoidance style gameplay is the norm, not the exception. CCP wanted to avoid this in Dust 514, and combats it first with taking away the primary reward: Easy Kills. The sniper [especially the early version] is more of a wounding or support weapon. Fortunately this decision is supported by lore. In most contemporary military shooters, immersion is ruined when soldiers survive a shot from a large caliber rifle. 20,000 years from now dropsuits have both armor and shields and so surviving a hit from a rail rifle doesnt destroy the suspension of disbelief.

Next CCP required marksmen to have a very high skill level. The sheer amount of scope sway associated with sniper rifles in Dust is a deterrent to players accustomed to casual sniping mechanics. One of the universal complaints of players accustomed to the 'EZ Mode' sniping in other shooters is that sniping is too difficult in Dust. While most shooters allow quick scoping and have zero scope sway, this game does not. The result is less players setting up tents far away from the action ruining all semblance of tactical gameplay.While the hardcore mechanics do a solid job of urging unskilled players away from sniper rifles, there are a number of core aspects that need tuning because they are subpar and  harm the experience for those actually skilled enough to fill the role of sniper. They must be improved so that the sniper isn't rendered irrelevant as players progress.

1. Hit Detection -This absolutely has to improve or the sniper class will struggle to be relevant. There are too many instances where accurate shots simply do not register. This severely hurts gameplay as consistency with strikes is everything in a shooter and its magnified due to the fact that snipers have fewer shots and opportunities. Definitely a major issue that needs resolving.

2. Rendering - Marksmen have had an issue for months where targets at range vanish randomly or simply never appear. This is another crippling issue that must be resolved or the class simply doesnt have a role on the battlefield.

3. Scope Diversity - Marksmen need the ability to zoom in and out on targets. In previous builds the Thales Rifle had zoom that was an enormous upgrade over the other weapons. Perhaps not every SR will have this ability but its a great way to upgrade the better weapons without always resorting to higher damage. When scoped perhaps L3 can be used to zoom in and out.

4. Head Shots - Based on the amount of skill it takes to land a headshot from distance and the manner of weapon being used, the headshot modifier for snipers should be the highest in the game. 250% is a solid number. Theres simply no way the scrambler pistol & rifle should have higher head shot bonuses. Victims of headshots should not be eligible for revives either.

5. Team Spotting - This was a great starting feature that needs to return. We simply cant complain that snipers dont help the team enough and then take away the key feature that helps their teammates. Let the entire team see what snipers have spotted.

6. Target Painting - Give snipers the ability to paint targets similar to what the squad leader can do. Use a different color [like yellow] and reward them with intel assists if their info leads to kills.

7. Vertical Maps - The vertical nature of the maps is great. Previously the 'bowl' design allowed snipers too much line of sight. Placing more vertical structures in the middle of maps would allow good sniper position but would require they leave the safety of the redline to use them.

8. More Equipment - One of the main things snipers need to aid their gameplay is more equipment geared towards their style of play. A great suggestion by forum poster Outer Raven were recon cameras similar to the BF MAV which we'd love to see as it could be the first real Gallente drone tech in Dust. As long as these were low-flying and easily destroyed we think they would be a great addition to gameplay. Snipers are often static and we think infantry prox explosives [claymores essentially] would do a great job of adding some variety to the usual take-the-sniper-by-surprise gameplay. Lastly, another item that would aid their gameplay are uplink sized detectors that highlight any dropsuit that comes within 15m of them. If placed carefully these easily destroyed devices would do a good job of preventing people sneaking up on snipers.

9. Vary Clip Size - This is the suggestion we debated the most. Our team went back and forth but eventually we decided to add it. Another way to show the sniper progression like all of the other classes is to increase its clip size at higher tiers. While 3 shot clips are fine at MLT and STD level, we should see 5 shots at ADV level and 7 at proto. The Thales officer sniper might even have 10 rounds available per clip.

10. More Options - While we're assuming the Gallente [TAC AR] and Amarr [Laser Rifle] precision weapons are already in the weapons library, the Minmatar Precision Rifle is not. Finish out the racial variants of distance weapons so that marksmen can have as many options as the other classes.

We also decided to make some adjustments to sniper rifles as merc health has seen an upgrade without a similar upgrade to their damage to compensate. Here are some suggestions for adjusted values:

[STD] Sniper Rifle - 209 dmg, ROF 75
[STD] Tactical Sniper - 180 dmg, ROF 150,
[ADV] NT-511 - 230 dmg, ROF 75
[ADV] C15-A - 195 dmg, ROF 150
[PRO] Ishukone -260 dmg, ROF 75
[PRO] Kaaliakiota - 210 dmg, ROF 150
[PRO] Charge Sniper Rifle - 350 dmg

As always, we'll continue to attempt to help promote and publish ideas that help establish, enhance and grow the Dust 514 community as much as we can. Have any ideas that need sharing? Would you like to join our staff as a writer? Be sure to contact us at


  1. Snipers are pussies. Get into the fray.

  2. You talk about vertical maps, but surely by the time dust takes place a sniper would have the equivalent of a grappling hook and a power ascender to get up into places that he/she can snipe from.


  3. Honestly, I'd rather there be more skill involved in sniping. A lot of people go off about how redline snipers need to not be a thing or how sniper rifles' range needs to be reduced.. I'm against that. There are two solutions I'd much rather see tried before we jump to drastic measures:

    a) Scope sway when crouched. This limits sniping to be used by skilled individuals as a force multiplier for a team.
    b) Removing the "snap back" where you fire and the reticle goes right back where it was when you fired it. This is the only reason Tactical Sniper Rifles are more powerful than vanilla sniper rifles as their high rate of fire, longer zoom and higher headshot fidelity allows them to put two/three lethal rounds downrange before the person can even react.

    It's the lack of these two aspects that is preventing the sniper rifle from having justifiable nerfs/buffs and as it's already a niche role shooting at pixels with really jerky aiming mechanics, reducing range to put the sniper "on the frontline" is just stupid. 20,000 years in the future, technology should be advancing, not degrading. Another thing that I'd like to point out is basing map design solely to prevent snipers from doing their job; the three new Gallente Research SI maps did just this and a lot of snipers have the complaint that there aren't any good spots that they can work with.

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  5. 10. More Options - While we're assuming the Gallente [TAC AR] and Amarr [Laser Rifle] precision weapons are already in the weapons library, the Minmatar Precision Rifle is not. Finish out the racial variants of distance weapons so that marksmen can have as many options as the other classes.
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