Sniping On Black Ops: Bite The Bullet

Way back a month or so ago, when sites such as ours were ranting and raving about Black Ops, and all the cool and questionable changes Treyarch were making for the franchise, info emerged that the popular indulgence ‘quickscoping’ was going to be patched out. The CoD audience were cleanly split into two trains of thought; those who thought this was fantastic news because they now stood a chance on the game once again (notice how I said “the game”…it’s just an update….), and those who unashamedly burst into tears or blew up inside, because they had just lost their best friend on Call Of Duty.

Just to recap really quickly for those who aren’t aware; quickscoping was the semi-skillfull-bug-move with sniper rifles, that allowed you to rapidly pull up your scope and flick your analogue stick (or equivalent) in the direction of your target, fire a bullet, and let an in-built aiming assist mechanic do the tricky bit. It took some getting used to, but once you had the hang of it you could punch through the enemy team like they were using water pistols and bed sheets.

The main benefits were: it was a very clean and snappy way to win a gun fight, and you could create a class so your sniper was a one shot kill weapon. But in Black Ops that all got scrapped and thrown onto a pile of rotting leftovers, and players from the previous Call Of Duty games weren’t quite sure how to approach sniping in the new game.

Basically what we have discovered after a rather painful learning curve, is that you can snipe on Black Ops, and you can pick people off quickly…with practise. While to some of you this means very little at all because it isn’t quickscoping, and rather a streamlined compromise, the rest of you will hopefully take a look at the sniper class once more.

So first up: If you’re expecting to get lazy with the snipers, and let an auto-aim do the monkey work for you, then forget it, you might as well stop reading now. But if you’re willing to actually put the time into developing an old school sniper playstyle with some added tricks, then we’re here to try to help start things off.

The way we recommend setting your sniper class up is as follows:

-Primary weapon: Sniper….duh….L96A1 with variable zoom is our top choice.

-Perks: Lightweight pro (not scout….we’ll explain in a minute), Sleight of hand pro, Ninja Pro.

Your secondary weapon is a personal choice, but basically this is going to be your main defence/attack for closer sandbox gunfights. We all currently prefer pistols because they are reliable. We urge you to avoid scout if you want to be getting high kill counts, because the scout perk only really benefits a camping mindset (sorry). Instead, lightweight is going to let you dart about from one sniping spot to another far quicker, and flee a bit more effectively if you miss your shot. Ninja is in there because you want to have that stealthy edge over other players, and sleight of hand because you can’t afford any down time due to your time-windows for shots being far more narrow than with other weapon classes.

The sniper rifles are barely a split second behind MW2 in terms of how quickly you can pull up your scope to take a shot through, and this isn’t the main boundary that people have been encountering online. The main issue for those looking to become a sniper on BO from MW2, is the absence of a delay and, (I hate to be cruel) the fact the majority of them were not actually sniper players.

It sounds so small and stupid, but on MW2 there was a noticeable gap between when you pulled the trigger, and when the bullet got there. It wasn’t very much when you separate it from the in game scenario, but when you are trying to pick someone off; it’s a subtle and important nuance.

And when we say that a lot of players don’t actually know how to snipe, we mean it. The understanding that ‘sniper pros had on MW2, of being good with the sniper rifle, boiled down to running around like (everyone else normally does), and that you simply had an overpowered assault rifle with an impressive range and zoom function. That’s not sniping, I’m sorry but if you look back at the FPS genre, it’ll tell you the same thing.

Anyway enough grumbling. On Black Ops, the snipes handle more like those on Unreal Tournament, with instant impact shots and a very responsive feel to them. You want to be un-learning any accounting for bullet delays and concentrate on just lining up your reticle with the target as easily as possible. The only gun that can give one hit kill body shots is the L96A1 (hence recommendation), and anything but torso or head shots will require at least two hits. If you aren’t that great a shot at the beginning then you are probably better off with one of the semi-automatic sniper rifles, so you can quickly round off a few shots.

The next thing we advice is getting in the habit of looking for your targets WITHOUT using the scope, identifying who you need to take down, swinging your gun at them, THEN scoping in and holding your breath (in game lol…did I have to explain that?) in one move before firing. Some players just stand there with the zoom fully extended, hopelessly searching the pattern of the brickwork on the other side of the map, before someone walks up to them and kills them. It sounds obvious again but, the field of vision is TINY when you are scoped in, so you should know who you are aiming for before you do it. You should click “hold breath” in simultaneously with iron sights/scope because there is a small but frustrating delay in between pressing the button and when your dude has inhaled in a whole lungful of air. If you do, it minimizes how much the pause will interfere.

Some easy kills are won by waiting for players to run through popular routes, but don’t sit there for too long, most of us will run around behind you fairly quickly. Sniping is a cheeky, stealthy, and safe way to play, it’s invaluable to learn the maps properly for both sniping points (spots with good cover and visibility) and most used routes in them.

Another common situation that is rich for sniping opportunities is providing cover for players on your team. If you find some high ground, or some suitably innocent looking cover, you should watch your teammates move through the map, and you won’t be able to help but see where all the enemy shots are coming from. You will probably find you can pick off a large number from the other team fairly rapidly like this. It is playing like a coward, we know, but that’s what sniping is actually all about…partly.

The final tip for traditional long distance sniping is, keep moving. It is ridiculously dull just WAITING for players to walk into your crosshair every once in a while. If you keep sprinting with the crowd, sort of parallel to where the action is the hottest, you’ll never see a moment with no one to shoot at, and you shouldn’t get stabbed in the back by anyone looking for you because you aren’t camping in one place. Understand the need for space and move AROUND other players.

As for close up stuff, usually this is where that pistol comes in (which makes sense), but you CAN actually be ambitious and try to pull off some real quickscoping. The idea is this: if you can mentally burn into your head, an image where the centre of the hip-fire crosshair is, you will stand a chance of puling this off. One of the best ways to learn this, is a private match populated by friends all exclusively hip-firing snipers, on a FFA (if you can set it up).

From there, the hardest bit is behind you because the zoom on the snipe is so good. If you estimate the position of the imaginary crosshair correctly, you can fix it on whoever you want to shoot and then scope in, and nearly the entire reticle will be taken up by his body, guaranteeing a hit. Depending on how far away they are, this will vary a bit, but in most ‘round the corner’ encounters of about 5-10 metres you can wipe the floor with them 9/10 times because you only need ONE shot.

I don’t know how helpful you will find all that, but if you only take one thing from this, let it be to giving the sniper a go. Hardly anyone I’ve played is actually using one, and I find that hugely disappointing. If you don’t try to play with a sniper once in a while, you’ll be losing a massive chunk of gameplay potential and part of that all important variety.

Any sniper sharpshooters amongst you? Share your tips in the comments section.