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TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

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  • TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

    TLM’s Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

    The sniper has been a fixture of the modern multiplayer first person shooter, including Battlefield titles all the way back to BF1942. Over the years various misconceptions have sprung up about the sniper, often due to misunderstandings and sometimes due to grave misuses of the kit. I joined Tactical Gamer in 2010 at the very end of Call of Duty 4, and it became readily apparent to me in that game that a skilled and intelligent sniper is always capable of swinging a round of play in his team’s favor. I have seen this hold true in every game I have played, and have attempted to play the role of sniper to the best of my ability ever since. While the scale and application may differ from game to game, the overall concept has held true in my experience.

    With Battlefield 4 about to launch, now is as good a time as any for players new and old to (re)approach the sniper kit and learn when it is useful and what tasks it is and isn’t useful for. This guide is my attempt to compile my own knowledge with the knowledge of some of TGs best squad leaders and snipers, via quotes (primarily from 2142) in the archived forums sections. In doing this I hope to set a new baseline (or perhaps reaffirm an old one) by which all snipers on our Battlefield servers should judge themselves and be judged, where efficiency, good tactics, and utility in the squad are the priority. (as they should be) I intend for this to be a multi-part work, and more content shall follow this after the launch of Battlefield 4.

    It should be noted that the contents of this treatise are intended for Battlefield 4 and the Battlefield franchise in general, and for the teamwork-centric mindset of a server. This guide should not be taken in the context of competition or tournament level play, nor should it be used for “mil-sim”, “realism”, or simulation style titles, and certainly should not be applied to reality. While certain facets of this guide may apply across these lines, nothing from this guide should not be forced upon those contexts.

    Table of Contents
    I. Evolution of the Battlefield Franchise, and How it Affects the Sniper
    II. The Sniper’s place in Squad vs. Squad Fighting
    II. - 1: Killing them Differently
    II. - 2: Killing them up Close
    II. - 3: Killing them from Afar
    II. - 4: Killing them Wisely
    III. Practice. Practice. Practice.
    III. - 1: An Additional on Statistics to aid in Improving Yourself
    IV. Communication Will Make or Break You
    V. Know when Not to play the Sniper
    VI. Practical Applications of the Dedicated Sniper in a TG Squad
    VII. The Stuff that won’t fit Anywhere Else
    VII. - 1: A Perfect Example of Choosing Your Shots
    VII. - 2: A Little Bit of Etiquette
    VIII. Sources and Links
    IX. Closing Thoughts and What’s to Come

    I. Evolution of the Battlefield Franchise, and How it Affects the Sniper

    Think back to the not so distant past of (unmodded) Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. The sniper in those days had few options available to him. In BF2 your weapon selection was limited to your sides default rifle or one of two unlockable rifles, and claymore mines. Close range combat wasn’t something the kit could do very well in comparison to the other classes. The kit was very good at killing at medium and long range, and thus for locking down roads or other approaches, but not much else. Battlefield 2142’s combination of classes (4 kits with more loadout customization options instead of BF2’s 8 kits, spec-ops and sniper became “recon”) made the sniper a little more versatile. However, the weapon selection was still limited to a default sniper rifle per side and an unlockable higher damage and slower firing sniper, with an unlockable carbine for close quarters combat. RDX (C4) and APMs (Claymores) were available, as well as a cloaking device and a passive spotting bonus, but the kit wasn’t really desirable in most squads as a single recon was generally outclassed by an extra assault with a defibrillator and PK rockets.

    Bad Company 2 was a game-changer for snipers in many ways. The variety of weapons available to each class, as well as the introduction of all-kit weapons in the form of shotguns and battle rifles, gave the recon player far more options than ever before. Want to shoot things from across the map? Equip a bolt action rifle. Want to engage things at any range? You can do that, take semi-automatic rifles, 1x and 4x scopes for the bolt actions, or slug ammo for shotguns. Want to get in the enemy’s face and C4 the crap out of something? Take the VSS, or a shotgun, or a battle rifle. The motion ball gadgets were an incredibly useful tool, which made the Sniper a very useful kit at close(r) ranges as it could reliably spot enemies on the minimap. Suddenly the recon was viable in a lot more circumstances than ever before. Battlefield 3 continued the trend of turning the recon into a support role by providing two different spotting gadgets, a deployable that could mark vehicles for guided missiles, and a spawn beacon deployable, although at the cost of moving C4 to the support class. Weapon customization entered the spotlight, bringing in attachments to adjust a weapon’s characteristics, cosmetics, and handling which allowed for fine-tuning of a weapon to better fill a certain niche or improve situational usage. All kit weapons stayed around, with PDWs and shotguns again rounding out the recon for closer ranges.

    On top of headline game features, netcode has improved drastically since 2005. Shooting at a target moving perpendicular to you is no longer a losing proposition by default. Random deviation isn’t a major concern anymore, as your first shots will almost always be on target. How weapons handle has changed and evolved, such that learning every little facet of how a weapon will behave; its recoil pattern, its damage, what materials and cover it will and won’t penetrate, are all more rewarding than ever before.

    The sniper has become far more versatile, and therefore is a much more viable kit choice for you or your squad than it was in previous Battlefield titles. As such, it is time to rethink the sniper and how he fits into a TG squad.

    II. The Sniper’s place in Squad vs. Squad Fighting

    Originally posted by ”The Boondock Saints”
    While some things have changed on the Battlefield over the years, one thing is very unlikely to. The assault/medic kit has traditionally been and still is the rockstar of Battlefield, and makes up the bulk of most teams (for good reason).

    Originally posted by Thesleeper01
    The TG server is not about what YOU want to do its about doing what is best for the whole team so everyone plays there part and has a good time. If one side makes a ton of bad equipment mistakes they will get pwned hard and they will likely not have fun.

    The Defib is the single most important piece of equipment in the game you can get. If it were put in to any other kit instead of the assault kit that kit would be the best kit to use for that alone and you would see tons of that kit and not assault in the game. As has been said many times its advantages outweigh every other upgrade in the assault kit and barring special needs (AT weapons IDS etc) it is the most important unlock to have.
    The assault can heal itself and allies, revive fallen players, dish out full auto fire up close and hit targets accurately at all but very long ranges. Pretty much the only things the Assault won’t do are take out a tank (with some exceptions) or make you a cup of coffee.

    The sniper [kit/player] takes a backseat to such a well-rounded kit. The assault kit is not invincible by any means; it simply has a skill set that is consistently useful in more scenarios than the sniper kit. The sniper instead takes a supporting role in a squad, both by necessity and by design.

    II. - 1: Killing them Differently

    In terms of raw killing power as measured by bullets-to-kill and time-to-kill, the Recon is generally inferior to the assault. An assault kit can put rounds out a lot faster with his assault rifle class primary weapons than the sniper can with his semi-auto, DMR, (designated marksman rifle) or bolt action rifles, and the assault can be just as accurate at all but long ranges. Consider the time-to-kill charts made by for Assault ( and Sniper ( weapons in Battlefield 3. (Measurements are in milliseconds) Even when sorted at the longest range on each chart, 80 meters, most of the assault rifles doing their minimum damage value will still kill faster than the recon’s bolt-action sniper rifles and beat most of the semi-autos. Granted, this measurement assumes perfect accuracy at the maximum rate of fire for each weapon. However, the bottom line stands that the assault kills faster than the sniper in most circumstances.
    (These charts listed were calculated on the vanilla 100% health value. Hardcore TTK charts and other cool things are available at

    While a little dated, this bit of advice by Anospa from 2142 still stands:
    Originally posted by Anospa
    To try and run another route of what Guardian is trying to get across, here's this:

    You’re a sniper, your main weapon is the single strongest bullet based weapon in game, allowing you to take out targets in one shot without giving away position and whatnot. You have nothing in your kit to directly aid other players other than your explosives and pistol. You can't revive, resupply or repair. All you can do is kill, kill, kill. So you should do so as fast and often as possible, ie, headshot people and take one soldier off the field without question. If you really wanna make a difference, shoot people who are away from others so they can't easily be revived, costing their team a ticket.
    Since the sniper won’t beat the assault in a raw numbers game, we need to look at the other factors. The difference in how the assault kills a man and how the sniper kills a man can be described very well by MMO terms.
    The assault is a sustained dps class. He does his damage in several lower damage shots in succession, and can put this damage out over a longer period of time.
    The sniper is a burst dps class. He can deal the same amount of damage as the assault can, but he does it all in one shot, and is then handicapped by a “cooldown” (working the bolt on a bolt action rifle) before he can fire again.
    In order to be competitive in the land of the assault, the sniper needs to take advantage of the strengths of being a burst dps role.

    I think that we can all agree that regardless of kit selection, in a firefight you need to be dealing the most damage that you possibly can with every shot. In most modern first person shooters the head is the most desirable point to hit on the body of another player. To simulate the effect of being shot in the head, the game applies extra damage when a headshot happens. Usually this is in the form of a multiplier; usually double damage. Therefore it is desirable to hit an enemy player in the head when possible, as it will kill him faster and with fewer bullets expended than shooting him in the chest.

    In most Battlefield titles, the sniper’s primary weapons (with some exceptions) always deal lethal damage when you make a headshot, living up to the mantra “one shot, one kill.” In order to be effective in squad on squad fighting a sniper needs to land headshots as often as possible, putting opposing players down before they have a chance to react or fight back.
    As a sniper, think of every shot you fire as having the potential to deal lethal damage. If you fired a shot that didn’t result in a kill, then in a sense you have “wasted” a shot.
    Real gameplay is not as cookie cutter as this, there are exceptions after all. But you should always strive to hit every time you fire your weapon, and you should try to make every hit a kill.

    Guardianx11x covered this subject up very well back in 2142, in reference to some players claiming that shooting players and being content with a kill assist was a “good” way to play a sniper.

    Originally posted by Guardianx11x
    Your accuracy with the sniper rifle is most likely around 50% as it is with most decent snipers, so in combat you can expect to land 50% of your shots. So there you have it...a grand total of 3 hits if you get to unload your ENTIRE CLIP, which takes a good long while. And what do you think the enemy squad is doing? All of them are in range of your squad that is a man down. They have an extra guy with an assault rifle! So my question is you really think you’re doing more damage than he is?

    PS: the answer is no.
    Originally posted by Guardianx11x
    I really don't know why people cling to the idea that chest shots from afar in a squad on squad conflict are worth a damn. Clearly I'm not getting through on some point so let me try it from this angle.
    Ask yourself this, how long does it take for an AR to drop a guy at full health?
    How long does it take an AR to take you down half health?
    Basically what you need to understand is that it takes only a fraction of a second. Your shooting him with a sniper rifle has saved him 2-3 bullets, one burst.
    Now think about this, what is the rate at which AR can burst fire? How fast can you fire you sniper rifle?....(I hope you see where I am going with this).
    Basically if the assault is capable of putting bullets on target, he is cause a lot more damage at a much faster rate than you are as a sniper (unless you shoot target in the head). Now, the more assaults in the conflict, the greater the disparity.
    Which brings me back to head shots only. If you get a kill there is a high chance that another assault will move in for a! two guys not killing your teammates AND you have drawn one into a fire lane--if you know the guys who are playing and can tell who the SL is, hit him, chances are you will draw at least two defibers.
    Basically you are selectively NOT killing them. I'm not saying don't take body shots when you can't hit their head...I'm just wondering why you'd bother just softening them up when you can take them down. It seems silly to me that you'd do that.
    II. - 2: Killing them up Close

    Battlefield as a franchise offers fighting at a mix of ranges. Any given round can swing wildly between long range firefights and close quarters melee. Close quarters combat is a position that no sniper wants to be in, but it is one that we always have to be prepared for. The sniper is flat out the least forgiving kit if we miss a shot, and anyone with a full auto weapon should eat us for breakfast at less than 10 meters. If we miss with a bolt-action, it is usually better to go for the sidearm than to try and chamber another round, and even with a DMR you’re usually just dead if you miss that first shot against a normal player.

    To up the chances of surviving a surprise encounter at close range, a good Sniper in Battlefield needs to get very familiar with his sidearm. It really doesn’t matter which one you pick, but you need to:
    • Be able to fire it as quickly as possible
    • Be very accurate at close range (while firing as fast as possible!)
    • Be able to kill three players before reloading if you surprise them
    • A suppressor is optional, but a major plus as most snipers will not be using a suppressor on their primary, especially if it’s a bolt-action rifle

    That being said, the sniper rifles still have the potential for one shot kills, especially at point blank range. A close range sniper kill is not by necessity a noscope. Learn where the center of your screen is. Even if you run the highest powered scope possible, you can still scope in quickly to get pinpoint accuracy and shoot, then switch to your sidearm immediately. Reaction time and raw speed is critical here.

    Finally, always have an exit strategy. This applies to engagements at every range, but especially at close quarters. If you got the bad end of an engagement but are still up, you need to already have thought about how and where you’re going to run in order to stay alive. Sometimes running away doesn’t work out, but it is ever so satisfying to kite a pair of enemies who think they can get a free kill off of you right into a waiting support gunner.

    Originally posted by Guardianx11x
    Well, I rarely ever use the lambert. The high damage of the sniper rifle is your only advantage. I have exactly three "close" combat stratigies.

    1) Mid-Range....shoot him in the face. Most good players always crouch or go prone when the engage targets at this range with assault type weapons. They wait for their targeting recticle to get small and accurate, aim..then shoot. Take advantage of this, dont crouch. Zoom in and shoot them in the face.

    2) Short Range....Curse yourself for being in this situation. Try to pump one shot in the chest, if you get a hit..and he hasnt already riddled you with bullets you have a chance. With the pistol he is (at most) two shots which are quick to get off.

    3) Short Range, multiple targets....Run, Hide, or Die. (maybe drop a sacrifice APM to try and take a few with you)

    -stop moving
    -zoom in for more than two seconds
    -move AWAY from cover
    -fire anything but your sniper rifle first
    -pull out a knife <- key
    No-scope kills (typically with a bolt action) are always an option if you run into someone, though they are typically ill-advised. As stated previously, if you miss your first shot you are most likely dead. Anospa puts it perfectly:

    Originally posted by Anospa
    Heh, its a fun, but suicidal urge, I can assure you.

    I can usually hit no scopes close range, but don't like to at all. Only do it if I'm 90% it'll kill them, if not, pistol it is.

    Think thats one thing no one really hit upon here. In my eyes, to be an effective and smart sniper, you gotta really rock with the pistol. The pistols in this game are pretty destructive if you can use 'em right. They don't deviate much at all while moving, so use it to your advantage.
    II. - 3: Killing them from Afar

    The sniper obviously shines when engaging targets at long and extreme range. New gadgets and features of Battlefield 4, such as scope zeroing and the rangefinder allow for better precision at range than ever before. However, these shiny toys do nothing if your own aim isn’t up to it.

    The only way those players who are “good” with the sniper kit get to that point is by practice. That is, learning the weapons and how they behave, learning how an enemy will behave, and predicting how he will move to attack you or avoid you. Leading a target running perpendicular to you is a form of prediction. Where you aim is where you predict he will be when the bullet arrives in that space. Likewise with bullet drop over distance. The only way to get a good feel for these things is repetition. (see part III farther down)

    There are a few constants that can be applied though. Because the sniper specializes at long range, you typically want to be packing a bolt-action rifle in order to maximize your (burst) damage output. Semi-automatic rifles (Designated Marksman Rifles or DMRs in Battlefield 4) are always a respectable choice, however they are more useful when engaging at close and medium ranges. In Battlefield, a bolt action can be as effective as a DMR at close or medium range depending on the accuracy and reflexes of the shooter.
    When choosing attachments for your weapon, remember that the higher magnification you choose for a scope, the more manual mouse movement you will have to do to adjust for scope sway and enemy movement. You will typically want to choose a flexible optic, one that you can engage at a mix of ranges with; not just extreme distance and not just point-blank. In BF3, I rarely found myself using the 12x magnification scope. 4x was sufficient, and 8x was typically more enough for me at any range.

    The other classes lose a lot of their killing power at long range. That isn’t to say an assault firing on semi-auto or short bursts can’t get kills here, he’s just less efficient at it. Here the really major threats become vehicles, static turrets, LMGs on bipods, engineer rockets, and other snipers. We can’t do much about vehicles like tanks without getting close enough for C4, but some vehicles expose their operators and passengers to our fire. Some example are sniping pilots out of helicopters that are hovering or moving in a predictable manner, killing drivers and gunners of jeeps and transport vehicles, killing crew members of boats, and killing anyone operating a static emplacement like an AT turret or heavy machine gun.
    Bipod LMGs are very potent, but essentially free points for a sniper. If you see a support putting his bipod down, shoot him before he can suppress and kill you. Likewise with engineers, they have to take a moment to line up a rocket shot, providing the perfect opportunity for you to take a shot. This is compounded with the return of the SRAW, a rocket that can be steered after firing via mouse movement. An SRAW user has to guide his rocket, sacrificing some of his situational awareness away momentarily.
    Finally, there are enemy snipers. You should be using every trick you can think of already, but redouble your efforts when dealing with an enemy sniper. Shoot from hard cover whenever possible, always have some form of concealment to hide behind, never move across ground the sniper has eyes on unless you are out of other options, never stand still. When aiming, move back and forth quickly and erratically by tapping A and D on your keyboard. Stop, hold your breath with shift, and fire in one fluid motion. You always want the time when you are standing perfectly still to be as short as possible.

    II. - 4: Killing them Wisely

    We’ve just gone over some special targets at long range, but we also need to address the priority targets of every fight. The bottom line is that as a sniper, you need to drop whatever enemies are posing the greatest threat to you and your squad. Basically, this is defined as anyone shooting at or taking an offensive action against your squad. Do not hesitate. The second you take to try correcting an already good shot may be enough time for the enemy to kill you or your squad leader.

    Medics are always a priority in any firefight. It is ingrained into nearly every TG player to get their squad members back up as quickly as possible, as a missed revive means their squad is a gun short AND their team loses a ticket. A good Sniper can use this to his advantage. Since revives matter, and the Sniper has the greatest potential for one-shot kills, we are the perfect kit for setting up revive bait. If we kill someone, we can typically expect a friendly medic to go for that revive. (Especially if the downed enemy is the squad leader) Now, that medic will be a moving target, so getting a headshot on him will be difficult. Having another squadmate on standby is the perfect way to assure such a kill and give your squad a clear advantage.

    Originally posted by Reaperassault
    Initiate with a headshot, make that first engagement a 4 vs 6 right from the start. That sounds like way better odds to me, it also ties in with communication. "ok guys, I'm gonna take the guy out in the rear so someone has there eyes away from the from" or "I'm taking the guy out who is seperated across the road, get ready for someone to go across to revive" that right there is the most I could ask out of a recon as a SL.
    We’ve covered how the Sniper kills differently than the Assault, but a “different way of killing” is typically not enough to warrant running the Sniper as a one-of in most squads. Fortunately, long range power and burst damage are not the only things the Battlefield Sniper brings to the table.

    Gadgets are a HUGE part of what makes the Sniper class viable. Always remember that as a Sniper/Recon, you are playing a supporting role. As such, you always need to be with your squad. Your weapon selection should compliment the other classes in your squad and address the problem ranges where they have trouble engaging and killing enemies, typically medium to long range. But killing things isn’t your only job, you need to be using your gadgets. Tools like the motion balls or the TUGS are a game changer in close range combat, allowing your squad to know exactly where your enemies are via the minimap. You need to keep these “minimap tools” up as much as possible because they will give your squad the advantage in firefights with squads who lack that advantage, and level the playing field against a squad with its own sniper. The spawn beacon affords your squad a certain amount of “wipe-proofing” and alternative spawn options they wouldn’t have otherwise. Your C4 or Claymores may be exactly what is needed to stave off an enemy squad flanking yours or to destroy an overconfident tank driver. These gadgets won’t do your squad any good if they’re just sitting in your inventory, or if you are half the map away on a rooftop or hillside.

    Originally posted by Razcsak View Post
    In BC2, recons are, in my opinion, absolutely essential if they are at the range where all their tools are useful. A 12x scope doesn't help that much, it just helps compensate for inability to position yourself correctly.
    III. Practice. Practice. Practice.

    Originally posted by Alan Iverson
    Admittedly, it is an unrealistic goal to expect 100% accuracy or a headshot on every kill from someone. We are only human after all. However it is in setting such a goal of perfection and attempting to meet it by which we will improve.

    Realistically we just have to settle for non-lethal damage sometimes. (non-headshots) In a firefight where you and your opponent are aware of each other, it is usually better to take half his health off with a chest shot if we can’t hit his head. We should not be satisfied with this non-lethal result, we would much rather have killed him and in theory ended the fight. However, we can at least be content that he now has to alter his playstyle slightly with at least half of his health gone. He is now more vulnerable if he tries to peek on you, he may even take precious seconds to drop a medkit, and he may just hang back or even run away.
    What we can’t afford to do is miss. If you miss with a bolt-action, you now have to suffer half a second of working the bolt before you can fire again at worst, and at best you’re handicapped by a few milliseconds if you draw your sidearm or happen to be using a semi-automatic rifle. While this is happening your opponent is probably spraying you down with a full auto weapon. Missing that first shot gives your opponent extra time to kill you.

    Improving your accuracy is something that has been a subject of much discussion and attention in the competitive scenes of various games for years. There’s various tweaks you can make client side, like disabling mouse acceleration and finding the right weight, dpi, sensitivity settings for your mouse. Various small games like Osu! and some flash games exist specifically for training you to move your cursor more precisely. Some Google-fu can turn up insightful results in this department.

    There is no magical get-better-quick scheme for everyone, the bottom line has always been to just practice. Practice with the Sniper when playing on pub servers if you aren’t comfortable with it in a TG squad, or if the squad leaders won’t let you play it. Get comfortable with using each gadget. Find a primary weapon and attachment setup you enjoy for each situation you will encounter: long range, medium range, and short range. Find a sidearm you are comfortable with and can use effectively in a “panic” situation, like if you are mid reload on your primary and an enemy rounds the corner in front of you.
    Play your Sniper loadout(s) until you understand every little facet of the kit. Figure out ranges and how to compensate with your chosen optic, figure out when you can and can’t afford to hipfire, find the best places to use your gadgets like when and where to throw motion balls, where to place your TUGS, and how best to rush an enemy tank with C4. Find the best spots to cover flags from on conquest, do the same with MCOMs on rush, and find out-of-the-way spots and miscellaneous tricks that work well for you. Do everything.

    Guardian is right on again. If you want to improve, you need to challenge yourself:
    Originally posted by Guardianx11x
    Its really hard. I'm constantly questioning my worth as a SM and have put considerable effort and creativity in to making the most out of the sniper role. I do honestly think that a TEAM should have a few snipers...less than one per squad. 2142 maps are not sniper maps, the best tactic is to be a "run and gun" sniper. However, in order to be the effective, you need to engage targets at range, which usually means you need to be seperate from your squad. Because of 2142 map design, its impossible to watch over your squad as they move from a safe this forces the sniper in to a very awkward situation as you need to run side by side and engage targets with the assualt guys. If you're like me (read: stubborn)...this probably wont stop you from trying, despite being a bit irrational.
    I consider myself a good sniper, especially compared against the large number of noob players who frequent the kit. HOWEVER! most of those who have played against me...if you ask them their opinion they will simply say "annoying." I havent worked my way up to "effective"...yet. But, on the path there some of the things I've done to move forward:

    -Always gun for the head unless it is not exposed
    -Engage all targets, indiscriminate toward the difficulty of the shot
    -Engage targets you don't think your squadmates can hit

    For awhile now I've been forming my own 2-3 man sniper squads in the conquest server so I can get some practice. I then spend the entire round only shooting moving targets in the head. Literally ignoring stationary targets, and silently competing with snipers I know where taking body shots and shooting the stationary targets I left behind. For awhile this turned my score to rubbish, but recently I've started being able to keep up...and its payed off in a big way. Turns out the hardest and most common target for assaults are the mid-long range movers. Rockets are slow, their guns arent accurate enough...if you can hit those difficult shots consistently, I think you could make a real difference. Well, thats my theory.

    PS: body shots at range against any sort of squad wont do anything but generate heal points on the TG server, also...if you are simply killing the wounded for your squad. You are basically just saving them a few bullets, and you'd be better off as an assault healing and reviving...Remember, as an assault you can still shoot the wounded and steal their kills :D
    This applies to every class in Battlefield and in every game. Try everything so that you know what will work and what won’t when you ultimately end up in that position under game winning or losing circumstances. Your proficiency with your kit of choice will make the difference between a squad wipe and a completed objective.

    III. - 1: An Additional on Statistics to aid in Improving Yourself

    Ever since BF2, statistics tracking has been a feature of Battlefield. Today in Battlefield 3 with 4 about to drop we have Battlelog, a resource that few would have imagined eight years ago. Server browser, social tools, stats tracking, all integrated into one system. Third-party stats systems still exist as well, such as the P-Stats Network.

    Some of the statistics tracked by the game are especially relevant to the sniper. The obvious stats that many look to are KDR or kill/death ratio and W/LR or win/loss ratio. In a TacticalGamer mindset, a good KDR is perfectly fine to cultivate, but if you’re off doing your own thing, missing revives, and your WLR is suffering, a good KDR means very little. WLR is important. We always want to win. However, for the sniper there are other stats we should put more weight on. Accuracy is important. In general, if you’re managing 25% accuracy with the bolt-action rifles you’re doing okay. Strive for at least 50% as your goal. For reference I only managed 35-40% with my top three bolt actions, the L96, M98B, and JNG-90 in Battlefield 3.
    Above all others, keep track of the HK% or HPK, also known as headshots per kill or headshot/kill percentage, or your favored rifles. This stat shows the percentage of your kills with that weapon which were counted as headshots. With the emphasis placed on headshots by Guardian and Anospa, we want this stat to be 100%. (Although we’d probably be accused of aimbotting if we achieved that)
    These stats can be readily applied to our gameplay as we practice and seek to improve. If you want to get really technical about improving your play, find the battle report in Battlelog of a recent game where you would say you played well. Identify your KDR, and accuracy and HK% of your favored rifle. Use this as your baseline. Check your weapon’s accuracy and HK% regularly over the following weeks. If they’re going up and consistently beating your baseline, set a new baseline round for yourself and try to beat it.

    IV. Communication Will Make or Break You

    Originally posted by Aruncado
    The sniper is very good at being a killing machine, but he needs to do more than just kill to be worth a slot in a squad. Since a sniper needs to be more aware of a radius around him larger than the one his squad mates need to be, the good sniper is just naturally a good spotter. This doesn’t just mean spamming your Q key when you see something, (though you should be doing that anyway) you need to be able to relay important and relevant information via voice comms quickly and concisely. The callouts or contact reports which we use at Tactical Gamer lend themselves very well to this purpose. Thus far this thread from Bad Company 2 has been the best summary I have seen:

    For practical examples of these contact reports, I would highly recommend going to’s YouTube page and watching any of the videos with “BF3 Talking Teamwork” in the title. Listen to the players and how they communicate. Good comms should stand out right away from the bad.
    There really isn’t much I can explain here. The big thing is to just practice. (where have you heard that before?) Listen to experienced TG’rs and squad leaders during a round. Figure out who is communicating well that you play with, and try to emulate them. If you’re talking too much, your squad leader will tell you so. Focus on giving your contact reports quickly and accurately with the minimum amount of syllables and hesitation. Over time you will become very good at contact reports. (if you aren’t already ;) )

    If you normally squad lead or you have a dedicated sniper or recon in your squad, by all means call targets out for them that you can’t deal with. Give us a landmark, cardinal direction, range, something to look for. We love precision, and if you talk us right onto the target it’s less searching we have to do. We’ll probably thank you for it!

    V. Know when Not to play the Sniper.

    Originally posted by Zhohar
    In my experience, and that of many people who have posted here, the vast majority of snipers are not team players. Recons are statistically more likely to be lone-wolfing and not teamplaying than other kits.

    Teamwork-oriented recons will now note that it is unfair to judge a few by the actions of many.

    Tough luck. Life isn't fair.

    What can you do about it in my squad? Show me you can teamwork. Show me you care more about the five people around you than your own petty ambitions of headshots. After that, I'll let you carry whatever you best judge if I see you constantly striving to help your team as a soldier.
    And you know what that means? Carrying other kits half the time. Because your first concern shouldn't be "how can I help my team as a Recon" -- your first concern should be "how can I help my team period".

    There is too much focus on the specific kit here. Use whatever kit will maximize your team's effectiveness. This is called maturity -- it is one of the cornerstone of TG -- and it means "putting others before yourself."
    In order to be a good Sniper, one of the most critical things you need to understand is when not to play the Sniper.

    Analyzing the current game state is a critical skill for any player, especially for those seeking to fill the squad leader or commander roles. Always be assessing and reassessing the situation around you, and how you fit into it.
    Zhohar hit it on the head in the above quote. Play the kit that helps your squad most in the situation at hand. If that kit happens to be the sniper, so be it. By extension, you should take the same advice before spawning in selecting your primary weapon, attachments, and gadgets. Spawn in with the tools you need. If you are fighting at close ranges, replace the bolt-action with a semi-auto or a carbine. If armor is giving you headaches, switch to Engineer or equip some C4. We could list scenarios for hours doing this.

    Different squad leaders take different approaches to managing the players they lead. Some SL’s will dictate kits at the start of the round and when they want someone to switch. Others will say “play whatever you want” and/or request specific kits on the fly. The important thing here is that just because you may have started the current round with a certain kit, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to change it. If your squad is in a situation where an Assault/Medic would be preferred, switch kits. As a sniper you will most often be the least necessary kit in the squad, and you may be asked to switch kits frequently. Heals and revives to prevent the squad from wiping ultimately is a LOT more important than keeping a TUGS active. A spare ticket from a timely revive may win you the round. Don’t expect your squad leader to tell you when not to play the sniper, either. As good, responsible players we need to be assessing our own usefulness and performance as we play and adapt accordingly.

    Originally posted by Arf
    Yea, as Guardian said there are no average snipers. Most of the time the kit is a nexus of stupid. These are some of the sniper related stupidity squad leaders have to deal with:

    1) A sniper is killing your squad so squad members start switching to sniper. The stupidity of this always amazes me. Fighting the good sniper who just shot up your squad on his own turf is a bad idea. It usually ends with a good number of mostly harmless snipers on one team causing them to lose.

    2) "While you guys take the flag I'll cover you." That's pretty much saying, "Hey guys I can cover the 360 degrees around the flag that the enemy can spawn from a single angle and I'll do it with bolt action rate of fire and 5 (maybe 3 shots) in my magazine." Unless the patron deity of snipers is in the squad someone is a big fat liar.

    3) A positive K/D ratio does not make a sniper useful. Sure, he got 5 enemy squad members before they reached the flag but 6 of them made it to the flag. So all he did was feed some enemy Medics a couple revive points.

    Don't do those things and you'll be long on your way to being a good sniper. In close range aim for the chest, putting them down to 20 hp is effective enough when teammates are with you. Once your guys have covered the distance a sniper has outlived his usefulness and needs to temporarily acquire a better kit or should be the first on the flag. Hiding on the flag with a cloaking device is an excellent way to steal it from the enemy. Most importantly always find a way to kill the sniper with the kit you have; another sniper wont be helpful. If you can't kill the sniper find a way to keep him from killing you because if he never gets you to respawn you can make even a great sniper a drain on his team.
    Originally posted by Crux
    Top 5 signs you shouldn't take the recon kit:

    1) You don't even bother checking to see how many other recons there are on your team first
    2) You have no intention of blowing up assets, or directly protecting a flag from enemy invasion (and no, laying RDX (C4) then running to the other side of the map and sniping people, only to blow up the RDX when the flag goes neutral doesn't count)
    3) You don't have a definite goal in mind other than to 'get kills'. Appropriate goals would be things such as "Using RDX, apms (claymores), and sniper fire to block off this high traffic area and delay enemies hitting my team's back flag so my teammates can use my early warning to get back and defend."
    4) You think the Zeller (high power, low RoF sniper in 2142) and a mobile squad are a great mix. They aren't. If you're going to move with a squad swallow your pride, grab a Lambert (select-fire carbine) and help out in a meaningful fashion
    5) You just got done watching "Sniper" starring Tom Berenger. This automatically means you shouldn't use the recon kit for at least a month.
    VI. Practical Applications of the Dedicated Sniper in a TG Squad

    While the bulk of this text has dealt with the playstyle of an individual playing the sniper class, we return now to how the kit can be used in a TacticalGamer squad. We’ll go over a few sample archetypes or loadouts of the sniper that can be a valuable asset to his or her squad.

    For example loadouts I will follow this format:
    Filler Variant Name
    • Equipment of note 1
    • Equipment of note 2
    • and so it goes

    Explosives trap
    • Sniper rifle or DMR, low or medium power optic, suppressor
    • C4
    • Claymores

    This version would focus on harassing a capturing squad while trying to remain undetected. The goal is to make the cap radius into a kill zone of explosive death. Claymores can be placed along the main approaches to the flag such as the apartment tunnels in 2142’s Belgrade Playground (southern point of the four flag “diamond” in the middle of the map) and back alleys and doorways on BF3’s Karkand (small conquest) Fountain. (Flag C in the image) C4 can be hidden in the cap radius itself, particularly in locations where opponents are likely to seek cover, such as the shrubs around the fountain in the Karkand example.
    Once the explosives are placed, the sniper could hide off to either the east or west sides of Belgrade playground, up on the monorail, or on the second floor balcony ringing the apartments, though he should probably save his claymores to cover the second floor stairs as an early warning system. At Karkand’s Fountain the sniper could hang out around the garage, up on the terrace, or in the building or on the rooftop towards the RU spawn. A suppressed primary may buy the sniper precious seconds after his first shot (if he remains undetected) before the capturing opponents figure out his location, and a bolt action offers better killing power in a closer engagement like this without sacrificing as much killing power to the suppressor as a semi-auto would.
    The disadvantages here are that a similarly equipped support player is just as viable, and possibly more effective than the sniper, and once either kit blows their load (of explosives) they’re still just one man against an entire squad. (usually)

    • Sniper rifle or DMR, optic and attachments of choice
    • Motion Balls
    • PLD or gadget of choice

    Think of this like the previous example on Belgrade, but in reverse. If you approach the flag from the north side with the squad, the sniper’s priority needs to be watching for and killing the enemy sniper as quickly as possible. Look for where the enemy sniper is likely to hide: monorail, second floor apartments, across the street, and opposite the street towards the maps edge, more or less in order. For Karkand fountain you should be checking the terrace and hill house, RU uncap side rooftop and glass lobby, ground level in all directions, and tall building by bravo flag if they happen to lack imagination.
    The gadgets I’ve listed aren’t hard and fast, but may have been helpful in 2142 and BF3. The motion balls can be used as mini-TUGs on demand if you identify where the enemy(s) are as you attack the flag but don’t get kill shots on them. The PLD’s IRNV mode can be used to scan the flag area for objects like C4 and the surrounding area for an enemy you might not see at a glance. The PLD can just as easily be swapped for Claymores (for example) to booby trap the flag once you leave or to cover the approaches as your squad captures the point.
    Choosing to have a sniper as a counter-sniper in a squad is an effective use of the kit, although it does sacrifice a slot that a medic could fill. A counter-sniper is most viable on maps with long(er) sight lines and if your squad has a player experienced with the kit. A counter-sniper who loses sniper duels consistently should obviously not be in that role.

    • Spawn Beacon
    • Motion Balls

    The goal of the sniper here is to keep a spawn beacon active. On BF3s Caspian Border Conquest, (Flag B) a well placed beacon in the side paths and rocks allows an attacking squad to drop on the hill by parachute or approach on foot if the beacon is nestled under an overhanging rock. As long as the beacon remains active, the squad can attack the hilltop near-constantly and hopefully keep the defending enemies on their back foot.
    The sniper can be tasked either with defending his beacon, or joining in the assault. Either way, motion balls or any other spotting gadget would be recommended in order to spot enemies on the hillside. A spotting gadget is invaluable given the heavy brush cover and hidey-holes around the hill.
    On BF3s Noshahr Canals Rush (Zone 1), a spawn beacon on the barges along the waterfront provides the perfect foothold. Placement in an open container gives a boots on the ground spawn, and placement in the open allows players to parachute onto the warehouse rooftops and even the canal locks roof. (that huge grey building) Spawning on the barges and pushing inland is a lot easier than spawning on the aircraft carrier and trying to dismount from a boat, AMTRAC, or helicopter while the entire RU team shoots at you from the docks.

    Javelin Marker
    • PLD / SOFLAM
    • Spawn Beacon

    On vehicle heavy maps in BF3, Javelin+SOFLAM teams proved to be quite effective at harassing and even shutting down enemy helicopters entirely. A support with ammo, at least two engineers with javelin launchers, and a recon with SOFLAM was the preferred squad setup, and a medic can be thrown in with BF4’s fifth squad member slot.
    The sniper’s job here is to use the SOFLAM or PLD (I would recommend PLD over SOFLAM) to mark air targets so the Javelins could lock onto them. The sniper would also be on call to protect the engineers if enemy snipers began taking potshots at them or enemy infantry moved up on the squad. A spawn beacon is recommended to as an alternative to spawning on the squad leader, although a spotting gadget such as the TUGS is always useful to help prevent the sniper or an engineer from being knifed.
    The BF3 maps Kharg Island Rush (Zone 1 on defense especially) and Wake Island Conquest often saw utilization of this tactic. Whether it remains viable depends on the behavior and interaction of the PLD / SOFLAM gadgets and the Javelin.

    • C4

    A callous disregard for due caution and some C4 charges can turn any sniper into a tank killer to be reckoned with. Of course, there’s always the risk of a multi-ton vehicle running you over, or shooting you. But the smug feeling of satisfaction you get is totally worth it as when you put on your aviators and walk away, tank burning in the background.
    In all seriousness C4 rushing has always been something of an art form in Battlefield, and the only way to get good at it is trial and error. The support is capable of the same thing. Having one player attempt to blow up a vehicle is technically safer than having two or more switch to engineers with launchers, however this tactic is really only viable on urban maps or maps with heavy foliage cover. C4 rushing in the open on a map like BF3s Armored Shield is time consuming and often not effective.

    VII. Some Stuff that won’t fit Anywhere Else

    VII. - 1: A Perfect Example of Choosing Your Shots

    For a perfect example of section II. - 1 in motion, watch the number 3 portion of this video, from 4:16 to 5:18.
    Unfortunately, the commentator arrives at the opposite conclusion of this guide. Guardian’s advice hold true if you view this gameplay in the context of his quotes. Watch how that sniper picks his shots. If he does not have a headshot open or if his target is moving or being unpredictable, he settles for a body shot. If his target is prone or standing still, he takes the headshot. Due to the active firefight around him, he makes kills off of several otherwise non-lethal body shots, and he doesn’t have to worry about following up his headshots.
    This video clip is a prime example of what we should strive for. Headshots whenever possible, non-headshots only when necessary.

    VII. - 2: A Little Bit of Etiquette

    Originally posted by Guardianx11x
    1) When snipers snipe next to me...(no matter how good they are)...I sit there thinking.

    "Who is this jackass and why is he next to me?"

    Its like using a urinal in an empty bathroom and the next guy comes in and picks the one right next to you.
    VIII. Sources and Links

    One thing that should always be remembered is that you and I are not the first people to play the sniper/recon. There is a wealth of knowledge that can be gleaned from observing and analyzing other players decisions in game, but also from reading anything they have put into words. If you feel so inclined, have the time and interest, or are just flat bored enough, I would highly encourage that you read some of the threads and posts which I have linked below.
    They are from the archive of TGs Battlefield 2142 forum, and while much of the specific content of that game is not relevant to BF4, several of the posts regarding overall theory and playstyle have been eye-opening to me.
    Many of the links below I have included above as quotes. After all, why should I rephrase something when better, more recognizable players than me have said these things already?

    Title and Link to full thread
    • Author’s name with link to post - brief summary

    How a Sniper helps a Squad
    • Crux - Interesting idea of snipers/recon in a defensive capacity supported by other kits, as opposed to the other way around.
    • Crux - Recons utilized defensively again, with textbook example of a “floater” for assistance.
    • Sir_Brass - Larger caliber, slower rate of fire AR used like a DMR, like the G3 rifle in BF3 or BC2. Applying that skill set to playing sniper and the sniper’s skill set to playing assault.
    • Arf - Some of the characteristics of a “bad” sniper.
    • Guardianx11x - What NOT to do in close combat.
    • Guardianx11x - Textbook example of playing to win.
    • DrunkenCommando - Always evaluate whether your squad’s sniper / you meet this criteria.
    • Guardianx11x - A training regimen to improve your accuracy.
    • Guardianx11x - Why sniping for damage / sniping for assists is bad.
    • Guardianx11x - Another example of why to not snipe for assists, and why to always shoot to kill.
    • Anospa - Denying revives and ticket attrition.
    • Anospa - Only noscope if you are certain of the kill. As a sniper, your sidearm is your best friend.
    • Damonte - Putting it in a squad leader’s perspective, is a recon really going to help your squad?
    • Guardianx11x - “If you find yourself prone for more than 30 sec. you are not doing your team any good.”
    • Crux - Provides a very good checklist (though dated for 2142) to evaluate whether you should be playing recon/sniper at all in a round. Play to win.

    Prophaniti - “Sniper Squads” and staying focused
    Razcask - Sniper is just a word. DM theory
    Maker - Off-site link. Very in depth guide by Maker of “The Forgotten” BF3 platoon. Explores all the technical aspects of the Battlefield 3 sniper class and dives into the ballistics of each weapon, stealth, aiming, scopes and attachments, sidearm selection, the works.

    IX. Closing Thoughts and What’s to Come

    While this guide may lack on hard values and technical explanations, I hope that this guide has provided insight into the snipers effective use and spurred fellow players of the kit into improving themselves both as snipers and squad members. I believe that the alpha material we have seen of the game so far shows a sniper kit unlike the ones we have been used to in the past, and that the snipers raw lethality combined with an arsenal of teamplay conducive gadgets will make the kit more viable in TG squads than ever before. (even if only as a 1-of)
    As Battlefield 4 moves ahead I will complement this guide by adding more parts, focusing more so on technical aspects: the gadgets and weapons of the sniper, the snipers place in BF4s maps, and general new material and uses of the kit as the little quirks of this game become clear to us. In the upcoming Part 2 we will explore the weapons, attachments, gadgets, and field upgrades of the sniper in Battlefield 4. Expect it shortly after launch.

    Discussion and (constructive) debate or criticism is certainly welcome. Post away!

    Credits, acknowledgements, and shoutouts to:
    • Arithea for grammar/punctuation, proofreading, and phrasing help.
    • All of TG-56th for reading the rough versions of this guide and providing feedback.
    • All TG members quoted in this work: Thesleeper01, Anospa, Guardianx11x, Reaperassault, Razscak, Aruncado, Crux, Arf, Zhohar, and any others I might have missed.
    Last edited by TheLancerMancer; 09-25-2013, 04:59 PM.

    "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist

  • #2
    Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

    So I know I mentioned to some people that this was in the works. Well part 1 is finally here, and I have part 2 drafted and I'm waiting for BF4 beta to drop so I can get technical details and hard numbers for attachments and gadgets. Expect updates and new content in this vein once Battlefield 4 launches, and feel free to discuss or debate (constructively) anything I've typed here.

    Once we have a tactics/guides forum for BF4, I'll poke an admin to get this moved.

    "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist


    • #3
      Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

      Now..... If only everyone played it this way. Instead it's turned into the KDR whores kit.
      "Everyone makes fun of us rednecks with our big trucks and all our guns........until the zombie apocalypse"


      • #4
        Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

        Originally posted by Ven View Post
        Now..... If only everyone played it this way. Instead it's turned into the KDR whores kit.

        Hehe I seem to remember someone gleefully using the M40A5 with irons the other night.

        Great writeup there Lancer, looking forward to more. I do think the Recon kit has the potential in BF4 to be a standard part of the squad. Especially on infantry maps, I think 3 Assault 1 Support 1 Recon could end up being the standard loadout.


        • #5
          Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

          Indeed I did...... Turning the tide for my team on the objective. Not off on a hill snapping shots off and missing everything.
          "Everyone makes fun of us rednecks with our big trucks and all our guns........until the zombie apocalypse"


          • #6
            Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

            Originally posted by Britt View Post
            Hehe I seem to remember someone gleefully using the M40A5 with irons the other night.

            Great writeup there Lancer, looking forward to more. I do think the Recon kit has the potential in BF4 to be a standard part of the squad. Especially on infantry maps, I think 3 Assault 1 Support 1 Recon could end up being the standard loadout.
            That's what I'm thinking. The support's XM25 seems like a good stand-in for 2142 PK rockets and lets an assault bring medical gadgets instead of a 40mm launcher.

            3x Assault with rifles, medkits, defibs
            1x Support with bipod LMG or DMR, ammo box, XM25
            1x Sniper with bolt-action, motion balls, -pick a gadget-

            Sounds really solid. Able to fight infantry at any range, drop out the sniper and support for engineers if vehicles become a problem.

            "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist


            • #7
              Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

              2142: Guardianx11x, Anospa, Hooper = Dead FYAH. Great write up, good read!
              "So Far, So Good................So What"


              • #8
                Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                Like to see this on the Frontpage here Lancer. Sent you a PM :)



                • #9
                  Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                  Originally posted by FYAH29 View Post
                  2142: Guardianx11x, Anospa, Hooper = Dead FYAH. Great write up, good read!
                  I would add TLM to that group. I played many a round of BF3 where my squad was ultimately stopped by him and his sniping skills. I'll never forget a great low population round of Wake Island where we could account for everyone of his squad except him. I found myself fuming more over his skill than those you've listed.


                  • #10
                    Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                    Originally posted by FYAH29 View Post
                    2142: Guardianx11x, Anospa, Hooper = Dead FYAH. Great write up, good read!
                    I would've loved to get some quotes from Hooper in this thing, but I couldn't find any in the threads I saw. Did he use a different forum name? Or did he just not post much?

                    "Over the din of battle could be heard Lancerís maniacal laughter and it spurned us on to stay the course, not to give up, and enjoy." - Grimmfist


                    • #11
                      Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                      Not sure of his forum name, may have been different, he also didn't post much. Haven't seen him around here since the BC2 era.
                      "So Far, So Good................So What"


                      • #12
                        Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                        Great read Lancer. Always good to be reminded of the basics, looking forward to more.


                        • #13
                          Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                          Not many posts from Hooper...

                          Here is his forum profile...



                          • #14
                            Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                            Great post mate, have some +rep!


                            • #15
                              Re: TLMís Battlefield 4 Sniper Treatise Thing, Part 1 - Broad Concepts

                              Again, Damonte would like to stress what he stressed back in the 2142 days:

                              A recon and a sniper may use the same kit, but they are not the same role. Recons are squad-sticking, teamwork-oriented and always welcome in Damonte's squads. Snipers are solo (or two-man) specialists that support the team. In both situations, recon and sniper, they are excellent additions to the team when played properly. A sniper can easily become focused on 'getting kills' instead of on furthering the objectives of the team.

                              In all classes, always... if the goal of the kit selection isn't to further the objectives of the team then the selection was poorly made.

                              Excellent write-up.

                              "Everytime I read your posts I do it with Morgan Freeman's voice in my head as if he is narrating your life" - Aimed




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