UT4 Sniper Rifle DPS and changes

Looking at just DPS does not tell the whole story when discussing ut4 weapons. What I have below does not either, but I feel it adds to the discussion.  This is a break down of how many shots are required (ignoring RNG headshots) to kill a player at different armor levels with the rifle. Obviously this ignores vials and keg, however for illustration purposes it is sufficient. I put it together expecting uproar over the sniper nerf and wanted to illustrate that it does not change as much as one would think. 67 included because I was interested in the difference to ut99. It was intended to show the difference between builds not between the shock and rifle.

Personally I like the number of hits to change stack more interesting than straight up DPS and kill time.
Interpret it as you like.

ut4 sniper hits
ut4 sniper hits

Update 19.02.2016 – With less offical Epic streams Zacc has been hosting a community talkback show. It is fun.

In the latest episode there is quite a bit of talk about the sniper changes this build. For the uninitiated the rate of fire was lowered (longer wait between shots) and the damage was lowered from 70 to 60. All three players involved have good points, one of which is the rifle being made more like the rail in quakelive. The point the commentators like about the ql rail is how it can be whipped out quickly to deal some fast damage.

This is interesting in ql as it allows either finishing shots or quick damage where the rail is required at close range (eg enemy falling away off a ledge, switch to rail and ping) without the caveat of having it equipped all the time and the guys think this is good. It extends the use of the rail beyond a long range only weapon, giving it some viable, if niche, close(r) range uses. However the differences end here. There is a main reason the rail is not optimal at close range in ql is because of the long reload/switch off time. For close finishing shots the “risk” is the reload/switch off time. If you do not estimate stack and hit the rail without a kill you are left extremely vulnerable. The ql switch works like this. Putdown/bring up, like ut as well as the full reload of the weapon. This means the rail has a switch off time of around 2000ms (1500 of which is reload time). Two seconds. This is an exceptionally long time and allows heavy punishment for missed shots or incorrectly estimated stack (hit but player does not die) at close range. The alternative is for the rail player to flee, which is quite often the case, giving up position to avoid damage/death. imo this long delay is one of the best ways to balance a long range weapon at close range.

This is why the rail works well the way it does. It offers long range, “free” damage. It offers close range encounter specific damage. While the DPS has been nerfed over the years via damage downgrades this is not really an interesting way to balance compared to other mechanics, it also removes the potential for risky shots on low health estimated players. What is more interesting, a rail/sniper that is nerfed through the floor damage wise so it simply cannot compete with a rocket launcher, or one that has the ability for that damage in some situations at a risk?

The final piece of the close range rail puzzle is the audible hum. This means at close range a player must either give their posistion away to their opponent via the hum or have a silent weapon out, resulting in a small delay and audio queue when switching to the rail from the silent weapon. This is quite subtle and simply adds to the layers – not really relevant to the current discussion but hopefully fills all the gaps for anyone reading this who has not played ql.

The problem with the ut4 sniper rifle is the refire is faster than the rail and when combined with switch time you end up with a weapon that is quite different to the rail. It currently lacks the quick follow up ability with shorter switch times of unfired ql weapons but it also lacks the long switch off after shooting delay, not really punishing a player heavily for using it in an incorrect situation. In its current incarnation if it was given the ability to quick switch for fast damage (as the guys in the video want) it would also need a longer switch off delay added, otherwise it would only receive the advantage of the rail but not the disadvantage.

The disadvantage is important, mainly because at higher level it leads to players giving up position when they miss an important shot. A player standing down on belt on asdf can use rifle at the opponent near the bounce pad as there is plenty of time to swap to something more appropriate should the bounce pad player choose to push in. However with a longer switch off delay this player would likely need to run back and use the jump pad. A similar situation would occur with a player at vials shooting to pulse. Should they miss (or not kill) their opponent they are required to +back while their rifle reloads for a second shot or switching away from. With the current reload/switch time this is not required to nearly the same degree.

Its entirely possible that the amount of delay for switch off is considered acceptable by epic – who knows as that is a fairly one way street.

In order to balance this I would also be in favor of higher base damage, up to 90 – with 100 for a head shot. This gives RNG one shots to fresh spawns, which is essentially what the current weapon does anyway. No armor levels are one shots. The higher base damage may be required in order to balance out the longer switch off time. If the damage is too low and the switch off time is not worth risking ever what is the point to the change? Of course this can always be dialed back should it appear too abusive.

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