Bolt Action vs. Semi-Automatic
Before jumping into the fray, it’s important to know each weapon and the various situations it was designed for. While there are 9 different sniper rifles in Battlefield 3, they can be divided into 2 categories: Bolt action and semi-automatic.
Bolt action rifles are the more powerful variant and can kill with one shot to the head. They’re optimal for longer ranges where that one shot is likely the only one you’ll get, but have a slower reload time that can leave you vulnerable in close range skirmishes.
Semi-automatic rifles, therefore, are more optimal for closer ranges. They don’t pack the punch of a bolt action, and even headshots require two hits for a kill, but the higher rate of fire can make up for this in close quarters when you can’t afford to be caught without a round in the chamber.
New to Battlefield 3 is the ability for snipers to hold their breath and steady their shot. When breathing, the sight picture in the scope will have a natural shake to mimic your respiratory rhythm. It’s still possible to make a shot, but good luck steadying the sights on a targets head from 100 yards away. Instead, wait for the moment when you spot an enemy, steady your breathing (which can be done for about 4 seconds), and deliver a clean round.
It’s no Gears of War, but cover has always been a key part of Battlefield and it’s one of your best your best friends in Battlefield 3 thanks to the ability to go prone. Lying in a bush or between two rocks, one can go unnoticed for an entire match should they chose to remain still. Don’t get too content with camping though, because thanks to killcams and realistic sound mapping, causing trouble will greatly increase your chances of being spotted.
Sniper rifles aren’t designed to exchange fire with an enemy. They prefer one way conversations where they engage in all the talking and yet the recipient is dead before he even hears a peep. Occasionally, though, emergencies do persist, and that’s were a quality side arm can save your life.
Choosing the best pistol comes down to your own fighting style, but personally I prefer the M1911. I find it to be a perfect balance between firepower, firing rate, and magazine size. Bookending the pistol spectrum, the 17-round magazine G17C is best to sacrifice power for more rounds, while the .44 Magnum is the tool for the task if you want maximum power and perhaps feel like hunting dinosaurs after the match.
Also, don’t forget: you can pull out your pistol right after landing a hit with the sniper rifle and, if the first shot doesn’t kill, fire off several rounds in the same location as the sniper shot to try and finish the job.
Mark the Spot
It’s a complaint that Battlefield veterans have had to voice all too often, but spotting still seems to be one of the most neglected features in Battlefield 3’s multiplayer. As a sniper, you’re in a unique position to spot enemies from just about anywhere, and even if you can’t shoot them because they’re running too fast in and out of cover, a simple spot will help out a teammate and earn you assist points if the target is killed.
Unique from many shooters on the market is the fact that bullets in Battlefield 3 are subject to the natural force of gravity. This means that the farther away your target is, the higher above him you’ll have to aim to compensate. As a general rule try to imagine the dimensions of the scope picture if you were holding the gun in real life. For every 100 yards, adjust the scope about 1/3 of an inch higher than where you want the bullet to go. Developing a feel for this makes all the difference in the world when an enemy is hiding behind cover and the only thing exposed is his lid.
An awesome demonstration of these physics is displayed in this brief Youtube video from user mflux.
Inspect Your Gadgets
Snipers are given a bevy of new gadgets to play with in Battlefield 3 that can be used to help themselves, their squad, and their entire team. Here’s a brief rundown:
- Radio Beacon: Acts as a mobile spawn point that can be planted anywhere on the map. Planting the beacon outdoors will allow you to parachute in on its location. Planting it indoors will allow you to spawn directly on it.
- Tactical Unattended Ground Sensor (TGUS): Emits a low audible beep upon detection of vehicles and infantry. Think a more permanent version of the motion mine in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
- SOFLAM: Targeting device that paints enemy vehicles for precision strikes. The SOFLAM can even be planted for remote targeting.
- Micro Air Vehicle (MAV): Remote aerial device equipped with motion sensors and IRNV (Infrared Night Vision) cameras for superior reconnaissance capabilities.