Sniper Update: New Weapons and Acheivements
Finally, at long last, Valve has released a new character pack for the Australian assassin, the Team Fortress 2 Sniper! This pack includes a whole slew of new achievements, a new system for acquiring weapons, and three new weapons for the Sniper. Here's a look at the good and the bad.
Sniper Update: Achievements, New Weapon System
The Sniper update, of course, comes with a whole new set of challenges for snipers in the form of achievements. These take the standard achievement form. Some of them just require you to play a lot (Kill Everyone You Meet rewards you for killing 1000 enemies), some of them are difficult skill challenges (Uberectomy requires you to kill a medic with a ready ubercharge) and some of them are just silly (Consolation Prize rewards you for, well, getting stabbed 50 times). However, unlike before, acquiring these achievements does not guarantee that you will receive a weapon. Now, weapons are found randomly as you play. This means that some people will acquire the new weapons quickly, but because you can get duplicates, it also means you may end up with twelve Sanviches. Eventually, you will be able to trade weapons, but for now, the only way to acquire cool new ways to combat your enemies is to play.
Sniper Update: The Huntsman
The sniper's first new weapon is a replacement for the sniper rifle: the huntsman, a bow and arrow set. The huntsman doesn't zoom in like the sniper rifle, but it takes less time to charge up, and does just as much damage. You can also pin your enemies to the walls with the arrows, which can be useful or just hilarious depending on the situation. The arrows also, obviously, travel slower than the sniper rifle, bringing some advantages and disadvantages. You need to lead your enemies a little more, but you can also anticipate movement and get kills that you might otherwise not be able to. Not to mention that you move faster and don't need to be zoomed in, so the huntsman is a lot better at short and medium range. It's going to be a personal choice whether you prefer the rifle or the huntsman, but it either way it gives the sniper a great deal more versatility in maps without big open spaces to snipe in.
Sniper Update: The Razorback
The Sniper also receives a replacement for the SMG that makes him a little bit safer from spies: the Razorback. This tribal shield (with a car battery installed) protects your back from unwanted stabbing, but slows you down in the process. Spies who try and backstab you will be unable to attack for a few seconds after trying to put a knife in your back, but the shield will be destroyed in the process, so snipers still need to be wary of attacking spies. The shield is only a little bit useful - it is extremely obvious to approaching spies, and if they happen to have the new spy weapon, the ambassador, it is just a matter of shooting the poor sniper in the head instead of stabbing him. Still, if you're having problems with spies, then the Razorback may give you the edge you need.
Sniper Update: Jarate
The third and final new Sniper weapon (also a replacement for the SMG) is Jarate, the jar-based karate! This is a jar of suspicious yellow liquid that the sniper can throw to achieve a number of ends. Most importantly, anyone doused in jarate will take a little bit of extra damage from all sources, allowing the sniper to contribute a little better to the team. Also, it reveals cloaked spies and stops them from using their cloaking device again until it wears off - very useful for detecting spies with the new watches. Finally, you can use jarate to put out flaming allies, which is also extremely useful, considering the frequency with which people get set on fire. Strange as the weapon is, it seems clear that this is the more useful choice over the Razorback.
The sniper update was perhaps less revolutionary than the medic update or the heavy update, but it did give the sniper a few cool new options. Jarate is an extremely useful new weapon that makes the sniper into a better team player (no more lone gunmen!) and the hunstman allows the sniper to be more comfortable on smaller maps. Anyone who enjoyed playing the sniper before will undoubtedly find the new patch exciting and fun and will have plenty of reasons to pursue the new weapons and achievements.