Every time we boot into one of those austere blemishes of mediocrity known as a ‘first person shooter multiplayer’, we are affronted with the glories of the sniper rifle. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, Crysis – the list goes on and on, and in all of these we have the dreaded sniper rifle. It’s a one shot wonder, befitting many of the people that choose it as their primary weapon (personal gripe, but camping weapons are not fun). But why do these titillate my frustration so, why do I and many others become so riled by what should be considered just a part of the game.
Before I dare step further into the dreaded lair of fans that would abhor me for these opinions, I’d like to reiterate that this is an Xbox 360 based-website. A big attribute to the problem is aim-assist, you PC gamers out there will understand the skill ceiling involved with aiming properly so to speak, but many console gamers are unaware of its incredible impact. Aim assist is in the game because it’s harder to aim with analogue sticks; the mouse was designed for precision input, analogue sticks were not. As a result, you need something to compensate; unfortunately that compensation can go too far, and can prove seriously detrimental to the play value of a game.
To put it simply, if you aim your gun within a certain radius of an enemy the gun will automatically track (with acceleration to slow the movement and make it more human – it also makes it easier to resist) to allow the player to shoot an enemy with greater ease. Chances are, you probably know that if you’re reading this article; the problem is, the wider this radius is and the lower the acceleration settings are the more inhumanely accurate people become. Games with heavy aim assist and low tracking acceleration like Call of Duty are particularly notorious amongst gamers – for those of you not intertwined with PC gaming, Call of Duty gets a lot of flak for the heavy aim assist in belief that it detracts from skill ceilings.
If you don’t mind, I’ll use Call of Duty as my primary example as it’s the only FPS game I’ve played on consoles as of late and it’s truly a pinnacle of the problem with aim assist and quick scoping in general. You see, the above issues of sniper rifles dealing high amounts of damage and aim assist separately are nuisances; when combined however, they form terror whom only the developers can remain culpable. Sniper rifles, of all guns, perhaps have the heaviest aim assist of all guns available in multiplayer modes, and they can get pretty ugly when abused – for those of you who might remember the NoobTube, you’re looking at NoobTube 2.0.
These one shot guns are akin to power-optimal strategies just like the noobtube, and with heavy aim assist they’re no less accurate than the noobtube and its four-thousand-feet radius; the greatest difference is the sniper rifle holds significantly more ammo than the grenade launcher. So much so, a skilled (could you feel the abject force of my spine contorting and shuddering at the notion of using that word here?) could effectively spin around with next to no aiming abilities, and yet still kill dozens of foes in one shot with his glorious aim-assist quick-scoping no-nonsense utterly contrived nonsense.
And before you point out my deliberate contradictions, the combination of aim assist and sniper rifles is contrived nonsense; the developer knows full well what they’re doing when they introduce that combination to a game. The biggest problem I think I have with this combination is it’s a sheer detraction from what the game is supposed to be; if they’re going to purpose their game with being a realistic shooter, they’re going to have to make it at least somewhat-plausibly-maybe-to-the-naïve-minded believable.
For a start, with a game like Call of Duty I don’t suppose you’ll see many front-line soldiers with sniper rifles – nevertheless sprinting with a gun so heavy. I don’t suppose you’d have time to take aim, or have physics conveniently align your gun instantaneously with a critical hit. I don’t suppose you’d be able to spin 360 degrees in the air and then take aim, then fire from a falling-standing position AND hit and kill a target. It becomes almost numbing and congenially so (a little bit like drowning…) to simply nod and agree with the utter nonsense that the developers have the gall to consider remotely realistic.
The aim assist on snipers in games like Battlefield is with intent; it’s because they anticipate you having to aim across long stretches of maps. Distance enough that they don’t suppose you’ll be able to aim with the utmost precision on your gamepad controller in a suitable amount of time to take a shot; they then provide you with help to make your gameplay choice viable. But no, that’s alas not the case; it’s both purposeful misuse of game mechanics as well as short-sightedness from the developers perspective.
Quick-scoping is not a skilful tactic, sure it’ll continue to happen and regardless of my opinions, many games will undoubtedly support it because it has become preferential for many of their fan base. People whom, without quick-scoping would have lost their power-optimal strategy and access thus their access point to the game, would undoubtedly start refusing to purchase newer renditions of the game. It’s a catch 22 that the developers of realistic shooters have dug themselves into; perhaps they should have considered a minimum auto-aim distance before it gained a cult following. If you want skill, try playing without power-optimal strategies or aim assist; no level of courtesy you show them will be reciprocated. And those, are my sentiments exactly.