some thoughts on sniper nerfs

The recent sniper nerfs have come after a lot of community complaints. Here are a few thoughts for the devs about the risks of balancing based on complaints, and even on data collected server-side.

  • People who play sniper are a self-selecting group: assuming the player has half a brain (which, granted, is not always the case), he will only continue to play sniper if he is effective with them. Therefore, as snipers are nerfed, fewer players will play them.

  • It then follows that the average skill level of those who continue to play sniper effectively goes up after every nerf, since it takes more skill to be effective with a less effective weapon.

  • Based on this dynamic in which snipers are self-selecting, how effective snipers are seen to be does not depend purely on how strong the weapons are. In fact, you'd expect the average effectiveness to remain relatively constant as people who are less good at sniping move onto other classes.

This means that how strong snipers are perceived to be by those who do not play them will not be much affected by the nerfs. Indeed, this is exactly what we are seeing in the community responses that claim "the sniper nerfs are not enough." What those responses do not see is the process of self-selection.

In fact, the calls for nerfs to snipers (not just in the latest patch, but really for a long time) have not much to do with how effective the weapons are at all. Remember when jump sniping was removed? It was surely not because people were getting repeatedly killed by jump sniping. Instead, it was because people didn't feel like there was a counter to it on the rare occasions on which it happened.

The proof that the calls for sniper nerfs do not have much to do with weapon damage is simply in the fact that snipers have simultaneously been seen as overpowered and ineffective (see the bottom-scoring Vas tropes). The complaints do not have a quantitative basis, but are instead qualitative.

This is compounded by the fact that the best counters to sniping does not lie in obvious game mechanics (though those do exist, and Javelin is only the latest), but rather in "soft" counters like teamwork, map knowledge, and game sense. At a basic level, the design of the maps themselves provide counters.

Given that the complaints about snipers are not in fact based on the damage of the weapons, I think the recent nerfs to sniper damage are a mistake. They will do little to stem the tide of complaints (previous nerfs didn't and there's little reason to believe this one will be any different) and will only further exacerbate the gap between infuriatingly good snipers and infuriatingly bad ones. Further, the nerfs have the effect of making certain playstyles non-viable, like the kind of high-risk-high-reward aggressive sniper play. (Of course, this will only increase the prevalence of snipers who just sit back, and increase the frustration of those who are unable to counter them.)

Instead of hard damage nerfs to bodyshots, which isn't far from a sledgehammer approach to balancing, more precisely targeted changes are needed. Greater damage falloff, for instance, would reduce the frustration of being hit for almost full-health by a bodyshot at range, while preserving the reward for hitting a close-range shot on a fast-moving target. It would make cheesy plays less effective while keeping open a diverse set of playstyles.

Ultimately, the ideal would be for players to be more aware of the tools they have to counter snipers (other than spraying an SMG at long range and hoping for the best). Just to throw an idea out there, post-death tips could be used to give recently killed players ideas about counters to what just killed them (of course, this applies to not just snipers). This would be a way of teaching newer players by letting them know the mechanics available to solve the problems they are facing.

Comments

  • GatoCommodoreGatoCommodore Posts: 3,525

    people complains too much

    i mean...dude...
    we ask one thing, they give us another

    we didnt really ask for sniper damage nerf
    we ask for vasilli HP to be nerfed to 100hp again and MoA to be added more recoil.

    they didnt give any of those...

    Metro Area -- Miura                                                                  
  • watsyurdealwatsyurdeal Posts: 4,720

    @GatoCommodore said:
    people complains too much

    i mean...dude...
    we ask one thing, they give us another

    we didnt really ask for sniper damage nerf
    we ask for vasilli HP to be nerfed to 100hp again and MoA to be added more recoil.

    they didnt give any of those...

    Or nerf Grandeur headshots to less than 80 damage

    So hey, I have a small guide here you may like, go ahead, read it, you know you want to.


    ダーティーボムは非常に良いですが、あなたは非常に悪いです
  • woodchipwoodchip Posts: 106
    edited August 29

    Sniping is just intrinsically toxic and frustrating. It's cool to have for diversities sake, and for the sake of the classic FPS sniper feel, but there's a reason people whine about snipers in every single game where they're better than worthless.

    Dirtybomb's snipers are actually above average frustrating because of the relatively high time to kill on other weapons means that a godlike sniper can win every single duel no matter how well his opponent plays. If he doesn't miss, you lose. Every time.

    That necessitates keeping sniping on the weak side, balanced via their recon kits. If it were up to me I would probably nerf at least Vasilli even further. The nerfs so far don't significantly change the degree to which an incredible sniper dominates the game. Part of the sniper issue was body shots being too easy and strong, and that has been somewhat addressed, but the part where a 65% headshot Vasilli has no counters hasn't changed. So naturally people are still whining about it.

    Adding a damage drop off is probably too counterintuitive to be worth doing. As is, Vasilli and crew are perfectly effective at top level play, which is the level you have to look at when it comes to Snipers. If anything, they should be nerfed further. Either via changing the focus augment or outright nerfing their RoF. But for now we should see how the new changes settle out before considering further nerfs.

  • GuziolGuziol Posts: 280

    Vassili needed nerfs the most and he is the one who is affected by those nerfs the least.

  • Drac0rionDrac0rion Posts: 453

    I think that with the nerf, Moa and Felix damage itself is probably at a right place, for bodyshots.

    I'll bring some comparison from our beloved Wolfenstein:ET

    K43/M1 Garand

    Bodyshot: 34 HP (50 HP scoped)
    Headshot without helmet: 68 HP (100 HP scoped)

    The max hp for all characters except for medic was 100.

    They were the same sniper in different skins, but they had very strong recoil and scope sway compared to DB. Also the mobility for snipers was very limited while scoped. If you wanted to stay scoped and move, you could only do that while crouching or prone.

    As of the recent nerfs, both Moa and Felix can double body shot 18/21mercs for a kill.
    This is actually ideal when comparing to snipers in Wolf:ET.
    Now the further nerfs in my opinion should only go towards rate of fire and recoil.
    Maybe with some noticeable difference to finally give Felix an identity other than: "just a worse Moa".

    When compared to Wolf:ET the snipers are much much easier to use in DB.
    SD didn't need to get rid of scope sway or jump sniping. They could have simply limited them.

    Beginner sniper has a hard time handling the scope sway? Just have it slow down up to a complete stop when the sniper is standing still or moving while crouched.(Like in Wolf:ET)

    Jump sniping felt unfair with close to no counterplay? Just limit the time it takes to scope while mid air, so that double wall jumping doesn't allow players to scope at the peak of the jump and shoot over obstacles.
    Being able to jump snipe close quarters gave the snipers so much more survivability than what they have now. Shotgun bunnys can abuse this heavily, why force snipers into pressing "K" at that range?
    (For those without experience jump sniping in close quarters gave the snipers a chance to avoid damage + reposition for a better angle to take the shot. Currently snipers get 1 chance for a reaction shot while accepting all the damage from the enemy.)

    PDP is still completely busted.
    I'd personally like for SD to rework this gun with FG42 from Wolf:ET as example to really make it stand out from the other sniper rifles.

    Also with strong enough recoil and slower recoil recovery on snipers, it could cut into their effective rate of fire, which could also be a way to balance. (In Wolf:ET the snipers would only kick your view upwards with recoil and without a script you'd have to drag your view down after each shot.)

  • scrub_lordscrub_lord Posts: 334
    edited September 6

    I think the nerf is fine. Landing an easy body shot and then finishing with secondaries was too effective before, especially with Vassili machine pistols. It allowed me to play super aggressively with a class that shouldn't be able to. I play Vassili a lot and welcome this change. Now I can't crutch body shots as hard as I use to be able to, forcing me to take a more skilled approach to playing the class.

    @GatoCommodore Adding recoil to bolt-actions will do literally nothing.

  • GatoCommodoreGatoCommodore Posts: 3,525

    @scrub_lord said:
    I think the nerf is fine. Landing an easy body shot and then finishing with secondaries was too effective before, especially with Vassili machine pistols. It allowed me to play super aggressively with a class that shouldn't be able to. I play Vassili a lot and welcome this change. Now I can't crutch body shots as hard as I use to be able to, forcing me to take a more skilled approach to playing the class.

    @GatoCommodore Adding recoil to bolt-actions will do literally nothing.

    try to compare PDP and MoA

    which one is easier to shoot?

    hell, i would call PDP a weapon of skill.

    Metro Area -- Miura                                                                  
  • scrub_lordscrub_lord Posts: 334

    @GatoCommodore said:

    @scrub_lord said:
    I think the nerf is fine. Landing an easy body shot and then finishing with secondaries was too effective before, especially with Vassili machine pistols. It allowed me to play super aggressively with a class that shouldn't be able to. I play Vassili a lot and welcome this change. Now I can't crutch body shots as hard as I use to be able to, forcing me to take a more skilled approach to playing the class.

    @GatoCommodore Adding recoil to bolt-actions will do literally nothing.

    try to compare PDP and MoA

    which one is easier to shoot?

    hell, i would call PDP a weapon of skill.

  • GatoCommodoreGatoCommodore Posts: 3,525
    edited September 6

    @scrub_lord said:

    @GatoCommodore said:

    @scrub_lord said:
    I think the nerf is fine. Landing an easy body shot and then finishing with secondaries was too effective before, especially with Vassili machine pistols. It allowed me to play super aggressively with a class that shouldn't be able to. I play Vassili a lot and welcome this change. Now I can't crutch body shots as hard as I use to be able to, forcing me to take a more skilled approach to playing the class.

    @GatoCommodore Adding recoil to bolt-actions will do literally nothing.

    try to compare PDP and MoA

    which one is easier to shoot?

    hell, i would call PDP a weapon of skill.

    -PDP is easier to use than MoA
    -in your dreams bolt-noob

    Metro Area -- Miura                                                                  
  • woodchipwoodchip Posts: 106
    edited September 7

    The MOA needs to lose 1 HP more bodyshot damage.

    At 59 damage a shot the MOA becomes a headshot focused weapon, the snipers' sniper. The nerf nerf would also turn the Felix's theme (power) into a salient strength (2 shot rifledudes). It would also nerf Vas's strongest loadouts pretty hard without touching the other snipers, which is especially needed now that Aimee's snitch no longer provides 1 hitbodyshots to the Felix.

    Post edited by woodchip on
  • Drac0rionDrac0rion Posts: 453

    Most games everyone should expect about half the enemy team to be at 120hp+ and if MOA can't even two shot bodyshot 120hp mercs it will completely drop out of meta.
    If Felix can still two shot, but MOA can't, there's no real reason to pick MOA anymore.

    Headshots are a bonus, even for sniper rifles. There's no reason to have such a gimmick sniper rifle if Felix is right there to replace it and every tryhard would just pick PDP out of all the sniper rifles anyways.

  • woodchipwoodchip Posts: 106
    edited September 7

    @Drac0rion said:
    Most games everyone should expect about half the enemy team to be at 120hp+ and if MOA can't even two shot bodyshot 120hp mercs it will completely drop out of meta.
    If Felix can still two shot, but MOA can't, there's no real reason to pick MOA anymore.

    Headshots are a bonus, even for sniper rifles. There's no reason to have such a gimmick sniper rifle if Felix is right there to replace it and every tryhard would just pick PDP out of all the sniper rifles anyways.

    Right now there's no reason to play felix over Moa. They do the same damage at 95% of health breakpoints. Felix has 10% lower max ROF and much inferior recoil / rezero time. When you factor in the recoil and rezero weaknesses, I would say the Felix's real RoF might as well be closer to 12-15% slower than the MOA's. Felix kicks harder and doesn't stop recoiling until right before the shot is available.

    I don't doubt that losing the 2 shot vs 4 fire supports & nader would be a giant nerf, but the MOA's dual advantage of faster ROF & easier use needs to be off set by a serious weakness. I don't think access to different loadouts is close to good enough.

    It's also just really weird to have a gun be outright superior to another gun the way the MOA dominates the Felix. Even if you sometimes might pick the Felix to access a different loadout, playing with a directly inferior weapon feels bad.

    There would still be many reasons to pick MOA at 59 bodyshot. It would still be better vs anything that doesn't have exactly 120 HP, including the fact that the MOA would still have a giant advantage in sniper duels.

    12% better vs 75% of the cast in exchange for being 30% worse vs 25% of the cast isn't an obviously bad trade. It might be enough to push the MOA out of the meta, I don't know--you would have to test it extensively to find out--but I'm not sure why that's necessarily worse than the status quo where the Felix is definitely pushed out of the meta. Especially considering that the last patch made Aimee even weaker relative to Vasilli than she already was.

    Edit: it's not necessary to nerf moa body by 5. A nerf of just 1 damage would be enough to accomplish this.

    Post edited by woodchip on
  • Drac0rionDrac0rion Posts: 453

    @woodchip

    The bolt action that could two shot bodyshot would be superior to the one that can't. The other differences aren't big enough to overlook this really.
    Forcing a bolt action to triple body shot would also force it into semi auto sniper rifles.
    PDP is already ridiculous, near triple the RoF of both bolt actions and only needs 3 bodyshots for 120hp, not to mention the recoil difference.

    I'd also very much like for MOA and Felix be somewhat different and not just have one be superior to the other. But instead of dropping the damage, SD could play with the RoF and recoil/recoil recovery to differentiate them from each other.

    I think it would be cool if one of them got a complete rework. I guess it would be more appropriate for MOA to receive it, considering MOA is Vassili exclusive and Felix is currently shared between 2 mercs.

    My example would be: MOA (the Railgun) SR
    Damage would be 70% max hp bodyshot, 180dmg headshot.

    Single shot, reload after every shot, but at the speed to keep the gun at ~45RPM, while the other bolt action can still shoot the entire magazine without unscoping, the railgun version would essentially never actually reload, rather just unscope and rechamber after every shot. So while the other bolt action is stuck in reload animation, the railgun would just keep going. This way also the recoil and recoil recovery wouldn't really matter for this sniper rifle.

    While this might be a rather extreme example of a rework, it would definitely differentiate the two bolt actions from one another. These are just the initial stats form the top of my head, but with some tweaking they could also be on par in effectiveness. The constant scoping/unscoping might be the biggest issue with my current example to assign the proper RoF.

    If MOA would get a rework of any kind, the Felix could receive all the stats from the current MOA and have it adjusted from there, just to have it function more smoothly.

    For the Aimee vs Vassili, I agree that the last patch hit her harder than Vassili. Vassili never deserved the +10hp buff he got long ago. Aimee just needs her ability readjusted, it feels so useless compared to the snowball atm.

  • scrub_lordscrub_lord Posts: 334
    edited September 7

    Fel-ix gets an extra shot per mag. The slower RoF is negligible anyways. Chances are you won't even shoot it that fast anyways due to human error or still trying to line a shot up. Recoil shouldn't even be a factor to anyone who uses bolt-actions tbh.

  • GatoCommodoreGatoCommodore Posts: 3,525

    @scrub_lord said:
    Fel-ix gets an extra shot per mag. The slower RoF is negligible anyways. Chances are you won't even shoot it that fast anyways due to human error or still trying to line a shot up. Recoil shouldn't even be a factor to anyone who uses bolt-actions tbh.

    it matters because lining up shots and moving target is a thing.

    Metro Area -- Miura                                                                  
  • WTSFM in his recent vids suggested, that bolt action rifles should have one shot per scope. Like TF2 sniper, each time he shoots, he unscopes.

    PC master race and console peasant jokes were never funny.
    Instead, there's two kinds of people: Those who don't get fooled by corporations and those who are their corporate slaves.

  • woodchipwoodchip Posts: 106
    edited September 8

    @TheStrangerous said:
    WTSFM in his recent vids suggested, that bolt action rifles should have one shot per scope. Like TF2 sniper, each time he shoots, he unscopes.

    @TheStrangerous That would be a very radical change. Bolt actions aren't that broken. Aimee with a felix isn't even 'good' unless the sniper is top 1% or better. And descoping wouldn't even affect those players much if at all. They do this already.

    @Drac0rion The problem with differentiating MOA and Felix via further tuning to the RoF is that the RoF entirely determines the weapons best case performance. A weapon that can put out 30% more 1hit kos per minute is going to make the slower weapon feel bad, even if you somehow adjusted everything else to make the slower and faster weapons 'balanced'. When you nerf the RoF you are nerfing the montage reel. The Felix - MOA RoF gap is about as large as it can be without making one of them feel weak.

    This may be part of why weapon DPS in DB is clustered in a pretty tight range. The DPS determines best case performance which is directly related to excitement/fun. You could nerf the blishloks DPS even further and compensate by lowering recoil to nothing, but that would make the blish feel weak, even if it's overall power level didn't change or even increased.

    The power level of a gun is different from how powerful a gun feels. The Felix is weak, it's totally outclassed by the MOA in every way that counts, but it feels strong, and is therefore fun to play with.

  • Drac0rionDrac0rion Posts: 453

    @TheStrangerous, it's like @woodchip said, that would essentially change nothing for any sniper player above average.

    If you'd check the "GENESIS" montage by WTSFM himself, you can already see how most shots are already quick scopes of hit and run in such a fast paced game as DB.

    I've got roughly about 80hours of bolt actions in DB alone and I have about the same playstyle with snipers as in that video.
    Even in OW I'd animation cancel myself out of scoping for a moment by jumping right after the shot to evaluate my surroundings while barely losing any time between shots.
    (In OW, jumping unscopes, but the scope can be brought up after jump while falling)

    It wouldn't be a mechanic that would necessarily be a nerf. If anything it might feel like a nerf to the less experienced snipers.

  • GatoCommodoreGatoCommodore Posts: 3,525

    @TheStrangerous said:
    WTSFM in his recent vids suggested, that bolt action rifles should have one shot per scope. Like TF2 sniper, each time he shoots, he unscopes.

    actually unscopes give situational awareness and not giving in to tunnel vision
    its pretty neat thinking.

    Metro Area -- Miura                                                                  
  • Shower thoughts: What about slight increased in RoF?
    Just curious, how would it impact the game?

    PC master race and console peasant jokes were never funny.
    Instead, there's two kinds of people: Those who don't get fooled by corporations and those who are their corporate slaves.

  • @TheStrangerous said:
    Shower thoughts: What about slight increased in RoF?
    Just curious, how would it impact the game?

    grandeur could use one..

    Metro Area -- Miura                                                                  
  • I heard that in the beta, you could spam the grandeur with a fire-rate comparable to dmrs in bf4.

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