Why Are Snipers Popular in Some Call of Duty Games and Not Others?

How to Balance Sniper Rifles in Games 4
Credit: Activision

How to Balance Sniper Rifles in Games 4
Credit: Activision

Snipers. The elusive one-shot-kill. Gamers have been obsessed with sniper rifles since the dawn of first-person shooter games, and that hasn't changed. But in the Call of Duty world, well, snipers are ironically a bit hit or miss. In some games, like Modern Warfare or Vanguard, snipers aren't particularly relevant or especially hard to deal with most of the time, while in a game like Black Ops Cold War snipers are much more common.

So, in this article, we'll explain why snipers are popular in some Call of Duty games and not others.

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How to Balance Sniper Rifles in Games

How to Balance Sniper Rifles in Games
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Credit: Activision

In general, sniper rifles in Call of Duty need to have a few things to be worth using, and they can't have a few other things or else they'll be way too powerful and end up breaking the balance of the game.

Most importantly, you need to be able to routinely one-shot people with a sniper rifle. If you're going to be seeing hit markers or having to pump multiple shots into people all the time, gamers just won't snipe.

Outside of that, though, people also want to be able to quickscope. Snipers in Call of Duty don't have to be SMGs in terms of aim-down-sight (ADS) speed, and you don't need to be able to fly around the map with a sniper rifle, but in general, you can always quickscope with a good CoD sniper.

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Those are the two main features you want, but there are also lots of things you don't want in a CoD sniper. Of course, you can't have snipers be too quick and instantly kill no matter where you shoot someone, because then everybody would be sniping all the time and that's no fun.

It's also important to be careful, on console, with aim assist when it comes to snipers. At most, light aim assist is all you'd want, and ammo capacity, firing speed, and reload speed are also important characteristics of a sniper rifle that need to be slow enough to make snipers not overpowered but fast enough so that snipers are still fun to use and reasonably strong.

In general, snipers need to thread that needle between being powerful weapons in the hands of someone with good aim without becoming crutches that anybody can use to farm kills with little effort.

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Sniper Rifles in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Vanguard

How to Balance Sniper Rifles in Games 2
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Credit: Activision

Sniper rifles were never particularly relevant to the metas of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare II, or Vanguard, but that's not really because the rifles on offer were insanely weak, and that's not to say that skilled players couldn't still dominate with a sniper in those games.

In Modern Warfare, for example, snipers were reasonably fast and reasonably powerful but not so fast or powerful that they felt unbalanced, yet still, they weren't really something you'd see in every lobby. In general, they were something you'd see from time to time in Search and Destroy or Ground War, but that's generally about it.

Why's that? Well, it comes down to time-to-kill (TTK). In Modern Warfare, Vanguard, and Modern Warfare II, TTKs are extremely fast. You can routinely kill people with just about any gun before they even have a chance to react, and most of the time, whoever shot first is more likely to win in a gunfight in these games. So, focusing on using a one-shot-kill weapon that requires a lot of accuracy and isn't as fast as something like an SMG didn't make lots of sense.

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In Ground War, for example, with lots of sight lines and places to snipe from, you'd see it a lot more, but in a traditional game, you don't see snipers end up particularly dominant in those games because of easy it is to kill people up close or even at medium range with automatic weapons.

Sniper Rifles in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

How to Balance Sniper Rifles in Games 3
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Credit: Activision

Snipers in Black Ops Cold War, though, are a totally different story. You'll see people using snipers, at least one or two, in most matches in this Call of Duty, and depending on the mode or lobby you're in, you might end up going up against entire teams of snipers.

Is that because snipers in Cold War are super overpowered, you ask? Well, not exactly. Snipers in Cold War are generally pretty slow to ADS, even the faster ones which aren't even the most popular, and it's still a pretty common occurrence to get hitmarkers with snipers unless you're always hitting the upper chest or head when sniping.

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Some argue that snipers could do with some extra flinch when taking damage, and while that may be a fair point, it's hard to imagine being able to increase flinch on sniper rifles such that they're used less frequently without adding so much that most people just don't bother sniping, considering that snipers in Cold War are already fairly slow and can regularly generate hitmarkers.

In general, the problem seems to come more down to TTK, once again. Cold War has a meatier TTK than games like Modern Warfare, Vanguard, or Modern Warfare II, so while you can kill people quickly with just about any gun, there's usually just enough time to react and fight back against somebody who's shooting you, if you act fast.

This means that one-shot-kill weapons are inevitably going to be more relevant to the meta and more widely used, because if people can go around with snipers and take on people using automatic weapons, with enough skill to land their shots without being insanely good at the game, people will do that.

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