UT3 Weapon Rundown: Sniper Rifle

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The Sniper Rifle is like the Hammer of God. At least, it is in vCTF-Suspense. In DeathMatch it’s a different story unless you can get a good vantage point. Still though, the weapon’s stylization is spot on, the best yet, and it even sounds powerful. I love using this weapon.


Primary fire is a single tap on the trigger. A hit does 70 damage to a person normally, or 140 for a headshot. Headshots are easier than they were in UT2004, although once the full game is out and we have the full range of player models to choose from we’ll see if they are more reliable or not. The firing speed is slower than the demonic firing rate that the original UT’s sniper rifle had, but it’s faster than that pathetic toy, the Lightning Gun. It also lacks the emitter lag that plagued the Lightning Gun, thankfully.

One unusual bit of info is that when an opponent is standing still, his headshot hitbox is 75% larger. Many people have noticed this and come to the conclusion that the headshot hitbox is too big, but it seems to be intended as a balancing factor to make campers more vulnerable to headshots. When a person is running at full clip, their headshot hitbox is only 80% its normal size, effectively making it more difficult to one-hit kill someone who is trying to flush you out.*


Secondary fire is zoom. There’s not much to write home about here, although zooming in does have a momentary animation pause as the weapon is placed over your “eye.” The scope will black out your peripheral vision, but it’s not bad, and at least the zoom is uncluttered and clear, which is more than I can say for UT2004’s Lightning Gun.

One tactic that was popular with the Lightning Gun in UT2004 involved shooting off one shot, switching to the next weapon, firing, and then switching back to the Lightning Gun. With the Lightning Gun’s slow refire rate, it was actually faster to switch to another weapon, fire, and then switch back and fire again than it was to simply wait for another shot. This was pretty obviously silly, so one of the main changes to weapons in UT3 is that you now need to reload the weapon before you are able to change it. I’m of the opinion this is a good change, at least for the Sniper Rifle (not so for some other weapons — the Flak, for example, suffers badly because of it). However, it does make it so that if an enemy gets in close on you while you’re using the Sniper Rifle you’re pretty vulnerable.

In vehicular gametypes the Sniper is pretty useful, but mainly as an infantry killer. Of all the vehicles we see in the demo, only the Manta is an open topped vehicle. It is possible to snipe a Manta pilot in his vehicle, and I’ve headshotted Manta pilots several times by now, but it’s usually not worth the effort it takes to hit such a nimble vehicle. The only other vehicle we’ve seen that is vulnerable to the sniper is the Hellbender rear seat, which isn’t all that effective in the demo anyway, so will likely be unmanned. The sniper rifle really makes me pine for locational vehicle damage, or at least vehicle “weak points” that could be shot for extra damage. The damage the Sniper Rifle does to vehicles seems to be reduced something like 50%, so it is virtually useless against anything heavier than a Manta. If there were weak points it could be made more useful without just outright giving it more punch.

Either way, it’s great to finally have a respectable sniper rifle back in the game, and I can’t wait to play some sniper arena with this thing.

* Note about this information: I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. It may be that the Sniper’s headshot box increases or decreases in size, or it may be that other players’ headshot box increases or decreases in size depending on whether they are running or not. I’m looking into it and will update when I know a definitive answer.

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