Shadowrun General > Gear

Odd things, those sniper rifles.

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Has anyone else noticed something odd about sniper rifles and their damage?  A heavy machine gun (.40 to .50 caliber range) does less damage per shot than a sniper rifle which uses the same caliber ammunition (the Barrett, for example).  The HMG even has less armor penetration while using the same round.

Some might attribute this to the longer barrel of the sniper rifle and the targetting system built into it, but that is patently not true.  HMG's typically have much longer barrels than the sniper rifles which use the same ammo, and, more importantly, the longest sniper shot ever taken was done so by a soldier firing a M2 .50 cal. HMG well over a mile away.

These discrepancies always felt odd to me.  Does anyone have a good reason (other than "game balance") for the dominance of the sniper rifle?  After all, sniper's will likely use aiming and called shots to increase the damage of a shot, so it isn't like they need the extra 2 or 3 damage points.

Nope. Just Game Balance.

People complained when (apparently) the most powerful weapon in Eclipse Phase was the Sniper Rifle.

Nope.  No good reason for it other than game designers, as a general rule, aren't gun guys.  "Rule of Cool" trumps firearm realism, for better or worse.  SR4's a minor miracle, in that the base damage of an Assault Rifle is a little better than the base damage of a good Pistol, for once.   ;D

4th edition did a lot better than previous editions on the firearm damage front, and beats a whole lot of other games, hands down.  It's still very obviously focused more -- and rightfully so -- on playability than realism, but it could be much, much, worse.

John Schmidt:

Back in the day, when I was an admin on the Detroit Mux had a player who wanted to mount a sniper rifle on their drone. That idea turned into a STD with the riggers "I wanna sniper rifle in the turret of my bulldog."


I have always believed that the high damage value of the sniper rifles was due to precise placement of the bullet through the target's eyeball (doing an end run past the target's armor). As such, I would not allow the player to do called shots or even aiming. They seem redundant, to me, given the damage value of the weapon in question. Kind of like, "do I get a bonus for exhaling (holding my breath) and squeezing the trigger instead of jerking it?"

HMG's have burst fire and full auto mode so that levels the playing field (literally).

There are barrels and then there are -barrels-. Sniper rifles boast accuracy of 1/4 MOA something that any machine gun (light, medium or heavy) simply can't claim. It might help to think of machine guns as area denial weapons, you go into their field of fire and you are denied life. Sniper rifles are on the other hand are high value target weapons, snipers are trained to target officers, radio men, machine gunners, exposed tank commanders, etc..

Once you get into the .50 BMG range, technically those are anti-material rifles (and about as much fun to shoot as being hit by Mike Tyson).

True, but the world record sniper shot is held by a soldier firing an HMG, not a sniper rifle.

And I have always found that soldiers will fire the .50 cal. at a regular meat body by saying "I was shooting at his weapon, and just happened to clip him."  Even a graze from a .50 will put a man down.


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