Were High-Impact Snipers Nerfed the Wrong Way?

This is what Bungie had to say on the positives of the high-impact sniper rifle archetype:

  1. Decent magazine sizes combined with strong impact
  2. Strong target acquisition and when combined with Hidden Hand can reach the upper echelon normally reserved for lower impact Sniper Rifles
  3. Ability to take down a guardian while in their super state
  4. High body-shot damage with a rate of fire still fast enough that the two tap body-shot is still viable

Now, I fully agree the 1000YS archetype was too good. I want to clear the air by saying that my irritation doesn’t stem from the fact that I think they were nerfed too hard and will now be useless, because I don’t think that’s the case. Instead, I don’t actually think they changed very much of anything. That archetype will still be the favorite in most scenarios, because they didn’t really address what made the guns so good. What they did was take something which was a minor part of the weapon, but something that made them feel unique, and removed it, as opposed to making a real change.

So, with that out of the way, let’s go back over those positives that Bungie mentioned.

The first point needs a bit of clarification. It’s not just the magazine size and impact that are being dealt with here, but also the hidden inventory stat. This number tells you both how much ammo you get per special brick in PvP, and how much ammo you can hold for the weapon at one time. Perks that come on boots and chest pieces can change this stat, as well as certain roll-able weapon perks like Skip Rounds and Surplus.

The problem here is the fact that the high impact 1000YS has an inventory size of 50, while low impact snipers like Tamar-D (10), Aoife Rua-D (30), Weyloran’s March (40), and the Extrasolar (35) all have significantly less. That means that, even those these weapons do less damage per shot, they are also burdened with carrying less ammo than the higher impact models. Why would you choose to use a weapon that does less damage than another, if it can’t even make up for it by holding more rounds in reserve?

The fact that the high-impact archetype can two-tap body shot people is not actually the issue here, and I disagree that it is one of the main positives of this archetype. While it is possible to kill with two body shots in 0.83 seconds, it’s much slower than the faster RoF snipers, and the true problem comes from the ability to land one body shot and then quickly switch to a primary to finish an opponent off. High body shot damage means that a second body shot from a scout rifle or hand cannon can often kill the target, and this practice has become commonplace in today’s Crucible.

Now that these four positives are laid out, let’s take a look at which ones make sense for the weapon sub-class, and which ones don’t.

  1. High inventory stats don’t make sense for these snipers. If they do more damage per bullet, in order to be equivalent to weapons which do less, they should carry fewer rounds, either in the mag or in reserve. Low-impact snipers are at a distinct disadvantage here, because of a stat being inexplicably skewed against them.
  2. High aim assist also should not be a characteristic of high-impact snipers. Doing more damage per bullet is the reward, having it be more difficult to land shots is the risk with which you trade-off when picking up one of these guns. Low-impact snipers are supposed to have the advantage of high aim assist as one of their characteristics, as even Bungie has stated, but again it’s not the case.
  3. Being able to super snipe makes sense here. These weapons are, after all, high-impact, and it was one of their defining traits. They were the only current year two legendary snipers in the game that could do it, and removing that ability drastically reduces the pool of useful tools for people to use against roaming supers. Now, I’m 100% sure some more very high-impact snipers will come in with RoI, and I look forward to that, but I just feel that both impact classes had their place, and both should have remained able to super snipe. Bungie states that you can still kill people using six armor or less with the high-impact snipers, but at this point the majority of people are running high armor/recovery builds, so it’s not a useful trade-off.
  4. As for the body shot damage, that again makes sense for this archetype. They need to do higher body shot damage than the impact classes below them to make up for the lower RoF. It’s harder to two-tap people with these weapons, so the chance to kill someone who is partially damaged or switch to a primary and clean up after a hit is the only thing keeping them relevant.

So when you look at the nerfs Bungie applied to these weapons, I think they changed the wrong aspects. Instead of messing with the aim assist and inventory stats, two things which are completely out of place in this archetype, they hurt the ability to super sniper and decreased the overall damage. The two things they changed were the main reasons these guns were unique, but not the main issue that was causing them to be overused. People weren’t using low-impact snipers because you got more bullets and better aim assist with high-impact ones, on top of their defining characteristics. They removed something from the archetype that wasn’t even a problem, while leaving the things that were issues basically alone.

As for the people saying that this will encourage players to use the very high-impact class, that’s definitely true. However, I always thought the very-high impact class was more of a PvE tool, except for those people who wanted to be able to basically one-shot to the body anyone who was even breathed on by damage. They’ll definitely be more useful (I’ll be giving them a shot as soon as I can get one to drop), but the issue stems from the fact that now the high, mid, and low impact classes have one less thing distinguishing them from each other.

Now all of them can revive snipe, none of them can super snipe, all of them can relatively fast two-tap body shot (according to Bungie this is true for the high-impact class). The only distinguishing factor is that the high-impact ones can body shot and allow you to switch to a primary and finish them off, which is definitely an upside, but why even do that when it’s faster to just two-tap someone with one of the high RoF snipers?

I’m not salty because I thought they didn’t deserve to be nerfed, they absolutely did. I’m salty because this isn’t a nerf that will change much in terms of how good the archetype actually is, and it removed something that made them unique.

Author of Massive Breakdowns, Crucible enthusiast, recovering re-roll addict.