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A Guide To Sniping

This guide will take you from the Vault 101 to the point of your journey when you become comfortable with the wasteland. If you already have gotten far into the game and want to figure out how to snipe successfully then skip to the advanced tactics portion. This guide contains little to no spoilers, I reference a bunch of add-ons, and remember this is subjective material so what you would do and I did/would do may differ. If you have problems, concerns, questions, and snide remarks, feel free to message me about them, but keep the snide remarks to yourself unless they’re legitimately constructive. I do not want the reader of my content to feel constricted by my guide, I’d rather you take it as giant suggestion. It provides easy options for starter characters. You can take whatever path you want and can still be a great sniper. You don’t have to have all those perks and stats to be good, but they are extremely helpful and give the PC benefits that aren’t just restricted to the Sniping area of the gameplay. I hope you enjoy it and do not let the guide force you to play how I played the game. And more importantly have fun sniping all those muties and such.

Key

Term or Phrase Definintion
Hostile Enemy of any sort
LOS Line of Sight
NPC Non Player Character
PC Player Character
Sniper Maintenance Repair costs & ammo cost. Accuracy declines as the rifle’s condition worsens

Equipment

  • A Sniper rifle or any variants of it
  • A secondary weapon - like an Assault Rifle or a pistol like the 10 mm Pistol.
  • A melee weapon - weapons like Occam's Razor, and for Operation: Anchorage folks, the Trench knife, or Jingwei's shocksword work well. Refrain from Shishkebabs due to unwieldiness.
  • Armor - Chinese stealth armorif you have Operation: Anchorage and a low sneak skill. If you have a high sneak you can use whatever armor you want, I alter between the different Combat armors based on the terrain( I match armor color with landscape color).
  • Ammunition - have lots of it, Operation: Anchorage is a very helpful add-on for sniper characters.
  • Stealth Boy’s - are optional, but always keep a few on hand. Remember, they are not in infinite supply so use carefully.

Stats

Italicized items are from add-ons. (Perks - you don’t have to pick a perk as soon as it’s available, pick the perk that would be most advantageous).

The Setup

I have all the add-ons, but the most helpful of the add-ons is Operation: Anchorage. Read up on how to do the Operation: Anchorage glitches. If you want to benefit all types of combat then go ahead and grab all the equipment. If you want to take a characters weapon, use the Gauss Rifle to shoot the weapon and then holster so they don’t attack (save before attempting). Also do the drop ammo glitch for sniper rounds and make sure to use the Gauss Rifle to shoot Jingwei's Shock Sword from Jingwei’s hands and pick it up so you can get two swords with one being near indestructible. You do not have to do Operation: Anchorage immediately but if you want to be super sniper early on then it may be recommended due to infinite ammo, almost indestructible rifle, and Chinese Stealth Armor, and for those combat armor types the Winterized combat armor with the awesomest looking combat helmet, the Winterized Combat Helmet.

  • For those without -

At the start of the game you can get a free sniper rifle as soon as you find Megaton. Read the As requested page to find the hollowed-out rock with the sniper rifle. Now I would suggest keeping Megaton intact until you get to at least level 5 or 6 unless you need a house to store gear. Scavenging scrap metal and bringing it to Walter can give you experience points and caps at the same time. I would recommend getting a .32 hunting rifle as well as lots of .32 caliber ammo. Early on, the sniper rifle’s aim is very “wobbly” and a hunting rifle can provide the no scopes and short to mid-range shots that will suppress sniper maintenance costs. A quick way to make a gain is go on a hunting safari and try to use one .32 round per creature (wait for the creature to get very close and use V.A.T.S. on the head) or a melee weapon because the PC can sell meat for 2-3 caps with .32 rounds costing only 1 cap so there is 1-2 caps in profit. This takes a while, but it provides experience points as well as income. If you are feeling confident you can travel to Fairfax ruins and kill the raiders there. Also I’d suggest starting the Wasteland Survival Guide quest and going to the Super-Duper Mart, make sure to complete the optional objective because it’s the only way to get the Survival Guru perk and salvage anything to sell. Scavenge everything you can find and start selling it, I’d withhold selling Mini-nukes and rare weapons and armor variants you can choose to blow up Megaton or save it, it’s up to you, but I would suggest scavenging all the buildings either way (I’m writing this guide as if the PC saved Megaton). It’s hit or miss with Moira Brown, Craterside Supply and whether or not she carries .308 ammo, your best bet is to advance along the Fallout 3 quests until you get to Rivet City where if you wait 2- 3 days in between buying .308 ammo from Flak and Shrapnel's and sometimes Seagrave Holmes it will restock this is the quickest and surest way of getting .308 ammo as scavenging isn’t always as rewarding. And those with eager and courageous hearts, you can attempt to find the one-of-kind sniper rifle variants - Victory Rifle and the Reservist's rifle. Now you have a general idea of how to get started.

How to Snipe

There is an art to sniping, and it’s not practical to just unload the rifle on every enemy you see because it wastes the scarce .308 ammo, the rifle wasn’t made for close range assault tactics, and a Chinese or regular assault rifle was made for that. The key to sniping is to point, aim, and shoot. However, this won’t get you many 1 hit kills, but basically that’s what sniping is, but for the snipers who want to be like Mark Wahlberg from [1], I’d suggest reading on.

Advanced Tactics

This is where those who suck will be separated from those who don’t, a lot of it is pure first-hand experience, but I can give you a heads start.

  • 1. Never aim for the head outside of V.A.T.S. or in close range, aim for upper chest area or neck (neck only advised for super mutants or bigger characters). If NPC or Creature has its back turned to you, aim for upper back. The reason for this is that all shots from the sniper always go above wherever you’re aiming due to an incorrect calibration of the scope.
  • 2. If situation becomes close range, you can use sniper with V.A.T.S or swap to the secondary weapon. If you are hidden and in close range, use V.A.T.S. or swap to a melee weapon to kill hostiles.
  • 3. Take one shot at a time, rapid fire techniques fail miserably at long distances, the only reason to do this if ambushed while sniping.
  • 4. The scenarios of sniping -
    • Moving targets - always aim for torso/upper torso unless it’s close to medium range.
    • Short range - Aim extremely carefully, be prepared to adjust targeting in case hostile moves, aim directly for head or upper-upper chest/back. Make sure to stay in crouched unless you’re feeling rowdy.
    • Medium range - Aim for upper chest/back if only head is showing aim as low as you can but make sure reticule is way clear of any obstacles. Stay crouched unless near good cover.
    • Long Range - Aim for upper chest/back or torso. V.A.T.S. is a possibility if you have trouble hitting target. Try to hit target while stationary, or aim barely in front of it as it moves. Stay crouched unless standing improves chances of getting a good shot.
    • Extreme Range - Aim for torso or upper torso. Prepare to adjust for moving targets, try to take out target while it’s standing still. If that’s not possible use best judgment and shoot where it will be immediately prior to firing. Stay crouched because a sneak attack is going to be necessary to bring down the hostile since it probably won’t be a head shot.
  • 5. Scope out areas prior to moving into them, don’t rely on PE because it can misjudge and you won’t always be in a good sniper spot. Crouch, if you are not already, as soon as Perception picks up enemy.
  • 6. Try to conserve ammunition unless you have a bunch of it.
  • 7. Carefully aim for each shot.
  • 8. If you miss and get a caution flag while crouched, keep shooting unless you’re well hidden because if they spot you it might get ugly.
  • 9. Followers may occasionally alert hostiles; stay crouched unless you get a danger flag. With high sneak skills, a character may remain “Hidden” even as the hostile runs right past them, so stay ready to shoot and V.A.T.S. if you might hit the follower on accident.
  • 10. Avoid jumping off high locations that you used for sniping spots. You may be a godly sniper, but you aren’t a god so damage applies normally and suicide is a major fail for snipers.
  • 11. For lower level snipers, the scope will wobble. To counteract this don't try to adjust your aim every time it moves, let it move and wait for it to target the hostile by itself and then shoot.

Sniping locations

  • Megaton
    • 1. Go to Lucas Simms' house (it’s directly across from your possible house should you choose to save Megaton). There is a trap door on the ceiling of the upper level, and this will bring you to a possible sniper spot in Megaton, just guard the door if you have the desire to start picking off residents for target practice or for spoils.
    • 2. Go to the top of the hill behind Craterside Supply and jump onto the roof, to get on top of the Rocket jump, on the pipes jutting out on the edges of the rocket.
    • 3. This spot has the least cover, go to the right side of the PC’s possible house and walk on the rim of metal that goes around the house until you get to an indention that faces the center of town.
  • Rivet City
    • 1. The numerous external walkways of the Bridge tower.
    • 2. The land side of the drawbridge, you can take out the door guards here.
    • 3. In the Marketplace, you can either hide up by the pool table with both of your sides exposed or you can go to one of the abandoned market stalls with cinder blocks blocking the front.
  • Lamplight Caverns
    • 1. The whole place is a sniper paradise but the kids can’t be killed so the only point for sniping is the dogs.
  • Big Town
    • 1. If you can figure out how to get on to a roof go for it, otherwise use the sides of buildings or the porches and debris as cover.
  • Arefu
    • 1. Behind the West’s house is good due to its remoteness.
    • 2. Any missing chunks in the highway that provide LOS of wasteland
    • 3. Elevated side of the highway, be careful because if you fall you’re dead.
  • Citadel
    • 1. The upper level of the Initiates sleeping area in the courtyard.
    • 2. The raised bombed-out rooms accessed by stairs in the courtyard (assassinate the BoS that is typically in the room before proceeding to snipe.
    • 3. Lab - The corners of the room on the upper level. Corners that are not next to doors or hallways leading to doors so pick the isolated corners.
  • Vaults
    • 1. Raised walkways.
    • 2. Isolated rooms.
    • 3. Behind cover with at least 3 sides partially covered (i.e. a couch near the corner of a room).
  • The Pitt
    • 1. Isolated rooms that are in the upper levels, especially ones with blown out walls.
    • 2. Trog infested buildings- find corners of the walkways where trogs will spawn and try to sneak up on you and sit and wait for them to approach. Make sure to kill with each shot or else they’ll find you and you’ll need to swap weapons.
    • 3. The Steelyard - Insides of dumpsters, the little deck near the entrance to The Mill, rooftops, isolated elevated walkways, in those small rooms with slits in the sides where you can shoot (i.e. the place where the first aid kit can be found with 2 (I think) ingots.
    • 4. The Bridge - The place where the Wildmen can be found, the top of the arch where the slaver sniper can be found.
  • The Wasteland
    • 1. Big piles of rubble, climb up them until there is at least some sort of small portion of concrete in front of you where you can hide if necessary.
    • 2. Highways, missing portions of highway that provide LOS and the rim of it. Also going to the end of broken highways sometimes have standing pillars at the end which you can jump on.
    • 3. Behind sandbags or other forms of cover, DO NOT hide behind cars.
    • 4. Buildings with missing windows.
    • 5. Small ponds of water, (not really a sniper spot, but it looks cool in 3rd person).
    • 6. Bridges, big or small and even the ones that connect buildings.
    • 7. Sides of cliffs.

If you know of any good sniper spots, wherever they maybe, feel free to add them.

Hostiles

All enemies can be killed by sniping, but sometimes isn’t always the wisest tactical decision. These statistics were drawn from a level 30 character with maxed out S.P.E.C.I.A.L., skills, and sniper related perks.

  • Robots – Mr. Gutsy’s sseem to die from a sneak attack, Sentry bots are bad ideas to snipe, Protectrons die easily, Eyebots die easily too, Robobrains may require 1-2 headshots.
  • Creatures – Deathclaws can die from a headshot, but often need two hits, Giant / Albino Radscorpions don’t die quick enough due to them lacking a head, Radscorpions die rather easily may require two shots due to lack of head, Yao guais die with headshot, Bloatflys & Mole rats & Radroaches shouldn’t have bullets wasted on them use another gun instead, Giant Antsrequire 1-4 shots depending on their type, Giant ant queens should probably be killed with Big Guns because I mean they’re big game, but a few headshots can do the trick, Mirelurks easy to dispatch if face shot but if their backs are turned aim for the tip top part of their back and it may provide a headshot, Mirelurk kings die with a headshot.
  • Mutants – Centaurs die with headshot or 1-2 body shots, Super mutants die with a head shot or 1-2 body shots, Super mutant brutes die with head shot or 2-3 body shots, Super mutant masters die with headshot but require 2-4 body shots, Super mutant overlords die with 2-5 headshots and an ungodly amount of body shots… go for the sneak headshot, Super mutant behemoths shouldn’t be sniped because using a sniper rifle up close is a bad idea and you’ll probably end up dead… use Big Guns or Gauss Rifle. (Note that Super Mutants, Brutes, and Masters all die with V.A.T.S. headshot).
  • Humans/Ghouls – All die with headshot minus the occasional Enclave Hellfire trooper, a V.A.T.S headshot will kill all, body shots differ based on the human’s armor. Of course essential characters are non-killable so snipers only knock them unconscious.

This concludes my sniper guide, I hope it helped.

A Note from the Author

Note that I, the author, am a good to excellent Fallout 3 sniper. I play on average difficulty setting any I have all the DLC’s that are out so far. I have started a new game that will follow this guide and see if it can be called helpful or not. I have the Xbox 360 version so I cannot cheat or mod. I am a level 30 with maxed out everything… skills, S.P.E.C.I.A.L., you name it. I have completed every quest, side quest and unmarked quest. I have not completed every quest each way so in that aspect I could be wrong. I wrote this guide from the experience with a typically good character with the occasional bad karma, but most if not all quests ended with a good Karma outcome. Karma shouldn’t affect your sniping abilities, only the gameplay. I hope you enjoyed it, any comments feel free to post on my talk page.