After absolutely massive lack of demand, here comes the second thrilling installment of my attempt at rating the class perks using a custom-made rubric. Background Info included in the first installment:
And I know the Pavonis Discord is more active, but it seems ill mannered to post something so long-form in the one XCom channel we have.
Following my attempt at rating Gunner perks because of their power and versatility in using their primary weapon, I thought I'd follow up with the Sharpshooter: a class known for its power but dearth of versatility in using its primary weapon. As such, I had a lot more trouble with this one due to the odd nature of the Sharpshooter class, and am less sure than usual about my ratings here. As always, these ratings are my best attempt at being objective, but will be colored with my own playstyle biases and experiences, so if anyone has a problem, the intent is to fully allow these to be modified and adjusted through constructive criticism.
Sharpshooter: Holo Targeting (Power 3/ Reliability 6/Versatility 7/Efficiency 5), Squadsight+Sniper Rifle Access/Restriction (8/8/4/4)
LCpl: Death From Above (6/5/4/7), Rapid Targeting (4/6/9/10), Snap Shot (5/7/9/8)
Cpl: Damn Good Ground (7/7/6/8), Phantom (8/5/7/3), Center Mass (6/6/10/7)
Sgt: Precision Shot (8/7/6/6), Hi-Def Holo (4/5/5/9), Lone Wolf (7/7/8/5)
SSgt: Long Watch (4/5/4/5), Independent Tracking (6/6/3/10), Low Profile (7/6/9/8)
TSgt: Deadeye (7/5/8/6), Vital Point Targeting (6/8/9/9), Aggression (6/5/5/8)
GSgt: Kubikuri (9/X/7/2), Multitargeting (8/8/9/7), Hunter's Instincts (7/7/7/7)
MSgt: Double Tap (9/9/9/7), Alpha Mike Foxtrot (8.5/8/9/6), Serial (10/7/9/10)
Again, I was planning on explaining a few perks instead of all of them, but I got sidetracked since I honestly think Sharpshooters are a very confusing and niche class. So this one in particular is going to be a doozy.
Squadsight+Sniper Rifle Access/Restriction: Snipers and Gunners are the only classes in the game that are locked into a single, unique weapon type upon promoting. While for Gunners this is almost nothing but a boon, for Snipers it comes with perhaps the worst drawback in the game: double-cost attacks, rendering them both immobile and unable to easily reload. This drawback is even worse in this game than in the previous installment, because of most missions incorporating timers. Hence, sharpshooters themselves are not versatile and are better in some missions than in others. Keep this in mind as you deploy them and don't try to force them into all your missions. Squadsight, however, is the ability you get in return, coming with a host of benefits. Chief among them being the ability to hold good high ground positions easily, and being able to snipe at unactivated pods when they're most defenseless by using a spotter. This, along with the high aim growth that sharpshooters receive (which is also mostly frontloaded) gives them impressive potential power and reliability. They are, however, not able to leverage this power in all cases, and are slow in both movement and action economy, often only being able to shoot one enemy a turn and nothing else, rendering them situational and expensive to accommodate. Hence, they are best suited to supply raids and troop ambushes where unlimited time allows their strengths to shine.
Holo Targeting Unimpressive at first without upgrades. You very rarely would ever want to use this instead of simply firing your weapons, but snipers have several supporting abilities that can create a powerful soldier depending on the use of this weapon: An Officer who can scout and heavily support their team from stealth to a degree that no other class can.
Rapid Targeting: Great. Free actions are always nice, and honestly being able to buff your own shot by +10 every once in a while is not so bad compared to DFA or Snap Shot, so it can actually be worth taking on its own theoretically? Also allows you to holo for one action, and synergizes extremely well with the other holo abilities.
Death From Above: The main purpose of this is to allow you some ability to steady, relocate, and reload freely, the latter of which other classes can do for free, so mostly you'll use it to steady stock, which is a powerful crit and aim boost. This can increase your utility at extreme ranges, but the bulk of the ability only activates on a kill, which lowers the power and reliability somewhat as it is mostly useless if you don't get one. Naturally since it depends on both kills and high ground, it can be quite difficult to use, rendering it situational and not suited for every mission. Compared to a regular soldier, your sniper will waste turns on set-up and catching up if they want to use this ability, but it increases your action economy so it can be called relatively efficient.
Snap Shot: Similar to DFA, but does not bestow the squadsight debuff reduction, or the ability to stock every kill. What it does do, is allow your sniper to overcome their worst drawback, while still retaining some of their long range. This ability can be considered reliable, because the inability to move will cause your sniper to not be able to act on turns in which they cannot see the enemy due to line of sight issues. This will allow your sniper to effectively act every turn, especially if they see an easy flank. It is of course extremely versatile, because it allows your sniper to act as a regular soldier while still retaining most of the benefits of staying in high ground with squadsight if they so choose. Both this and DFA allow your sniper to fire twice per turn with command, although DFA requires you to do so to different targets, increasing Snap Shot's efficiency score. This will allow your sniper to more effectively avoid and fire on enemies from high ground in close quarters, since they can approach a ledge and fire on the same turn, meaning it does not entirely lose out to DFA in high ground control. The worst thing about this ability is that it very clearly mentions ingame that you can overwatch with it, but in actuality you CAN'T.
Damn Good Ground: A simple aim buff would likely score power/reliability 6, however the fact that this comes with a defense buff means that your fragile sniper can more easily defend themselves and control high ground. It is more versatile since the defense debuff only requires your sniper to get to high ground, even if they can't shoot this turn. It is quite efficient as it is a passive.
Phantom: Less useful for scouting since Snipers are locked out of SMGs, which means really Phantom is most useful for a holo-targeting officer who has some scouting ability. This is a powerful class, but requires a lot of levels and investment before it actually begins to help, so the efficiency is quite low due to high cost and opportunity costs.
Center Mass: Reliability is a 6 since snipers tend to be more accurate, versatility is a 10 since this is an excellent perk and class for a pistol user. High Aim and bad Close Range ability/mobility mean that pistols are an excellent way to shore up a sharpshooter's weaknesses while taking advantage of their strengths, and due to pistols' low damage and high rate of fire, Center Mass is an excellent boon to them.
Precision Shot: Mostly used on unactivated pods to guarantee a crit with a stock, so with spotter you can reliably use this at around twice a mission to get a guaranteed crit. The crit is also a large amount of flat damage, which can guarantee kills better than Deadeye's percent damage. Somewhat efficient since it is a straight buff to shooting, but can't be used with Snap Shot.
Hi-Def Holo: I wouldn't necessarily say crit is reliable unless you are stacking it to max. Very rarely would I depend upon 10-20% crit to mean the difference between me killing the enemy or not, but is very important for some crit builds.
Lone Wolf: Like DGG, but can be used in more situations. However these situations might necessitate staying far away from your allies, staying far behind, or forcing awkward movements of your team, leading to lose actions from catching up or trying to keep this ability up, so it's not necessarily an easy and efficient ability to use.
Independent Tracking: You can track an enemy from stealth/squadsight, wait a turn, and get your actions back before engaging them, essentially resulting in a "free action." The only problem being that you wasted a turn to do this so it's most effective in untimed missions, meaning it is extremely (action) efficient but less versatile.
Low Profile: +15 defense, effectively. However I think it can be powerful because needing to be in high cover can ruin your sightlines, effectively being able to choose any cover, even on high ground, gives you better positions to engage the enemy from, instead of being stuck in a dense area with bad visibility. You can also donate high cover to your friends.
Deadeye: I'd say this is less reliable than Precision Shot since a guaranteed crit will add a good amount of flat damage, whereas +50% damage can sometimes only add a small amount if you roll low damage. So along with lowering your accuracy, this needs to get a good damage roll to be effective. It is however, more versatile than Precision Shot, as Precision Shot ideally needs to be used on flanked or exposed enemies, while this can be used on any enemies without much defense, including MECS or Berserkers, or even enemies in cover provided you stacked enough aim!
Aggression: Again, a maximum of +30 crit is nice, but not exactly reliable unless you were already stacking crit. Plus you need to already be facing down 6 enemies, which admittedly is much easier from squadsight, but still does not apply to all situations you need.
Kubikuri: Instant kill, but not really, since it needs some chip damage and doesn't work on rulers. Honestly even if an ability was a true single target instant kill I'd not necessarily give it a 10 in power, since I think abilities that destroy multiple enemies are better, but that's debatable. Reliability is obviously variable on whether you can reach 100% or not, and you'd typically not use this unless you got to 100%, so it's kind of a moot point. It is, however, very expensive to stack that much crit. Here's a breakdown of possible crit sources:
Base 10% + Hi-Def 20% + Laser Sight 15% + Stock 25% + Aggression 30% = 100% as a benchmark.
Get Some 20% + Deadshot 10% + Steady Hands 10% + Plasma Tech 10% + Flanking 40% = 190% Max
Double Tap: I'd say being able to shoot twice is more reliable than having one shot doing double damage, as your standard deviation for damage decreases.
AMF: Powerful and can be used every turn, but it doesn't fix the main problem with the sniper, which is that the class can only ever handle one enemy every turn until max level. Almost every turn is simply shooting one enemy and possibly killing them, which is why I'd say Snipers are very inefficient in normal situations since they can never act faster than that. Notably however, AMF can be used twice per turn if you command a Snap Shot or DFA sniper, so it has that going for it at least.
Serial: Doesn't really need more explanation. The efficiency is high because it lets you do multiple turns of work in one turn, obviously that's worth not being able to use it for the next many turns. It is, of course, not necessarily reliable to keep the chain going, but it can usually do at least something.
I never feel like Sharpshooters really hit a powerspike, unless you count MSGT. They just sort of start being able to shoot a guy and every level get slightly better at it. For example, I'd say Gunners really hit their powerspike around SGT, with Mayhem and Hail of Bullets, and also start off with some great perks. As such, it's critical that you really leverage their range and get multiple shots off before enemies reach you on untimed maps; they they can really come into their own.
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