Modern Warfare 3's maps are built to keep solo snipers in check, according to Sledgehammer Games boss Michael Condrey and community manager Guy Beahm, putting clear light between Activision's new Call of Duty and the sprawling, open play environments of EA's Battlefield 3.
"There's different ways of playing as a sniper, based on skill level I guess you could say, or your intentions as a team player," Beahms commented in a just-published, ma-hoosive Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer interview when we suggested that the Brotherhood of the Scope might find the new shooter hard to swallow.
"So for example if you've got a guy who's really highly skilled, he knows how to quickscope - those guys know how to handle themselves in close range combat, and on [the Underground map] close range combat is what you're generally going to run into.
"But if you're one of those Snipers that runs Scavenger Pro, sort of stands at the back and hard-scopes and holds their breath... I'm not sure that's what you want to be rocking on that map, Underground as you said. But yeah."
Our Modern Warfare 3 review singled out the game's maps for particular praise, with Mike noting that the game offers the "same robust brilliance that keeps millions glued to the controller for an entire year".
Condrey is keen to keep camping complaints to a minimum, hence the new shooter's plethora of flanking routes. "I think that the person who plays the sniper on a team can have a ton of fun, but one of the biggest criticisms you always hear is about campers, right? We don't want to emphasise that dynamic so much that the other people in that engagement aren't having fun.
"We have less verticality in our maps, there are less camping points. And so the challenge for Snipers is to hang back on the perimeter or the periphery and pick people off - the maps aren't set up to really capitalise on that, by intention. There are weapon proficiencies for snipers, like there are weapon proficiencies for every class, that can allow you to do cool things - there's Focus, for example, which gives you less sway. So there are ways to improve as a sniper, but I think it's more tuned and more balanced than it's ever been before."
Though admirably balanced itself, Battlefield 3's multiplayer is comparatively sniper-friendly, thanks to the sheer distances involved. Condrey cheekily alluded to this in his follow-up remark. "Unlike other games, where you're going to be sniped from across the map by a guy you can't even see, and then respawn and you've got to run for five minutes to get back to the battle, right? That's not the Modern Warfare 3 method. This is about getting you in the action, you're pulling the trigger fast, you know what I mean? That's the essence of it."
Those who are prepared to work with their squad will find they can still snipe effectively, however, and certain equipment mods make committing to scopes less of a risk. "If you have a good team who plays together and they can cover your flank positions, you can do fine, right? There's also a dual scope which is an awesome addition to Modern Warfare 3 which allows you to have a magnified scope for range, but also have the red dot for close quarter combat.
"You're not really a sniper but you have more possible magnification on your weapon, so you can hang back at mid-range. That element is still there, and if you're not a competitive-level quick-scoper like Guy here you can still really enjoy it. But it's not going to be over-weighted, it's not going to dominate the match like some experiences we've had in the past."