Valve isn't ready to show their hand for the Team Fortress 2 sniper class update just yet ... but that doesn't mean they aren't ready to tease their fans - and apparently, he'll be looking to close the distance.
Oh, the Sniper. As one particularly snarky critic explained, playing the Sniper in TF2 is like playing a point-and-click adventure game where the only puzzle is "Use Gun on Man." A good sniper can effortlessly thin the ranks of the enemy team - a bad sniper gets killed by spies and pyros. The rest are all standing on the battlements on 2fort.
The Sniper, though, seems to be a hard class to balance. There are two philosophies that Valve found helped players deal with dying in the fast-paced FPS: First, do you understand what killed you? Second, were you engaged with what killed you? The first is easy enough - thanks to the freezecam, you'll know for sure when your brains have been splattered across the wall thanks to the Hunter From Down Under. The second, though, is trickier ... if you're battling a Pyro and then get headshot from across the map by his Sniper teammate that you didn't see, it can be frustrating:
In particular, the second seemed to be the root cause of the hatred of Snipers. You're often killed by them while you're engaged with an enemy in the foreground, and most of the time the Sniper is so far away it feels like you couldn't have dealt with him even if you didn't have enemies nearby. In fact, the Sniper's goal is to create that relationship: he specifically wants to fight enemies outside their engagement range, because that's his primary advantage.
So for the Sniper Rifle unlockable, Valve is looking at something that will encourage the Sniper to get closer to the target, and to engage them in combat - where even if a player loses to the new close-range Sniper, they "feel like they could have survived if they'd just managed to fight a little better."
It's a good point, but wouldn't it feel kind of weird to have the Sniper trading in his, well, Sniper Rifle for a shotgun?