So the Sniper's drone: A good number of players hate it, and for good reason.
It shoots so suddenly that it can become a burden by aggro-ing enemies too often for Snipers to remain hidden,
but still shoots too seldomly to really be useful in many close combat situations as a sort of sentry.
What few know however is that the drone has a firing pattern.
The way the drone's firing pattern works is that the instant enemies go into a "suspicious/spotting mode", the drone will immediately fire towards them, even though the enemy hasn't found the player yet. This means enemies that are just on the edge of the screen that notice something suspicious will likely become a sudden target for the drone, regardless of whether or not the player was aware of the enemy.
At its best, the drone grants the player peripheral protection while they aim down their sight, providing protection from enemies that walk up behind the player. But at the worst, the drone will alert an entire squad of enemies without the player even realizing it.
So while the drone's firing is not random, it still has some element of surprise.
So to some extent, not having a drone can be a great buff to Snipers as it will allow them to traverse the level and kill enemies off screen more predictably and also more discretely, since your own bullets are lot more "silent" than the drone's laser (given that the Sniper checks their surroundings often).
A low risk, high reward gameplan: basically what a Sniper is supposed to be.
Unfortunately, because the drone acts automatically regardless of the Sniper's intent,
trying to play the Sniper slowly and steadily in SYNTHETIK can be very difficult...
But that doesn't mean that the drone can't be a utility.
In short, one of the best ways to fully take advantage of the drone is by
Playing More Quickly and Aggressively.
Quickscoping Is The Way To Play.
Only through this playstyle will the Drone become reliable.
To avoid the drone from being a hindrance in many cases, one good goal as the Sniper in SYNTHETIK is to find enemies in range and kill them as quickly as possible, with little delay, ideally before you find yourself in their field of view. Take too long, and the drone will inadvertently shoot for the Sniper when the enemy suddenly becomes suspicious, and that isn't desirable.
Naturally, this playstyle will cause the Sniper to miss some of their shots as a result of this faster, less careful approach to playing the class...
But worry not, for this is where the drone comes into play!
If you miss some enemies and they begin to chase you down,
the drone will dispose of the survivors.
The drone's low firerate in this context is no longer an issue, as playing this way will allow the drone to fire after the player has done considerable damage to the enemy forces. That means that there will be lesser enemies for the drone to target, and also that the remaining enemies will be easy pickings.
So in conclusion
The drone can be an annoyance, but it isn’t a burden.
It is designed as a utility to protect snipers from unseen enemies, but it can also be used as a partner in combat.
It’s not designed to take out enemy groups* for the player, but instead to help support the player during these quick encounters.
Naturally, many players will tend to miss a shot or two when playing a usually-passive class so aggressively.
And so the drone takes the role of the finisher, taking care of the remaining enemies after/while the player fires.
The following are examples of how to play and how not to play Sniper in Synthetik:
I took too long to fire, and one of the enemies suddenly became suspicious.
My drone then shot first and revealed my position.
Enemies rushed to me, and forced me to retreat.
Would've been disastrous if there were more units ahead waiting for me.
I aimed quickly, in an attempt to kill as fast as I could before they had a chance to turn around.
(And hopefully not rouse suspicion on any surrounding enemies I may not have noticed)
I managed to nail a headshot, but missed another, and so I was not able to finish off the whole group...
But then, my drone assists me by following up my shots with the final blow.
This is currently how I've learned to play Sniper in this game over the past several runs, and allowed me to complete a few runs with the class.
Have any thoughts or ideas? Please let me know what you think!
The above advice is only applicable to Sniper's default drone from Levels 0-25+.
Once you complete the Sniper's Insanity Class Challenge, the drone plays a whole lot different.
Higher firerate, full enemy penetration, and bonus damage per enemy penetrated?
The drone becomes an absolute monster of a machine (according to Tactu at least).
At that point... You might as well let the drone play the game for ya :P