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"Gordon, I can't move! These snipers got me pinned down!"
Barney Calhoun[src]

The Overwatch Sniper is a soldier in the Combine Overwatch, trained in the use of the Overwatch Sniper Rifle. Snipers are encountered hiding in high, concealed areas where they can get a good field of view. They are never seen holding their rifle but the blue transparent sighting beam emitting from it is. They can be detected by the beam or by the sound of the rifle firing on another target. Gameplay-wise, it succeeds the HECU Sniper featured in Half-Life.


Snipers are very accurate, and will fire ahead of any moving target so the pulse from the rifle hits them dead on. However, it is possible to confuse the sniper by running in one direction until he fires, then suddenly changing direction, then repeating the same process again until they reach cover. The round travels so much slower than other bullets that sidestepping the shot is quite easy at long range. However, even in Easy mode snipers will take leading shots(shooting to the direction the target is supposed to go) and in Hard, they almost have a guaranteed hit, and will take you down in 2-3 shots without armor. They will also shoot breakable objects to limit the amount of cover the target can use.

Snipers seem to take the doctrine "shoot anything that moves" quite literally, shooting at any living creature (except allied Combine forces), such as birds, and even signs.


Snipers usually set up in well fortified 'nests', effectively invulnerable to ordinary gunfire. Explosives are a different matter, however, and if the player can get close enough, a hand grenade will blow the sniper out of his hole nicely. This can be easier said than done, however, because if the sniper spots the player before they're within range, which is often the case, they'll have to avoid his fire to get close enough. Closing the cap can prove to be painful due to the projectile speed of the sniper rifle, sprinting while strafing will increase the likelihood for snipers to miss their shots. The MP7's secondary fire and Resistance RPG rockets are also ideal and can substitute for grenades. If one can manage it, it might also be worth practicing using the Gravity Gun as a grenade launcher to extend the distance of his grenades. In Episode One if the player grabs an allied orange Rollermine and throws it right in the window where a sniper is, the Rollermine will take it out in no time. Hacked rollermine can also be used as a distraction as the sniper will target the rollermine if the player is out of sight.

Snipers will try to expose the player from cover if they're hiding behind light or breakable objects by shooting them. Even unbreakable objects such as barrels can be knocked some distance by the impact of the bullet. Due to its immense power, a bullet that hit into an unbreakable object will knock off from the Gravity Gun. Sniper will shoot explosive barrels if the player is close enough to them; theoretically, it is possible to take out sniper using explosive barrel if the player has no other explosives, but it is highly dangerous to do so because of this.

Though the player never gets an opportunity to use the weapon, Alyx Vance occupies a sniper's nest and uses the rifle on two separate occasions:

  • In Episode One, Alyx uses a sniper rifle to aid Gordon Freeman in an area of City 17. However, Gordon does not see her holding the sniper rifle as she becomes hidden in the same way as an Overwatch Sniper.
  • In Episode Two, Alyx again uses a sniper rifle to aid Gordon as he travels through a zombie-infested mining complex. This time, though, the rifle is visible to the player before they descend into the complex. It is in a fixed emplacement in a window, suggesting that the recoil of the weapon makes firing it freehand difficult, or simply as a form of control to prevent it from being taken by the player. Another reason why it may be bolted to the window is because of its immense size; it is as big and as cumbersome as an RPG Launcher. This could also explain why the weapon is never knocked out of sniper's nests by explosions. Also worth noting is the fact that it had to be recharged by a Vortigaunt before it would function. Some players have found a bug during this sequence: If the player manages to detonate any form of explosive in the sniper's nest Alyx is supposedly occupying, the corpse of a Combine Soldier will inexplicably fly out. This could be explained in that it is probably that the developers simply changed the specific sniper NPC to read Combine and zombies as enemies and Gordon as an ally. Therefore, it is the same NPC, just with different readings on who to shoot.

Behind the scenes

Sniper rtb

Concept art for a female/robot-like Overwatch Sniper, designed by Ted Backman.

  • Early concept art of the snipers reveal that they might have been female at some point, and much more robotic. They were to work in concert with an early version of the Overwatch Elite.[1] It likely refers to the Elite model from the leak, since it uses a sniper rifle.
  • According to some early sound files,[2] it seems that the Half-Life 2 episode where Barney is pinned down by an Overwatch Sniper was to involve instead a platoon of Conscripts, lead by a particular officer, pinned down by a Sniper equipped with a "bolt action rifle".[2]
  • The Combine Sniper Elite was originally to use a special camouflage that would allow it to blend in with its surroundings. However, by the time the Half-Life 2 Beta was leaked, the camo is either broken or been removed, as the Sniper looks like a multicolored blob with a gas mask on the top of it, the transparency being improperly rendered. Of note is that the Sniper's model is named "combine_elite.mdl". In the final game, the Overwatch Elite is an entirely different unit.
  • In sniper_029 the sniper was to originally use a Resistance RPG though its only used as a scripted sequence. When a Conscript runs to take cover by a Chevrolet Caprice the sniper notices this and fired a rocket at the Conscript killing him and blowing up the vehicle blocking the path. It was only used in this scripted sequence and never appeared in the snipers code.


  • "Shit!"
  • "Look out!"
  • "Watch it!"
  • "It's a grenade!"
  • "Bouncer, bouncer!"


  • If spawned using console commands, the Sniper's model is a normal Overwatch Soldier which the sighting beam emitting right in front of the soldier's groin. This is because it was never meant to be seen by the player, so the appearance is most likely a placeholder. As well, the NPC is immune to bullet fire, and can only be killed by explosives or AR2's alt fire. When it is killed it will always be propelled forward by the mechanism they use fall out of the nests in-game. It is also worth noting that the Sniper's placeholder model will collide with grenades or any other object thrown at it, making spawned Snipers a bit harder to kill if the player spawns them in a "nest".
  • If the ammo cartridge for the sniper rifle is spawned using console commands, the texture on the ammo box is pink with the repeating words "OBSO1337" ("leetspeak" for obsolete) wrapped around it. The box, however, cannot be picked up as the game doesn't recognize it as ammunition
  • Originally the player was intended to use the Overwatch Sniper's rifle. However, it was replaced by the Resistance-built crossbow.
  • The sound-script for the Overwatch Sniper references the names of sound files that indicate that snipers were originally to talk over their radios, similar to the normal Overwatch Soldiers. Within these, sniper refers to itself as "scalpel", in keeping with the medical terminology used by the Combine.
  • Combine snipers are programmed to try and flush players out of hiding places. If the player is hiding behind a wall, and the Sniper can see an explosive barrel near a player, it will shoot the barrel, showing off a fairly dynamic A.I.


List of appearances


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