The skill build I used in my Borderlands 2 video walkthrough is what I call a 'power sniping' build that had all the following skills in the Sniping Skill tree maxed out upon reaching level 32:
Here's a rundown of all these skills and how I found them useful:
- Headshot — When maxed out with 5 skill points, this skill will give you 20% extra damage on all critical hit shots on all weapons. This may not seem like such a great bonus but remember that many damage bonuses in Borderlands 2 add or 'stack' on top of one of another as you acquire them. By the time you get high up in the Assassin class Sniping skill tree, you'll find yourself one-shotting many enemies when making critical hits on account of all your accumulated damage bonuses.
Be that as it may, you may find it to your advantage to start the Sniping skill tree on the right branch starting skill Optics which will greatly increase your aim steadiness when under fire. This will be more useful to new players who are still trying to get the hang of sniping. Then once you're at level 11 and able to begin working on a Tier 2 skill, you can respec your skill points into Headshot and put your next skill point into Killer. Killer damage bonuses will stack on top of Headshot damage bonuses making a significant difference in your gameplay.
- Killer — This skill (when maxed) will give you 50% bonus critical hit damage and 75% faster reload speed on all weapon types for eight seconds after every kill. You'll know that you've activated it when you see a little yellow hexagonal indicator appear at the bottom of the screen just below the right end of the XP progress bar.
A good trick to remember when activating the Killer skill is to quickly reload all your weapons (if need be) while the Killer skill is activated to take advantage of the enhanced reload speed while it's in effect.
- One Shot One Kill — Gives you up to 60% bonus damage (critical hit not required) on all weapon types for the first shot fired from a fully loaded magazine. This is especially useful for snipers since your attack plan is typically centered around single well placed shots. Simply reload your sniper rifle after every shot to take advantage of this bonus. Works very well with the enhanced reload bonus of the Killer skill, e.g., get a kill with bonus damage, quickly reload, acquire another target, get another kill with bonus damage from both Killer and One Shot One Kill, quickly reload, acquire another target, etc.
- Bore — Referred to in the official game guide as a 'gamechanger' skill, Bore accomplishes two things. First, it highlights all enemy critical hit spots in red whenever Deception is active. This is very useful for those new to the game who are not familiar with enemy critical hit points. Secondly, Bore will allow your shots to pierce through enemies and damage any enemies in line behind them causing 100% bonus damage. The latter of these two effects is only moderately useful as enemies are not lined up very often to allow you to capitalise on Bore bonus damage.
You will however find instances when you can strafe left or right a little bit in order to purposely line up enemies for Bore bonus damage. This takes good sniping skills as you will be using up precious Deception time to line up these special 'trick shots'. Note that it is not necessary to spend a point on the Bore skill in order to work your way down to the bottom of the Sniping skill tree. Hence advanced players who don't wish to take advantage of Bore bonus damage can save a skill point by skipping over Bore altogether.
- Kill Confirmed — This skill will give you bonus critical hit damage while scoping a weapon or aiming down the iron sights. The longer you scope, the more bonus damage you get. A counter will appear just above the XP progress bar every time you aim down the sights of a weapon (any weapon). The counter will count up to 5 at approximately one-second intervals. Once you hit 5, you'll be getting 50% extra critical hit damage on all shots as long as you keep aiming down the sights. As soon as you stop aiming, you lose the bonus damage. Aiming your gun again will restart the counter. The bonus damage from this can stack with other crit hit bonus damage including that gained from using Deception.
A good strategy is to deploy Deception and then immediately scope a sniper rifle and wait for the counter to reach 5 and then immediately take a shot to get a ton of bonus critical hit damage. Your timing however will have to be spot on as there will only be a split second after the Kill Confirmed timer hits 5 and your Deception countdown timer runs out. An alternate strategy you could use to give you more time is to scope your sniper rifle first then deploy Deception while your weapon is scoped to give you a bigger window of opportunity between when the Kill Confirmed timer hits 5 and your Deception timer runs out.
- Velocity — I recommend this instead of the next skill in the Sniping skill tree, At One with the Gun as Velocity will give you an extra 15% critical hit damage with all guns as well as an extra 10% regular damage and 100% faster bullet speed. The latter of these refers to the skill's namesake and essentially means you won't have to lead moving targets as much. Putting five points into this skill while having Kill Confirmed maxed will unlock the capstone skill Critical Ascension allowing you to effectively skip over the At One with the Gun skill
- Critical Ascension — The Critical Ascension skill will allow you to stack up critical hit and regular damage with sniper rifles by rapidly scoring critical hits. You get 6% bonus crit hit damage per stack and 5% bonus regular damage per stack. A little counter will appear above the XP progress bar on your screen indicating how many bonus damage stacks you managed to build up. Although it doesn't matter if you miss making a critical hit now and then, the stacking bonus damage begins to decay quickly in the absence of any further critical hits.
Typically, by the time you're able to activate this skill, you're usually one-shotting most enemies on account of stacking critical hit damage bonuses you're enjoying from other skills. Hence, Critical Ascension is only really useful on the tougher enemies you'll be facing in True Vault Hunter Mode (Playthrough 2). For Playthrough 1, you might want to hold off on spending a skill point here and put it instead into At One with the Gun to get faster reload speed and an increased magazine size for your sniper rifles.