Apex Legends released a balance patch for all platforms on March 8. Respawn community manager Jay Frechette has been especially communicative via the Apex Legends subreddit. This week, he provided fans with patch notes, and more importantly, insight into Respawn’s philosophy about balance.
This week, the Wingman and Peacekeeper were both tweaked to try to reduce their strength.
The Wingman’s rate of fire has been reduced from 3.1 to 2.6 shots per second, and the base hip fire spread was increased with a slower decay rate in place. There was also a tweak to the headshot damage multiplier when using the Skullpiercier mod, from 2.5 to 2.25. What does all of this mean? In the hands of a skilled player, the Wingman is still going to be deadly.
Similarly, the Peacekeeper’s rechamber rate was reduced with the Shotgun Bolt mod in place, at each tier of the Bolt. This means if you’re using this particular shotgun, you will want to make each shot count. Again, less of an issue for a skilled player.
The availability of these top tier weapons has been reduced, while the availability of energy weapons and ammo has been increased. Good news for fans of the Devotion and Havoc!
There were also some disconnect issues that were addressed, hopefully reducing the number of players who exit games as anything other than winners or, er, losers.
What’s Coming Soon
Respawn also discussed changes coming at the start of Season 1, which is anticipated to start this month.
There will be some reductions to hitboxes for Caustic, Pathfinder, and Gibraltar. There will also be some changes to Legend abilities:
- Caustic’s Traps will have a shorter cooldown, a larger radius and proximity radius, and the delay on smoke damage will be removed.
- Two additional beacons will be added for use with Pathfinder’s Insider Knowledge.
- Lifeline’s Care Package will no longer have a chance to drop level 4 armor and helmets.
- The cooldown on Wraith’s Into the Void will be increased by five seconds.
- Bangalore’s Double Time will grant a slightly smaller move speed bonus: 30% instead of 40%
These are small changes that will require some testing by players to determine how significant an impact they have.
As per Respawn’s Year 1 Roadmap, Season 1 will also include at least one new Legend, new weapons, loot, cosmetics, and a Battle Pass. The FAQ for the Battle Pass indicates each season will run for roughly three months, with approximately one hundred different rewards (including Apex Packs and exclusive cosmetics).
In line with Respawn’s desire for transparency, the company shared the logic behind the current and forthcoming game balancing.
The overall approach the team expressed regarding balancing the game is that they would rather “make less frequent, better tested, higher impact balance changes in order to minimize the impacts on your time spent mastering the game.” Rather than use the huge player base to playtest changes, with quick tweaks in response to player feedback, the team is focused on trying to get it right first, and then releasing it. This is good news for players who are practicing specific characters or weapons and don’t want to have to relearn them with frequent patches.
Regarding weapons, Respawn wants to ensure there is a power curve in the game’s armory. They want there to be weapons that range from very available and barely better than melee to quite rare and strong. This makes sense: if every weapon is equally viable, the urgency of acquiring equipment is reduced. That strips the game of one of its key components!
Respawn aspires to a cast of characters with distinct toolkits and hitboxes, but that are also “roughly equal in power level, win rate and viability of pick.” The developer expressed a desire not to simply make all the hitboxes the same, for example, but instead to balance having a larger hitbox with a more powerful set of abilities.
What does this all mean? Respawn’s listening to player feedback as well as monitoring the game’s statistics. They’re using a cautious approach to changes, which makes sense given the current approval fans have for the game. Making wild or sloppy changes now could destroy some of the goodwill Apex Legends has been gifted.
More importantly, Respawn is following through on their pattern of communication. The developer remains committed to interacting with the large community, to checking in to let us know where they are right now and let us know that they see and hear us.
Expect news regarding the Season 1 release to come soon. In the meantime, let Hotspawn know on social media whether or not the weapon balance changes have changed your opinion of the Wingman and Peacekeeper!