A dev thread about the new Genesis Event sparked a conversation between the devs and community around Wattson.
The Calm before the Storm
Following the Genesis Collection Event, a dev thread popped up on Twitter from one of Apex' Balance Designers (which has since been deleted). The thread was focused on feedback and future improvements that the community could give back. However, the thread sparked a interesting debate regarding Wattson. In the patch notes, a Wattson received a "major buff", which was intended as a joke but wasn't too well received by the community.
Major Buff: Wattson can now place more than one Nessie on the map at a time with her Epic emote.
The Apex community from artists to streamers to competitive players all love Wattson ever since her release in season 2. Her design, skins, voice acting and overall vibe make her a great Legend.
However, as most of the community agrees, her kit is lacking which we explain in our legend tier list. As a result of her lacklustre abilities she is rarely picked.
There are few master level Wattson players that can dominate lobbies, however they pale in comparison to more popular legends like Wraith or Octane.
Community members explained on the dev thread that Wattson's popularity comes from the character design, rather than her kit. That "if she didn't have a great design, voice actor, personality, a lot of Wattson mains would not even main her". The statement resonated with the community, and provoked a discussion with Daniel Zenon Klein, a lead developer at Respawn.
"If she didn't have a great design, voice actor, personality a lot of Wattson mains would not even main her."
The Response from the Developers regarding Wattson
The Lead game designer for Apex explained on the dev thread that she outperforms Wraith and Lifeline in terms of win rate. However, she is low in popularity due to her abilities not being fun and their power not being felt. Additionally, the dev explains that they measure the "power" of a legend for balancing, rather than how they "feel". By this, we can assume that power means a combination of win rates and pick rates. Additionally, according to the tweet they have plans to nerf some of her abilities.
Following that NRG's Sweet joined the discussion on the dev thread. He explained that Wattson players tend not to hot drop and play hyper aggressive like Wraiths or Lifelines. So, it is likely that Wattson's high win rate is due to a less aggressive playstyle which compliments her kit. Thus, the view that Wattson is in a good spot right now is due to niche population of master Wattson players' playstyle than her kit. Sweet was also involved in a discussion earlier this week, calling for action to be taken on fixing Apex Ranked.
Unfortunately, the discussion between NRG. Sweet and DanielzKlein doesn't go on for much longer. But this brings up a good discussion between two views of the community towards balancing issues. From the one side, there are the devs and the other the players. But, at the end of the day, this discussion only occurs because we all love Apex from the bottom of our hearts and we want the best for the game.