Could a change to the infamous aim assist be on the way?
Apex devs have confirmed that they are considering an Apex aim assist nerf. The topic of aim assist has been a hot topic in the Apex Legends community for years, and there might finally be changes on the horizon.
However, no changes are coming at the start of Season 18. Sources have told esports.gg that any changes will not come before the ALGS Championship which takes place in September.
Issues with Aim assist becoming more apparent to devs
Speaking at the ALGS Season 18 preview event for media, press and content creators devs confirmed that a potential Aim assist nerf was on their agenda.
"We're definitely looking at aim assist. We don't have any changes at this time but it is something we definitely want to address. I think it has become more apparent, the reason the SMG meta is the way it is, is because of Controller."
Developers did go on to emphasise just how technically challenging it is to make adjustments to the aim assist algorithm. It isn't just as simple as lowering a slider tune aim assist down from the current "0.4" value to something else.
"If you could see the amount of code behind every trigger pull, it would probably blow your mind a little bit".
In addition, it was explained how long a change to something so fundamental takes to progress through the the live game. There was an implication that changes are being worked on, but are not yet at a stage where Respawn feel comfortable pushing them out.
It was emphasised that any changes made have to be "healthy" and an "improvement to the game".
Apex aim assist nerf coming in through balancing for now
While Season 18 will not have an Apex aim assist nerf, Respawn are addressing the imbalance between inputs.
Currently the weapon meta is exaggerating the issue with aim assist. Clearly, there are pros and cons to both inputs. Each has their relative strengths, and weaknesses. Mouse and Keyboard players can access better movement techniques, and are often stronger at longer range.
Meanwhile the small adjustments that aim assist does for you makes Controller deadly at close range. Of course, this is speaking in general and not about professional players.
The strength of SMGs in Apex therefore heavily benefits controller players more than Mouse and Keyboard players. When Shotguns were more prevalent, there was a lot less discourse about an Apex aim assist nerf being needed.
Shotgun buff and SMG nerf
That is why Respawn are seeking to rebalance inputs with some of their changes in Season 18.
- The Mastiff is getting a tighter spread.
- Disruptor rounds are back, and will be going on the Peacekeeper and Alternator.
- There is a recoil and ammo capacity nerf to the R99.
- All SMGs are getting reduced strafe speed and headshot multiplier is being reduced too.
- The Prowler is back in the Carepackage.
These changes will help to address the close range SMG meta, which will indirectly move the balance away from controller players a little bit.
Consistency is key
Of course, the debate about an Apex aim assist nerf will rage on indefinitely. In ALGS, Controller players feel as if they are in the absolute ascendency. Almost every new talent that emerges into the tier one scene is on Controller. There have also been several big name input swaps, including the likes of ImperialHal, Frexs and Lou.
While the existing Mouse and Keyboard players still hold their weight statistically, their currently feels like there is no demand for any new Mouse and Keyboard talent in ALGS.
Why is this the case? On top of the meta being favourable to Controller, the other reason is consistency. Controller players can reliably do more damage in those close engagements. When there are 15 teams alive in the third zone, almost all fights are close quarters. That means that it feels much more useful to have that consistency.
Additionally, Shotguns were a lot more prevalent when we had a Gibraltar meta. Bubblefights really suited some of the benefits that being on 'M&K' gives you.
In some regards it is also a self fulfilling prophecy. The more controller players there are, the more you feel like you need to be on controller.
Then for casual players, it takes less time to reach a decent standard on controller than it does on Mouse and Keyboard. That means that players find themselves dying to "low level" players, which feeds a narrative that controller is easy thanks to Apex aim assist.
What will happen next?
For now, Respawn devs and Apex players will be left to see what happens with the changes to Shotguns and SMGs. Will that address the balance enough, that aim assist can stay as it is?
Or, will the hinted Apex aim assist nerf that Respawn are exploring make its way to the live game after the ALGS Championship in September?
For more on the latest Apex updates, keep an eye on our Season 18 patch notes article for all the upcoming changes.