What could Respawn change about Lifeline to address her unpopularity?
The Lifeline buff that arrived on Tuesday has not gone far enough to restore her popularity, according to the community.
Before her major nerf in Season 9, Lifeline was one of the most picked legends in game. This applied even at the top level of ranked. Major ranked grinders like NRG Rogue were maining Lifeline in ranked, and she was a very popular legend.
This saw Lifeline’s pickrate rise to over 10%. So far in Season 13 (Apex Legends Pick Rates), her pick rate has reached a record low of 5%.
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Lifeline relegated to irrelevance
The reasons for Lifeline’s demise are two fold. Firstly, the removal of her Revive Shield in Season 9 really damaged her kit. At the time there was a lot of player frustration about the revive mechanic.
Lifeline’s shield did not have health, and because the revive was a passive ability, it had no cooldown. This meant that Lifeline could revive over and over again. Strong Lifeline players could use their reviving teammates as cover, and play around the shield to survive for frustratingly long amounts of time.
Secondly, Lifeline has been surpassed by other legends. Gibraltar gets fast revive in his Dome of Protection, Newcastle has the Retrieve the Wounded passive that allows him to drag people around, protecting them with a knockdown shield.
What is most notable about these legends is that they are simply far more useful in other situations thanks to their other abilities too.
Gibraltar is a very popular legend in pro play because his dome is flexible, it can be used in offensive and defensive ways. Not just for reviving. Newcastle has two strong abilities in the Castle Wall and his Mobile Shield. Both are more powerful, and more fun to use, than Lifeline’s Care Package and D.O.C Heal Drone.
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Lifeline Buff does not address the real issue
The Lifeline buff, as contained in the Season 13 mid-season patch notes does improve her kit. However, it does not address the fundamental issue that her kit is just outplayed by other legends and mechanics.
The Care package cooldown has been reduced, and the visibility to enemy teams has been reduced. You also get a battery instead of cells as well. Yet, with a Loba Black Market you can choose your loot, get unlimited ammo and prioritise attachments.
The cooldown on a Loba’s Black Market is much shorter, much quicker to deploy and more flexible. Replicating batteries is also easy, so you are very rarely going to benefit from the battery in the care pack.
Her revive has only been slightly changed, and it now allows players to quit the revive. This is to help them survive if found mid revive, allowing them to pull out their knockdown shield. Certainly, this is an improvement however while in the revive animation your camera looks down on you. This means it is hard to see enemy players approaching and thus hard to know when to stop the revive. This change does nothing to bring parity with Newcastle or Gibraltar’s abilities.
The best part of this Lifeline buff is undoubtedly the change to the D.O.C heal drone. The healing radius has been doubled. Plus there is now unlimited health that the drone can distribute. However, the time the drone stays up is still 20 seconds.
Drone heals enemy players
This Lifeline buff could have some unintended consequences. The Lifeline drone’s increased radius means that it is able to be used more as a combat heal. You can move around a lot more while being healed in theory. But, D.O.C is indiscriminate in who they heal. This means that using the Lifeline drone in close quarters fighting will negate your advantage because the enemy will heal too.
This relegates the Lifeline drone back to a fast reset or a sitting in the corner mid fight while you heal revive. Frankly this Lifeline buff doesn’t make this any better – unless all your teammates are all hurt and all need to heal at once. In those situations however if no one is shooting the enemy or showing a presence, they will probably push you and kill you very quickly (or share your drone!).
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Lifeline buff should’ve been a rework
Instead of the small, and largely insignificant changes to Lifeline – fans were wishing that Respawn would commit to reworking the character. Apex really lacks a strong combat healer, not a reviver, a healer. Think Mercy in Overwatch or Sage in Valorant.
Many Apex players look to the flashpoint LTM. They suggest the mechanics could inspire a Lifeline rework for her ultimate. This would be far more effective than the current Lifeline buff we received.
As a reminder, the Flashpoint LTM involved domes that healed you passively while you were inside them. If Lifeline could call down, or place a healing ‘beacon’, this would allow a team to quickly heal and reset, as well as take fights. The speed of healing, the range, the cooldown and all the other details would need to be left to the professionals at Respawn. But the idea really would help Lifeline revive her popularity.
Plus, there really is a gap in Apex Legends for healers. Apex has plenty of offensive and support legends, there is also a growing number of defensive legends – but Lifeline is the only healer and she is sub par. Let’s hope that the next Lifeline buff puts her back in the meta once more.
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