Respawn’s John Larson shares rare insights on balancing legends and community feedback in 2 hour Apex Uncut
Apex’s Live Balance Team’s Jaybiebs joined the Apex Uncut Podcast. We broke down the 2 hour podcast and give you the dev’s main points surrounding apex balance.
Apex Uncut published an 2 hour podcast with one of Apex's live balance team members John "Jaybiebs" Larson. They covered a variety of topics from the state of the game to balancing. The podcast was super informative and content heavy, so we are here to break the podcast down.
The Apex community and giving feedback
The Apex community is amazing, but typically there are complaints that the devs don't listen. However, it is on the contrary. The Dev's listen to the community, however toxic bandwagoning isn't the best method. Jaybeibs explained that "listening to feedback from the community is heavily dependent on how people approach giving feedback".
Hate bandwagoning doesn't help anyone. By providing "well thought out and reasoned arguments" while still maintaining a weapon's identity or how a Legend feels is the best way to communicate with the developers.
"Listening to feedback from the community is heavily dependent on how people approach giving feedback"
Too much utility from Caustic's traps
Also joining Jaybiebs on the Apex Uncut podcast was Cloud9's Zach "Zach" Mazer. He brought up our favorite Gas Trap launching Legend, Caustic. Zach explained that regardless of the nerfs, his crowd control abilities, Caustic is still viable in competitive play.
Zach also compares Caustic to Wattson, as Caustic's ability to hold down a building pales in comparison to Wattson. Jaybeibs replied that due to Caustic's Gas offering so much utility with the slow, damage and the vision obstruction. Balancing all three of these aspects tends to be an challenge for the dev team.
As Jaybiebs explains to the professional player "how important gas damage is for people who aren't as good as you". As a result, finding that balance of all three of those aspects for both the casual and competitive players poses a unique challenge.
Balancing Revenant pushes
During the Apex Uncut Podcast, questions regarding the Revenant and Octane composition that currently plagues the game. Jaybiebs explained that "Rev is a cool character, that's the thing. The fantasy is cool, and the goal of these last changes was to lean into that more and give him individual power because he sucks individually".
There is some truth to Jaybieb's statement, Revenant was not as popular and viable as he was now. The community is frustrated with Revenant due to the near subtlety of a Revenant push. Jaybiebs explained that the dev team is looking towards finding new ways to provide awareness towards the totem. In a similar way to how a Loba Ult or a Bloodhound Scan can be seen or heard by nearby squads.
"Rev is a cool character, that's the thing. The fantasy is cool, and the goal of these last changes was to lean into that more and give him individual power because he sucks individually".
Gilbraltar's low pick but high win rates
According to some statistics, in casual play, Gibby falls in a category of low pick rate but high win rate. However in competitive and high level play, he is picked in almost every team composition. There s a significant challenge when it comes to changing the Legend, as he already has a low pick rate but also offers a lot of control with his kit
. "I love the bubble, I think its a really cool ability in how many ways it can shape fights and influence engagements". During the Apex Uncut podcast, Zach, Jaybiebs and The Fortnite Guy spit-balled ideas to improve Gibby's pick rate.
The ideas were small tweaks to his dome shield to help increase his pick rate ever so slightly, without making him too broken. However, he is "3rd or 4th most picked in Diamond and up ranks", and so tweaking him must lean towards a lower ranked player base.
Rebalancing Bloodhound's Scan
On the topics of small tweaks, Zach brought up the recent Bloodhound nerf. In the past, his scan ability would reveal nearby enemies for 4 seconds, however this "reveal" was shortened to 3 seconds. According to Zach, this small nerf won't affect Bloodhound's pick rate and win rates.
Jaybiebs explains that due to the "fact that fights revolve so heavily around that ability is frustrating and there is room for improvement". Zach also mentioned a potential change, in that instead of a full 3 seconds of vision, there can be a certain amount of flashes that show positions rather than entire movement. With fights relying so heavily on the vision that he provides, the dev team is looking to maybe spice things up.
Upcoming changes to Wattson
In a Twitter thread about Wattson between pro players and devs, Jaybiebs backs up what has already been said. Jaybeibs explained was that "there is a difference between user feedback which is the impression of a character and user behavior which equates to the stats.
As the thread mentions, "She isn't fun to use, but there's a lof of invisible power", but more importantly the "upcoming changes to Wattson won't be a straight up buff, it will likely need to include a nerf".
On topic of future changes, the dev team is also looking at ways to change Wattson's nodes and their efficacy in Arenas.
Crypto and his Niche
With a low pick rate, Crypto is considered a niche off meta legend. However with the right team to play around him, his potential is nothing to scoff at. In a fast paced FPS shooter, "people just run and shoot bad guys", and Crypto doesn't play like that. When it comes to balancing him, there is a unique challenge. As there is a need to find ways to streamline swapping between the drone and the player and keeping both Crypto and the drone balanced with each other.
Bangalore and her struggles in the meta
When asked about a typically overlooked legends, Jaybiebs answered that there are some legends that have untapped potential. The Dev explained that due to the nature of the Bloodhound-rich meta, Bangalore struggles as her smokescreen becomes obsolete.
“Her ult is one of the strongest in the game and then the smoke, now that it’s nice and thick”. Zach also adds onto this idea, that Bangalore offers a great amount of stall with her multiple smoke grenades as well as a huge AoE ultimate. When asked which legend represents "perfect balance", JayBiebs replied Bangalore, praising the character's toolkit.