I have recently played and enjoyed many hero shooters such as Apex Legends, Overwatch and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. The thing that keeps me addicted is their amazingly well-developed and enjoyable characters. However, fans of Apex Legends, in particular, may remember some of their favourite characters first release as a colossal disappointment and wonder why developers can’t just release balanced and fun heroes.
Respawn needs you to buy these characters. Servers aren’t just run on the developer’s hopes and dreams. Games need money in order to update the content and stay alive. That’s one of the most significant points for releasing brand new legends overpowered. Are you going to spend money on a character if it wouldn’t help you win any matches? Therefore, Respawn purposely releases Legends in a state where you feel you can’t play without them.
What is a Meta?
A Meta is essentially an “agreed-upon strategy by the community” that is considered the most effective way to win or yield the best performance. This is how YouTubers can rely on making a tier list for weapons and characters every month.
A present example of a problem Respawn faces is with their character, Wattson, the fan favourite french defence queen. A significant chunk of the fanbase is asking for her to be buffed. This is due to all her abilities being designed around bunkering down and holding a position. However, Apex Legends is designed to be a fast-paced game, so this legend struggles to find a place among the others.
Wattson is virtually unplayable as there is always a better option, and the devs might be scared to buff her from what happened last time. In Season 7, Caustic became a must-pick as he countered the meta. Throughout this season, the meta focused on high movement and close-quarter shotgun battles. It even earned the name, Mastiff Legends, titled after a shotgun in the game.
Everyone enjoyed the season, except if you came face to face with a Caustic, as they could bunker down with gas traps and unleash death on an entire squad when provoked. Obviously, this led to a large increase of people who picked Caustic. To counter this, Respawn immediately hit Caustic with a nerf to help the meta, and most of the player base was happy. So, the developers could run into similar problems if they buffed Wattson. Questions like these plague the developers constantly, making the game incredibly difficult to balance.
Balance Was Never An Option
Respawn is making a game for the players, and a truly balanced game wouldn’t be enjoyable in the long run. Rock, Paper, Scissors is the method used to balance most games. One technique will beat another but loses to the other. However, balancing games like Apex Legends is more like Chess than Rock, Paper, Scissors.
The aim is to make every character feel like a viable option. The developers want to avoid the good and bad character stereotypes, but it’s not always that easy. It’s up to the player base to make the Legends great. If Bangalore pops a cloud of smoke to stop enemies from seeing her, then Bloodhound can counter this by using his scan ability to see her location. However, there are legends like Mirage who don’t counter other Legends. Instead, their abilities are more like gimmicks. A good player can make strategies with Mirage, but Bloodhound will be a more strategic pick at the end of the day.
Fortunately, the meta changes every season. While your favourite character may not be in the limelight now, it could be in the future. Apex Legends is currently in its tenth season, and you can get it on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC via Origin and Steam.