Season 2 of Apex Legends is almost here, and there are a number of big changes incoming. Here we will discuss all of the incoming buffs, nerfs, and additions to see how they will fit into the current state of the game.
The notes can be found here at EA where Sean Slayback, the principal weapons designer for the game at Respawn, gives a brief rundown of what is to come. The short version is that the L-Star weapon is being added, along with new hop-ups, buffed weapons, adjusted airdrops for late game, and a big nerf to all the shotgun lovers out there, as well as the Arc Star.
New Weapon: The L-STAR
The good news is that this season brings some nostalgia with the L-STAR (Lastimosa Armory Assault Rifle) from Titanfall 2. It looks to be a powerful LMG, with large, high-damage projectiles that that fire at a fast cyclic rate.
Its main benefit for players appears to be that the large projectile is forgiving to poor aim. At close range, this means that spray-and-pray will work more often than with other weapons, but at a distance players need to lead their targets for the slower-moving shots to meet their target.
The bad news comes in two parts. First, the L-STAR overheats quickly if players hold the trigger down too long. If this happens, the lens will break and needs to be replaced, which takes some time.
Second, and perhaps most important, is that the L-STAR only spawns in Mastiff and the Kraber airdrops, and comes with a limited ammo supply that can't be refilled. We can only speculate for right now, but the idea of a weapon running out of ammunition and then being useless for the rest of the game is troubling.
Even if the L-Star is powerful, imagine being in an unexpected confrontation and running out of ammunition early in the fight. You might be little more than deadweight for your team unless you happen to find something else nearby, but we all know that in the current state of the game, you can scavenge an entire area and find few items of use.
Once the season begins we will have a better idea of what this all means. For now it feels as though a player will locate an L-Star in a late game airdrop, the first people he runs into will be unfortunately mowed down, and the spent weapon will be promptly discarded.
Buffs And New Hop-Ups
The developers have talked about bringing some weapons to par with others, and this is how they have chosen to implement that plan. First, here are the official notes on the subject:
- Disruptor Rounds: Increased shielded damage. Compatibility: Alternator, RE-45
- Hammerpoint Rounds: Increased unshielded damage. Compatibility: P2020, Mozambique
This, along with the currently unspecified buffs to the Flatline, P2020, Alternator, and Triple Take, are sure to shake up how players engage with the early game.
The two hop-ups will modify rounds that are used from four of the lighter starting weapons, so there is an argument to be made for a change to the meta. The Disruptor Rounds hop-up is for the Alternator and the RE-45, and the Hammerpoint Rounds hop-up can be used with the P2020 and the Mozambique.
New Attachments: Energy Mags
Energy Mag attachments have been added for the Havoc, Devotion, and Triple Take. Like other magazine attachments, Energy Mags increase ammo capacity. In addition, Energy max stack has been increased from 60-80, to match Light and Heavy ammo. Now might be a great time to start experimenting with Energy weapons a bit more!
Shotgun Nerfs And The Arc Star
Strictly speaking, shotguns themselves are exactly the same. Practically speaking, they might be in a bad spot as their Ammo Stack size has been chopped down by 75% from 64 to 16. The reasoning for this is that "Apex players need to strike a fine balance between loading their backpacks with ammo, and holding other items for emergency or utility purposes. In a couple cases, we felt the stack sizes weren't well-balanced, so we tweaked."
Tweak is one heck of an understatement. By sacrificing an entire backpack slot, you will now have half as much shotgun ammo as you did with one previous slot. This change may be too severe, but we will not know until the season gets underway. Dedicated shotgun users will likely adapt, but it certainly feels like an overkill solution for something that was not really a problem.
Online, people are describing the nerf to the ammo stack as similar to the various nerfs the pump-shotgun received in Fortnite. The nerfs in that case were to double-pump, but the practicality of their usage was also affected. Hopefully shotguns still have a place in Apex Legends.
Meanwhile, the Arc Star is being adjusted simply to help avoid those situations where players feel as though one bad hit ends everything for them a bit unfairly. To avoid these "spikes," the ignition delay is up from 2.5 to 2.8, sticking a full health player will now down them, and thankfully, players at the edge of the explosion no longer lose all their shields. Overall, this change seems fair and balanced.
Late Game Buff: Airdrop Weapons
Airdrop packages will no longer destroy the hopes and dreams of players by dropping early game trash. The packages will now draw from updated loot tables that shift depending on the different phases of the game, be it early, mid, or late. Players can therefore expect more Krabers in early and mid-game airdrops, while endgame airdrops will provide more Mastiffs.
Analysis: What Does It Mean For Season 2?
The L-Star is the big question mark for the time being. If it is too good, players may come to look upon it with disdain as RNG doles the weapon out to some lucky few, but not others. Even the limited ammo may not be a comfort, since a player may be dead anyways.
On the other hand, the limited ammo may be the best way to keep the weapon balanced. If we recall the introduction of the P90 into Fortnite, that weapon felt like a beast to even novice players, and was eventually nerfed. For the L-Star to feel like the awesome weapon from Titanfall 2, maybe limited ammo is the perfect balance. Again, we can only speculate for now.
The unspecified weapon buffs and new hop-ups are sure to change the early game for the better. For too long now has the Mozambique been trash, and now we might see it come into play. It is a bit strange that the developers did not give us the details about how some of these early game weapons will be powered up, so again we have only speculation to go on.
The shotgun ammo stack nerf is going to hit enthusiast of the weapon hard, and might make them irrelevant. There is a chance that since this decrease is so high, we might see some kind of reversion, or buff to the nerf. Making the ammo stacks go from 64 to 32 feels like it would be a far more balanced approach.
Finally, the airdrop loot tables shifting for mid and late game feel like a substantial improvement to how a late game should feel. Hopefully we will see some bigger, more exciting fights as those teams who duke it out in the late game will have more reliable access to the best weapons.
So, will these changes, coupled with the promise of better rewards for the season and less grinding be enough to keep Apex Legends relevant? Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, and that is that the developers were sloppy in season one, and repeating that mistake now would likely be the death of the game.