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Apex Legends’ heroes are getting a class overhaul

Inside the perks and ‘paradigm shifts’ that will remake the battle royale in season 16

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Apex Legends isn’t getting a new character for its 16th season, but its existing lineup of 23 Legends is getting a makeover — some more than others. At minimum, every fighter is getting a perk under the reworked, class-based arrangement Respawn Entertainment announced on Monday.

Seven Legends will be getting an even more comprehensive balancing rework once season 16, “Revelry,” launches Feb. 14. Five of them have been in the game since its February 2019 launch: Bloodhound, Wraith, Pathfinder, Mirage, and Lifeline. The other two are Horizon (who joined in season 7, which launched November 2020) and Seer (season 10’s character, debuting August 2021).

The five classes are now Assault, Recon, Support, Skirmisher, and Controller. The latter two are all-new; to date, Apex Legends characters have been characterized as Offensive, Defensive, Recon, or Support. The finer point these labels — and their perks — put on the characters is meant to help players balance their fireteams as they’re choosing up heroes.

The characters and their new assignments are:

  • Assault: Ash, Fuse, Mad Maggie, Bangalore, and Revenant
  • Skirmisher: Pathfinder, Horizon, Octane, Valkyrie, Wraith, Mirage
  • Recon: Bloodhound, Crypto, Seer, Vantage
  • Controller: Caustic, Wattson, Rampart, Catalyst
  • Support: Lifeline, Loba, Newcastle, Gibraltar

Devan McGuire, Respawn’s lead Legend designer, spoke to the broad characteristics and purposes behind each class during an online preview event last week. Assault legends are “all about combat utility and initiation,” McGuire said. “These are legends that have core patterns that revolve around using their abilities to force opponents to make combat decisions or mistakes.”

Skirmishers are somewhat like Assault Legends, with the proviso that they have abilities “which give them strong mobility options for clever escape tactics,” McGuire said. “They’re good flankers and they have a hit-and-run style of play.”

Recon should be self-explanatory, especially as the term was already in use in Apex Legends. But, McGuire said, these heroes “have been redefined specifically around enemy intel and tracking […] that they can share with their team and take advantage of.” Support legends are also somewhat unchanged, and are best used “to protect, recover or resupply their squad,” he said. “So they either directly help their team, or they allow their squads to stay in fights or reset faster.”

The heroes of the Controller class, “are all about area setup. […] These are Legends who place their constructs or their abilities in the world to control the positioning and force enemies to fight on their turf,” McGuire said.

Now, the perks. Assault characters can open an extra shelf within new red-colored weapons bins, and can carry an extra stack of ammunition, per inventory slot. “Altogether, this makes them these more offensive mobile armories,” McGuire said.

Skirmishers will be able to spot incoming care package drops from a greater distance, as well as see the highest valuable item inside it, in order to get to that drop pronto and take advantage of it. “They can also keep tabs on this revealed weapon, and they can tell if it’s been taken,” McGuire said, “so they can set up an ambush and take it back.”

Wattson, a controller character, using the “Ring Console” to learn where it is moving. Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Support Legends will all have access to the hidden shelf in the blue supply bins that were previously accessible only by Lifeline. McGuire said this shelf “will now contain high-value healing and survival items.” Controllers, through a device called a Ring Console, will get an early warning on where the battle royale ring is narrowing down, taking that skill away from recon players. McGuire said this fits with Controllers’ role of setting up the battlefield and moving adversaries and teammates around it.

And so that leaves the Recon Legends, like Seer and Bloodhound, who are going to get “a pretty big paradigm shift this season.” McGuire said. Seer and Bloodhound are getting rebalanced, beyond what the new classification system gives them, simply because the battlefield knowledge they had been able to gain with their special abilities made them seem overpowered to so many in the community.

“The Seer and Bloodhound changes are our first, but likely not the last stab at the notorious scan meta,” McGuire said. “The changes we’ve done in season 16 are aimed at reducing the overall frequency of scans in the game, without harming it,” or debuffing the characters to the point they aren’t fun to play.

A look at the new Nemesis assault weapon in Apex Legends Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

For Seer, who has faced overpowered complaints almost from the day he was introduced, the duration of his “Exhibit” ultimate ability will be shortened and its cooldown lengthened. His passive skill, Heart Seeker, is also going to be nerfed; the indicators that directly point to an opponent’s location (once within a certain range) are gone.

“You will only get information on the heartbeat pulses themselves, which means you’re not having a constant lock-on following you around while you’re aiming,” McGuire said. Also, Seer’s heartbeat sensor makes him audible to nearby enemies. “Because they can hear you, there’s a little bit more risk in just pulling it out all the time,” he said.

Bloodhound’s ability to see the battlefield will now manifest through a “white raven,” which is basically a virtual battlefield marker that players interact with; once touched, these ravens will fly off in the direction of the closest enemy. “It creates a longer sense of the hunt and helps him find those battles faster when there’s no one around,” McGuire said.

These are the high points of Apex Legends season 16’s character overhaul; Respawn has more on the specific and smaller changes coming to all of the Legends once season 16 goes live on Feb. 14 across all platforms — Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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