Apex Legends Season 16 Takes A Swing At The Scan Meta, Buffs Wraith And Pathfinder
In Apex Legends Season 16, Respawn is making balancing changes to seven legends.
Apex Legends Season 16 makes substantial balance changes to seven characters: Seer, Bloodhound, Wraith, Pathfinder, Horizon, Mirage, and Lifeline. These updates are all aimed at further defining the niche each of these legends is meant to bring to their squad, as well as disrupt the more dominant strategies in Apex Legends, like the scan meta.
The scan meta has existed in Apex Legends since day one, favoring legends who have abilities that allow them to naturally wallhack the environment and see enemies through walls. In a game as fast-paced as Apex Legends, that's a powerful skill to have. Respawn has already lessened the impact of the scan meta in Season 15 with Catalyst, as her Dark Veil ultimate ability allows her to block scanning abilities.
In Season 16, Respawn is taking a more direct swing at the scan meta, adjusting the abilities for the two most dominant scanners: Bloodhound and Seer. "At a high level, the changes we've done in [Season 16] are aimed at reducing the overall frequency of scans in the game without harming the identity of the characters," lead legend designer Devan McGuire said during a preview event.
In Seer's case, the cooldown on his ultimate ability, Exhibit, is being lengthened to prevent him from using it as often. Plus, Exhibit won't stay up for as long. His passive ability, Heart Seeker, is getting a substantial nerf, altering how easily Seer can collect information about unseen enemies.
"You will no longer be able to spam [Heart Seeker's] activation--it has a charge-up time," McGuire said. "You will only gain information on the heartbeat pulses themselves, which means you're not having a constant lock on following you around while you're aiming. And the heartbeat sensor is now audible to nearby enemies which means--because they can hear you--there's a little bit more risk in just pulling it out all the time."
Bloodhound isn't really getting a nerf to their abilities. Instead, the nature of their passive ability is getting a boost and that in turn is changing how their ultimate ability is best utilized. Starting in Season 16, a spectral white raven will appear as part of Bloodhound's passive ability, offering directional hints to the technological tracker that leads toward the nearest set of enemy tracks.
"The white raven is a figment of Bloodhound's mind," McGuire told GameSpot. "In the field, when no enemies are around, the white raven will appear in the world, perched on high or in the field, and if you interact with it or scan it, the white raven will fly off towards the direction of the nearest enemy. So it'll lead you to the breadcrumb trails that will lead you to battle, that will lead you to use your scan and using your ultimate [ability] to then engage in that fight. So it connects a wider sense of the loop for Bloodhound entirely. No other players can see [the white raven] except for Bloodhound."
Bloodhound's ultimate ability, Beast of the Hunt, will no longer refresh or speed up the charge of their tactical ability, Eye of the Allfather. This heavily nerfs Bloodhound's usefulness in the midst of a fight, but the white raven will now factor into Beast of the Hunt to increase Bloodhound's hunting ability.
"Because we pull all that power out of the ultimate [ability], there's a slight addition back into the ultimate [ability] with this white raven concept-- the moment that you activate [Beast of the Hunt], the white raven will appear and fly off directly to the nearest enemy target," McGuire told GameSpot. "So it still has some close-quarters engagement, but it's not focused so heavily on the scan aspects. It's focused on this tracking fantasy and following the raven into battle."
Season 16 will also try to disrupt Valkyrie's chokehold on the macro rotations meta. The high flyer is the ideal pick for getting your team from one spot to another as quickly as possible. To combat that, both Wraith and Pathfinder are getting some nice buffs to their kit. These changes further define the two as Skirmishers, legends who focus on combat mobility and escape.
"Wraith will now be able to place her portal twice as far as before and will speed up as she travels that extra distance with her ultimate, [allowing her] to place that portal faster and get her team rotated quicker," McGuire said. "Similarly, Pathfinder's [Zipline Gun ultimate ability's] range and riding speed have been increased significantly, allowing you to travel much farther and much faster than before, and not be such a sitting duck on your zipline."
Fellow Skirmisher Mirage is getting his first big update since his kit was redesigned in Season 5. Now when Mirage revives an ally, both he and the revived squadmate will remain cloaked for three seconds, making it easier to get away and heal up. Drawing your weapon will immediately break the cloak, meaning it's designed more as an escape tool. On top of that, when one of Mirage's decoys is shot, he'll now track the bamboozled enemy for a short time instead of only marking their last location, allowing both Mirage and his teammates to better react to enemies he's tricked.
Horizon, who is also being made into a Skirmisher, is getting an update to her abilities as well. Starting in Season 16, her and her squadmates' accuracy will be reduced while riding her tactical ability, Gravity Lift. However, she and her teammates will now ride up Gravity Lift much more quickly. This adjusts Horizon away from her current damage-dealing role into more of a mobility-focused legend that can help her team move vertically more quickly.
And last but not least, Lifeline's abilities are being adjusted so that she can better support her allies and use her medic abilities in the midst of combat. Her Combat Medic passive ability will now be much faster, making it easier for her to get downed allies back into the fight more quickly. The drop speed and range of her Care Package ultimate ability are also being greatly increased, so she'll be able to summon healing items and armor in a pinch.
Beyond those seven, no other legend is getting a substantial balancing update, though there are some bug fixes that will be listed in the patch notes. "There are bug fixes that will improve some of the issues with a few of the characters--there's some Crypto and Newcastle stuff in there that obviously you'll see in the patch notes," McGuire told GameSpot. "But no, those seven are kind of the core focus. There aren't any extra ones that were sitting on the sidelines with minor adjustments, those [seven] are the ones we dove into. And then everybody just gets a major adjustment by getting the class perks added to their kits. So there'll be an entirely new layer of how you play each character across the table going into Season 16."
For more details on how Apex Legends is changing, check out our interview with Respawn about how Apex Legends Season 16 is an ideal on-ramp for new players. We also spoke to Respawn about Apex Legends' four-year history and how the team will be using Year 5 to further cultivate the battle royale.
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