Apex Legends’ controller aim assist is back on the table at Respawn. After the removal of tap strafing, a popular mouse and keyboard movement mechanic, the developers are considering a controller balance change to bring the two inputs closer to parity.
It’s a debate as old as time in Apex Legends — especially so since crossplay was introduced. Controller players and mouse and keyboard users alike wage war in the Apex Games, and there’s inherent advantages to both inputs.
Mouse and keyboard players have a lot more flexibility in what they can do, with more keys to pull off insane movement and quick looting.
Controller players, though, have the fabled aim assist. It’s a bit hard getting precision aim on the sticks compared to a mouse, so Apex Legends will help you with a bit of push and pull, as long as your aim is near good enough.
Developer John ‘JayBiebs’ Larson knows the debate well. As a controller player himself, he’s aware of the advantages aim assist brings. With more mechanics being stripped away from PC players, there’s a chance controller aim assist will be reined in too.
“I can’t speak to one’s superiority over the other; they have their pros and cons. For the record though, across MMR levels, rank, you name it, the difference in weapon performance is not nearly as great as some would believe,” he admitted on September 1, discussing the upcoming tap strafe changes.
“As Apex and its players evolve, it’s only prudent for us to continue to evaluate whether or not aim assist is ‘too good’. When I see top-level controller players saying they would be alright with nerfing aim assist, I definitely take note.
“Players should not feel forced to use a specific input type, and if I see players converting out of what they think is necessity, I would 100% be concerned.”
Respawn will "continue to evaluate" aim assist in Apex Legends, and devs will discuss the current balance of controller vs mouse & keyboard this week.
"Players should not feel forced to use a specific input type." pic.twitter.com/NQDBdI31Ao
— Apex Legends News (@alphaINTEL) September 1, 2021
Some pro players have already swapped to controller, and there’s even been talk of a “hybrid meta”: Using mouse and keyboard early before swapping to the sticks for late-game close-range fights.
Respawn don’t want aim assist to be used as a “difficulty lever”, but they are looking into nerfing it if the movement changes drastically impact the health of the game.
They’re also wary of making too many changes to controller, too. Patterns like aiming and even looting have become “deeply ingrained in muscle memory”.
“The asks of increasing aim assist at range or improving the looting flow on controller are not as easy as changing a couple numbers,” Larson admitted.
“We always have our eyes peeled for opportunities for improvement, and try to jump on them when we [have] time to do our due diligence.
“When it comes to accessibility, we often must consider controller players given the constraints compared to MnK. But, accessibility does not equal balance design, and it’s a strawman argument to treat it as such.”
Tap strafing will be gone by Apex Legends patch 10.1, but any changes to controller aim assist will come at a later date — at least until after Respawn discuss it internally in a few days.