Apex Legends Season 14 came with a great deal of SMG nerfs, and, in a Reddit AMA, game developers at Respawn explained why SMGs got hit so hard coming into the season.
As a Battle Royale, Apex Legends has long been defined by its mobility options and high octane firefights. For close-range outplays, it’s hard to think of a better go-to weapon class than SMGs.
But, going into Season 14, SMGs were heavily nerfed by removing barrel stabilizers from the class and increasing hipfire spread, with laser sights being added to improve hipfire spread if you can find one.
Separating SMGs from ARs in Apex Legends Season 14
According to a senior game designer on Apex Legends, Eric Canavese, “SMGs have been quite a [dominant] force in Apex for some time. One of the major factors that contributes to this was their ability to use barrels to extend their range giving AR’s a run for their money.”
Assault Rifles weren’t bad by any means (and also had their hipfire nerfed alongside SMGs in the Season 14 update), but there was a clear desire to keep SMGs in close range.
Thus the introduction of laser sights.
Canavase elaborated on Respawn’s thinking when adding laser sights in Season 14. “The lasers enhance an SMG’s CQC ability while simultaneously limiting their range by taking the place of barrels.”
While laser sights have made SMGs even more accurate than they were before the update, the inability to reduce SMG recoil has made these changes feel like a big nerf for most players. Not to mention the CAR, a weapon that didn’t get a laser sight at all.
Canavase concluded with this: “Combining this addition with the AR hipfire nerfs creates a more cohesive balance between two weapon classes whose lines have begun to blur.”
While nerfs to the long-dominant weapon class have saddened longtime Apex Legends fans, it’s hard to deny that a rigid line between SMGs and Assault Rifles is healthy for game balance in the long-term.