After backlash from the Apex Legends community over a new Caustic buff coming in the Fight Night Collection Event, Daniel Klein — Senior Game Designer at Respawn — explained his thought process for the changes via Twitter.
The Fight Night Collection Event in Apex Legends is scheduled to kick off on January 5. In addition to adding limited-time modes and cosmetics, the update will also introduce several balancing changes, bug fixes and quality-of-life updates.
While the community praised many of these changes — like updates to Ultimate Accelerant functionality and inventory management — they have taken issue with some of the balancing tweaks Respawn planned for the game’s next patch.
The patch notes confirmed two Legend changes: a Rampart amped cover buff and a decrease to Caustic’s gas trap cooldown. After seeing the changes Respawn have in line, the Apex community voiced concerns and Klein took to Twitter in order to address them.
While Klein’s original Twitter discussion was based around a proposed change to Gibraltar’s gun shield, it quickly shifted gears. One player tweeted at the designer questioning the additional Caustic buff: “Nobody asked for a caustic buff. At what point did the office decide this?”
- Read More: Apex Legends Fight Night Event Patch Notes
Before the developer had a chance to respond, another user pointed out that making a five-second change to a character’s cooldown was probably easier than changing the entire mechanic of Gibby’s arm shield. The Respawn developer was quick to confirm this with an official response.
“Yup! That one was super easy to do,” Klein confirmed. He went on to explain that changing a cooldown only takes a short amount of time and a few playtests. Further, he clarified that while players are concerned about the buff, Caustic required work as he remains “one of the weakest characters in the game.”
Yup! That one was super easy to do (it took me about 10 minutes to do and verify, and 2-3 playtests to convince me it wouldn't hurt the game) and Caustic is in fact one of the weakest characters in the game.
— Daniel Zenon Klein (@danielzklein) January 2, 2021
Some community members were a bit skeptical of this. Comments referencing the Legend’s ability to play both aggressively and defensively, his strength in ranked versus unranked play and the general power of his abilities were all mentioned in responses to Klein’s tweet.
When asked why Caustic continues to receive buffs, Klein disclosed that the character’s viability had been a topic at Respawn as far back as March 2020. The developer still thinks Caustic might need even more work, responding to one user with “you don’t seem willing to accept my core message here: Caustic is weak.”
Several content creators and pro players responded to the game designer with their own concerns. Pro player Eric ‘Snip3down’ Wrona issued his own verdict, once again noting the differences between Caustic’s performance in regular matches versus ranked or competitive play.
I think we need to differentiate here. Caustic is weak (in pubs) because people don’t sit in buildings caring about the win, Caustic is weak in open fields and on unorganized teams. How about we take away his ult gas after he’s killed so all end games aren’t 4 caustic ults
— TSM Snip3down (@Snip3down) January 3, 2021
Despite the doubts, Klein remained firm in his explanation for the changes. Respawn has frequently cited their internal metrics — like win rate and pick rate — when balancing each Legend, and the game designer stands by the information his team is working off of.
While the developers typically stick to their guns and keep balancing changes after they are released, there have been instances where feedback convinced them to revert a change or update an unbalanced mechanic after it was added to the game (as was the case with Evo Shield adjustments back in Season 6).
Klein is very active on Reddit and Twitter, and often engages in open discourse about community concerns such as the upcoming Caustic buff. Players should keep their eyes peeled for any additional comments or changes as the arguments over Caustic’s balancing continue.