Apex Legends Season 4 Assimilation Update - Patch Notes - Dexerto
Apex Legends

Apex Legends Season 4 Assimilation Update – Patch Notes

Published: 4/Feb/2020 15:49 Updated: 4/Feb/2020 23:15

by Calum Patterson

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Apex Legends Season 4: Assimilation is launching on the one-year anniversary of the game’s launch, and there’s a lot of new content packed in to celebrate. Here’s everything you need to know about the Season 4 update and the patch notes.

Headlining the update is, of course, the new legend: Revenant. Every season there has been a new playable character added, and this time Respawn has gone all out in the build-up, with lots of lore and teasers in anticipation.

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In fact, they first announced Forge instead, but Revenant killed this character in cold blood to steal his spot in the Apex Games. As for the future of Forge, that remains to be seen, but for now, he’s definitely dead.

New Season 4 Legend: Revenant

Revenant from Apex Legends on black background
Respawn
Revenant is the new legend for Season 4 – not Forge.

Revenant is known as a ‘Synthetic Nightmare’ and is a simulacrum. Simulacrums are robotic, but, unlike Pathfinder, they have the “consciousness” of a human, making them even more deadly. He used to be human, and a deadly hitman, but now he wants revenge against his creators.

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His abilities were shown off in the Season 4 gameplay trailer, which are now confirmed as Stalker (Passive), Silence (Tactical), Death Totem (Ultimate). See how they work in the patch notes below.

We also got to see his backstory in the cinematic trailer. Most interesting about this trailer though, was the young girl, who some believe could be a hint at another legend, Rosie (aka Loba).

New Sniper: Sentinel

As a new weapon for this season, Respawn is adding another sniper rifle.

This bolt-action sniper rifle is especially effective against shields, and you can “consume a shield battery from your inventory to charge your shots for an extra, incisive punch.”

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Map Changes to World’s Edge

A new Planet Harvester from Hammond Robotics has been added to the map, and more lava is flowing due to the fissure at Capitol City.

  • Read More: Respawn respond to Apex Legends SBMM controversy

There’s also a new ‘survey camp’ near Skyhook, kitted out with weapon racks so you can pick the firearm of your choice. Expect hot drops here!

Ranked Series 3

For more competitive-minded players, Respawn is making some major changes to Ranked mode for this season. Most significantly, Kings Canyon will be making its glorious comeback, but not until the second ‘split’ of Ranked Series 3, starting in March.

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Respawn Entertainment
Kings Canyon is coming back, but not until March 24.

Rankings will be given a “soft reset” halfway through the season, and there’s also a new “master tier”, which will slot in between Diamond and Predator. Read more about all the changes to Ranked Play here.

New Apex Legends battle pass

There is also be a new battle pass, with 110 tiers of items. Respawn has improved upon their battle pass season-on-season, so this will hopefully be the best yet. It includes Legendary skins, Apex packs, Loading Screens, Music Packs, and more.

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Season 4 release time

The Season 4 update went live on February 4, at 10 am PST/1 pm EST/6 pm GMT/ 7 pm CEST, one year after the game was first released.

Apex Legends Season 4 patch notes

NEW BATTLE PASS

Over 100 exclusive items including Legendary skins, Apex Packs, Loading screens, Music Packs, and more! Check out everything in the Season 4 battle pass here.

NEW LEGEND: REVENANT

Consumed by hate and obsessed with revenge, Revenant uses unnatural abilities to haunt his enemies and defy death.

  • PASSIVE
    • STALKER – You crouch walk faster and can climb higher up walls.
  • TACTICAL
    • SILENCE – Throw a device that deals damage and disables enemy abilities for 10 seconds.
  • ULTIMATE
    • DEATH TOTEM – Drop a totem that protects users from death. Instead of getting killed or downed, you will return to the totem [with X health]

LOW PROFILE: Revenant takes +5% damage.

NEW WEAPON: SENTINEL SNIPER RIFLE

The Sentinel is a bolt action sniper rifle, effective at medium to long range. If a player presses the “fire select” with a shield battery equipped, the Sentinel will consume the shield battery from your inventory and temporarily enters an energized state. While energized, the Sentinel fires projectiles that deal massive damage to shields. The projectiles use different VFX trails, and there is a unique energized firing sound, so all nearby players know that the Sentinel is firing these higher damage projectiles.

The Sentinel has a limited amount of energy that decays slowly over time, and loses a big chunk of juice for each shot. Once the energy runs out, the energized state ends.

MAP UPDATE

Our main goal for a map update, on the design side, is to get players to make new decisions.

By the end of a season, you probably have your favorite spot, or spots, to land. You might prefer to rotate out of your drop location in a certain direction which in turn makes a lot of your games feel similar as the season progresses.

Our goal as Designers is to offer new ways for you to approach the game, and in this case the map, so that each drop, rotation, and gunfight feels as fresh as possible. Here are a few things we’re doing in Season 4 to hopefully help achieve that.

You can read the full details of the changes in our blog here and you can check out the highlights below:

THE PLANET HARVESTER

With its large, multi-level design the Planet Harvester is unlike anything else on World’s Edge and brings exciting new gameplay options to the game.

CAPITOL CITY SPLIT IN TWO

Capitol City was the biggest POI in Season 3, getting the most action right out of the ship. By sending the fissure straight through Capitol City and creating some dead space in between (swallowing up one of the construction buildings as well), we essentially split this area into two separate zones for players to land in and loot: Fragment East and Fragment West.

THE UPDRAFTS

If you jump into the fissure that cuts through Capitol City you’ll slowly be carried back up from the heated, pressurized air, and allowed to coast across and land on the other side. This is balanced by two things. First, you take 25 damage from the intense heat and embers floating inside. This is a consistent amount of damage every time you drop back down. Second, you travel very slowly, in third person, while moving in the updraft.

SURVEY CAMP

This is a new, small POI in the snowy fields between the Epicenter and Skyhook.

WEAPON RACKS

These are guaranteed weapons placed on racks in the small buildings of Survey Camp. You’ll recognize them from Training or the Firing Range. This should give players who prioritize a good weapon over a premier drop location a new decision to make.

RANKED SERIES 3

For all the info on what’s changing for Series 3 check out our blog. Highlights below:

  • Moving to Splits per season, ~6 weeks of ranked play before a reset
  • Adding Master Tier, Apex Predator becomes top 500 players by platform.
  • Soft reset and scoring are the same, but soft reset is every split.
  • Dive trails will be moving to a seasonal reward model, but Series 1 & 2 players are grandfathered in.
  • The update to how assists are scored in Series 3 also applies to Revenant’s Silence ability.

ANNIVERSARY LOGIN GIFT

For the first week of Season 4 – Assimilation (Feb 4, 2020 – Feb 11, 2020), anyone who logs in during that time will receive the Anniversary Gift, which includes:

  • Year 1 Origami Flyer charm (if you’ve got any ideas for cotton, please let us know)
  • Year 1 Loyalty badge
  • 10k XP for your first match of the day (available each day)

The Loyalty badge comes in 3 different flavors depending on when you took your first leap from the drop ship, so feel free to flex on all your latecomer buddies.

LOOT

NEW LOOT: SNIPER AMMO [10 shots per pickup]

Designer Notes: Our goal here is to create a deeper, more balanced long range meta. Since snipers shared ammo types with SMGs and LMGs, there wasn’t a great way to put ammo scarcity on sniper rifles without really penalizing the more ammo hungry weapons that used the same ammo type. So for Season 4 we’ve added a new class of ammo that only applies to Sniper Rifles that we hope will have players being careful about the shots they take and limit how long they can pressure targets at long range before having to reposition.

All snipers now take new ammo type: Sentinel

Longbow DMR

TripleTake

Charge Rifle [now uses 1 sniper ammo per shot. Magazine holds 4 shots]

New attachment: extended magazine for Sniper ammo.

ENERGY AMMO: Now gives 30 ammo per pickup instead of 20. Most ammo players pick up comes from packs that spawn next to energy weapons on the ground. Now that there are only 2 energy ammo weapons in Apex, we needed to up the ammo per brick to keep energy ammo from being too scarce.

REMOVED LOOT: The following items have been removed from the game: Turbocharger hop-up Extended mags for energy ammo [this change went out earlier than intended in the last update and should make sense with other changes in this patch but we wanted to include it here as well for players returning for Season 4 that were not aware].

GOLD BACKPACK: UI update to better convey to the player when they are using or being revived with the perk.

WEAPONS

Designer Notes: We want to shift up what weapons are the strongest. Also, we’re aiming to reduce the power of some weapons that seem too strong and give a little boost to some weapons that haven’t been performing as well as we’d like.

UPDATE TO IRONSIGHTS ACCURACY Apex guns move around subtly while ADS — they rotate and sway as you move your aim, they bob up and down and side to side while moving, etc.

We have special tech that makes sure the reticle on the optics stays centered even as the gun moves around a bit. However, until season 4, the ironsights on weapons didn’t have this tech. That meant that the ironsights reticles could move around with the weapon and actually be slightly inaccurate — they wouldn’t point at the screen center where the next shot would fire. With season 4, we have updated most of the weapons’ ironsights to properly stay centered now. Not all ironsights are upgraded yet, but we will be updating the remaining weapons as this season progresses. The weapons that will be updated for Season 4 are:

  • Longbow DMR
  • TripleTake
  • Charge Rifle
  • Sentinel Sniper Rifle
  • Havoc
  • R-301
  • Flatline
  • Spitfire LMG
  • R-99
  • Alternator
  • Mozambique
  • Mastiff
  • RE-45
  • Wingman

G7 SCOUT

  • Moved from “Sniper” to the “Assault Rifle” class.
  • Now only accepts AR optics and attachments [including barrel stabilizers and stock].
  • Still accepts Double Tap hop-up.
  • Contributes to progress for stats/challenges for AR’s moving forward.
  • Reduced fire rate 4.5 -> 4.0
  • Increasing time between shots for double tap 0.425 -> 0.475
  • Fixed bug where G7 had 0 ADS air spread, making it the only gun that was perfectly accurate on ziplines, etc.

L-STAR

  • The L-STAR is no longer a crate weapon and can now be found around the map.
  • Uses energy ammo.
  • Reloading has been removed and the L-STAR will overheat after sustained fire so best to fire in short bursts to manage overheating and recoil.
  • Damage reduced per shot 19 -> 18
  • Rate of Fire decreased 12 -> 10
  • Less horizontal viewkick when the weapon fires.

DEVOTION

Designer Notes: The Devotion was chosen to go into the crate for a couple of reasons. Mainly 1) it is an energy ammo LMG, and so is the L-STAR and 2) data shows us that a fully kitted Devotion is actually one of the strongest weapons in the game, and could work at crate power level. Removed from normal loot pool and is now a crate weapon.

  • Magazine size: 54
  • Total ammo stock: 162
  • Turbocharger functionality.

HAVOC

Designer notes: With the removal of turbocharger, we wanted to buff the base havoc. Most notably, we are reducing horizontal recoil and making it easier to control.

  • No longer accepts the Turbocharger hop-up [turbocharger has been removed from the game] but can still equip Select Fire.
  • Decreased time between shots when using Select Fire hop-up .77 -> .56

R-99

  • Reduced damage per shot 12 -> 11 Increased magazine size for the first 3 tiers:
    • Base: 18 -> 20
    • Common: 20 -> 22
    • Rare: 23 -> 24
    • Epic: 27 -> 27

PROWLER

  • Increased damage per shot 14 -> 15

HEMLOK

  • Increased single-shot rate of fire 5.6 -> 6.4

WINGMAN

Adjusted magazine sizes:

  • Base: 4 -> 5
  • Common: 6 -> 6
  • Rare: 8 -> 7
  • Epic: 10 -> 8

EVA-8

  • Double Tap hop-up: reduced the delay between bursts: 0.85 -> 0.80

MASTIFF

  • Fixed an exploit that players discovered and reported where you could rapidly fire the Mastiff.

GOLD WEAPONS UPDATE

The following will be the new set of Gold Weapons for Season 4:

  • Havoc
  • P2020
  • Sentinel
  • Prowler
  • R-301

LEGENDS

BLOODHOUND

Downing (not killing) players adds 5 seconds to Beast of the Hunt timer. It is possible to exceed starting time with successive kills.

CRYPTO

  • EMP no longer destroys friendly Gibraltar Dome Shields.
  • Dome Shields no longer can stick to Crypto’s Drone.

BUG FIXES

  • Fixed bug that was causing players that reached account level 500 to crash or access their inventory or store.
  • Fixed bug where player level text would appear on the badges of level 100 badge when it wasn’t supposed to.
  • Fixed bug for some cases where players were unable to equip weapons from care packages when attempting to swap it with an existing weapon.
  • Fixes for a few bad spots in World’s Edge where players were getting stuck or getting to places they shouldn’t – thank you to everyone that’s been capturing and reporting these issues and keep them coming!
  • Fixed bug where sometimes when the Jumpmaster disconnects then the followers in their squad would float in mid-air and be unable to unfollow.
  • General stability fixes.

QUALITY OF LIFE

  • Fixes for cases where approaching the edge of the Circle would make the players screen turn almost all white.
  • Updated colorblind settings based on player feedback.
  • Community Request: added a Random Favorites option for unlocked skins that can be found in the Legend customization menu.
  • You’ll see an option to “favorite” skins you’ve unlocked [Y button on consoles].
  • Choosing Random Favorite option from the skins menu will randomly cycle your chosen favorite Legend skins in between matches.
  • Increased the timer for when you can still be credited for an assist after dealing damage: 5 seconds -> 7.5 seconds.
  • Nerfed the Roller that falls from the Loot Drone. Reduced damage. Decreased radius of splash damage. Updated the visual FX to the explosion for better visibility.
  • “Target Compensation” and “Melee Target Compensation” options have been moved to the “Advanced Look Controls” menu.

PENALTIES AND LOSS FORGIVENESS IN RANKED MODE

There are some changes coming to loss forgiveness to reduce abuse of the system. Loss forgiveness when a teammate leaves or fails to connect is unchanged, and is working as intended. We will be limiting the RP loss forgiveness when you leave once per day. If you exceed once per day more than three times per ranked series, you lose all forgiveness for the remainder of that series. Once these limits are reached players will no longer receive RP loss forgiveness when abandoning a match, regardless of the reason for quitting. We will continue to display prompts that alert you that leaving will count, and now will alert you when you are about to run out of loss forgiveness games.The scaling penalties are the same as last Series.

PLAYERS CRASHING WITH DXGI_ERROR_DEVICE_HUNG

Some player are experiencing an issue where Apex is crashing with a “DXGI_ERROR_DEVICE_HUNG” error message. We are working closely with NVIDIA to help determine the cause of the issue and provide gamers with a solution (via updated driver or game patch) as soon as possible.

Helpful Information When Reporting: Graphics card vendor/model (ie: ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 2080) Driver version: (ie: 441.66) Any pattern to repro? (specific location, certain duration of gameplay, etc.)

MATCHMAKING UPDATE

With this patch we’ll be pushing out changes globally to matchmaking that we’ve been testing in specific regions. We’re well aware that this has been a contentious topic among players and there’s been some misinformation out there so just to be clear: skill-based matchmaking has existed in Apex since launch and we’ll be continuing to improve it over time.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends SBMM controversy: Is EA rigging your matches?

Published: 8/Oct/2020 14:06

by Calum Patterson

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In the midst of Season 6 in Apex Legends, the controversy about SBMM (skill-based matchmaking) has reared its head again. A 2017 paper from EA researches appears to show a nefarious matchmaking algorithm, leaving players both concerned and angry.

But, before you grab your pitchforks, there are a few key facts that have been lost among the debate on social media.

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In an attempt to better explain what we know about matchmaking in Apex, the research from EA, and what it all actually means for you – the player – here is everything you need to know.

First, though, if you don’t know what SBMM even is, here is a quick recap.

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What is SBMM?

Skill-based matchmaking is the name for the predominant system used (or allegedly used) in the majority of online, PvP, multiplayer games. Respawn, the developers of Apex Legends, have confirmed that their system uses skill level as a factor in matchmaking.

They’ve said that this system has always been there, will stay, and that they are constantly trying to improve it. The say SBMM is better for the long-term health of the game, and for keeping players playing and having fun.

However, this 2017 paper, written by a handful of researchers from EA, appears to argue the opposite; that fairer matches are not actually best for ‘engagement’ (i.e. keeping you playing or spending). Instead, another system called EOMM is apparently better. So, is SBMM not actually a thing at all?

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SBMM in Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment
SBMM has been a hot topic in Apex for ever since launch.

Is Apex Legends rigging you to lose?

The short answer: No.

Respawn’s Principal Coder Michael Kalas has confirmed that Apex Legends does not use EOMM, and said “no one working on Apex matchmaking has read the patent.”

“Apex matchmaking is designed off skill. It’s not literally designed to make you lose, spend, nor play longer,” Kalas confirms. “Apex features are designed and measured to result in fun, entertainment, accomplishment, playing longer, etc.”

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Some players, even professional players, have said based on their own feeling and experience, that there is some kind of system working against them in matchmaking.

Perhaps players are right to feel this way, perhaps not. We will probably never know for certain, as publishers like EA and Activision will never reveal the inner-workings of their matchmaking algorithms. This is because, once known, players could deliberately attempt to game the system. 

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What is the EA research paper?

First, remember that this 2017 research paper is not linked to Apex Legends. After all, Apex was released two years after this paper was published.

It is simply a study, testing if such a system is successful at increasing player retention, and in turn, spending. This system is not SBMM. In fact, it argues that SBMM is actually worse for increasing player retention.

The system is called EOMM = engagement optimized matchmaking. Rather than matching players randomly, or based on their skill level, it combines a number of different factors, to try to increase ‘engagement.’

The paper concludes that “EOMM significantly outperforms all other methods in the number of retained players.”

What is EOMM?

Engagement Optimized matchmaking (EOMM) “aims to match players in an optimal way that maximizes overall player engagement.”

Based on a player’s last 3 outcomes (W)in, (L)ose, or (D)raw, the risk of them quitting changes. The paper presents this table, showing that three losses in a row, or two wins and a loss, will result in the highest risk of quitting (4.9% – 5.1%).

However, if a player has DLW, LLW, LDW, or DDD, their risk of quitting is almost half (2.6% – 2.7%).

A simplistic appraisal of this system then, would be, if you get a win, you might get a harder opponent the next match. If you lose, you get an easier opponent. Keeping the balance of wins, losses, and draws, is core to the EOMM system.

The fear is that the game could be “rigging” your matchmaking, to make you win or lose in a certain pattern. The goal of this system is to increase player engagement; things “such as time or money spent in the game, the number of matches played within a time window, or churn risk.”

But, the research paper was based on 1v1 matches, which might apply to a game like FIFA, but not Apex Legends. However, it concludes that EOMM could easily be applied to other, more complex matchmaking.

AC Milan FIFA 21
EA SPORTS
Games like FIFA could use EOMM, because it’s based on 1v1 matches.

Of course, EA and Respawn want players to be engaged with their game. They want players playing, staying to play more, and hopefully, spending money. So, it stands to reason that they would employ some matchmaking algorithms to optimize this.

But, this study was based on 500 players. Not the tens of millions who play Apex Legends. In the real world, there are countless other factors to consider, including ping, server location, partying up with friends, and much more.

What about SBMM?

The paper on EOMM argues that SBMM doesn’t work because of one key reason:

“Consider a cautious player who cares about protecting his rank among friends, and a risk taker who enjoys difficult matches. Pairing them with similarly skilled opponents will affect these players very differently. Even for the same player, their expectation on the coming match when they just lost three games in a row can be very different from that when they recently performed well.”

In their testing, EOMM retained 0.7% more players compared to SBMM, after one round of matchmaking. This might not seem like much, but over more matches, this number will increase: “For players who play 20 rounds of matchmaking games within eight hours, there will be 15% more players retained by EOMM” than SBMM.

But, the dislike of any system that is not purely random and based totally on connection, cannot be denied. It became a massive issue during Call of Duty’s Black Ops Cold War Alpha recently, where even pro player Scump pleaded with developers to make changes.

We can only hope that the developers take into consideration players’ concerns, and promote having fun in the game, and not just “engagement.”