Apex Legends Voidwalker update: All buffs and nerfs for weapons, Legends and more - Dexerto
Apex Legends

Apex Legends Voidwalker update: All buffs and nerfs for weapons, Legends and more

Published: 4/Sep/2019 12:19 Updated: 4/Sep/2019 12:57

by Calum Patterson

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The new Voidwalker event went live in Apex Legends on September 3, bringing a big map change and new cosmetics, but there were also some major tweaks to weapons and legends that you may have missed.

Developers Respawn Entertainment have stuck to their plan of making updates somewhat infrequently, so as not to upset the balance or ‘meta’ of the game too drastically, too often.

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The previous Apex Legends patch, which dropped alongside the launch of the Iron Crown event, also made some wholesale changes to weapons and legends, but after further feedback and testing, more tweaks have been implemented for the Voidwalker event.

Apex LegendsThe Voidwalker event is the final big Apex Legends update for Season 3.

Weapon balancing

Only two weapon changes have been implemented in the September 3 update, but one of these changes affects an entire class of weapons: the SMGs.

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Projectile width has also been increased for the Triple Take, although specifics of the change have not been provided. This is a small nerf though, as it will make landing all three projectiles on an enemy a bit trickier.

  • Increased projectile width for the TripleTake
  • SMG weapons are no longer compatible with the 3x HCOG and 2x-4x variable ACOG scopes.
    • Note from design: Our goal with this change is to better define weapon archetypes and improve the looting experience so that players aren’t accidentally picking up a long range site for a close range weapon that they have to manually remove.

Respawn EntertainmentThe Triple Take has had its spread reduced.

Legend balancing

Two legends have been adjusted in the Voidwalker update, Wattson and Bloodhound, with the former most significantly impacted. It appears that Respawn are concerned about Wattson being a little too good, and she has now been given ‘low profile attributes’.

This was a nerf first implemented for Wraith, Lifeline and Pathfinder, who, because of their slender/short physical shape, take 5% more damage than other legends. On the other hand, Caustic and Gibraltar (the bulkier legends) take 10% reduced damage, thanks to being a bigger target overall.

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Wattson

  • Wattson will now have low profile attributes [takes %5 more damage to base health]
  • Reduced the maximum number of Interceptor Pylons that can be active to 1.

Bloodhound

  • Fixed an issue that allowed players to cancel the start up animation for their ultimate when activated while using a zipline.

EA LivestreamWattson has been hit with a nerf – will it make her a less favorable pick?

Bug fixes

In addition to the buffs and nerfs, a number of bug fixes and quality of life changes were also made:

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  • Fixed a bug where sometimes a player’s reward would not display properly after completing a challenge that awards crafting metals.
  • Fixed a bug where sometimes players would see a different rare skin equipped to the Legend they are spectating when hanging from a ledge.
  • Fixed some issues related to script errors.
  • [Xbox] Fixed issue where sometimes players would have issues connecting to a match at the same time as their party forcing them to join Legend Select late with Legends already locked.
  • [PS4] code fixes to address crashes related to out of memory issues.
  • Fixed a bug where sometimes players would still be in an out of bounds state when they are not actually out of bounds.

QUALITY OF LIFE

  • New Promo Window – A new feature we’ve added to the Lobby that will display offers and info and allows for direct navigation to the website or store. 
  • Added Auto Sprint feature to all platforms that can be turned on or off. This is disabled by default and can be changed in the Settings menu.
  • Players can now adjust Aim Down Sight look sensitivity per optic zoom level.
  • Visual improvements to Legends in the Lobby and Character Select screen

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    • Increased overall brightness.
    • Softer/lighter shadows.
    • Improved reflections on hard surfaces.
    • Improved detail and contrast to textures.
  • Added UI to the Spectator View that lets players easily tell if they are spectating a squadmate or enemy.
  • Added setting to disable weapon auto switching when ammo runs out.

With how close we are now to Apex Legends Season 3 (expected in early October), this is likely the last major update we will have until the new season begins.

Wattson has certainly been a fan favorite since her addition at the start of the second season, so there will be some players understandably disappointed with her nerf, but it remains to be seen if it will lead to overall better balancing.

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.”