Respawn explain why hitboxes are a “curse” on Apex Legends

Gibraltar and Octane with Apex Legends Season 7 logoRespawn Entertainment

Daniel Klein, Senior Game Designer at Respawn Entertainment, has explained why different sized hitboxes are a “curse” on Apex Legends, and why he would encourage the studio to avoid them if he had a “time machine.” 

Hitboxes are a deeply contentious topic in almost any shooter, regardless of design or reputation. From Rainbow Six Siege to Call of Duty, every shooter under the sun has had its criticisms over hitboxes, particularly relating to irregularities with them.

There are few things as frustrating as feeling like an opponent should have been dropped by a well-aimed headshot, only for them to turn and eliminate you.

However, hitbox discussions become particularly contentious when different in-game characters have different shaped hitboxes, as is the case in Apex Legends.

Apex Legends all legendsRespawn Entertainment
So many legends means plenty of different shapes and sizes.

It is most often used as a balancing factor, meaning the more powerful characters are easier to hit – for example tanks in Overwatch. But, in Apex, it can create imbalances and unfairly disadvantage larger Legends.

When asked about different sized hitboxes on Reddit, Senior Game Designer Daniel Klein commented that they were a “curse” on Apex Legends, and he would go back and avoid them if he could.

In answer to a question about the varying amounts of damage different sized Legends take, Klein said: “If I had a time machine, I’d go back to when we started working on Apex and yell at everyone: DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT DIFFERENT HITBOX SIZES! DON’T DO IT! YOU’LL CURSE US FOREVER!”

He went on to explain that it’s very hard to measure how much damage should be adjusted for different size Legends, and that in most cases it’s considerably more important than whatever equipment a Legend possesses.

Gibraltar standing over enemy in Apex LegendsRespawn Entertainment
Larger legends, like Gibraltar, take 15% less damage on account of them being easier to hit.

Klein continued: “Let’s put it this way: Caustic with Wraith’s hitboxes would have a higher win rate than Wraith with Caustic’s hitboxes. Like no question. This means we had to find something that directly acted on the level of success/failure that hitboxes work on; and a damage multiplier was the best solution.”

To mitigate the issue of bigger and smaller Legends, Respawn added passive perks called Low Profile (incoming damage increased by 5%: Lifeline, Pathfinder, Wattson, Wraith) and Fortified (Incoming damage reduced by 15%, not slowed by bullets: Caustic, Gibraltar).

It seems that Respawn are conceding that the damage multiplier is the best of a number of bad options when it comes to negating characters with massively varying hitboxes. He describes Low Profile and Fortified as “chewing gum and duct tape holding the game together.”

In the Season 7 patch, Respawn gave Pathfinder’s hitbox an update, giving him more shootable area. Regardless of what Respawn do, different sized hitboxes are here to stay.