The next gun for Apex Legends is being designed so that it has a meaningful impact on the battle royale’s meta. In this way, the gun will fit a similar role to Season 8’s 30-30 Repeater, a rifle that fires differently depending how you shoot it–a design decision that’s wholly unique to it.
“[The 30-30 Repeater] is not just another gun similar to all the other guns,” Apex Legends game director Chad Grenier told me when we spoke about the battle royale’s transformative second year and plans for the future. “It actually has some design put into it and it has its own slot in the lineup of weapons. You’ll see [the same] with our next weapon that’s in development right now–it’s also going to hold its own place and not just be another gun that’s like the others.”
This change in pattern to only add more unique firearms every other season as opposed to just adding more guns every season is the developer’s attempt to curb the rapidly expanding arsenal of firearms in the game.
“If you’re an R-99 fan and we add two more weapons, well, the chances of finding an R-99 naturally go down,” Grenier said. “We’ve added crafting as one way to mitigate the too-many-weapons problem, so we can now either put weapons in Care Packages or we can put weapons in the Replicators and get them off the ground loop.
Other multiplayer games have traditionally solved this problem by vaulting certain weapons, though Respawn may not have that option here. Taking away specific guns or killing off certain characters in Apex Legends’ story would punish fans that have poured tons of real-world money into buying the really cool-looking skins for their favorite firearms or legends.
“At some point we have to figure out [another solution],” Grenier said. “If you extrapolate two more years from now, are we going to have eight more guns in the game? That’s too many, unless we solve that problem. So we’ve switched our pattern for when it comes to creating–don’t create a weapon every season just for the sake of having one, create really great new weapons that are meaningful and have their own place in the game and release them as they’re ready.”
So far, Respawn has managed to make unique firearms by giving them a charging mechanic that you have to consider when using them. The 30-30 Repeater charges after aiming down sights for a few seconds, allowing you to sacrifice speed for a more powerful shot. Season 4’s Sentinel is a sniper rifle that can be temporarily charged by feeding it shield cells, allowing you to sacrifice your healing for a more powerful shot.
It will be interesting to see if this next weapon will also incorporate some form of charging mechanic or if Respawn will try to shake up Apex Legends’ in-match meta in a different way. The team seems committed to making sure that only firearms of a specific caliber get added in the foreseeable future, so we may not see many standard firearms, like Season 3’s Charge Rifle and Season 6’s Volt, added for a while.
“There’s certain guns that just feel really good, and then there are others where we’ve prototyped and go, ‘There’s no situation when I’d really like to use this gun,'” Grenier said. “So we want to just release the good ones.”
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