Balancing Hero Shooters Is A Science That Requires Live Test Subjects

by | Nov 28, 2021 | Gaming

It won’t surprise you to hear that game development is hard. And in the ever growing games-as-a-service market, that development sometimes doesn’t have an easily defined endpoint. You can see this in hero shooters–the larger ones continuously get new characters every season, forcing the developers to reevaluate the in-game meta and rebalance existing characters over and over again.

But what about the new characters? Prior to releasing new playable characters, do developers try to balance them based on what the team perceives that character’s role in the meta will be? Or is there some other consideration that governs their approach? Once again, it won’t surprise you to learn that different studios have different strategies for how they attempt to balance their new hero characters prior to players getting their hands on them. The one common thing among them, however, is that they all agree it’s a big challenge.

Respawn, for example, aims to introduce new playable legends in Apex Legends as slightly too strong. It’s a trend you can see across the battle royale game’s Year 3 legends. Though Fuse did release in too weak a state, the same can’t be said for Valkyrie, Seer, and Ash. Seer especially launched in a devastatingly overpowered state, and Respawn had to quickly nerf him within weeks of the start of Season 10: Emergence. Neither Valkyrie nor Ash launched in quite as unbalanced a state, but both characters did (and continue to) draw ire from the community for their powerful passive abilities.

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