Respawn’s controversial decision to remove tap strafing from Apex Legends will hold despite widespread criticism. The “forbidden fruit” of movement must be removed to stop mobility creep, developer John ‘JayBiebs’ Larson claimed.
The movement trick, which let players quickly turn around corners and change direction mid-air, became a staple over the last couple of months. However, much like bunnyhop healing, Respawn are pulling it from the game.
The developer’s original reasoning cited inaccessibility and a lack of counterplay; points that JayBiebs elaborated on in a September 1 Twitlonger. The Apex Legends dev admitted, “the player in me loves the idea of it for skill expression.”
“However,” Larson continued, “my designer brain started to churn, and the more I saw, the more I felt this mechanic seemed like the forbidden fruit.”
As a PC-only mechanic, tap strafing wasn’t accessible for controller players.
Its removal might seem like a direct nerf to mouse and keyboard (MnK) players — once again pushing enthusiasts to the sticks — but that’s just a “strawman argument”.
“When it comes to accessibility, we often must consider controller players given the constraints compared to MnK. But, accessibility does not equal balance design, and it’s a strawman argument to treat it as such,” he said.
“This is why I believe tap-strafing exists solely as a design problem.
“Even in a MnK only Apex world, or a scenario where controller and MnK could tap-strafe just the same, I don’t believe it would be a healthy change with the freedom it currently allows.”
MOVEMENT TECH AND MOBILITY IN APEX
— John Larson | JayBiebs (@RSPN_JayBiebs) September 1, 2021
JayBiebs added on to Respawn’s August 31 tweet that Apex developers are tackling mobility creep, a problem that is becoming more prevalent.
“I can buy that a tap-strafe at normal velocity in a gunfight occurs infrequently and is relatively mild enough to not immediately kill with fire,” he said. “But, Path grappling past and tap-strafing back into your face with a Mastiff, or Octane cranking 90s while maintaining ridiculous speed, bring up greater gameplay concerns.
He concluded: “While many love the freedom that Apex’s movement system affords, constraints are just as important.”
Larson said “movement should feel unchanged for controllers and for [mouse and keyboard] players who hadn’t heard of the term ‘tap strafe’ until yesterday.”
The developers are also working with pros on ensuring the changes don’t impact other sorts of movement tech, including wall bouncing, to not drastically change the skill caps or ceilings of Apex.