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[Mobile Games] Hot Drop: Apex Legends Needs More Characters Who Are Bad At Killing


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Hot Drop is GameSpot's weekly Apex Legends column, in which Jordan Ramée takes a closer look at Respawn's battle royale to provide additional insight into the game's evolution, as well as dive deeper into its episodic storytelling and characters.

I really like Apex Legends' newest playable character, Newcastle. I don't like him so much that he's my new main--it's going to take a lot to get me to move on from my girl Valkyrie, especially now that she's getting her heirloom in the Awakening Collection Event--but Newcastle represents the type of character that Apex Legends is sorely lacking and could use a bit more of: someone who's selfless.

There are very few completely selfless characters--playable characters with abilities that strictly benefit others and not themselves--in Apex Legends. Really, the only other character who's anywhere close to being as selfless as Newcastle is Wattson, and the Apex Legends team specifically buffed her with a "selfish" passive to address the perceived lack of power in her kit.

So Newcastle is pretty much the only selfless character in Apex Legends' roster. His passive ability allows him to sacrifice his own knockdown shield to protect downed allies as he's dragging them to safety, for example, and his ultimate ability--which sees him jump forward and put up a massive wall--is best used for leaping to a squadmate pinned down by enemy fire, making him the louder and more obvious target to go after. Even his tactical ability isn't all that selfish. Though it throws out a shield that he can use while cornered, its ability to move and be redirected actually makes it far more useful for leading the charge around a blind corner or shielding an ally long enough for them to safely move past a coverless opening.


Even Newcastle's character design and voice lines depict his role on the team. For his armor and abilities, the Apex Legends team took inspiration from chess' rook piece--a piece often sacrificed to protect more important pieces--and the way he poses and talks is reminiscent of Marvel's Captain America (the dude even has a banner pose called "Apex Assemble"). When selecting to play as him, Newcastle says lines like, "I'll make sure everyone makes it home," or "Just make sure your bullets hit them, and I'll make sure theirs don't hit you." His intro and kill quips include lines like, "It's an honor to be your protector," and "This wouldn't have happened if you had me watching your back."AD
My favorite line of his is what I think describes him best: When Newcastle is champion, you can have him say, as an intro quote, "I'll be your shield if you don't mind being my sword." And, yeah, that's what this dude is all about. None of his abilities are primarily intended to help him win a fight, but they are all exceptionally good for keeping his allies alive long enough so that they can win a fight. Going with Newcastle is basically saying to your teammates that you trust them to get you the victory, and you're just going to do all you can to keep them alive until they succeed. Respawn has made this message plain in his design, his ability kit, and even in how he talks.

This, admittedly, is probably why Newcastle's pick rate has plummeted in the higher tiers of play in the weeks following the launch of Season 13. Apex Legends is a fast-paced battle royale all about rewarding teamwork and kills, and the former is, unfortunately, harder to reward than the latter. It's very fulfilling to kill all the members of an enemy squad--the uptick in your kill count is concrete proof that you're doing well at the game. It's harder to recognize the worth in reviving a downed teammate or tanking some hits so that an ally can finish healing. There's not much in the way of in-game rewards for doing things like that. Of course, if you're playing with a good squad, they'll thank you for your efforts, but the actual game doesn't reward anything substantial for being a supportive teammate even though that's such a core concept of Apex Legends. But that's another opinion piece for another day.

The main takeaway is that this has resulted in a team-based game where strength is entirely measured by combat potential. Ash and Revenant make a strong power couple when you combine their ultimate abilities, for example, but Ash can't support her fellow murderbot outside of pressuring an enemy team.


Link: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/hot-drop-apex-legends-needs-more-characters-who-are-bad-at-killing/1100-6504660/

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