VANTAGE is the latest Legend to enter the arena in Apex Legends Season 14.
The first sniper character to be introduced into Apex, Vantage’s skills at long range make her a formidable foe to come up against.
When originally designing the legend, developer Respawn considered giving her a powerful rifle, akin to a Kraber.
Krabers are only available in care packages, and even then are stocked with limited ammo.
If Vantage had been given a weapon as powerful as the Kraber, that’s potentially 20 of them on the map at once. It would have changed the game entirely.
Speaking on the subject, Vantage’s lead designer Chris Winder said: “One of the things the Kraber also has is potentially no warning.
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“You could just be sitting somewhere, looking in a direction, and then be down.
“Or, if it's a body shot, that's quite a lot of damage. So we knew we had to do something about that.”
The team had to look at ways in which they could balance out Vantage’s power.
One of the first ideas was to make Vantage require a lock-on before firing, alerting players that they were being targeted.
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Another forewarned players with a voice line.
Winder explained: “We tried a bunch of different mechanics around trying to communicate that ahead of time and, and give players a way to avoid that, or potentially mitigate that after the fact.
“So maybe it still does a lot of damage, but there's a way to stop some of it after you're hit in some way.”
None of these ideas quite felt fair to the developers, fearing they had spoiled Vantage’s utility.
The next idea was to add a debuff to her rifles, either stunning, locking, or limiting.
Winder explained why the team ultimately decided to move away from the idea: “You could imagine the debuffs we have, like slows and silences, and things like that, that we could try.
“It could just debuff those targets and do some minimal amount of damage, but really just be about the debuff, and that's the purpose of the Ultimate.
“I think some of those things worked from a gameplay standpoint – there was a loop around using it, and you understood why and your team understood what to do when those shots happened.
“But the thing we weren't hitting at that point was the sniper fantasy. It didn't really feel like you were holding a sniper rifle – it felt like you were holding a debuff gun.”
Then the team landed on Vantage’s current kit.
Her Ultimate ability, Sniper’s Mark, allows her to use her custom Sentinel with its 3/5x scope without the need to fully charge it.
Her ammo count simply ticks up from one to five, and it’s up to the player when to use them.
The higher the count, the more chances to miss, but a visual prompt from the scope will tell you where to aim accounting for the bullet drop.
The first bullet to strike will deal 50 damage for a body shot, but any additional hit will do double that.
These hits also benefit from headshot multipliers and amped-up Rampart shields.
Winder commented: “The idea is that the first shot does some lower amount of damage – and we played around a lot with that number or what that initial damage should be – and that second shot is where you get that larger amount of damage.
“And again, we played around with that number.”
While skilled players will be able to put additional shots to good effect, this mechanic gives those being targeted the chance to escape before they are taken out.
While this may sound frustrating for those playing as Vantage, her rifle does a lot more than simply deal damage.
Anyone hit by Sniper’s Mark, as the name suggests, becomes marked.
This is an invitation for your teammates to gang up on this opponent, as their weapons will also deal 15% more damage.
Her tactical ability, Echo Relocation, allows her to move her pet Echo anywhere on the map.
If she can see Echo, she then has the ability to move to them wherever they are by jumping towards them.
Used correctly, this ability can enable hasty retreats, and crafty flanks.
Vantage also comes with the Passive ability, Spotter’s Lens.
This allows her to know the opponents shield rarity, team size and range, and even share this knowledge with her teammates.
Winder explained how these abilities work together: “The original goal was really around encouraging long-range engagements.
“Can we make a character who's based purely around long-range?”
“So the first versions of the kit didn't have any movement, there was no Echo, there was no movement tactical.
“You can end up too far from your team, or getting to high ground to make those shots can be a chore,” he continued.
“Catching up or closing on a team when you have done those first few shots of damage is really difficult if you don't have a character on your team that can help you do that.
“So that created that need to solve this problem, and Echo was it.”
This also creates an interesting synergy with other Legends.
Ash’s passive ability will let the team know where death boxes are – paired with Vantage’s knowledge, this can be devastating for the opponents.
Respawn has created a more aggressive season of Apex Legends, changing Kings Canyon to favour close combat, and adding laser sight attachments. Perfect for that team-up.
Winder has his own ideas on how a team could synergise with Vantage: “A Rampart setting up some shields for her to shoot through to amp that damage even further.
“Ash is a good one, or any other movement Legend – Octane with the jump pad or Pathfinder with his grapple and the zipline itself.
“As she is now, she doesn't really need the mobility from other legends to get there.
“But the fact that those legends have the mobility to pounce on a team, those are going to be good combinations.”
While characters with movement abilities make great teammates for Vantage, they also prove to be tricky opponents.
These characters can take advantage of her position when she’s isolated from her teammates, and shield-based Legends could quickly become her downfall.
Design director Evan Nikolich explained what he saw in playtesting: “I think that most impressive are the ones where they're very deliberate in the flanking.
“Like, you get suppressed, then you lose track of Echo, and then all of a sudden you’re getting shot. It's like, ‘Oh, no, I have to reposition.’
“So it's like learning that new skill of knowing where Vantage is on the field.
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“Now I have to respect her, but also where Echo is – where she could possibly be coming from. So yeah, some high-skill plays there.”
Apex Legends Season 14 lands on August 9. You can find out all the changes being made this season on our hub page at that link.
Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.
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