Respawn balance designer wants to see Gibraltar get buffed in Apex

Nerf Gibraltar for good players by buffing him for bad players. It's a 300 I.Q. idea. But is it possible?

Image via Respawn Entertainment

Among the top players in the Apex Legends community, Gibraltar reigns supreme. The Shielded Fortress is widely acknowledged as one of the best legends in the game, even after getting nerfed several times.

Gibby is versatile: His bombardment ultimate and passive gun shield make him a strong damage dealer and his tactical bubble is near-broken on defense. There’s no other ability that comes close to the team reset Gibraltar’s bubble can provide. That makes Gibby almost indispensable in high-level ranked play and his pick rate in pro Apex is sky-high. Most pro teams use a Gibraltar.

But John Larson, a balance designer at Respawn, pointed out in an interview during a recent Twitch Rivals event that Gibraltar actually struggles among lesser-skilled players and that, if anything, he’d like to buff Gibraltar. The madness started when veteran caster Mark “Onset” Hatcher asked Larson which legends he thought were due for a buff.

“This one will be a spicy answer,” Larson warned—and it was. But he had data to back it up. Gibraltar’s pick rate is actually “in the low single digits” overall. He’s more popular at higher levels, but Larson reasoned that skilled players choose him because they have to, not because they want to.

“He’s not a fun pick for a lot of players,” Larson said. “He’s got powerful team-centric abilities that are on long cooldowns. The stakes are high with using his kit effectively. If you use the abilities in a less than ideal way, you can easily be punished as a big target with dead buttons. I’ve seen a few ideas for Gibby nerfs at the top end. But honestly, that’s just a tough sell when his overall pick rate is on the low end.”

Larson suggested that in the broader landscape of legend balance, Gibby needs to become “a more accessible and fun option at all levels, while simultaneously making them less of a must pick at the top.” It remains unclear exactly how that could happen without inadvertently making Gibraltar even stronger.