Laser sights have been a topic of major discussion in the Apex Legends community in season 14. Some people like them, but a vocal contingent of players view the attachments as essentially useless.
So why exactly did laser sights come to Apex, and why were barrel stabilizers removed as a possible attachment for submachine guns? Well, it’s pretty simple, according to Respawn developers: SMGs were too good at too many things.
In a Reddit AMA today, multiple Apex devs fielded community questions from the Apex Legends subreddit regarding the game’s current weapon and legend meta. And when asked about laser sights and why they came into the game, senior game designer Eric noted how good SMGs were at multiple ranges in the right hands.
According to Eric, putting barrel stabilizers on SMGs allowed them to be just as good at longer ranges as several assault rivals, which made them incredibly powerful. Having at least one SMG began to feel like a requirement to succeed, and the dev team wanted to return assault rifles to a dominant place in mid-range combat. In order to do that, the balance team decided to remove barrel stabilizers from SMGs altogether.
To maintain a balance and better define the combat ranges of the two classes, however, the team also decided to create a new attachment that would aid SMGs in close-quarters combat. With that in mind, laser sights were born. The balance team also shipped a nerf to hipfire for assault rifles to make sure that they wouldn’t fall into the same exact trap that they had fallen into with SMGs being good at too many ranges, and the balance was complete.
While players still argue over just how useful the laser sights are, it’s difficult to disagree that some of the game’s SMGs, such as the CAR and the Volt, have been among the most powerful weapons in the game over the course of the past several seasons. Even without the use of barrel stabilizers, they’ve still maintained a large popularity with players in season 14.
A better way to think about the difference between the two attachments might be to not think about whether the laser sights are “useful” or not in terms of whether they feel as impactful as the barrel stabilizers used to. They clearly do not feel as impactful, because they’re not supposed to. That doesn’t mean that the attachment is necessarily useless, as the only way it becomes useless is if a player is constantly ADSing with an SMG.
It might not make the SMG fans of the world out there happy, but it is interesting to see how one new weapon attachment became a means of balancing two entire classes of weapons.