Respawn has released a small patch for Apex Legends on the day of the Season 8 Ranked Split. The patch brings back heat shields to the ranked playlist, but also nerfs the item.
Primarily designed as a means of temporarily surviving outside the ring, heat shields were removed from the ranked playlist following the discovery of an exploit that allowed players to survive indefinitely outside the ring. With their return to ranked, it’s probably safe to say that the exploit has been fixed.
Just pushed out a small @playapex update:
🔥 Heat Shields are returning to the regular loot pool in regular and ranked playlists.
🚫 Fast-heal has been removed from Heat Shields
🔧 Minor map tweaks to prevent players from getting stuck in King’s Canyon
🛡️ Shields up, Legends 🛡️
— Respawn (@Respawn) March 23, 2021
The patch is geared towards addressing the heat shield’s secondary function: faster healing. When used outside the ring, heat shields imbue healing items with enhanced strength, allowing those inside them to more quickly recharge body shields, use bandages to recover health, revive teammates, or self-revive. This patch removes that function.
It’s actually a pretty major change–and honestly, not one that I’m all that fond of. Heat shields previously existed as this risky way to get the drop on squads by temporarily fighting from places outside the safe zone, with their loud deployment and bright blue dome acting as a beacon to your location. Additionally, they worked as a great way to loot and heal up before making a last ditch effort to reach the safe zone after being caught outside of the ring following a prolonged fight.
With this patch, neither strategy will be as easy to pull off–I think you need the benefit of being able to quickly heal in order for heat shields to have any utility in Apex Legends’ meta. Heat shields last for shorter periods outside the ring the later into the match you go, but the faster healing benefit ensured you could quickly pop at least one healing item before the shield collapsed during the end-of-match rings. Without that benefit, they’re just beacons to a squad caught outside the ring–despite their name, heat shields do not actually act as shields that block damage.
That said, Respawn seems open to feedback on how heat shields are working out and whether they need further tweaking, so maybe the item will be further adjusted in future updates. “Share clips of why turning this on in ranked is a bad idea,” Apex Legends associate live balance designer John Larson tweeted. “Share clips of why turning this on in ranked is a good idea. Curious to see how heat shield affects gameplay. I got some theories. Keep in mind we have plenty of dials we can turn for balancing.”
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