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.
Does anyone else notice something strange about Apex Legends’ Valkyrie, Wattson, Mad Maggie, and Rampart? Like, it’s weird that four of the legends that shoulder some of the heaviest equipment in the game are, at the same time, some of the thinnest, right? It kind of feels like those four need buffs to their actual stature.
In Valkyrie, Wattson, and Rampart’s case, all three legends are carrying what looks to be exceptionally heavy equipment on their backs at all times. Wattson carries around her cumbersome-looking Interception Pylon, Rampart is lugging around this massive minigun, and Valkyrie has a jetpack that utilizes the repurposed flight core of a Titan.
I could maybe buy that Valkyrie’s jetpack is always passively on, providing just enough lift to alleviate some of the burden that she’s carrying without actually taking her skyward. But even then, wouldn’t she still need to be exceptionally fit to repeatedly go back-and-forth between crouching and standing with such a heavy piece of equipment resting on her shoulders? And there’s probably quite a bit of force exerted onto her when she’s actually flying with the jetpack, considering how fast she’s going and how little protection she’s wearing.
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And it feels really weird when it comes to Wattson and Rampart, who are repeatedly picking up and placing their equipment. Even if the two are the youngest legends in the competition, both should have shoulders and legs built like rocks with all the lifting they have to do. Rampart especially, considering she can now pick up and carry her minigun while it’s firing with practically zero kickback. I reckon she should look less like a not-well-off college student and more like Zayra from Overwatch.
Maggie, similarly to Rampart, has a very thin body type. And although she doesn’t carry anything that looks particularly heavy, Maggie’s ultimate ability does require her to do a lot of throwing. And as anyone who has ever played a sport that involves any sort of throwing can tell you, doing so repeatedly typically gives you very strong shoulders, arms, back, and chest muscles. Yet, Maggie looks like her fellow legends could snap her like a twig.
This has always annoyed me because Respawn clearly isn’t afraid to put larger or more muscular body types into Apex Legends. The battle royale game launched with characters like Gibraltar and Caustic and then got more like Fuse and Newcastle, who are all made to be taller, larger, and more muscular than their counterparts to reflect how they wield heavier armor or weapons. So what gives with those four? Is it just that they’re all women?
Granted, looking physically fit does not equate to being physically strong. But it just seems like Respawn is restricting the number of body types it uses when creating female or femme-presenting characters–almost all of them are small and thin, with Bangalore and Loba being the two exceptions. Even Ash possesses a pronounced hip swing when she walks, giving the thin simulacrum the appearance of model-like curves.
Such a restriction to character design can lead to the issue I’m talking about in this article, where someone like Rampart is lugging around a huge turret-looking gun while still being as exceptionally small and thin as characters like Wraith or Lifeline or Horizon, and thus appearing to be too weak to do what she’s able to do. Respawn could have designed Rampart to look physically strong but opted for a design that leans into making her more conventionally attractive.
It’s such a strange double standard for the typically progressive character design team at Respawn, which has explored a multitude of body types for Apex Legends’ male characters, creating room for different levels of fitness and strength. Seer and Gibraltar are both fit-looking legends, for example, though Seer is quite thin while Gibraltar is more physically imposing–both look strong, just in different ways. That same level of variety doesn’t extend to the women in Apex Legends’ roster.
Admittedly, I don’t know how feasible it would be to make these changes to Valkyrie, Wattson, Maggie, or Rampart. I’m not a game designer, so I won’t claim that what I’m asking for is an easy fix. To retroactively adjust the bodies of all four characters so that they’d authentically reflect how they should actually appear given the equipment and weapons they use, Respawn would need to redesign the proportions for (as of the start of Season 13) over 200 cosmetic skins. Plus there are animations to consider and hitboxes to adjust, the latter of which could influence the positions of these characters in Apex Legends’ meta.
With all this in mind, I do concede that it may be too late for characters like Valkyrie, Maggie, Wattson, and Rampart. But if that’s true, then maybe Respawn should consider stuff like this from the outset going forward. Because when you look at characters like Rampart–who are carrying these huge, massive weapons but then have the skinniest arms out of any legend in the game–it looks unrealistic and silly.
So I’m calling on you Respawn to make Valkyrie, Maggie, Wattson, and Rampart buff, or–if that’s too hard at this point–at least keep in mind how a character will look when designing their aesthetic alongside their toolkit. If you’re going to give a character big guns, make sure you also give them big guns.