Apex Legend’s Great Controversy Over “Strapping Wirets” Explained
Apex Legends, the Battle Royale motion shooter game developed by Repsawn Entertainment, is no stranger to controversy. Because Mountain peak supports cross-play, PC and console gamers for a while pored over the slight differences and what benefits each party gets from whatever platform they choose. All of this set the stage for an outcry online after the recent announcement that strafing, a movement technique exclusive to the PC, would be removed from the game.
Apex Legends, as a direct descendant of Fall of the Titans 2, favors the fluidity of movements, linking jumps, sprints and slides to transform the battlefield into a canvas for expressive speed and grace. The amount of technique required makes them incredibly difficult to play at first. Entering a match Apex Legends as a newbie to the shooter it is… quite an experience. As you stumble in search of anything to defend yourself, your opponents will swarm around you, bouncing off shit and grabbing everything within thirty yards of their landing point in seconds. They will then shoot you to death.
One of the game’s top-level techniques that makes such domination possible is, or was, known as strafing. Stabbing allows someone to leap into the air and perform a full 180 while maintaining their jump momentum before hitting the ground. It combines a bunch of different movement abilities with some unique Source Engine quirks to create some really wild shit. It’s also only possible on PC, which is why it was retired at the end of August.
I will break it down into its constituent parts. First of all, you need to be able to bunny shop. Bunnyhopping is the process of jumping the same frame as your character comes in contact with the ground in order to maintain momentum and move your hitbox quickly, making it harder for you to hit. Bunnyhopping is possible, but difficult for controllers because it has a pretty tight timing. It’s much easier on PC, where you can tie a “jump” to your scroll wheel, allowing you to enter dozens of jump entries every second. This is a fairly common strategy in virtually all first person shooter games.
There is an advanced version of this technique known as strafe jumping. Moving diagonally in a video game is faster than moving forward because that’s how triangles work. You move the same distance forward in the same amount of time, with an additional movement to the side. You can then combine this with bunnyhopping. Once you’re strafing while strafing, you can quickly move the mouse in the direction you’re strafing to convert your lateral speed to forward movement. This allows you to move incredibly quickly, albeit with a slight curve.
The tap strafing built on this technique with a Source engine quirk. The source motor checks the player’s direction and momentum whenever the forward key is pressed. So if you press forward while facing a different direction halfway through the jump, you can change the direction you are going. You can do this by literally pressing the forward arrow key, or you can just go around the bunny again and tie forward movement to your scroll wheel. Doing this allows you to drastically change direction in the air, allowing you to move in incredibly wild ways.
This movement technique is only possible with a mouse and keyboard, giving PC gamers a huge advantage in cross-play like Apex Legends. Respawn has been trying to keep their PC and console communities working well for a while, and it’s not going well. The removal of machine guns is their most recent attempt to level the playing field.
Although this particular situation is not surprising given Apex historic, it highlights the challenges developers will continue to face as cross-play becomes more prevalent across support. Having to balance not only the variety of weapons and characters, but also the material differences, presents an incredible challenge for the future.