Apex Legends is removing tap strafing. Even if you had never heard the term before two days ago, the decision is now the biggest discussion among the Apex Legends community. While likely exacerbated by the perpetual 'controller versus mouse-and-keyboard' debate, the unintended movement mechanic offers high-level plays for those who have learned it. You'll likely have noticed it if you've made it to the top end of the Apex Legends ranked leaderboards.
Despite pro players and streamers recoiling at the decision and Respawn saying it would further explain the decision in the next Apex Legends patch notes, the developer's associate live balance designer John 'JayBiebs' Larson took to Twitter to offer an explanation.
You can read his full Twitlonger here, but be warned: it's a long read that goes in-depth in the mechanics of designing a competitive game. JayBiebs explains things very eloquently, but it's a very 'inside baseball' look at Respawn's battle royale game.
Respawn Is Bringing in A "Handful" of Apex Legends Pros to Test Tap Strafing Changes
JayBiebs believes tap strafing is "forbidden fruit" that is inaccessible to learn. You need to use strange keybinds and watch YouTube tutorials in order to perfect the mechanic, making it inaccessible for regular players who haven't even heard of the term.
He also explains that the "most problematic" implementation of tap strafing is with movement characters. "Path[finder] grappling past and tap-strafing back into your face with a Mastiff, or Octane cranking 90s while maintaining ridiculous speed, bring up greater gameplay concerns," he writes.
However, there is positive news for players worried about the knock-on effects of removing tap strafing from the game. JayBiebs says that Respawn has "consulted our best MnK players," and is also looking to the community for feedback: "We’re bringing in a handful [of pro players] in to play around with the changes to make sure other movement tech isn’t caught in the cross-fire [sic]."
Which players will be invited remains to be seen, but just having clear communication from Respawn is already proving popular with players.
Respawn's open communication and honesty regarding the tap strafing issue is already placating discussions, no doubt aided by the fact that some players will be involved in the testing of the revised mechanic.
The tap strafing discussions will continue, but this statement has started an open communication between the developer and players and likely increased goodwill between the two.