Analysing Wraith’s ascent to the top of Apex Legends.
Apex Legends’ golden girl, Wraith, has been a hot topic in the community lately. Wraith receives a nerf pretty much every patch. In fact, the Legend has been nerfed a total of nine times. In an interview on the Third Party podcast, senior game designer Daniel Klein claimed that more Wraith nerfs are on the way. The dev team hopes to bring her power “under control” once and for all.
During the interview, Klein says, “I don’t want to hit her kit any more. We’ve pushed that to the breaking point.” Klein continued, “we’re going to take a look at her hitboxes and see how much wiggle room we have there.” Wraith already lost her signature Naruto run, but it looks like further hitbox adjustments are incoming.
The developers have come out season after season with data claiming that Wraith has the highest usage rate and win rate in both casual and competitive play. So, the developers continue to hit Wraith with minor nerfs in hopes of bringing her more in line with other Legends. We’ve seen both her Tactical and Ultimate abilities have their cooldowns increased as well as the addition of the Low Profile perk. However, none of this has made a dent in Wraith’s success as a Legend.
This is because Wraith’s pick rate and win rate have nothing to do with her hitbox or a couple of seconds of increased cooldown time on her abilities. Wraith’s popularity comes from both outside perception and her innate ability kit. Here’s why Wraith will always be the most popular Legend.
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In a game like Apex Legends, most players like to choose a “main” character. This Legend is the player's first choice and the one they focus their efforts on mastering.
In the case of many players, that main character is Wraith. Wraith has been the poster child of Apex Legends since its initial release. On the outside, Wraith is simply a cool Legend. She has aesthetically pleasing skins, nice voice lines, and was the only Legend with an heirloom upon release. It’s easy to see why players would naturally be drawn to her. In terms of gameplay, Wraith was objectively the best Legend on release. A Legend does not receive nine nerfs if they weren't overpowered to begin with.
These facts have had a long-lasting effect on Wraith’s overall pick rate. No matter how hard she gets nerfed, a lot of players will use her regardless. For Wraith mains, switching Legends means losing all of their hard-earned stats, badges, skins, and possibly even their heirloom. If a player has spent hundreds of hours building up thousands of kills on Wraith, they aren’t likely to restart on another Legend. Similarly, if a player spent a bunch of money on skins and/or the kunai heirloom, they probably feel obligated to continue using Wraith.
Most Wraith mains are heavily invested in her both timewise and monetarily. These players will stick with Wraith through thick and thin, so minor nerfs will do little to throttle her high pick rate.
Wraith is a Pub-Stomper
Diving deeper into the gameplay side of things, Wraith’s kit attracts talented players — or “sweats”. There’s a reason most of the TTVers out there main Wraith.
Her small hitbox makes Wraith a pain to deal with 1v1. Respawn’s data tells us that Wraith has the highest engagement win rate. Wraith’s Tactical ability essentially serves as a Get Out of Jail Free card. Wraith players can pop Into the Void to escape any sticky situation. Other Legends are punished when caught out of position. Wraith, however, can go invisible — and invincible — to escape and reset the fight.
These features and abilities make Wraith great for solo queuing — something much of the playerbase is forced to do without a dedicated Solos playlist. Additionally, the small hitbox paired with Wraith’s movement and escape abilities play right into the hands of a skilled, aggressive player. Wraith is the ideal Legend for high kill games. Try-hards are much more likely to use her over a Legend like Wattson. No amount of nerfing will change that; it’s just the way the Legends were designed.
Wraith is a mandatory pick in competitive play
Wraith’s dominance is highlighted in competitive play. Throughout Apex Legends' lifespan, Wraith has always held a 100% pick rate in major competitive tournaments. Every single team has a Wraith player. There is no other Legend that comes close to the monopoly Wraith has on pick rate.
Wraith’s Ultimate ability, Dimensional Rift, is solely responsible for this. Dimensional Rift is an invaluable tool in competitive play. Wraith is the only Legend able to reposition her team to safety. This is absolutely crucial in high-level competitive play.
Dimensional Rift has tons of other niche uses as well. Dimensional Rift can be used to portal downed teammates back to safety, kidnap enemy players for an easy kill, and avoid ring damage. Out of any Ultimate ability in the game, Wraith’s has the most utility.
The Problem with Wraith
As you can see, Wraith’s hitbox is not the problem. Wraith’s Tactical ability is not the problem. It’s her kit as a whole combined with how powerful she was when the game initially released.
The sunk cost fallacy is a real thing. Regardless of what the developers do to Wraith, it’ll be hard to pry players away from a Legend they’ve been invested in since launch.
Wraith could have the hitbox of Caustic and professional players would still use her for her Ultimate ability. There are so many situations where Wraith survives where every other Legend would have failed.
With this in mind, there are only a couple things the developers could do to bring Wraith in line with the other Legends.
How to Fix Wraith
There are two possible ways to fix Wraith’s extremely high pick rate and win rate. One is to completely rework her kit. The developers would need to give her an entirely new Ultimate ability or change how Dimensional Rift works at its core. This would be a major task, and not something the developers are likely looking to do.
The other option is to add more Legends with kits just as useful and fun. Players need a true incentive to switch off of Wraith. Legends like Rampart just can’t compete. Not many players want to play it slow, holding one position all game. Rampart’s mounted machine gun is so niche compared to the broad utility offered by Wraith’s Ultimate. Horizon is a good start. Unlike other new Legends, she released with a relatively powerful kit and is fun to play aggressively. Still, Horizon is not viable in high-level competitive play.
Even if a comparable Legend is added, there’s a decent chance Wraith remains the most popular Legend. In that scenario, players would just combine both the new Legend and Wraith on the same team.
As things stand, Wraith will always have the highest pick rate and win rate. No amount of petty nerfs will change that. The developers need to turn their focus away from Wraith’s hitbox and Tactical ability and start to analyse why exactly Wraith is favoured at all levels of play. Outside of a complete rework, Wraith will always be the most popular Legend.
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Images via Respawn Entertainment