Having a cast of characters with unique personalities and abilities adds variety to the gameplay and ensures that just about everybody can find a character they enjoy playing. But what sets Apex Legends apart from other shooters with unique characters is that it is a Battle Royale game.
I think Battle Royale games can make it more difficult to balance character abilities because of how different each game plays. Any team of legends can drop on any spot on the map and use any weapons and equipment they want to. That's a lot of variables to consider when trying to balance a game.
So what could Apex Legends look like if we simplified that equation by removing character abilities and instead introduced equipment that any player could use that mimicked character abilities.
Issues with removing character abilities
There would be some immediate issues if this hypothetical were actually put into practice. The most obvious of which would be the oversaturated loot pool. There are currently 18 legends in apex legends, each with a passive, tactical, and ultimate ability. So we would be adding a minimum of 54 new items to be scattered across the map. If you think it's difficult to find a Turbocharger now imagine how rarely you would find the loot you're after with 50 additional items floating around.
Another issue would be balancing the combination of some abilities. Sure, Pathfinder and Octane can be frustrating to chase down as it is, but it could be much worse. Imagine chasing someone who found Octane's jump pad, Pathfinder's grapple, and Valkyrie's jetpack. Or trying to push into an area guarded by a player who found Wattson's electric fences, Caustic's gas traps, and Fuse's Knucklecluster. And because all of these could be picked up as items, the number of "abilities" a player could have is only limited by their inventory space. The game would become absolutely nutty.
But let's say we ignored all these problems and decided to implement this idea anyway. What would some of the abilities look like as items?
Character Abilities Reimagined as Items
Bloodhound's Eye of the Allfather
I said it in Season 0 and I'll say it in Season 11, I am amazed that Bloodhound's ability isn't the Pulse Blade from Titanfall 2. The Pulse Blade functions very similarly to Bloodhound's scan ability in Apex Legends, except that it was a throwable item. Personally, I think this would be more fun to use and possibly even more balanced than Bloodhound's scan as it is.
Gibraltar's Gun Shield
This one might actually make people quit the game. Gibraltar's gun shield is considered one of the strongest passive abilities in the game because it allows people to tank extra damage in a firefight. If everyone was able to have one on both of their weapons players would likely riot.
Fuse's passive allows him to launch throwables further than any other legend. Currently, it isn't considered to be a strong passive because the only throwables in the game are grenades. But having all throwable legend abilities as items would add a ridiculous amount of utility to the game. Players who found the wrist launcher would be able to fling Loba's teleporting bracelet, Revenant's silence or Gibraltar's dome of protection ridiculous distances.