I read these forums a lot, have seen plenty of threads about the third party meta that we are in since launch, and usually people say that reducing the distance at which we can hear gunshots would eliminate the problem, but although I think it would certainly lower its effectiveness, it wouldn't be enough to change the meta altogether.
See, I have some kinda theory about the reasons why third partying happens so frequently in Apex that it became meta, became a strategy that you must use if you want to get more and easier wins, especially in ranked. Let's go then, analysis time:
There are many things that make Apex different from other BRs, mainly: the slow TTK, fast and fluid character mobility, the relatively small map which is kind of a mixture of small arenas tied together without all those vast open areas that are so common in other battle royales. All of these elements, coupled with the large distance gunshots can be heard from, facilitate third partying.
We all know Apex has slow/long time-to-kill. This wouldn't be a problem if the map was big enough so that players have time to finish a gunfight before another team arrives, but King's Canyon barely has room for 60 players. In ranked, from high Gold+ players tend to land far from other teams to avoid losing RP, and it's really hard to land in a good spot without having to fight for loot early with another squad or two. Many times you will be forced to fight, but gunfights usually last more than a minute and generate so much noise that it's almost impossible to finish a fight early without getting ganked/third partied, specially early game when everyone needs to find good loot quickly, usually the most effective way is to just wait for two teams bump into one another and then third-party them for easy kills and loot.
See, what I really think that makes third-partying so easy to execute is the fact that gunfights last too long for how small the map is, plus how far sounds travel. This also contributes to the "camping" meta in ranked play: since RP gain for kills is capped and you probably won't have time to finish a fight + heal + loot without getting ganked anyway, it's way better to land somewhere safe, get some loot and wait for people to die to at least guarantee that you won't lose RP.
What could be done then, reduce TTK to COD levels?
Of course not, I think this would break the game completely if it ever happened. I really like the idea of lowering sound max travel distance, but this alone wouldn't be enough, because there's another thing that contributes to the whole matter: body armor is too powerful. I don't even think that the guns in Apex deal low damage, what really makes the TTK this high is the fact that body armor can double your HP pool. In Pubg for instance, the difference between killing a player with lvl 1 armor vs lv 3 armor is two or three bullets at best, plus helmets can be broken, so you won't always have headshot damage reduction like you have in Apex. Here, the difference between body armor rarities is so big that even if you are a better player you'll probably lose to "that lucky guy" that happens to land directly on a lvl 3 vest if you have a lvl 1 or even no armor.
I think that armor would need a slight nerf to make fights end faster, giving players time to loot their victims and prepare for the other 3 squads heading in their direction. Maybe something like 12-14 bullets to kill a purple armor target? It usually takes 16 or 18 I guess, so the difference wouldn't be too big, and could finally change the third-party meta.
While I don't really think Respawn would actually change the TTK 5 months after release (it has happened before in Battlefield 1, though) , maybe this can be the start of a healthy discussion. Sorry if this got too long, hope you have the patience to read and share your thoughts!
July - last edited July
@Anlbrd Circle closing and hearing a team fight doesn't really stop 3ping though, it just delays it while you circle camp the spot the team is going to most likely have to run to as they spam heals...This doesn't happen 100% of the time, but it is a common strat and far less dangerous then actively 3ping a team.