When I first began playing Apex Legends, the fluid shooting mechanics ensnared me. It had been a while since I’d played such an engaging first person shooter. My Call of Duty days are well behind me and the less said about my time in Fortnite, the better. There was just something so enticing about Apex Legends – no surprise, considering it was made by the same people who brought us Titanfall – but it quickly became my go-to game to play with my online friends. It proved to be the refreshing break from Fortnite that the genre desperately needed. Not to take anything away from the undisputed champion of Battle Royale, but the building system isn’t for everyone, myself included. With Apex Legends, you are free to engage the enemy without fear of them building the Taj Mahal on you!
Many others must have felt the same way. Apex Legends stormed the Twitch charts on launch and surpassed 50 million players, breaking Fortnite’s world record in less than two weeks. It also benefited from big name gaming personalities streaming it, such as Shroud and Dr. Disrespect, alongside widespread acclaim. However, a few months on, Apex Legends has lost 75% of its Twitch viewership and is facing repeated criticism for its lacklustre battle pass. It’s no surprise that many fans are concerned for its future.
A worthy competitor
The drop in viewers could well be down to the Fortnite World Cup currently dominating the BR and esports scene. That said, many avid Twitch users were accusing Apex Legends of being “bland” to watch. I can certainly understand that; first time viewers can find the different characters confusing. Why can he grapple? Why can’t he just create a portal to catch up the way she did? And just whose traps are these, ours or the enemy team? Unfortunately, the confusion of watching a new game isn’t something that’s fixable and is down to the individual streamers to do their best to showcase the game.
Many fans of Apex consider the long drawn out mid-game to be responsible for creating both a boring Twitch and player experience. This is something we’ve recently addressed in our advanced tips for Apex Legends, but it’s a subject that can’t be ignored. The randomly allocated “Hot Zone” during the drop phase was causing many squads to drop early in the hope of high tier loot. This was leading to a bloodbath in the early game and a serious cull of players. You could then spend ten minutes strolling around Kings Canyon without encountering an enemy squad.
We’ve seen big community figures like Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek address the “stupidity” of hot dropping. Respawn Entertainment themselves seem to be listening, for the most recent patch saw the drop ship receive a 50% speed increase. Perhaps this is to encourage more variety in our drop habits. Personally, I feel a lot of the map is going unexplored; maybe it’s time to remove the “Hot Zone” at the start or at least not show it. This will encourage more exploration rather than “Skull Town or bust!”.
No matter how engaging the shooting mechanics are, there’s always going to be weapons that overshadow others. Battle Royale games have a history of overpowered shotguns and Apex Legends was no different. The Peacekeeper has, however, been toned down and is in a good place now. That said, the Spitfire LMG continues to dominate the meta. Despite receiving some minor nerfs, its carry potential remains untouched and can potentially down an entire squad with one magazine even while hip-firing. This has proven obnoxious in close quarters areas like Bunker.
I’m not a fan of nerfing into the ground. Instead, powerful guns like the Spitfire could have their spawn rate decreased. It’s not uncommon for most squads to have at least one Spitfire in the final circle. And while we’re on the subject, perhaps Respawn could consider buffing the Mozambique. The memes are great, but keeping a gun low-tier for the sake of “memes” isn’t healthy balancing. Loot-based games may depend on having a hierarchy of weapons – otherwise, it wouldn’t matter what you found – but they need to shake things up.
Speaking of weapons, a recent buff to the Havoc energy rifle has raised a few eyebrows. On launch, its 25-bullet magazine rendered it sub-optimal to use over its Devotion LMG counterpart. It has since received an increase in size to 32 as Respawn try to encourage people to use the gun they seem so proud of. After all, they made a three-stage legendary skin for it, rewarded to players for completing their battle pass – whether they like it not. And its content like this that they need to step up for season two. Did they anticipate Apex Legends being a runaway success? Probably not. A battle pass catering to casual players who want to earn cool cosmetics is a great start, but they mustn’t forget about their more skilled players who want to complete fun challenges to earn unique rewards.
All this in mind, Apex Legends launched with a ton of potential with some revolutionary game mechanics that made for a refreshing entry to the BR genre. Not only that, but many modern games would kill for just 1% of its player base. It has, however, suffered from obnoxious weapons and a lacklustre battle pass. It would be a shame to look back in a year’s time and remember this as its descent. But no matter what happens – improvements or none – its ping system and respawn mechanics will have left its mark on the genre.
The ping system in particular served as the wakeup call that Epic Games needed. Their place at the top was being challenged. Along came their own quick communication system alongside game-changing respawns of their own.
In a worst case scenario, Apex Legends will be remembered as the Battle Royale that reshaped Fortnite for the better.