How Apex Legends Continues to Gain Momentum
Apex Legends is huge, and it’s only getting bigger
Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends recently hit a massive milestone; 100 million active players over the lifetime of the game. The two years that have built to this moment cement Apex as one of the biggest names in the Battle Royale space, alongside Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone (with the latter also hitting 100 million players on April 20th).
Considering the history of the game itself, it’s quite a feat. Launching quietly, without fanfare in February of 2019, Apex was lauded for its excellent movement and wonderful introduction of different playable characters in the battle royale space. But it wasn’t without issues. The launch was buggy and some of the balance of the game wasn’t quite right. But, in time, weapons were adjusted and the legends themselves were altered to make gameplay more fair. Many more legends have been introduced in the meantime, bringing the roster from 8 initial legends to the 16 that are currently playable. Each legend feels unique and is quite playable, with any advantages or disadvantages that each legend had from the beginning of the lifecycle of the game being roughly eliminated.
Part of what has set Apex apart from the rest of battle royales and games as a service titles is the constant communication streaming from the development team. Apex developers release a comprehensive list of patch notes ahead of each major release, detailing everything from entirely new maps to miniscule changes to recoil patterns and damage capabilities of each weapon.
Although the communication is certainly appreciated, there’s no question that Apex still has a variety of problems. The game sometimes feels as though it’s a testing ground for new ideas. I’m all for exploring different things, but when it leads to an unpolished final game, frustration starts to build. The most recent event held in Apex, War Games, is a perfect example. Despite a grandiose plan of having 5 distinct game modes within the span of 10 or so days, the event quickly took a turn as problems plagued the new mode on the first day. Several quick fixes later and it was finally decided that, of the 5 excitedly announced game modes, only 2 would be available, and on a different schedule than initially anticipated. Again, the open dialogue that Respawn keeps with its players is appreciated, but a polished experience certainly would have led to less frustration. It’s a part of the ethos of what Respawn has built with Apex Legends, producing the bad with the good.
Fortunately, for every negative experience with a change in the game, there are a number of positives. Experimentation has resulted in several key additions to the game, clearly showing the limited time modes (LTM) had their purpose of testing out potentially beneficial content in the game. Things like constantly evolving shields, called Evo shields, were a result of testing done in an LTM. Now, as you can create and improve your shields just by the amount of damage that you do, making the game feel more geared towards combat than defense. Whereas before it was key to pick up both shields and a gun at the start of the game, now it feels much more viable to just grab a weapon and go.
And there are loads of examples just like this of making the game not just look aesthetically different, but also making it feel different and, importantly, more fun. Additions to gameplay have enhanced the experience, subtly tweaking in-game tactics without throwing players into a completely different environment than what they signed up for two years ago.
Now, Apex is preparing to launch its 9th season and has just released one of its iconic character trailers which feels more like a short film than an advertisement for the game. The excellent cinematic builds yet more lore into the game and brings Apex as close as its ever been to Respawn’s Titanfall franchise, which exists in the same world as Apex. Apex’s 9th season will more than likely include map overhauls and a plethora of changes to the minutia of the game which impacts the flow of gameplay, something that’s especially noticeable for frequent players. And with the new season, if previous seasons are anything to go by, there will be frequent interesting diversions to the typical gameplay pattern throughout the season to keep players satisfied. We can count on Respawn to continue to iterate on an already strong game, and to communicate it clearly all the way.