State of the Union: Apex Legends

Legends last forever…. or do they?

I really tried my hardest to avoid this one. I love Apex Legends as it has solid gameplay mechanics, and it paved way for more evolution in the battle royale genre. I really wanted to compete competitively in this game with my friends, but our schedules were too different to sync up a comp grinding schedule.

Apex has had its ups and downs, but it looks like the downs are going to suffocate the heck out of this title.

Let’s talk some Apex Legends folks.

The Lead-Up

This game took the world by surprise on its arrival last year.

I remember being on lunch break and popular esports insider, Slasher, was dropping some bombs on Twitter. He was saying Titanfall 2 developer Respawn Entertainment was planning on releasing a free-to-play battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe in a day (This is all paraphrasing obviously. No way am I digging through his tweets). This came as a massive surprise since everybody assumed Respawn was working on a possible Titanfall 3. Nonetheless, gaming community seemed pretty pumped, and boy did it surprise us.

This section is pretty short for the fact that nobody even knew this was a thing until it came out.

The Release

Apex Legends dropped (get it, battle royale reference?) February 4, 2019. What made this game unique is the blend of gameplay influences it successfully managed to merge. There were 8 playable characters each with their own abilities, passive, tactical, and ultimate related. It was a much faster paced game that was much appreciated since BR counterparts PUBG and Fortnite encouraged slower styles of play. The game also launched with trios as the default option meaning teams of three would enter the arena hoping to come atop the 60 player battle for supremacy.

Apex incorporated a banner system that allowed you to revive fallen comrades. Pick up their banner and you can bring them back to the battlefield. Respawn also included a pretty robust “Ping System” allowing for top tier communication with randoms who don’t have headsets. Both systems in turn made their ways to Fortnite and even Call of Duty’s Warzone. Outside of that, the game featured an awesome map, a crap ton of references to the Titanfall universe that inspired the game, and a surprisingly little influence by publishing partner EA.

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 7.56.19 PM.png
Reviews were good.

Post Release

It looks like developer Respawn was on to something when they launched Apex Legends. The total lack of coverage prior to launch made the game fresh, and the fact that they managed to keep EA at bay really helped increase the game’s performance. By the end of launch week, 25 million players had played the game, and that number increased to over 50 million come March 2019. The game looked like a formidable competitor to popular BR Fortnite. That was until it started to slow down.

Whether we wanted it or not (I have no idea why I typed that, but enjoy the reference). Fans quickly realized that Apex Legends wasn’t going to receive the support that Fortnite was receiving, At least at the time, Fortnite was receiving weekly content updates with a new weapon and updates to the core gameplay. The “Fortnite Effect” kicked in as players were clamoring for new content and didn’t receive it. Seasons were introduced in March 2019 as new content was brought to the game every few months. The content ranged from a new character to new changes to the map, and the introduction of the beloved Battle Pass system. However, during the seasons not much content made its way to the game.

Dinkleberg!” This is Fortnite by the way.

Summer brought the next season to Apex Legends, and it got ugly. I covered it in a blog post, but here’s the summary. Developer Respawn introduced The Iron Crown event as a way to combat the dry spells of no content. The event was really cool, but for some reason, it brought event specific loot boxes that cost more than the standard loot boxes, and those loot boxes didn’t even guarantee you the event items. The devs “fixed it” by cycling loot boxes and allowing players to directly by the loot boxes. It didn’t fix shit, the community was pissed and they got into a civil war with the devs on Reddit. It was actually hilarious from the outside looking in, and I still laugh just thinking about the whole situation.

So if the above incident was the climax, post climax, I don’t think that Apex Legends ever recovered. Season 2 brought a new character by the name of Wattson that slowed the game down massively. It did bring a Ranked playlist which is actually a ton of fun. Season 3 brought a brand new map, an annoying new weapon by the name of the Charge Rifle, yet the problem of content still persisted. Another issue is the lack of quality updates with muzzle flash being a huge problem, bugs galore, and supposed claims of the dreaded skill based matchmaking.

Something else that I haven’t even mentioned was the idea that Apex Legends could be an esports giant. Esports teams started signing players a month after release hoping the game would take off. I’m pretty sure 50% of those teams aren’t around anymore. It did take off, but not like it should’ve competitively. Respawn didn’t announce until December 2019 that they were going to start hosting tournaments, and by that point, the game started to see a drop off. Not to mention they didn’t even have private servers for teams to scrimmage properly.

Let me slide on out of here.

I think what really hurt this game is the lack of preparation on Respawn’s part. Whether you like it to not, Fortnite laid the blueprint on how to be a successful BR. Apex strayed away from that path, and it really shows. By no means am I saying Apex Legends failed in its mission because it didn’t. Part of me wonders if it’s because Respawn was working on other games and couldn’t fully commit to the maintenance of their shooter. I read somewhere though a developer said that wasn’t the case, but given the circumstances, maybe they just weren’t ready to match the demand. At this time, a lot of the pro scene is done with the game and picking up Warzone or patiently waiting for Riot’s Counter Strike/Overwatch style game called Valorant.

This one really hurt me to write which explains why it might seem all over the place. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Titanfall 2 is one of my favorite shooters of all time. EA killed that one by releasing it before Battlefield 1. This game just suffered due to the “Fortnite Effect”.

I think by the end of this year Apex Legends will see a drastic dip. Hopefully, I’m wrong. What do you think though?





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