Apex Legends: Six Month Report Card
Apex Legends has been consistently solid since its unexpected launch in February. Sadly, it has lost a bit of momentum since. While it's certainly great in terms of gameplay, it's hard to see it dethroning Fortnite like some of us first thought it would. Even then, there's a lot of fun to be had, and it doesn't seem like Apex Legends will be going anywhere anytime soon. After all, EA is going to host an Apex Legends esports tourney in Poland in September, which should be interesting.
It's been six months since EA and Respawn Entertainment unleashed Apex Legends. How's it faring at the half-year mark? Here's our report card breakdown.
If the question is whether or not Apex Legends plays well, then the answer is an emphatic yes. There's no denying that the game's mechanics are slick and rock solid, with incredible shooting and minor touches — climbing up walls, fitting your weapons with attachments and hop-ups, the characters' exclusive special abilities — that make for an action-heavy experience that's damn near unparalleled.
Each of the characters has his or her own perks, and while some are obviously stronger than others, they all offer something unique. Thanks to the passive, active, and ultimate abilities each character is equipped with, players are able to formulate a multitude of strategies that vary greatly from party to party. A team consisting of Bangalore, Wraith, and Lifeline, for example, will play much differently than a team featuring Pathfinder, Wattson, and Octane. This helps create a nice deal of variety while also encouraging players to experiment with — and ultimately master — multiple characters.
In the six months that Apex Legends has been playable, there haven't been any major modifications made to the gameplay foundations, and that's fine, because it's hard to fix something that's already so smooth and damn near perfect.
Servers/Connectivity B, but Sometimes C-
It's unfortunate that Apex Legends still suffers from connection issues. Some days are great: You'll have super smooth games where everything is running fine. Then there are those times when the game runs like rubbish. Maybe you're laggy. Perhaps you're rubber-banding a bit. Or maybe your screen is locked and you can't do anything! Those moments are the worst, and they happen a bit too often.
Typically, some folks will have a better Internet connection than others, but just checking Twitter to see how many players are struggling is kind of surprising. The problem is definitely not as bad as it once was, but it could still be better. Because performance quality fluctuates, it's hard to give this aspect of the game a static grade, so we'll say it's B overall, but because it stutters from time to time, it's also kind of a C-.
Season 1: Wild Frontier B-
The first season of Apex Legends was largely underwhelming at the onset. A few decent unlocks notwithstanding, there was way too much filler and hardly any worthwhile cosmetics to obtain. Especially irritating was the fact that stat banners were included as rewards, which seemed like a ripoff.
That said, Season 1 featured a couple days of double XP and the Legendary Hunt event, which included some of the best character and weapon skins to date. This made returning to the action worthwhile, and it was definitely a nice little bonus.
You might think a B- is far too generous for an overall lackluster battle pass, but Respawn Entertainment eventually added nice touches and new events, such as the Elite Queue, which challenged players to up their technique and play more strategically to reach that elusive top five spot. Not to mention, the Wild Frontier battle pass gave us Octane, one of the most entertaining characters to play as in the game.
It could've been better, but the Apex Legends Season 1 battle pass still included some really cool bonuses for fans.
Season 2: Battle Charge (So Far): C-
The second season of Apex Legends offers a few improvements over the first. There are more challenges, the map received a nice makeover, and we were introduced to the charming Wattson. That said, in even more ways, Battle Charge comes with its own set of glaring flaws. For starters, while Wattson is a neat addition to the cast of characters, she's arguably not at the same level as OG newcomer Octane. In addition, leveling up the Season 2 battle pass is a slow and tedious ordeal.
Then there was the Iron Crown Collection event, which just wrapped up and was met with a great deal of criticism. A lot of this criticism was directed toward the unlocks added to Apex Legends with the new event. There were some really rad skins, but unfortunately, all the good stuff was locked behind an aggressive wall. While you could acquire two unlock packs just by playing, everything else was sitting behind a paid window.
Paid cosmetics aren't new to the free-to-play model, but the big problem is that, at least originally, you had to acquire these through random loot boxes. EA and Respawn kinda/sorta addressed this by announcing that the skins would be temporarily available in the standard shop for players who wanted to get that elusive skin for their main, but the initial model left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths.
There's still plenty of time left in this season for cool new events and skins to be added, so we'll have to wait and see what the future holds for Apex Legends: Battle Charge. That said, a lot of good faith was lost with the Iron Crown event, so EA and Respawn are really going to have to bring it in the coming weeks.
The main saving grace this season thus far was the inclusion of the limited time Solos mode, which was one of the most requested modes at the launch of Apex Legends in February. While it was available, Solos was fun and provided a high challenge, and it also gave players a fresh new way to approach the game.
Apex Legends Remains Solid Overall with a Few Issues
There's no denying that Apex Legends is good. Hell, Apex Legends is great if we're looking at it solely from a gameplay standpoint. That said, it hasn't grown at the level that it should to be a major competitor in the free-to-play and battle royale markets. Season 1 started off slow and picked up over time, while Season 2 has been a major disappointment, but it could see improvement.
Then there are the connectivity issues, which still plague the game and cause for disconnects, lag, and other problems while playing. Six months in, it's alarming that these same issues are still occurring.
For a lot of people, myself included, Apex Legends remains our most played game of 2019. That's thanks in large part to the gameplay mechanics, which are phenomenal, smooth, and dare I say unmatched. That's great in terms of the game being a pick-up-and-play shooter that you return to after a long day at work or for a couple rounds on weekends. But if EA and Respawn Entertainment are to really keep this thing going long-term, big changes need to be made.
There's no denying that Apex Legends fans want the game to succeed. There just needs to be enough there in terms of both content and quality-of-life improvements to justify returning to the game six, 12, and even 24 months from now.