Could this be Apex Legends’ moment? The game has been hibernating for a little while, coming off of a disappointing Season 1 battle pass and doing its best to fend off the juggernaut that is Fortnite without–ideally–subjecting its developers to the same sort of working conditions that allow Fortnite developer Epic Games to pursue its relentless update schedule. It’s been tough, but rumblings of new content from the team last week point to a new era for the game, and that’s an exciting prospect. For one thing, I still need to win.
We don’t know a whole lot about what’s coming in Season 2 for Apex Legends, but we know some. We know that the game is getting a limited time mode called “The Legendary Hunt”, which we’ll hear more about when it gets rolling on Tuesday. And we’ve got our first look at some of the themed cosmetics, which are leaps and bound ahead of anything from Season 1. At the top of this article, you can see Bloodhound’s skin, which is gaudy, flashy and gorgeous in a way that perfectly fits the character. But below you can also see Wraith’s night terror skin, which is arguably the better of the two. It re-imagines the interdimensional skirmisher as a kind of bone-clad stalker, both Paleolithic and futuristic at the same time. It does what a great skin for an established character should do: completely change the visual style while keeping the core of the character intact.
That, combined with the news that the game will be getting Fortnite-style battle pass challenges in addition to its limited time mode make me hopeful. This is a game I want to see succeed, and this very limited information we’ve received so far makes it feel like Respawn learned the right lessons from a rocky few months and could come back stronger than ever.
For a little while, Apex seemed like the first genuine competition for Fortnite. A well-timed influencer campaign rocketed combined with refreshing and responsive gameplay rocketed the game up 25 million players in its first week, which is unheard of growth for more or less everything this side of Pokemon GO. But it didn’t last. Apex wasn’t able to produce new content at the rate its battle royale fanbase had become accustomed to from a year of Fortnite, and its more-established competition threw so many millions of dollars at the competitive scene that most streamers had little choice but to go back and vie for the ever-increasing prize pools. And that’s just getting people to play: making money was another matter.
At the beginning, Apex Legends fell victim to its status as a free-to-play game. So much of the game was on point, from the controls to the class system and the tight and well-executed gameplay. But that all only gets you so far, because all of that stuff is free. Apex Legends’ revenue was entirely dependent on cosmetic purchases, and the cosmetics in the game at launch just weren’t up to the standards of games like Fortniteand Overwatch. With the introduction of the battle pass, those cosmetics served not only as the main driver of income but also the main source of progression. Without actually enticing rewards to quest after the game began to lose its drive.
That’s why getting some good skins in this game, and especially some good skins in the battle pass, changes everything. We’ll be more Season 2 skins in addition to what we’ve seen so far: it’s not quite as packed as a Fortnite battle pass, but we’ll be in good shape if these new skins are up to the bar set by what we’ve already seen. Fortnite is great, but things are just more interesting in a genre when there’s more than one game vying for our attention.