Apex Legends is coming up on its one-year anniversary next month, and much has changed in the battle royale since its surprise launch in February 2019.
This past year has been a roller coaster for Apex fans. Although there was plenty to celebrate, the battle royale had its fair share of disappointments; from an onslaught of hackers to a pricey loot box controversy, Respawn Entertainment seemingly faced backlash at every corner. But through frequent patches and the introduction of fan-requested features, the Apex developer has shown it's capable of making up for its shortcomings.
There's no denying Apex has experienced some growing pains in 2019. But given the distance the game has come in the past year, there's much to look forward to in 2020. Here are seven things we want to see added to the battle royale in the upcoming year.
7) Weapons in teammate HUD
When Respawn added teammate gear to the health bar HUDs, the feature came as a major quality-of-life change for the battle royale and allowed players to quickly see what items their allies needed with a tap of the Tab key. The days of pinging random loot in case a teammate needed it were over—at least, until it came time to pick up weapon attachments or ammo.
But information about what type of gear or weapons your teammates are carrying is more than just a way to prevent pinging unneeded items. Often squads will play around which weapon loadouts each teammate is using; one or two players may carry long-range snipers, while the third may have a Peacekeeper on-hand. Not every team takes this approach, of course, but having weapons shown on the battle royale's HUD beside the corresponding teammate would surely be a nice feature to have regardless of playstyle.
6) The return of Kings Canyon
World’s Edge received mixed reactions from the Apex community following its arrival on live servers. While some appreciated the change-up, others sneered at the the map's open plains and close-quarter cities. Immediately after the map's release, fans felt the amount of loot littered around the map was lacking, and many were left wanting more from World's Edge drawn-out matches.
Respawn has already said it will be returning Kings Canyon back to the map rotation at some point during season three. But with less than a month left in the season, the clock is ticking down and fans of the game’s original map are starting to wonder where the leviathan-infested island could be.
5) More community engagement from Respawn
After the Iron Crown Collection debacle in August, the developer flipped a switch and became nearly radio silent. Social media engagement with Respawn employees plummeted, and the community leads that had become well-known vanished after having a few choice words with other Redditors.
Respawn still offered ways for fans to stay connected with future updates and plans for the battle royale, but the execution has been lacking. Respawn created a Trello board and a new "Apex Devstream" web series as ways to keep fans updated, providing event and season overviews on EA's website. But so far, we’ve only gotten two episodes of the series spread over four months and the Trello board is rarely updated in time with patch releases.
Respawn arguably overstepped its boundaries, and it’s understandable the developer has since taken a step (or three) back to avoid crossing the line once more. But engagement is crucial to building a foundation of trust between the playerbase and the developer, and a stronger foundation leads to a better player experience for those players that stick around for the long haul.
4) No more SBMM
Respawn sneakily added skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) into the game at some point after season three’s release in October. It wasn’t until a few days after the October update that fans began noticing their casual games were full of "sweaty try-hards"—competitive players memed as breaking a sweat in their quest to be permanent Apex champions, even in casual modes.
Respawn senior system designer Eric Hewitt later confirmed the introduction of the matchmaking system, and fans have since been vocal in their pursuit to influence the Apex developer to remove the system altogether. Even former Apex pro Colby “dizzy” Meadows stepped forward last month and called on the developer to remove the matchmaking system from play.
Since the system’s release, the Apex community has become increasingly frustrated with the matchmaking system, but a few fans of the game have noticed SBMM was seemingly absent from the battle royale's most recent event, the Holo-Day Base Collection.
There's a time and place to "sweat," and it shouldn't be casuals.
3) More than one new legend per season
Crypto released in October, but it feels like centuries since the game got a new character. The novelty of new characters wears out fast, especially if you’re a fan who’s played other online games that release playable characters more frequently than every three to four months (we’re looking at you, League of Legends).
Apex’s next character release will likely be Revenant. Fans got their first official glimpse of the spooky robot during the Fight or Fright Collection event, but the legend was leaked in both datamines and behind-the-scenes posts from Respawn employees prior to the Halloween event's release. There's been a few other characters included in datamines and leaks, leaving fans anxious to try their hand with new kits and personalities.
2) Additional quality content teases
It’s not just the quantity of legend releases that stands out. Crypto and World's Edge—whether you like them or not—were arguably the best releases Apex has seen in its short history simply based on how well they were teased in the months leading up to their release.
Respawn began teasing Crypto with the season two reveal trailer. He stepped onto the screen, laptop in-hand, and crashed the Repulsor Tower, causing a wave of aggressive, alien fauna to take over the island. Fans got to know Crypto—before seeing his full identity—as an active participant in the game and how it was played. And as his release date approached, Crypto could actually be seen in the game doing what he does best: hacking. Shortly after the discovery, fans flocked to Kings Canyon’s abandoned labs for a chance at finding the new legend, fighting tooth and nail to get to see the mysterious man in action.
The teasers, trailers, and clues left by Respawn not only hinted at Crypto and his abilities, but also at the game’s newest map. Fans became sleuths in the months leading up to season three, stringing together images and joining forces on social media to connect the dots. Respawn successfully got fans engaging with season three before its October release date, building hype for the content weeks prior to its release.
1) Permanent solo and duo modes
Solos first arrived in Apex during the Iron Crown Collection event in August, and the game mode quickly became a favorite across the battle royale’s playerbase. Sure, it had some problems—namely teamers, or players who would team up and collaborate in killing other solo players. But the mode was still beloved by those independent few who wanted to take their matches into their own hands.
With a bit of tweaking, however, the game modes can be perfect additions to the battle royale as permanent game modes. Apex has seen plenty of limited-time modes that have changed the way the game is played, but as far as permanent ones go, fans have only received a ranked mode and an update to the Firing Range.