Apex Legends Season 1 — Constructive Feedback & Praise

Apex Legends’ season 1 Battle Pass has been out a week and the consensus is middling. There’s a pretty vocal group of individuals making fun of the fact or just generally complaining that this game is being overly monetized and that the Battle Pass is totally not worth it. There’s other people (even friends of mine) who simply think that the skins aren’t all that great but did buy it and don’t necessarily regret their decisions outright. And there’s people who I’d like to set up camp with on the discussion of it all and say, “Hey, it’s been out barely two months yet. Respawn still lives under EA’s thumb. It’s the first Battle Pass. And the game is still free-to-play with the ability to grind and unlock quite a bit (but I’d agree that you can’t unlock enough).”

There’s a lot you could discuss off the realization alone that players are changing the location of their account to Belgium so they can just unlock all the harder to earn crafting materials instead of getting Apex Packs (see: loot crates) and finally have the chance to craft a legendary skin. And I gotta say I wouldn’t be against this design off the bat, I’m even curious how Apex Legends would do without lootcrates in terms of revenue. But since (for the time being) we live in a world where lootcrates and microtransaction economies for free to play games are still a thing, I’d rather talk about the Battle Pass with the approach that it can be fixed the way the game is setup currently. Not because I want lootcrates to stick around, but mainly because other people are way better at talking about getting rid of lootcrates than I am. Let’s look at the Battle Pass and talk about where things could’ve gone better, what changes to the game or to the Battle Pass itself that would’ve made this whole thing a lot more of a knock-out-of-the-park that the game felt like at launch.

Reminder: I still very much love this game. All criticisms are here because I want it to stay and grow.

I’ll be admitting truth to the things that people have already said publicly or to my internet face like “the skins suck” or “they just give you garbage”, but I’ll also be rationalizing some of it. Some things you might be surprised to see I’m not gonna defend at all. I’m gonna suggest alternatives, cause I think only tearing down what you regularly play and enjoy is insanely counter-productive to what you want. I want Apex Legends to be fun and enjoyable and I want the Battle Pass to be worth it in the eyes of more people than it currently is. I want to keep Respawn going strong. So I went through the Battle Pass and tallied up the amount of drops and items you get. As it stands, the Battle Pass has 4 new character skins, 25 new weapon skins, 14 Apex Packs (3 of which have guaranteed epic or legendary drops, we’ll get into this later), a whopping 31 trackers for your various characters, 24 badges, 10 new character quips, 14 Apex Coins currency drops, 10 XP booster packs (basically things that just help you level more as you’re doing the season), and 10 new frames for your characters.

So let’s get the two biggest numerical item discussions out of the way. Yes, the trackers and badges are a pretty big mistake. The concept of giving players trackers or badges to wear isn’t inherently bad (and though from a numerical standpoint you might think your Battle Pass is filled with crap, that’s not entirely true), the problem comes from the actual design of these badges and trackers: They track statistics related to the Season Pass itself. So they track things like how many games you’ve won as Bloodhound in season one, how many revives you’ve done as Lifeline in season one. The badges also are just new badges you can wear to show off your level in the season (wheras we have one badge in the core game that shows off whatever level we are at whenever we are playing the game). Having 24 different badges to show off your new status during the season is really bland and pointless as it’ll be replaced before long (though the animated “I finished the season pass” badge is nice looking if you ask me), it’s a flawed design right off the bat. The trackers similarly are an idea that clearly wasn’t cooked long enough. Trackers that are merely tracking what we do during the season isn’t really useful information to show off to anyone as that information is eventually going to be useless when the season is over (not to mention it doesn’t include your stats prior to the season). The fact that there’s so many trackers doesn’t help people looking for a nice wealth of stuff you get out of the Battle Pass, it’s a pretty straightforward quantity of “things” not really feeling “valuable” issue. Why did Respawn choose to do this? Honestly I’m not really sure, but the apologist in me thinks that Respawn hasn’t had enough time to think out these ideas for a little bit, or they haven’t had enough time to make content to actually make the season pass worth it. So this season got filled with a lot of filler. Like the trackers and badges.

Pat of former Super Best Friends fame talked with Woolie on the Castle Super Beast podcast and theorized that EA saw the potentially poor performance of Anthem in the time it was getting its public beta testing / demo and asked Respawn to send out this mostly ready game. Pat also figured the season one battle pass was going to be the game in the state it was originally meant to be launched. Currently I’m not too sure about that given how some aspects of season one do feel rushed. There’s still things Respawn is actively working on or considering for this game that are getting implemented (but thank goodness we finally have a reporting system in-game). Either way, I’m currently convinced 3 months is way more time to improve the game and bring much better content to the table compared to the 6 weeks it took from launch to the Battle Pass coming out. There were multiple priorities Respawn had to undertake right after launch, especially with the numerous crashing issues the game had. Everyone also seems to say the first Fortnite Battle Pass was pretty awful (but I only give that statement so much credit too). I have a lot of confidence that getting Respawn into a groove of updating this game regularly will help them find strengths to play to.

Okay, let’s talk about people saying there’s no value or anything of worth in the Battle Pass. For starters, if you think that, but also think the next season pass might be worth it, then buying it now means you’ll have enough Apex coins to pay for the next one if you finish the season (which seems to be fairly easy according to most fairly consistent players). To top that off, the season gives you more Apex Packs than you would get if you spent the same amount of money on Apex Packs. I actually bought 2,000 Apex Coins when the Battle Pass came out, bought a Battle Pass, and bought 10 Apex Packs just because I felt like it. I got some good loot (an epic skin for the Spitfire and G7, which I regularly use), but later realized the deal in the Battle Pass is even better since you get more Apex Packs across the season, and three of those Apex Packs have high-tier loot guarantees. That’s at least a $10 value plus if you do it all you’ll get the value back to pay for the next season.

(insert every argument against the notion that you’re still paying for Apex Packs / gambling systems) Yup. Absolutely valid. If you’re against everything revolving those problems with this game, you’re going to be more upset about this and feel more cheated. I’m currently “okay” with these things, mainly because in Apex there’s no repeat loots (unless it’s a bug, and EA apparently gives you money back on that front?), and therein lies an answer to a lot of the problems the Battle Pass faces that Respawn might’ve noticed if this season spent a couple more weeks in design (not development). Interestingly enough, it also links back to the last talking point: Skins.

So, a lot of people don’t like the skins for the season. And if you don’t like ’em or think they’re crap, I’m at the very least understanding of your perspective, though I do like that one post suggesting the season look is supposed to be a fun springtime picnic (it’s just kinda funny). I don’t think the skins look awful. They’re not amazing for sure! But Respawn so far haven’t been quite as good at this as Blizzard have been, but Blizzard kinda excels at that characterization stuff. The few scenarios where Respawn have excelled at these character look / style crossover things, those become the most expensive and rarest skins. Frustrating for sure. The answer for Respawn should’ve lied in the fact that, yes, they haven’t had a lot of time to make content for the first season. The answer to Respawn’s problems came in one of their own quotes about the focus of the first season:

This is all good on paper until we hit that last paragraph. See, Respawn’s idea was good, the game is new, players should have more time to focus on unlocking stuff that’s out there. The execution failed by Apex’s first season forcing players into unlocking new stuff. The game is 6 weeks old, there are still tons of things to unlock that are new to us. I do want to grind out and unlock some Epic skins for Mirage, I definitely want two of the available Legendary Bloodhound skins. But all the character skins, gun skins, trackers, badges, quips, and frames that come with the Battle Pass are all specific to the season, and so they are exclusive, but right now we don’t care much about exclusive in a world where players like me haven’t even hit level 100 in the core game.

There’s bigger problems attached to this. As mentioned earlier, people are switching their account region to Belgium so they can get more crafting materials because people would rather craft what they want instead of being at the mercy of a die-roll once every three levels and be rewarded with Epic skins for a character they don’t even play (srsly, I have two Caustic skins, he’s not unlocked, and I don’t think I’ll like him, I’d rather those go to any other character). People actually would have a sense of pride and accomplishment from being allowed to grind out and unlock a lot of the stuff in this game, but the way it is currently built, you can’t. You can’t grind for some of the stuff in the game unless you’re cheating out the system. And I’m not gonna even argue that these problems are okay, they’re not, they’re bad.

I think Respawn could’ve avoided the frustrations over these problems being exacerbated though, by simply having unique drops of content already in the game. All the character skins, gun skins, trackers, quips, currency, and frames could all be random drops of things that are already in the game. That would’ve much better aligned with the season one philosophy and really would’ve squared away so much anger over those trackers. The badges I still think we don’t need more than one or two (level and “finish” badge, but even then the one can transform into the other), that’s an undeniable flaw at play here in conjunction with the numerous trackers.

It also means Respawn would have more time to design skins that are more character-specific or weapon-specific that people might desire more. Part of the reason I want those Bloodhound legendary skins so badly are because they make Bloodhound look like Eileen the Crow from Bloodborne (just needs a crow-feather cape!).

I could go on and on with things I’d like to see happen in this game: The removal of loot crates, the removal of that absurd “Pay to unlock this skin that you can only unlock if you have CRAFTED this skin”-thing in the store, the removal of timed exclusive skins in the store (srsly, not cool, that winter Bloodhound skin looked awesome, why can’t I buy it later? FOMO blows Respawn), less skins and more specificity to the skins, unique skins that help bring out characterization better, the game still could use that “add player to friends list” feature, cheating isn’t massively going away yet, the Wingman still feels too strong, and the game faces its own cultural pull towards and against what the game is vs. what players want it to be (still plenty of people complaining about awful team players and people who just immediately drop or quit at the sign of things they don’t like). Toxicity exists in plenty of competitive video game communities and it definitely exists here.

Season 1 still isn’t over either. It’s only been 7 days and rumors have it that there’ll be two more characters to show up across the next three months. Either way, adjustments and updates are still on their way, that’s the idea behind “live services” (gags), video games can become moreso what people want out of them if they stick with it and the team considers reasonable feedback from the community.

Reasonable.

See you all in King’s Canyon.

Business admin graduate with a passion for games and music.

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Justin Fleming

Justin Fleming

Business admin graduate with a passion for games and music.

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