On Tuesday, Respawn Entertainment formally rolled out the new season for Apex Legends. Earlier this year, the battle royale shooter was breaking records, but then it fell into a downturn of popularity in the eyes of streamers and industry luminaries. But don't count it down and out yet; as its new season has revitalized Apex Legends in more ways than one.
The map has changed drastically, flipping once familiar areas upside down and adding cool dinosaurs and structures across Kings Canyon. A new Ranked Mode matches you with players of your same skill level, evening the playing field. The new season also ushered in new hop-ups for lesser used weapons, like the oft-joked about Mozambique Shotgun, and rebalanced miscellaneous guns. But the season's biggest change comes in its battle pass, now renamed to Battle Charge. And unlike last season's battle pass, this one's actually worth picking up.
The biggest problem with the last battle pass was that it was too slow to climb up levels, and with lackluster rewards, there wasn't much driving players to actually keep playing. It's ultimately the reason why I, and most of my friends, fell off too. Where in the opening month of Apex Legends, we were convinced this was our new multiplayer game, after the bummer season debut, one by one everyone I knew dropped off. And eventually, I did too. Not even the consistently solid gunplay could keep me hooked.
The new battle pass has a solution to remedying that key problem though: weekly and daily challenges. The daily challenges are relatively simple in nature; maybe you have to get three knockdowns as Caustic, or maybe you have to land two kills in The Pit. With three each day plucked from a selection of over two hundred, according to developer Respawn Entertainment's blog, the daily challenges are bound to always require something different from you.
But what I like most about the challenges is how they encourage you to play as different characters and target specific weapons. For instance, one weekly challenge at the time of writing this is to deal a certain amount of damage with the R-99; so lately when I come across it in matches, I make a point to use it whenever possible.
Completing challenges nets you specific rewards too. For daily challenges, you're awarded with 3,000 Stars, which are the XP that goes toward moving up a level in your Battle Charge. Weekly challenges often offer more though; some even just bounce you up a battle pass level. In just a few days of playing Apex Legends every day, I've already climbed to level 30, unlocking the Wattson Hot Rod skin—the sole skin you can also get for free on the Battle Charge if you don't want to pony up money for it. (Full disclosure: I had a little extra premium currency and sprung for the Battle Charge that starts you off at level 25. So that's five levels in just a few days!)
Comparatively, I only got to level 13 in many weeks playing season one—though admittedly, my playtime of Apex Legends dipped hard by the end of April. But the challenges are already a boon, always giving me something to work toward on a daily and weekly basis. I feel like I can reliably move up a level or so each play session, which is far more than the previous season. And so far, I haven't had a problem of running out of challenges to do; unlike my experience with Destiny 2, pre-Forsaken that eventually caused me to delete it completely from my harddrive.
The rewards too are stronger than last season's. Each level's rewards are already more plentiful, both in amount and in quality. While I still find myself unenthusiastic about most of Apex's Legend skins, the gun skins this season are at least a tad cooler, and with new goodies like skydive emotes and renditions of the theme music, there's more to look forward to with each battle pass bump. There's still the stat trackers (this time free for all players), banners, and voice lines, but there are generally more rewards to earn across the 110 levels of the pass. By the end of the Battle Charge, you'll be guaranteed to have enouch crafting materials to make one legendary item too. The new skydive emotes in particular are mighty silly, and I hope in future seasons, we see more of them. Heck, even plain ol' emotes would be a welcome arrival. It's actually shocking they aren't in Apex Legends yet.
Where season one stumbled, with all the fresh additions to season two, it seems that Respawn Entertainment took all the criticism it weathered to heart. And already, just in my personal experience, I'm seeing lots of new players of low levels jumping into Apex Legends for the first time this week; or maybe returning after a long break. The new Ranked Mode, too, has been a thrilling challenge, and I've found I'm less likely to have my squadmates abandon me in the early scrambles of a match.
Respawn Entertainment has gone on record to say that rather than update Apex Legends constantly in minute ways, it's relying more on large, infrequent patches. Season two is the first big step in that direction, reinventing not just the map and battle pass, but the balance of all its weapons too. As I wrote earlier this week, even the weapons no one used to pick up are suddenly viable in combat now thanks to new hop-ups to attach. It's a bright time for Apex Legends. Here's to hoping it's not too late for it to rise high again.