The launch of Apex Legends' second season brought with it Ranked Leagues, where players can bet their ranking points on moving up the ladder toward the distinguishment of Apex Predator. But the way you gain and lose points has Apex competitors playing a lot more conservatively, for better or worse.
When you queue into a ranked match in Apex Legends, you stake some of your RP, or Ranked Points, on the game. It's free to queue into a Bronze match, but each tier pays an escalating ante, up to five at Apex Predator. To earn RP and either go even or get ahead in the point standings, you need to get kills and win. Kills are worth one RP apiece, up to a maximum of five; finishing top 10 or higher will get you RP based on your placement, with the overall winner banking 12 RP.
You would think this system would encourage kills, in order to recoup your playing fee. But on forums like the Apex Legends subreddit, players are lamenting the "camping meta" of ranked.
"Currently there is no way outside of hiding and avoiding combat to place as high as possible to gain decent and consecutive RP," wrote one user in a current front-page post to the subreddit. "There are lots of mechanics to this TEAM game but none of them have any RP gain outside of kills and placement."
Players note that kill-stealing is prevalent, because even if you do 99 percent of the damage to the target, the shot that kills is the one that gets the RP. Couple this with no RP gain for taking a risky move to help a teammate or revive them, and some say it's encouraging a very self-centered mindset. One player reports their friend's strategy of pacifism, essentially playing hide-and-seek, allows them to climb the ladder.
There are two points here to pull out: one is the lack of recognition for team play, which is something that could be improved. Getting RP for bringing a player back through their beacon, or some method of accounting for assists, would be better reflective of Apex Legends' status as a team battle royale, rather than a solo game.
But the other is the friction inherent to battle royale games: whether it's a deathmatch, or the last player standing. As another post on the Apex subreddit points out, a slower pace isn't necessarily a bad thing. Teams are being more careful, now that some skin is actually on the line, and that's changed the pace of the game overall. As the circle sinks in, teams are more patient and less likely to charge headlong into a poor situation. The final firefights of each match end up being much more hectic, with better geared players and more competitors.
Put succinctly at the end of the post: "'Camp' meta leads to some crazy final circles where the most action takes place in the shortest period of time." In fact, some in the thread pitch the idea of changing the scoring system again for next season, to encourage different playstyles. A bit wilder, but I like the spirit of it.
Apex Legends is, by all accounts, the youngin' of the battle royale scene compared to giants like PUBG and Fortnite. But where it's excelled so far has been its quick adaptation and willingness to stand out a bit. Addressing issues head on, like cleverly matching cheaters with other cheaters and penalizing leavers in ranked matches show some foresight. Respawn even made the Mozambique good. It's very likely Apex Legends will continue to fluctuate, as the game hasn't even been out for a full year yet. So maybe the best call is to let players figure out the metagame themselves before mandating a change to it, and see how Apex users adapt or perish in the new state of play.