What Works (And What Doesn't) In Apex Legends' Second Season
After its mysterious and enticing E3 teaser trailer a few weeks ago, the second season of Apex Legends finally launched, bringing yet another character as well as a host of changes and new cosmetics to the free-for-all fight. Are all these additions enough to keep one of the hottest battle royales interesting?
After spending several hours with Apex's new additions, I've discovered that the new season does a lot to add enticements to keep the playerbase busy, but maybe not enough to chart a clear path forward to the amazing service game that Apex Legends could be. Here's what works and what doesn't work about Apex's newest season.
The Good Stuff
Wattson Is The Best
The previous season's addition, Octane, was a fun character to Legends' roster, but his abilities didn't make him a bedrock squad character in the same way Lifeline's healing abilities or Bloodhound's enemy spotting power have made them popular. By contrast, however, Wattson is severely disruptive to many established strategies and squad builds. Her defensive fence-building powers, not to mention pylons that recharge your squad's shields and kill incoming grenades, make it possible for your team to build a fortress wherever you go.
She's a wisely implemented character because she's not overpowered; there are certainly counters to her (especially if you've got Bloodhound on your team), but her disruptive nature means that even experienced pros who have been with Apex since the beginning are going to have to account for her and change up tactics.
The L-Star Rules
A carryover weapon from Titanfall 2 that leaked a long time ago, the energy submachine finally arrived in Apex. You can only get it in an airdrop and it's clear why: the L-Star is devastating in the right hands, capable of tearing down shields fast and ripping foes to shreds. Also, it's nice to see Apex's place in the Titanfall universe be acknowledged in a way that's more than a weak nod.
The Tweaks Are Smart
Patch notes are often the least appreciated bit of updates for live-service games, as players are often chiefly concerned with new content. However, the smaller tweaks listed in Apex's Season 2 patch notes are all wise additions that make for a better game. Our personal favorites include more detailed pinging options, various nerfs and boosts applied to certain Legends' ultimates, and (thank the stars) damage adjustments that make the Mozambique less useless.
The Not So Good Stuff
The Map Still Leaves Much To Be Desired
From a design perspective, Kings Canyon has proven to be a compelling battle royale map thanks to its hilly terrain, as well as the large number of interior and exterior environments that force players to adapt to new strategies as the game goes on. The map's use of bland colors and general sci-fi military complex aesthetic remains boring even with new locations like Containment and The Cage. The changes here feel safe and mostly cosmetic as opposed to the sort of risk-taking, map-altering updates of Fortnite. It wouldn't hurt to get some brighter colors here (or better yet, an entirely new map).
The Battle Pass Is Nothing Special
The battle pass has become the standard for how battle royale games, especially free-to-play ones like Apex, make their money. Players who shell out the entry fee for each season receive a whole new slate of unlockable rewards unavailable to those who simply play the base game. While for many players, Apex's frantic gameplay, ping system, and tight shooting make it the most enjoyable battle royale on the market, there's little doubt its cosmetics are among the weakest enticements in the genre.
The battle pass just doesn't have much going for it, since key rewards include things like Season 2 win stat cards for each character, apex coins, apex packs (lootboxes, basically) and some exclusive cosmetics. A few of the skins for both characters and weapons do look neat, like Caustic's Prince of Darkness outfit, but none of the unlockables match the coolness of Fortnte's John Wick-But-Not-Actually-John-Wick skin, or even Black Ops 4's various Operator skins.
The Hopefully Good Stuff
The Future Is Unclear
The message during Respawn's E3 presentation for Apex Legends was pretty clear: big changes are coming to Kings Canyon. While the second season has definitely brought with it some additions, it feels like it might ultimately serve as a prologue to what's coming rather than than being a part of some huge shift itself.
Make no mistake: Wattson is a great addition, the idea of changing the map around is a solid one that has benefited other battle royales, the tweaks here are wise, and the battle pass system is promising even with its current quirks. However, as a live service game, Apex Legends still feels like it's trailing behind all the other Battle Royale games, and I can't help but feel like there's so much more room for expansion here.
Where are some limited time modes? Not to be part of the masses who have been beating this drum since the game came out but a goofy, even broken Titan-versus-Titan limited event mode (heck, even a basic Deathmatch mode) would go a long way to adding some variety for players who love Apex but don't necessarily love Battle Royale. With two seasons under its belt, it feels like Respawn is still trying to build upon a foundation in a safe manner to retain an audience as opposed to taking risks that could expand Apex in bold new ways and attract even more players. Hopefully we start to see some of those sorts of changes in Season 3 and beyond.