Since the introduction of Apex Legends’ three-vs-three Arenas, developer Respawn Entertainment has encouraged fans to try the mode in a variety of ways.
Exclusive skins, flash events that offer coveted crafting metals and loot crates, and battle pass points are some of the methods Respawn has used to get players excited about the VALORANT and CS:GO-style Arenas. The decision to create a mode outside of the game’s traditional battle royale was a divisive one, with some fans saying they loved the mode and the opportunity to do something fresh, while others claimed the move was a death knell for the game.
Even though Arenas has now been out for almost a season and a half, some players are still upset at Respawn’s methods of promoting the mode, going so far as to ask Respawn to focus its attention back on battle royale. They cite problems with the mode itself, like how long it takes to get into a different match if you lose compared to the relative ease of doing so in battle royale, and issues with the surrounding material, like the flash events that seem to be requiring more and more of a grind to get those crafting metals and loot crates.
“Yeah, yeah, no one’s ‘forcing’ anyone to play [Arenas],” one Reddit user said. “But come on, half the progression for the battle pass is on Arenas ant not everyone can just grind it out without those challenges.”
The truth is that this person is partially right: Respawn isn’t forcing anyone to play Arenas. The company is simply encouraging people to play a new game mode, something that surely took a lot of time and energy to create, and sweetening the pot with those exclusive skins and loot crates. As those who are familiar with MMOs know, sometimes there’s just no avoiding the grind—and there’s nothing wrong with Respawn encouraging it through Arenas challenges.
An economy of stars and points
The aspect of Arenas many seem to take the most issue with has almost nothing to do with the mode itself: the battle pass stars.
Since Arenas launched, players must now complete weekly challenges in both Arenas and battle royale to earn the maximum amount of stars toward new cosmetics. Though some may complain about having to play Arenas to complete these challenges, doing so is no different than getting some of the more unsavory battle royale challenges. When I first started playing Apex, I was unfortunately stuck with three monthly challenges for LMG usage. At the time, most LMGs were pretty awful, and as a new player, I found most of them to be too unwieldy. Every player has their weapon preferences, which means every player has the chance to get stuck with a long-term challenge they know they’ll never complete. Even so, you don’t see players complaining about those.
While some have argued players ought to be able to choose whether their weekly challenges are for battle royale or Arenas, Respawn would never do this. Challenges are its way of encouraging players to spend more time in the game and forcing them to diversify their approach. If you’ve never used sniper weapons but receive three sniper knockdown challenges, you’re about to get really familiar with the ol’ Charge Rifle and Longbow. Allowing players to choose the direction of their challenges removes the “challenge” aspect entirely and would probably remove the motivation for much of the player base to play Arenas in the first place, making queue times and matchmaking a nightmare for those who actually enjoy the mode.
Another point of contention is the progression in the Arenas flash events themselves. Players complain about having to play Arenas so they can earn the exclusive skins and loot chests contained in the event (mostly in the hope of building up toward an Heirloom). The skins in these flash events are never higher than rare-level. As such, they’re usually just funky pattern recolors of a legend’s existing outfit. Community frustration would be understandable if Respawn was locking legendary skins behind flash events, but the developer has yet to do that. If one of the Arenas skins happens to be up your alley, you might just have to suck it up and play a few nights of Arenas. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about that; lots of games make you grind through unsavory tasks to get to a reward. It’s the entire mechanic of genres like MMOs and JRPGs. That doesn’t necessarily make it fun or enjoyable, but it’s not as much of an unprecedented slight as the community makes it out to be.
But what about battle royale?
Some have suggested battle royale players should be given additional incentives or prizes to match those given to Arenas players, to which we’d say… why? Battle royale is still the main mode in Apex and it’s the reason most people play the game. The battle pass and all of its legendary goodies can still be completed without playing any Arenas at all. Sure, it’ll take you a longer time, but that’s a choice you make, not a decision Respawn is imposing upon you.
Despite Respawn’s focus on Arenas, battle royale isn’t going anywhere. The Evolution event that was just announced is bringing a ton of new content to the game, much of which has to do with battle royale, including the entire Big Maude town takeover. No Arenas flash event has even come close to the size of Evolution. Arenas gets small flash events so frequently because battle royale gets major events like Evolution. If Arenas didn’t get anything, players would still complain.
If you don’t ever want to play Arenas, you don’t have to—there are just additional rewards for those who enjoy the mode or are willing to brave it because they desperately want a skin or an heirloom. Regardless of whether players are in Arenas because they like it or just so they can get skins, the player count data looks the same to Respawn.
On the flip side, some have said Arenas rewards are too small to justify slogging through the mode and its more grindy requirements. It’s a fair criticism, but consider also that these events are generally shorter in duration (usually about a week or so) and the challenges are usually less specific: many of them are more in the vein of “get two knockdowns” as opposed to “do 5,000 damage with assault rifles.” The flexibility allows players to approach Arenas in the ways they want, which feels much better than being forced to play with a particular category of weapons. (Sorry, LMGs.) All of this makes up for the fact the rewards are only rare-level.
While it may seem as though Respawn’s attempts to push and popularize Arenas are misguided at best or downright malicious at worst, the truth is the team is just doing what any game developer would do: give people incentives to play a mode they might not otherwise try. The dev team took a risk with Arenas and we’re sure they knew how difficult it’d be to convince a battle royale-focused fan base that the mode is worth playing. You don’t have to love Arenas. Heck, you don’t even have to play it. At the end of the day, that choice is yours.