I’m a relative newcomer to Apex Legends, Respawn Entertainment’s hero-based battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe. I’m not a huge fan of battle royale games, as a general rule, but–
Actually, you know what? I’ve put a lot of time into Realm Royale (from Hi-Rez Games), and now I’m becoming obsessed with Apex. Maybe I do like battle royale games, actually. I think I just don’t like Fortnite.
At any rate, I’ve only been playing Apex for about a week at this point, but there’s a lot to love about this game. But hey, it’s been out for a year–the game itself is old news. What’s new, however, is the limited-time event that launched this week, which offers gamers a fun new way to play. It’s called Battle Armor, and it’s extremely rad.
A normal round of Apex Legends follows the standard battle royale procedure: players drop with no gear and must frantically scramble to find guns and armor. That’s not the case in the new Battle Armor mode, though. Instead, players drop with low-tier armor and a weak pistol. It might seem like a small adjustment, but it changes the game in massive ways.
First of all, starting with a gun–even a weak one like the P2020 pistol–completely changes the tenor of those opening moments. Looking for loot is at once less important (you’ve already got a gun, after all) and more crucial than ever (your opponents are guaranteed to have weapons, so you need to loot quickly and try to gain an advantage). The start of a match is already a fraught time in any battle royale game, but this tweak makes the pace even more frenetic; it’s turned nearly every landing zone I’ve hit into an immediate bloodbath, and that’s honestly pretty fun.
The other major change is the way armor is handled. Now, starting everyone off with weak armor isn’t too much of a game-changer–it just extends those first few firefights a bit. What really impacts the game is the fact that all armor is removed from the loot pool entirely. In other words, that armor you start with is the only armor you’re going to get all game. That’s a huge deal. There are four tiers of armor in Apex, each more resilient than the last, and many a match has been won or lost solely on the providence of getting higher-tier armor than your enemy. In the Battle Armor event, that playing field has been evened. As a result, shootouts are more likely to be won by skill than by lucky looting.
In a normal round of Apex, I tend to play it safe. I aim to drop in a far-off area that probably won’t have a lot of other squads dropping with me; that way I can maximize the amount of time I have to find gear. In Battle Armor, though, I find that I’m much more likely to drop into a hot landing zone. Starting with a weapon already equipped makes me want to get straight to the fighting, and the pandemonium that ensues when four groups all land in the same place and open fire on each other is exhilarating, even if I get taken out right off the bat.
The event is set to run for the next two weeks (leading up to the launch of Battle Pass Season 5), and as time goes on, the starting armor will gradually change. This weekend it will get bumped up to tier two, then eventually tier three, and in the final days of the event everyone will spawn with evo armor–a special armor type that gets stronger based on the amount of damage you’ve dealt.
I’ll be curious to see how higher shield levels affect those tense opening moments. While Battle Armor does spawn you with a gun, you don’t have much ammo; it’s already easy to run out before finishing off your opponent, and better shields are only going to increase that risk. I wonder if the gunfights during the ‘tier three shields’ period will devolve into punching matches after players burn through their initial ammo.
The evo shield version of this event ought to prove the most interesting. Skilled players will be able to evolve their shields quickly; anyone who takes an early lead in the match will become that much harder to take out for everyone else. Beyond that, it will almost force players to take risks and land in dangerous zones–anyone who tries to play it safe early on is dooming themselves to a heavily disadvantaged endgame, as they will lack the improved shielding earned by their opponents.
Overall, Battle Armor is a really, really cool event, leveraging a few small tweaks to change the game in a major way. I’m excited to see how it evolves over the next few weeks, and I’ll be sad to see it go when Season 5 launches. Hopefully we get more interesting events like this in the future!