Hot Drop is GameSpot’s weekly Apex Legends column, in which Jordan Ramée takes a closer look at Respawn’s battle royale to provide additional information on the evolution of the game, as well as delving into its episodic storytelling and characters.
Most aspects of Apex Legends contribute to the game’s story: character art, Quest chapters, in-game conversations between legends, map changes, legendary and mythic cosmetics. Respawn has done an excellent job of twisting the evolving nature of live service games to serve their brand of episodic storytelling. And with that in mind, I think we can even consider Apex Legends Battle Passes when we talk about the history of the game. It’s true that the battle passes only contribute in a fairly simple way, but it’s still great to see how the battle passes seem to reinforce how Syndicate has had a growing corporate presence at Apex Games in recent seasons as the company struggles. for selling blood sport to the general public.
Every battle pass in Apex Legends follows a theme, starting with wildlife in Season 1 and extending to safari in Season 14, with Wraith and Caustic going so far as to dress up as *sigh* big game hunters. But when you look back at all the issues, they get noticeably tighter in Season 3, and from then on they’re apparently used as a means of announcing new Legends and maps. Battle Passes are, of course, something sold to players, but themes seem to have an in-universe function too: within the game, they act as corporate messages for the Syndicate, almost as if to unify their marketing for each other. Apex Games season and make the blood sport seem more palatable to the public.
Season 3 was the big change in this line of narrative thinking. Seasons 1 and 2 arguably have the weakest battle pass themes of any of the seasons. There are cool rewards in both passes (especially Season 2), but the unifying connective tissue between the cosmetics isn’t really there. But then came Season 3, with a Battle Pass centered around the conflicting forces of ice and fire. This theme was best exemplified in the two legendary character skins: Pathfinder’s Iced Out decorated her outer shell to look like ice, while Lifeline used a heavy dose of makeup to transform to look like an infernal succubus with her From the Ashes skin.
The battle pass matched the layout of World’s Edge, the new Season 3 map. Half of World’s Edge is frozen, while the other part is consumed by lava pools. Apex Games had moved to the new map following Crypto’s attack on Kings Canyon in Season 2. I think it all sounds like the Syndicate trying to sell World’s Edge to those who watch Apex Games. They know people used to love Kings Canyon, but now, look, World’s Edge is here! A place of fire and ice! Isn’t that great, everyone? Even legends have dressed for the occasion and decorated their weapons with skins of ice and fire too! We will be selling toys and replicas!
As of Season 3, each Battle Pass has a clear theme on each unlockable cosmetic. Season 4 had a Simulacrum theme, Season 5 was Treasure Hunt, Season 6 was Race Car and Vehicle Customization, Season 7 incorporated High Society and the Olympian Class, Season 8 was Anarchy and rebellion, season 9 was Japanese culture, season 10 had an insect theme, season 11 was life in the jungle of Storm Point, season 12 was (exquisite) biker fashion, season 13 transformed legends with medieval fantasy cosmetics and once again season 14 is a safari.
Each battle pass, in particular, also “sells” everything new for that season. For example, the Season 5 treasure hunt theme heralds the mysticism of Loba, a thief who joins the Apex Games in search of a secret treasure she plans to loot, and the Season 9 Japanese theme welcomes to Valkyrie and her culture to the Apex Games.
This also provides a narrative reason for why legends like Wraith and Pathfinder get more battle pass skins than, say, Caustic or Loba. Since Wraith is trying to figure out who she is, she’d probably be more than willing to dress up in clothing from different cultures in an effort to figure out what looks good on her, and Pathfinder is so happy that she, of course, dressed up every time the Syndicate I was asking for it. Meanwhile, Caustic isn’t one who likes to dress up unless she has to, and Loba is so in tune with what suits her and what’s fashionable that she would only participate in what she would consider herself to be. cool. Most of the legends who would want to or feel the need to dress up are, coincidentally, the legends who also usually get new skins in the battle pass.
Am I thinking too much about this? Probably. Is the focus on more cohesive themes more of an effort on Respawn’s part to sell these cosmetics and new legends/maps to us, the players, and less to the Syndicate trying to sell Apex games to fans? Maybe. Do legends like Wraith and Pathfinder have more battle pass skins than people like Caustic and Loba because Wraith and Pathfinder are among the most played characters and therefore more likely to sell a battle pass? 100%. But also, like, who’s to say?
Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s fun to imagine that the Apex Legends writing team had a hand in determining why the Apex Legends battle passes went through such an abrupt transformation in Season 3 and evolved in a way that it looked like someone was trying. selling the new legends and maps (and just Apex games in general) to a fanbase that, for a while, grew increasingly disillusioned with how bloody bloodsport really is. Now the entire competition is so viewer-friendly, with contestants dressing up in ridiculous outfits and shooting each other with guns that many times don’t even look like firearms anymore. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing for Respawn to have attempted in his effort to transform the format of a live service battle royale to support his character-driven story.
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