Why I uninstalled Apex Legends – Reader’s Feature

Apex Legends – are you still playing?

A reader details his history with battle royale games and why he’s ended up abandoning PUBG, Fortnite, and Apex Legends.

It was an adventure that started almost like the gold rush. Instead of people heading in droves for them there hills, millions were heading to the fascinating and exciting PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. On the recommendation of a number of friends I was one of them, having plumped for the early access retail release on Xbox One.

And I use the word adventure intentionally, because that was quite possibly the best way to describe parachuting into a 100-player deathmatch with nothing but the clothes on your back, it truly was a leap into the unknown.

When I picked up my copy the staff member in GAME was smiling giddily, saying he’d been playing it on PC for months but still hadn’t managed to get the elusive chicken dinner. ‘It’s just so much fun!’, he squealed and in my first few hours I had to agree.

PUBG felt like a seismic gaming event and a milestone in video game history. Simply engaging in its novel set up was exhilarating, surviving until the last 50 was cool, last 20 a tremendous achievement and last five was the stuff legends were made of. If we weren’t forming squads with friends we were trading stories of our most successful or amusing runs.

After a while, two things happened. The first was the game slowly dropped out of my playlist as my burgeoning backlog of single-player games beckoned.

The second was Epic’s Fortnite.

I was immediately put off by Fortnite, that it had retrofitted PUBG’s formula onto its previously less popular Minecraft/Left 4 Dead hodgepodge of an early access game seemed cynical enough. But its free to play mechanics and co-opting of popular culture to drive microtransactions made it seem like the kind of cynical cash grab that would make a Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour blush.

But then I played it, and in those early days I enjoyed it to a degree. It was free and I had no intention of paying for nonsense skins and dances. It was PUBG, but more cartoon-like, more stable and a little smaller in scale. Unlike its inspiration I didn’t spend a great deal of time with it and for my Battle Royale fix I went back to PUBG.

But while I escaped Fortnite’s clutches, it got its claws deep into my son. Buoyed by the influence of YouTube and his school friends, the game became an obsession for him. He used his birthday money to buy himself an Xbox One since he was fed up of not being able to use mine in the living room. Asking for V-bucks became a constant point of contention, he even started arguing with me, referring to Fortnite as ‘we’ and ‘us’, as if it had attached to him like a Spider-Man symbiote.

It was at his behest I flirted with playing Fortnite again as part of his squad, to exclamations of, ‘Is that your DAD playing?’. During one particular game I spotted a rival player, leapt out and rained an ungodly amount of lead at them, only for them to erect a wall which shielded them from harm.

It was at that point, I knew Fortnite was not for me. I was a veteran of various arenas, from Counter-Strike to Quake III, Battlefield 1942, Halo 2, Call Of Duty, and Titanfall. And summoning a magic wall to appear in a shooter just seemed wrong on every conceivable level. If only there was a battle royale style but with the DNA of those classics.

With that in mind I could not have welcomed Apex Legends with more open arms. The signs were all there, it had glowing recommendations from everyone, from my oldest mates to my friends on Twitter, and it was by Respawn Entertainment so it surely would have played like a dream!

But Apex is also laden with the sort of boardroom design cynicism that flows through Fortnite’s veins. Major Nougat, Gooey, and Cocoa, put down those entertaining Fortnite games and pick up EA’s version of Fortnite, with Titanfall Lite movement, Overwatch style heroes, and Rainbow Six style squads!

I believe the biggest mistake I made while Apex Legends downloaded was playing Titanfall in a bid to show my son how great the gameplay could be. In that respect, it worked and after the initial hype he is thoroughly enjoying Apex Legends.

And for a little while I did too. The heroes are charismatic, the gameplay crisp, smooth and addictive. I’d echoed the sentiments of my friends: yes, the game is great and we’ll definitely form a squad!

But over the weekend my feelings turned sour. I’d only played a dozen games or so and was kill-less. A few games with my son saw the netcode go haywire and give us some awful experiences. It was during this time that I had two consecutive games where I was killed without ever finding a weapon.

The entire prospect of battle royale was suddenly deeply disagreeable. There were three games now that started with a jump from an airborne vehicle, necessitated finding weapons before seeking out survival in a contracting play area, all for unknown reasons. Combat in Apex is fun but occurs only after that initial grind, and if you die in that first encounter that wonderful combat experience is fleeting.

So then it’s back to the grind, back into the airship, back traipsing around for loot, back into the retracting battlefield. Dead. Rinse. Repeat. Compare that to the immediacy of Titanfall: you die, you come back in a bid to turn the tide, and the fun continues ad infinitum. Playing that in the same window demonstrated where the true 30 seconds of fun was.

To make matters worse, while scouring of the map for items, survival style, was initially interesting in PUBG, it’s no longer enough. Apex Legends knows this, leaning into its elitist esports aspirations and declaring ranks, kill records, and displaying ‘Champions’ – making your inadequacies even more glaring.

By Saturday I realised I wasn’t having fun at all anymore. The adventure was no longer exciting, the concept no longer novel. The early game was a slog in a vain attempt to get to an end game I’d never see.

I thought it somewhat ironic that the day I uninstalled Apex Legends from my Xbox One was pretty much three months to the day since I started playing Red Dead Redemption II, a game that is still my main go-to whenever I get to play my Xbox. And I still haven’t seen the end of Arthur Morgan’s story.

Now, I haven’t played Red Dead II exclusively, playthroughs of retro classics like Super Metroid and Story Of Thor 2 have given me their six hours of fun in the interim and there’s a number of games I’ll put on for a quick 10 minutes too. However, the message is always the same: work and family mean game time comes at a premium; meaning I barely have time to play through a battle royale match, much less learn its intricacies.

It was as I unloaded a clip of bullets into another player, only for them to shield themselves with some sort of ability, that I realised I was done with the genre. To be a chicken dinner you need to understand all of those abilities, know where the good loot drops are, and understand the properties of all of the weapons. In Fortnite you have to learn to build too.

If you don’t put the time in, you’re going to spend the 10 to 20 minute early game ambling about, only to get quickly shot down by an overly dedicated teen with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things battle royale, the game map etched in his cranium and a livestream of Ninja fed directly to his eyeball.

Knowing these games inside out comes at the cost of all else. For some, my son included, that’s something they’re willing to do. For me, I’d rather not sacrifice richer experiences like Red Dead Redemption II or Super Metroid for the sake of gaming’s current trend. That’s why I have now turned my back on the genre, in favour of single-player games, and the more immediate multiplayer hijinks found in Halo 5 and Titanfall 2; as well fighting games such as Killer Instinct and Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Eventually I hope that the battle royale fad passes, and gamers fall back into appreciating traditional games once again. I’m even trying to bring my son into more story driven co-op experiences in a bid to draw him away from the battle royale cesspit. I mean surely, am I so out of touch?

No, it’s the children who are wrong.

By reader Dan Driver (swooper_d – PSN ID/Steam/Twitter; Swooper D – gamertag)

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email and follow us on Twitter.


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