Apex Legends Season 4 Update
February 15, 2020
|An in-depth look at the latest changes to Respawn Entertainment's magnum opus.|
I am still hopelessly addicted to Apex Legends. I haven’t written about this game before because quite frankly, I’ve been too busy playing it! I considered writing a review, but another Honestgamers user beat me to it and did a fairly admirable job. It has been 1 year since release and I am still playing this game daily. It is very rare for a game to consume me so fully and completely, but here we are.
Perhaps they just needed to throw the edgelords a bone.
If you haven’t been keeping up with this game or its progress, here’s a brief recap: It is a battle royale game in the same vein as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, set in the Titanfall universe. There have been three “Seasons” so far, which have introduced new characters and story bits with each one. Season 3 also introduced a new map, World’s Edge, which was a vast improvement over the lacklustre King’s Canyon. We are now into Season 4, which introduces new map changes to World’s Edge, including a gigantic energy-harvesting machine and a lava chasm that has split one of the cities into two halves. It also introduces a new rifle called the Sentinel, which can be charged with shield batteries to enhance its firing capacity for a short time. Respawn likes to keep things fresh from season to season, so small changes – along with countless balance and bug fixes – have been implemented over time.
Season 4 also introduces a new character, Revenant, who I have mixed feelings about. The Season 4 trailer focuses entirely on him, and while it is certainly impressive – albeit shocking – I found myself at a loss to relate to him or understand his motivations. He was apparently once human, a contract killer whose consciousness was transferred into a robotic body (his story reminds me a little bit of Cain from Robocop 2). He was used by the Mercenary Syndicate as the perfect assassin, but he eventually broke free of his programming somehow. Now he hates what he has become, and has made an effort to eliminate all of the people responsible for making him what he is, but he also apparently likes what he has become and enjoys killing innocent people just for the sheer pleasure of it. He calls humans “skinsuits” and has disdain for them, even though he used to be human himself. He also still takes contracts to eliminate high-profile targets and makes plenty of bank in the process, but it begs the question: What does a robot need that kind of money for? The revenge story would make sense if that was the end of it, but there’s just too many contradictions in his writing to ignore.
It is also rather unpleasant to play him due to the fact that he is an insufferable asshole. Every line of dialogue he has is about how he wants to kill people or how he hates everyone. Even if you press the “thank you” key while picking up an item given to you by another Legend, he will say “I’m not thanking you,” or “Don’t think I owe you anything.” In comparison to Caustic (the villain of the first three seasons), Revenant is completely lacking in nuance or depth. Caustic is insane and obsessed with death, yes, but at least he does it for science. Revenant is simply evil for evil’s sake, and he comes across as very flat and one-dimensional as a result.
However, from a strictly mechanical perspective, Revenant is extremely fun to play. His passive ability, “Stalker” is quite powerful; it allows him to climb higher than other Legends, which is useful for taking the high ground or escaping from a bad situation. He can also move quickly while crouching, enabling him to silently flank enemies and take them by surprise. He has a thin and spindly hitbox as it is, and when he is crouching-running he becomes even more difficult to hit. His character design is obviously inspired by the spider, which is aesthetically pretty cool.
Similarly, his tactical ability, “Silence,” is like a spider’s web. It is a grenade that shuts down enemy abilities for 10 seconds, which is more than enough to seriously cripple an entire squad if they are grouped together. The effect of the grenade also persists for 6 seconds and will shut down any legends who wander into it. The grenade only inflicts 10 damage, but I have already used it to kill enemies multiple times – It can be a great way to finish somebody if they are running away and low on health. It is also incredibly useful to shut down the mobility skills of Pathfinder or Octane so they can’t escape from you. This ability feels extremely overpowered in its current state, particularly because its cooldown is a paltry 20 seconds. I imagine this will get nerfed in a later patch, but we’ll have to wait and see.
His ultimate ability, “Death Totem,” is a bit more complicated. It creates a shrine that you and your teammates can touch to enter “Death Protection,” which does exactly what it says – It temporarily protects you from death. You are prohibited from using health items while this is active, and all damage you receive is redirected to your health pool. Once your health reaches zero, you teleport back to the totem with 1 hit point instead of being knocked down. Any shields you had before you entered Death Protection persist, and if the totem has been placed in good cover, you should have enough time to use a medkit or syringe before getting back into the fight. Or, if the battle is going well, you can immediately rush back out with only the protection of your shields. This ability essentially allows for rapid re-deployment of your squad back into battle. If the enemies don’t know where your totem is, it can severely disorient them. Good communication is required to put this skill to good use, but its application can be devastating if used right.
This skill currently has its share of bugs, though. Like Caustic’s gas traps, the totem will vanish if you try to place it in a spot where it can’t fit. However, unlike the gas traps, you won’t be refunded your ability timer, so you will have wait 3 minutes for it recharge. This is clearly unintentional and will probably be patched, but right now it can be extremely annoying if you place it too close to the contour of a rock or other detritus present on the map. Another funny bug will happen if you place the totem on the World’s Edge train. Instead of teleporting back to the totem, you will teleport outside the map somewhere in the lava ocean, where you will burn to death and fall through the map’s geometry.
I guess this is what hell looks like on the Frontier.
All in all, Season 4 feels fine, but it focuses extremely heavily upon Revenant, who is easily the worst-written character in the entire roster. He is fun to play mechanically, but I wish I could mute his voice quips. His continuous negativity puts a damper on the spirit of the game. Unless he undergoes some kind of development in subsequent seasons, I’d say this is a low point for the storyline of Apex Legends
as a whole.
But on you’re not really here for the story, are you? If you ignore all of that and just focus on the gameplay, Apex Legends
is still just as fun as it was in previous seasons. The mechanics are still completely solid. World’s Edge is still an incredible map to play on. The Season 4 Battle Pass, while not quite as good as Season 3’s, has still kept all of the things that make it worth buying – plenty of decent skins, crafting metals and Apex Coins, along with other interesting cosmetic items.
Still, Season 4 feels like a bit of an unnecessary detour. I appreciate good storytelling in my games, and I hope they eventually get back to exploring the more interesting threads of the other characters, such as Wraith and Crypto, who got exceptionally well-done videos
to introduce their backstories. I’m far more interested in where those threads will lead than whatever is going on with Revenant. In fact, he could die in a fire and I’d probably not feel a thing. I’m actually far more interested in Caustic; he is a proper villain with legitimate motivations who hasn't received the development he deserves.
However, even if the writing still remains in an awkward place, I’ll likely still be playing Apex Legends
for the foreseeable future – It’s just too good of a game to put down.