The Apex Legends player base isn’t really enjoying the Arenas game mode in its current state. There seem to be a number of reasons.
In May 2021, Respawn Entertainment added the Apex Arena game mode to Apex Legends. The smash-hit live service shooter sees over 200,000 concurrent players every day, and the player base was excited, and largely anticipating the new game mode.
The stage was set for the game to burst into the Arena Shooter scene with a grand entrance.
Arenas launched quite well and because of the huge success that the battle royale had enjoyed, there were plenty of players checking out the new game mode. However, that didn’t last long, and the mode has been left to gather dust. Despite the announcement of a new Apex Arena map Habitat as part of the Dark Depths event.
What’s going wrong with Apex Arena Mode?
Respawn does seem to be trying to consistently tweak the gameplay experience. However, their efforts don’t seem to be substantial enough. There are plenty of issues with the game mode. Some of these, the developers may not be able to address because of external factors. Let’s consider a few of them.
1. Players feeling “forced” to play the Arena game mode
Respawn added an Arenas-themed LTM at launch that only frustrated the player base more because they didn’t want to be forced to play Arenas to earn in-game content. Since then, the player base has also taken to reddit to complain about Battle Pass challenges that required them to complete tasks in Arenas.
2. The streaming audience doesn’t enjoy Apex Arena Mode
It’s not just the player base that wasn’t really enjoying Arenas though. In July 2021, popular Apex Legends twitch streamer, The Gaming Merchant held a poll for his Twitter followers asking them which game mode they enjoyed viewing on Twitch Streams and the response was resoundingly in favor of Battle Royale.
3. The matchmaking is messed up
Ever since arenas was launched, players have been repeatedly complaining about the game mode’s matchmaking. Average or worse players end up getting matched up against predators and Diamond-level players. The subreddit has been up in arms about it, especially Ranked Arenas.
The Ranked Arenas matchmaking system can be exploited. Players seem to rank up faster by gaming the system to fight lower-ranked players. This leads to players deliberately sabotaging several ranked games in a streak against equal or higher level opponents to fight easier opponents later and rank up.
4. The competition
While Respawn’s consistent tweaking with Arenas can definitely be seen as a sign that they’re serious about it. Add to that, the fact that established Arena shooters already exist and are flourishing in their own genre. Apex simply isn’t a game players consider when they’re looking for that kind of experience.
To compound this problem, 343 Games launched Halo Infinite a month ago and that has soaked up a substantial part of the player base. The developers really need to rework the game mode so that it can at least compete with the variety of games out there.
5. Balancing Issues
Owing to the drastically different gameplay and increased emphasis on gunplay, Arenas presents a balancing problem. Certain legends and weapons work far better in Arenas than they do in Battle Royale. This has led to a lot of tweaking around with weapons like the L-Star, Spitfire, and Rampage.
Respawn hasn’t really addressed the legends much with regards to their effectiveness in Arenas. Legends like Octane and Valkyrie seem fairly balanced in BR mode but they’re pretty strong in Arenas.
Mirage is considered a low-tier legend but also works quite well in Arenas. It appears that the developers need to maintain two different metas here, which is proving to be a challenge.
6. The success and popularity of the BR Mode
Before they released Apex Arena Mode into the game, the BR mode was already enjoying a lot of success. So much, that it had become a staple of the genre. Many players enjoyed and identified Apex Legends for being what it was. An excellent Battle Royale and a worthy competitor to Fortnite, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Warzone.
The BR mode was so good that the players didn’t seem too inclined to try Arenas or play it for too long. Even now, they seem to consider it a great way to pass time in casual play. The developers need to work towards attracting players that enjoy Arena Shooters, rather than BR players.
Is the writing on the wall for Arenas, then?
It’s quite easy to feel that way considering the negativity around the game mode on platforms like reddit and twitter. However, it is important to consider that the numbers still don’t feel low enough for long matchmaking queues.
There still seem to be enough players playing the game mode, especially casually, considering ranked matchmaking seems to be the main issue. Respawn Entertainment will need to address the prevalent issues soon, though, and probably make a less complicated ranked mode that can’t be exploited.
They’ll also have to find a way to give players more options around it. They can also be more ambitious and introduce more arena shooter game modes like Capture the Flag or frag mode.
With the game’s next big update on the cards soon, we’ll have to see what kind of changes they bring in to breathe some life into the game mode. It was only introduced three seasons ago, after all and we can give them the benefit of doubt for trying to make it work.