I’ve never been a huge fan of battle royale games. And yet, Respawn has created one that I can’t seem to put down. Apex Legends has become one of the ‘comfort food’ games that I load up when I can’t decide what to play, and the new Arenas mode has me playing even more often than usual since its addition.
Arenas is a round-based 3v3 mode that just got added in this week’s Season 9 update, and it manages to change the game up in all the right ways. The goal in Arenas is to win at least three rounds and gain a two-round lead against the opposing squad. So scores of 3-0, 3-1, 4-2, etc. will result in victory, while a score of 4-4 will start a final sudden death round.
This mode removes the random elements of the battle royale matches while keeping everything that I and many others enjoy about Apex Legends. It allows players to shine as they choose and use their favorite guns, abilities, and attachments without the fear of the dreaded third-party attack.
With faint shades of CS:GO and Valorant, Arenas adds a certain level of planning to Apex Legends that isn’t found in battle royales. The Materials currency used to create personalized loadouts before each round is limited. After buying your favorite guns, do you then purchase healing items and grenades with your remaining Materials, or do you upgrade those weapons to get attachments like sights and extended magazines?
Running out of rounds in a smaller mag in the middle of a gunfight can be fatal, but not having Shield Cells and Syringes to heal after a short back-and-forth can leave you at a disadvantage in the next battle. And that’s the beauty of it. Your choices have a direct effect on the outcome of each round with very little interference from the game itself outside of the occasional random Care Packages. If I run into a fight using the iron sights on a G7 Scout rifle even though I know my aim sucks, then that’s on me.
On top of all the physical items to consider in Arenas loadouts, each Apex Legend has limited use of their Tactical and Ultimate Abilities. And, of course, you can also obtain more uses of these game-changing abilities for a price. Crypto is extremely useful if you want to know where enemies are at all times, but if his drone is quickly destroyed and he can only use it once, you’ll be kicking yourself for not buying another Tactical use.
With all that in mind, team composition is more important than ever here, which just adds to the potential mind games between squads. For example, buying Ultimates for Rampart, Wattson, and Loba could allow a team to basically set up shop and build a base, attacking from long range with Sheila while defending with an Interception Pylon and resupplying with a Black Market. Experimenting with different team comp and tactics in the modified tiny maps is one of the most fun things to do in Arenas.
Even after reading all that, you still might think to yourself “why not just go play Titanfall 2 if you don’t like BRs?” Well, the answer is simple: the characters. The Legends are still unique and engaging both inside and outside of the gameplay. They have creative skills and entertaining personalities, adding a special vibrance to the game that Titanfall 2 just doesn’t have.
Throwing out random, funny quotes or cool new emotes between rounds adds to the experience. That may not seem like much, but honestly, there isn’t much time for emotes in the chaos of a battle royale or Attrition match since you can get attacked at any second. And listening to Wattson’s electricity puns or Mirage stumbling over his words before heading out of the safe room will make you smile, even if you’re losing.
Arenas is the perfect game mode for you you’re a fan of how Apex Legends feels to play, but you aren’t in love with the battle royale formula. It’s basically a test of skill, decision-making, and teamwork without testing your patience. The usual excuses of not getting the right loot, having a bad drop, or getting jumped by the whole lobby at once just don’t exist here, and that’s a wonderful thing.
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