Live events are great in online games, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a controversial statement. If you disagree, this might not be the feature for you. But I’m not here to sing the praises of live events, or to change any minds that think otherwise. I’m here to ask why Apex Legends doesn’t advertise its live events at all.
This weekend, we saw (and heard, really heard) two fighter jets scream through the skies of Storm Point before one was shot down, crashing onto the beach near North Pad. It’s a spectacular sight, even if the novelty gets a little old by your fifth match in a row. It provides great hints for the next character in the game – who we now know is Mad Maggie and her electric whip – but why weren’t more players in on the plan?
Think of Fortnite, the game that revolutionised the battle royale genre. Its climactic end-of-season events are incredible. One time, the entire map got sucked into a black hole or something, and everyone gathered round to watch. Players stopped fighting and pooled their resources to create huge viewing platforms to watch their own demise as if it were the latest MCU movie. With the number of Marvel character skins presumably present, it may as well have been.
Then there’s the concerts, where the likes of Ariana Grande and Travis Scott perform as giant holograms for the whole lobby to see. There are obvious reasons why these money-making crossovers are heavily publicised by Fortnite, but it also makes sense; if you’re doing something cool, make sure there are players there to see it. So why doesn’t Apex Legends follow this formula that’s proven to be so successful?
I found out about the fighter jet live event on Twitter, as leakers and fans alike posted screenshots and videos of what was going on. Perhaps this is a social media problem rather than an Apex Legends problem, true, but I had no idea the event was even due to start. Since I don’t play a lot of games on weekends, I was grateful for the pointer, but would have appreciated the whole thing not being spoiled before I’d even had a chance to experience it for myself.
Granted, this live event is only small and brief, players are hardly going to gather under an uneasy truce to watch a short dogfight, but I’ll wager that many didn’t know it was happening in the first place. Those not on social media or casual fans who don’t play every day could easily miss this cool piece of lore making its way into the game.
But there’s another problem, too. Apex’s lore and corresponding events are fragmented across too much media. Comics are released on Twitter, announcements and trailers dropped on YouTube, and events happen in-game. Comics still happen in-game too, but in the menu rather than in a match. Could this dialogue be given to characters so their stories progress during matches, or would that be too distracting? It could distract too much from the important pew-pewing at stake and the pork cutlet dinners on the line, so maybe we can leave the comics where they are. But the announcements? That’s a different story altogether.
Imagine if each new Legend to join the Apex Games was announced mid-match. Mad Maggie’s ship gets shot down and out she steps, whip cracking and shield bashing towards you with the might of an angry Kiwi, spitting blood and teeth at anyone who gets too close. That’s how we find out she’s coming in Season 12, that’s how the announcement is made. Without encroaching too much on Fortnite’s ground, she could even drop a kitted weapon when you manage to kill her, much like the Prowlers drop ammo and attachments. The Stories from the Outlands trailer can come a few days later, but people who actively play the game would have gathered before that to see the announcement made in real time.
Apex Legends servers have held up pretty well in recent months (touch wood), so a surge in players would probably be handled alright. I wouldn’t expect more people to join than at the launch of a new season, but making a Legend announcement in-game would be a great social experience to add to the game. Think about the YouTube comments scrolling too fast to read in the run-up to the YouTube announcement going live, but you’re getting excited with 59 other players in a match. Sure, there’ll be one Fuse who ruins it all with a backpack full of grenades, but he’ll shortly have 50 SMGs blowing his moustache off his face.
Apex Legends needs to homogenise its lore and events and intertwine the two in ways that we haven’t seen since Season 5. But most importantly, it needs to tell the community that something is happening in the first place so we don’t see it all on Twitter first.
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