How is it a Battle Royale game can change a person?
Back in my teenage years, I was a sucker for a shooter. Halo, Call of Duty, the first Borderlands, Battlefield, Bulletstorm, the list goes on. But as I got older, as you do, I started to drift away from them and was more focused on role-playing games, puzzle games and third person adventure games. That’s not to say I stopped playing first person shooters entirely; every now and then there would be the odd shooter to peak my interest, but usually I would just stop playing them before I even got close to finishing them.
Prior to the main subject at hand, I had heard of the whole Infinity Ward fallout and how the founders of the studio had been dismissed by Activision, to then go on and form Respawn Entertainment. For some reason I can’t explain, I kept a tab on them. They released both Titanfall and Titanfall 2, to which I thoroughly enjoyed back when they were in their prime. I was also not a fan of this whole “battle royale” fad that had been polluting my feed all the time on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I had tried PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds and mildly enjoyed it, and my goodness you have no idea how many times I had played “The Hunger Games” in Minecraft way back before PUBG was even a brain cell. But for some reason PUBG never hooked me in like it had some players, and then Fortnite came along and after a couple games, I had no clue what was happening. Needless to say, I was all but ready to shun battle royale games forever.
Then on a bleak Monday evening, Respawn started a live stream and announced Apex Legends to the world. At the time I didn’t know what I thought; I had massively enjoyed both Titanfall games, so Respawn had already made a fan out of me. The game was also set in the Titanfall universe – another plus from me – and best of all, the game was completely free. In my time, I’ve played many, and I mean MANY free-to-play mobile games, but as you yourself have probably experienced, you’re hit with timers, pay walls and the odd pay-to-win mechanic. Respawn promised none of that in their game, instead going the Fortnite way by having cosmetics and Season Passes as the only way they’d make their money. “To hell with it” I thought. The game was free, I massively enjoyed Titanfall. Who was it going to harm if I tried out a few games? Turns out, me… but in the best way possible.
Before I knew it, 1 game turned into over 1000 games. I maxed out Season 1's battle pass, I am very close to completing Season 2's and currently in Ranked mode I am Platinum IV, though I fear that's as far as my skill set will take me in that regard. Nowadays, everyone seems to either hate Battle Royale games completely, or have that 1 they’re totally hooked to. Mine became Apex Legends. It had so much personality to it; it wasn’t so gritty as PUBG, and it wasn’t so childish like Fortnite. It was somewhere in between, and didn’t have so many complex mechanics other Royale games started to add. What it did was simple, yet majorly effective; it was just a shooter without any ridiculous gimmicks, and everything just felt fluid. Sure, this could change any day now; for all I know maybe Apex Legends will soon too include gyrospheres and building mechanics. But right now it seems like Respawn aren't taking any silly risks compared to how Fortnite has added Mechs as if to try and get there before Respawn does... and oh boy do people seem to hate them.
But that’s not entirely the end of the story. Once I had played Apex Legends to death, and then some more, something clicked. All of a sudden, all these shooters I had bought over the years that had been collecting dust on the shelf were catching my eye. I shrugged it off at first, but then with the announcement of Borderlands 3, and with the Borderlands Handsome Collection becoming free on Playstation Plus one time and that I had never beaten any other Borderlands than the first one, this seemed like the perfect excuse to try and get back into the franchise. And I did just that, having beaten Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre Sequel (…though that I would have been happy skipping) and even Tales From The Borderlands (which yes isn’t a shooter but hey) all within about a month.
Then rumours started floating about the next Call of Duty. Back in my teenage years, I played Modern Warfare 2’s and Black Ops 1’s multiplayer's to death; after school, this would be my go to thing to do. I had also beaten the campaigns for Call of Duty Classic, all 3 Modern Warfare titles, World at War and Black Ops 1. But once Black Ops 2 came around, my love started to dwindle; the fact there was a new Call of Duty game every year was getting a bit much to keep up with. So when I heard that the next game in the franchise for 2019 was going to be Modern Warfare (though with the absence of a lot of the original Infinity Ward crew, who are now at Respawn), I had the thought about returning to the games in the franchise I had missed, with the exception of Call of Duty 2 and 3 (something about 2 when I tried it years ago just didn’t grab me), and beating all the campaigns on the hardest difficulty. Because I owned Modern Warfare Remastered, I decided to start with that, then properly move on to the others. But here’s the weird thing: I was actually good. When I used to play Call of Duty as a teenager, I would have my ass handed to me all the time. My Kill/Death radio would be something like 0.2, and I would probably die every 20 seconds in the campaign on the hardest difficulty.
Had Apex Legends made me improve my game? I play Apex Legends matches with headphones so that I can hear other players footsteps (something I've been laughed at for suggesting I do, but if you do this too, you’d know how effective this is). All my matches in Apex Legends are all ranked at this time, so I now have to be extra careful when going up against players of my skill. So now, when I was going into Modern Warfare Remastered’s campaign, I was able to get through the campaign on Veteran in half the time it would have taken me back when I was 13/14. My Kill/Death ratio was also reaching highs of 2.0; as a teenager I would rush into a fight, not look around and die within a few seconds. Now, I’m sneaking into buildings, circling around an enemy, listening for any sound that might reveal an enemy’s location. Apex Legends had changed me…
I then moved onto Black Ops 2’s campaign, and I remember years ago starting the campaign and not at all enjoying it because I would just die way too much. I then played the first few campaign missions, and something was feeling off. I was barely, if ever, dying. Was I not playing on Veteran? Or was the campaign just easier than I remember? I started to ask around in places like Reddit, and whilst they told me that the missions set in the past were a little easy, the missions set in the future would be the ultimate test. And yet, there I was, going through the missions set in the future, mowing down enemies like they were paper (except the Strike Force Missions though, because screw those in Veteran difficulty).
It was then I was sure: the games hadn’t changed. I had changed. And it was all thanks to the skills I had learnt from Apex Legends. What I would be curious to know is how much will this love last? Currently I have every Call of Duty lined up to play all the way up to Black Ops 4. Currently I’m switching between Apex Legends and Call of Duty; my worry is that by the time Modern Warfare 2019 releases, I’ll be majorly burnt out.
Maybe that’s why I truly fell out of love with shooters in the first place.