A lot of Apex players were disappointed with the first season’s battle pass. Rewards were mostly lackluster character and weapon skins. There were no challenges to complete to level up, or emotes or other fun things you could earn. Overall the battle pass didn’t offer much incentive to play more during the season. Season 2 started yesterday, and the new battle pass is largely an improvement.
Respawn’s new battle pass has a broader variety of both free and premium rewards. In addition to character and weapon skins, there are music packs, load screens, and skydiving emotes you can earn. Besides being a greater variety of items than last season, these rewards explore the personality of Apex’s world and characters, but they don’t veer into distracting lore like Fortnite or Overwatch sometimes do. Apex strikes a good balance between deepening the characters so that they all have distinct personalities and giving the players who are here for tightly controlled, technical gameplay new challenges.
The music packs, for instance, are remixes of the main Apex theme based around a particular character. Wattson’s music, which I unlocked last night after getting to level 2 of the battle pass, replaces the music in the game’s lobby, the music you hear during the drop, and the music when you win. Wattson’s music is loud and bombastic, just like the adorable engineer herself. Bloodhound’s music pack, on the other hand, sounds like something you’d hear at the goth club. Mirage’s music sounds like something from Tim Heidecker’s fake butt rock band Dekkar. They’re all in character, feel like fitting rewards for leveling up, and don’t distract from the game.
The same goes for the drop emotes. These can only be used when you jump from the drop ship, so don’t expect any dance parties. I haven’t seen anyone use them yet, possibly because they unlock at level 10, but I can’t wait to grab the soldier Bangalore’s cute salute, Wattson’s ballet-esque swan dive, or Octane’s emote where he runs around in a circle. I don’t even play as Octane, and I want it.
The battle pass also has character-specific loading screens. I can deck out my game with a Mirage emote, music pack and loading screen, and being able to customize my game to feature my favorite character makes me feel even more invested in that character. Who wouldn’t want to see cool art of their favorite character every time they load into a match?.
These new rewards feel much more meaningful to me than character skins. They’re more interesting looking than last season’s, but given that I can’t see my own skin when I’m wearing it, I don’t feel motivated to grind for them. Fans of Caustic seem to like his new Prince of Darkness skin, which make him look like an evil king form a fantasy novel, but overall the skins still feel less interesting than the other rewards.
The challenges, on the other hand, are all about technical skill, but they’re so varied that I don’t feel like a loser for not being able to get a ton of headshots. I just completed a challenge for outliving 300 players, which isn’t a hard feat if you play often. Challenges rotate both daily and weekly, so if you’re not feeling today’s challenges you can come back tomorrow or focus on a weekly challenge instead.
Completing a certain number of challenges is an additional way of earning battle pass experience. In the last season, battle pass experience was tied to just regular experience, meaning that the only way you could level up was by playing a ton. In this season, you’ll probably still have to play a ton, but if you have a string of short games where you aren’t playing well, you can still earn some battle pass experience along the way.
Where the first battle pass was underwhelming, this one makes me remember all the things I loved about the game when I started playing it at launch. It’s just enough of a new spin on the game that it feels fresh, without diluting the strong gameplay or complicating its lore. After spending just a day with the season 2 battle pass, I’m back into Apex Legends in a huge way.