Apex Legends – something’s got to give

My fireteam and I – hitherto committed to PUBG but casually on the lookout for something else, so unhappy were we with the lack of communication, infrequent updates, and all-too-common disconnects – had been on the hunt for a new team-based shooter, and Apex Legends scratched an itch that neither Fortnite nor PUBG could reach. Fun, chaotic, and built on fantastically snappy gunplay, Respawn’s surprise battle royale hit the floor running, and we fell for it faster than Bangalore drop, shock and locks. Apex Legends’ arrival was smooth, too, immediately feeling polished, and it offered a frantic, pacey twist on the battle royale formula. It became our go-to game, not for a few weeks or months, but for years.

 

The wheels started to fall off for us when Apex Legends introduced skill-based matchmaking (often shortened to SBMM). Yes, yes, I know it’s an unpopular view and something Respawn is unlikely to change, but I loathe SBMM in unranked play. I know it’s there to balance out lobbies and make it easier for newbies to get acclimated. But if you’re only a little above average in the game – or play with someone who is – your slightly-better-than-average arse is continually up against “Apex Predators” who melt you from across the map should you so much as glance in their direction.

 

Jealous? Me?! You bet I am. It doesn’t matter how many hours I sink into Apex or how many rotations I rehearse; I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I have neither the reflexes nor the dexterity to ever become a trail-blazing Predator. But it’s one thing to encounter sweaty players if you’re choosing to go against players circa your skill level in Ranked gameplay – quite another if you’re playing unranked and chilling with some pals. RNG and good luck have always been a big part of the appeal of battle royales – you win some, you lose some; that’s the way it goes – but ranking us in unranked matches can be unnecessarily frustrating. Forcing me into SBMM is not making me a better player; it’s just making me not want to play anymore.

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