Apex Legends is Growing Thanks to Call of Duty: Warzone’s Mistakes

Apex Legends deserves the positive buzz it's been receiving, but it's no secret why the game has been attracting more and more Warzone players.

Apex Legends Seer
Photo: EA

We recently talked about how Final Fantasy 14 is managing to “steal” quite a few World of Warcraft players who have become increasingly frustrated with that game’s problems. Well, don’t look now, but it’s really starting to feel like Apex Legends is doing the same thing to Call of Duty: Warzone.

Much like Final Fantasy 14, Apex Legends‘ success isn’t surprising or sudden. The battle royale title has remained popular since it was released in 2019, and that’s mostly because it’s a very good game. While Apex Legends struggled to find its footing after an incredibly hot launch, it’s long been a very good battle royale title that has gotten even better over the last year or so. We’re not talking about a fluke or a “here today, gone tomorrow” meme game.

At the same time, it’s hard to look at Apex Legends recent rise in concurrent players, Twitch/YouTube viewers, and general social chatter and not think about Call of Duty: Warzone. There is more than enough room for multiple blockbusters in the battle royale genre, but in this instance, the “rise” of Apex Legends has as much to do with these things it has done well as these mistakes that Warzone has made along the way.

Apex Legends Season 10 Update Has the Game In a (Mostly) Good Place

Many live service games experience a popularity bump after the release of a major new update, and that’s certainly what we’ve been seeing in the case of Apex Legends and its Season 10 update that was released about a week ago.

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To be honest, it hasn’t been a perfect update. New Legend Seer is probably a bit too strong at the moment, there are a couple of guns that probably need to be tweaked, and the game’s servers have been taking a beating lately. Apex Legends absolutely has issues that developer Respawn still needs to address.

At the moment, though, it is a very exciting game. Along with the usual array of new season unlockables, a new Legend to play with, and the traditional ranked mode reset, Apex Legends‘ Season 10 update smartly builds upon some of the game’s best recent improvements (such as the addition of an Arena mode). The result so far has been an update that honestly feels like the best time to jump into Apex Legends since the game took the gaming world by storm over two years ago.

Apex Legends Owns a Battle Royale Gameplay “Sweet Spot”

One of the best things about the battle royale genre is that multiple developers have found ways to carve a niche for themselves within the basic battle royale concept. Are you looking for third-person combat, a ton of personality, and crafting-based gameplay? Try Fortnite. Do you want a quicker first-person shooter? Give Warzone a shot. Do you prefer a slow and methodical battle royale game that feels closer to a horror movie? There’s always PUBG.

As for Apex Legends…well, it’s kind of a combination of various battle royale concepts. It’s much faster than PUBG, but it’s a touch slower than a game like Warzone in a way that really makes you consider positioning and tactics. It’s got a crafting system and Legends with a ton of personality, but it’s ultimately still a first-person shooter that emphasizes positioning, aim, and other basic genre concepts.

Now, that doesn’t mean that Apex Legends is the best of all worlds. If anything, it sometimes tries hard to combine too many ideas. However, Apex Legends does offer a unique battle royale experience that speaks to a lot of people who can’t find all of the things it does well anywhere else. As an alternative, it has a little something for everybody.

Call of Duty: Warzone’s Cheater Problem Is Simply Absurd

We’ve discussed this before, but Call of Duty: Warzone has a bit of a cheater problem. The game’s lack of a third-party anti-cheat system, Activision’s reliance on mysterious internal reviews, and the title’s free-to-play status mean that it is regularly overrun with cheaters who find ways to create new accounts even after they’ve been banned. Activision will occasionally mention that they’ve banned another batch of 100,000+ cheaters, but that of course means there are still that many cheaters in the game to ban.

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While Apex Legends also has a bit of a cheater problem, it doesn’t seem to be quite a comically bad as Warzone‘s is at the moment. Most cheaters are found in the game’s high-level ranked mode matches, and Apex Legends at least utilizes the Easy Anti-Cheat system that helps filter out some of the more egregious instances of manipulation

Apex Legends is hardly a model citizen so far as anti-cheat measures go, but given what’s happening with Warzone at the moment, it’s not a surprise that some Call of Duty fans are turning to it for a little relief.

Warzone’s Lack of a Ranked Play Mode is Starting to Catch Up With It

We’ve also talked about this problem before, but the short summary of this issue is that there’s no traditional “ranked play” system in Warzone. Matchmaking in that game is limited to general play modes where your opponents are determined by a “skill-based matchmaking system” that has become something of a meme due to its mysterious nature and general shortcomings.

This is one area where Apex Legends has a clear advantage over Warzone. Matchmaking in Apex isn’t perfect, but the game’s ranked mode makes it clear where you stand among other players, how every game affects your ranking, and why you’re facing off against the people you’re matched with. You can really say any of those things about Warzone‘s SBMM alternative.

Besides, some people just like having a visual rank indicator to look at and gradually improve as they play. Given that there’s no indication that Warzone‘s developers plan to add a ranked mode anytime soon, Apex could hold the advantage here for quite some time.

Warzone’s Updates Have Often Been Too Little, Too Late

While there have been some amazing Warzone updates in the past, even the game’s major seasonal updates typically do little more than introduce a couple of new weapons, add some cosmetics, and fix existing balance issues. The game’s most enjoyable updates have typically been limited to special events that have sadly been few and far between.

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This is, theoretically, the “easiest” Warzone problem to fix, but the fact that Warzone has become so successful despite its history of sporadic major updates would tend to suggest that its developers really aren’t in a hurry to push more updates for the game anytime soon. With Apex Legends, players can at least regularly expect new Legends, new modes (or updates to existing modes), map rotations/new maps, and, as we’ve previously mentioned, a ranked mode reset at the start of each new season.

With Warzone‘s Season 5 update on the horizon, now would seemingly be the time to do something major and drown out the negative buzz. Realistically, though, the Warzone team will need to wait until Season 6 to do something quite that significant, though a nice mid-season update would certainly break this frustrating trend.