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Season 7 of Apex Legends was arguably the best overall addition to Respawn Interactive’s free-to-play battle royale since the game stealth-launched two years ago much to our pleasant surprise.
Titled Ascension, season 7 introduced the brand new map of Olympus with its high-concept sci-fi design, sweeping scale, and convenient vehicles. More importantly, we also got new legend Horizon, a gravity-defying Scottish scientist whose kit was so superb from day one that she’s currently threatening to overtake Wraith as the legend with the highest win-rate (the first time this has ever happened).
With such an incredible launch for season 7, topping that would always be quite a task. So it’s no surprise that I don’t think that Season 8 has surpassed its predecessor. As Fuse would probably say though, “It has been bloody fun!”.
Fuse, by the way, would be season 8’s new legend. A larger than life Australian bruiser who happens to be pulled straight out of a 1980s action movie. While not as immediately impactive as Horizon for longtime Apex Legends players, Fuse has been custom designed by Respawn for a very special purpose, and it’s one that he excels at. How do you get players new to Apex Legends to be able to compete on a relatively even footing with the predators who have been honing their jumping 360 hip-fire Kraber headshots since the beginning?
You keep things simple. And explosive. As one Respawn dev explained, everybody knows what to do when you hand them a grenade.
And that’s what Fuse is all about. Making things go boom. His tactical is a launched cluster bomb that stuns over time, while his passive allows him to carry twice as many grenades as any other legend and then launch those grenades further, faster, and way more accurately thanks to his bionic arm. Meanwhile, his ultimate ability, the Motherlode, is a rocket launcher that disperses a restrictive ring of fire.
What all of this combines for is a character that is perfect for corralling enemies into one location, keeping them there, and then unleashing all kinds of explosive hell on them in rapid succession from mid-range. There’s no need for godlike aiming reflexes, wall-jumping mobility tricks, or superhuman target acquisition from across the map. And it makes him really, really fun to play!
He also brings a new dynamic to the game. Where previous legends with similar ultimate abilities like Gibraltar and Bangalore were all about driving enemies out of an area, Fuze is all about keeping enemies in place where they are. Which in turn makes it easier for new players to then mow these enemies down using weapons they’re still getting used to.
Strangely enough though, as noob-friendly as Fuse is, the signature new weapon that launches with him is not. The 30-30 Repeater is a lever-action rifle that uses heavy ammo which means it deals more damage per shot (which is increased even further by “charging up” when aiming down sights) than a light ammo G7 scout rifle but has a slower rate of fire and some pretty unforgiving bullet velocity drop off over distance. It’s also unique in the entire game in that its interruptible reload animation sees you chamber a single round at a time, adding some additional tactical thinking. The result is a weapon that can be utterly devastating if you have the elite mechanical skills and game awareness to use it properly, or it gets you killed in embarrassing fashion. It does at least look and sound utterly badass.
And speaking of looking badass, the Season 8 battle pass is offering some killer new cosmetics for your favourite legends, all themed around Fuze’s extreme persona. The “Radical Action” Bangalore skin is a personal favourite of mine. Even better, just a week into Season 8, and Respawn launched the Anniversary Collection event, celebrating Apex Legends’ two year anniversary. For this event, Respawn have taken past favourite Epic and Legendary skins and given them a fresh makeover. The results are some of the coolest skins in the game to date. And the kicker is that you can pick them up for the relatively cheap price of 400 and 1200 craft materials respectively – that’s usually the cost of non-event skins.
The exact opposite of cheap though are the Anniversary Apex Packs. Just one pack costs 700 Apex coins which is roughly around R100, and with their random rolls you’re going to need a lot of them to unlock all 24 of the event’s cosmetic items. And getting all of those will in turn get you 150 heirloom shards to unlock one of many legend-specific heirloom melee weapons.
Another new addition/tweak with Season 8 is the inclusion of gold magazine pick-ups which auto-reload any stowed weapon after a few seconds. Very handy. There are also some Legend balance changes, the most notable to me is giving Rampart’s barrier more health during the setup phase. Notable, because it’s an entirely useless change. Rampart’s kit is still not in a great space, despite recent “improvements”. A simple fix, if you ask me, is to change her passive ability from just getting additional ammo/reload speed on LMG’s to all weapons (maybe even adding stability in there). She’s a gunsmith. Why can’t she upgrade all guns?
Outside of legends and weapons, we also have the changes wrought to the returning King’s Canyon map by Fuse’s explosive entrance, opening up a whole new section to fight over. Crash Site adds all kinds of verticality and close-quarters combat, while Spotted Lakes (which replaces Slum Town) is eerily beautiful with its spaceship-fuel contaminated waterways. Sadly, these new map tweaks don’t feel as disruptive to the game as removing Skull Town once did.
What has been disruptive this season though is just how buggy it has all been. Issues brought about by seasonal updates are not a new thing in Apex Legends, but this season has been taking its Mayhem title just a little too literally. Everybody from casual players to seasoned pro streamers have been complaining about the stability of the Apex Legends servers across all platforms for the last two weeks. Several players get randomly stuck in loading loops so they can never start the game at all. Those who can get experience intermittent lag spikes sending their ping to a game-breaking 250ms and above, or even loading into servers where everything is moving in super slow motion.
Here in SA, playing on Xbox and PlayStation, I’ve experienced both of the latter issues a number of times now. Maybe due to our country’s additional latency, we also seem to occasionally see stuttering visual glitches on character idle animations when on the home screen, or when opening Apex packs. These are more annoying than anything else, but they all add up.
Thus far Respawn has responded that they’re aware of these issues and are looking into them, but no fix has yet been released. Based on the developer’s track record, I expect everything will be addressed in the next week or two, bringing Apex Legends Season 8 into the action-packed sweet spot it deserves.
However, if you’re a competitive ranked player where every inadvertent server-related death plays havoc with your overall standing in the game, that could still be too far away. Hey, at least the noobs and moderate casuals like me are having a blast though.
Literally, in some cases.
Last Updated: February 19, 2021