I've enjoyed playing Apex Legends for the last year. We're currently in Season 4 and as long as the developers continue to release new content to keep things fresh, I don't really see this game going away anytime soon.
Over the past 3 seasons, I've spent most of my time in ranked mode. I enjoyed playing casual public matches but I really get into a game when it feels like something is on the line.
What I like about Apex ranked mode is the tiered system, running through bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamonds, master, and predator. There's a feeling of achievement as you work your way up, earning points for kills, assists, and match placements.
One of the main issues I've had with the game, however, is the fact that I'm a solo player. Nobody else I know plays it and it makes it very difficult to do well once you climb your way up the ranked ladder.
That's not to say that I'm not having a good time. It's just that I'm acutely aware that I have to expect to run into a brick wall due to variable that are often out of my control as a solo player.
In this post, I'm going to take a look at some of the biggest issues solo ranked players have.
One of the things I like most about Apex is the fact that it's a team game. If you're not working as a team of three then you are in for a painful game because you'll be swarmed and battered by any half-decent 3-person squad.
When you join the queue as a solo ranked player, you'll be partnered up with two random teammates. Sometimes they're a duo and other times they're also solos. This brings an element of luck to the game and can make things play out very differently.
At times, I've been partnered up with teammates that make it feel like easy-mode. At other times, it's felt like I'm playing alongside people who don't have thumbs. The luck of the draw aspect makes ranked mode difficult at higher levels because, no matter how good you are as an individual, if your team suck then you'll be stomped.
The meta of a game changes over time. In Apex it changes broadly every season unless they work in a big patch in the middle of one.
What this means is that you can gain an advantage over others by using certain weapons or characters because they're more effective than other options. If you're not using them then you're holding yourself back.
Of course, we all have our preferences for weapons and characters in games and this makes it difficult as a solo player. Even if you pick the best weapons and characters, you don't have any control over your other teammates. You're unlikely to do well if your squad rocks up to the final fight with pistols and unhelpful abilities.
I'll start by saying that I'm guilty in this department. Communication is so important in a game like Apex because every bit of information you can give or receive can change the way a fight plays out.
Apex does have a great ping system in place but it's nowhere near the level of voice communication. For example, there is a massive difference between someone pinging an area where an enemy is and actually saying "There's a Watson over on the left behind the supply bin. She's weak".
When 3-person squads join a game, they're usually talking over a microphone. However, as a solo player, it's rare to find someone that will talk to you. You're left with the ping system and again find yourself at a disadvantage.
Finally, a difference in goals is something that plays a big role in ranked as a solo player. When you're playing as a pre-made squad and decide to join the ranked queue, you'll all be focusing on the same goal: to win ranked points.
However, this isn't always the case in as a solo player. One of the biggest problems is the tier demotion protection. What this does is prevent you sliding down the ladder into a previous ranked tier. Ultimately, if you're at this point, you can't actually lose ranked points. This leads many players to play differently because they aren't worried about being demoted. Instead, they'll drop in hot zones, play over aggressively, and even troll you at times.
Of course, if you're at a place where you can lose ranked points, your play style will not match up with these people and it almost always ends up in frustration.
Ultimately, if you're going to be a solo ranked player then you have to accept that there are limitations. It's unlikely that I'll ever make it to predator level because higher tiers make these issues stand out even more as other players are highly skilled.
That's not to say that you shouldn't give it a go. I will be happy to climb into diamond rank this season but I'm not expecting to go much further than that.