Apex Legends celebrated its second anniversary last week and that prompted Game Director Chad Grenier to wax poetic about the game’s origins and successful launch period. Grenier joined Respawn Entertainment in 2010, meaning that he was on board for the launch of Titanfall 2, when the team started thinking of other ways to explore and build in the Titanfall universe.
Those thoughts first coalesced into a battle royale mode with Titans and pilots duking it out in three-person teams. The map was larger and more sparse, allowing space for Titans to move around freely. A month later, around October 2017, the game got its first characters — Gibraltar, Wraith, and Bloodhound — and in November, there was a 50-player test on the first iteration of King’s Canyon.
After the Titans themselves were scrapped, the new game got a title: Apex Predator. The ping system — forced upon testers by forbidding voice communications — and respawning were added, and the game soon received the name it would launch with.
At this point, you’re probably aware of how things went publicly, with an out-of-nowhere launch on February 4, 2019, and lots of streamers being paid to promote and play the game. Behind the scenes, Grenier was told by a live ops engineer, “Don’t expect a million players right out of the gate, or even within the first few months!” The game hit one million concurrent players in eight hours.
As for the future of the game, there’s the Switch launch coming next month, the mobile version is in development, and Grenier said that there are plans to “launch new ways to play the game that take us beyond battle royale” later this year. Given its attention to lore and well-developed characters, I’d wager that means some kind of in-depth PvE mode — though if Respawn sticks to what worked the last time, we might not hear about it until the day it launches.