To say that Apex Legends, the new battle royale developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, has been popular would be an understatement. The free-to-play game hit more than 1 million players in less than eight hours, and reached 10 million in just 72 hours. Apex Legends seems poised to be the biggest thing to happen to the battle royale genre since Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
That popularity is all but guaranteed to inspire people to learn as much as they can about what Respawn and EA have planned for the game. Which is exactly what happened over the weekend when data miners went through Apex Legends' code and discovered hidden references to new game modes. Others had previously found references to a ranked mode that could emulate those found in games like Overwatch and League of Legends. There's no guarantee these features will debut, but where there's smoke, people assume fire.
The new game modes are simple enough: they offer solo play and two-person groups. Those additions would bring Apex Legends more in line with other battle royale titles; right now it's limited to squads of three players. (That itself an oddity, because most of these games offer solo, duo and four-person modes.) They would also make it easier to enjoy the game when someone doesn't feel like playing with strangers but none of their squad mates are free.
The possibility of a ranked mode is also intriguing. Fortnite players have been clamoring for something a bit less casual for months. Epic Games capitulated a bit with public tournaments, but those aren't always available, and people just like to watch their skill ratings go up. That's part of the reason why people stick with games like League of Legends despite their toxicity--nobody wants to lose their rank. It's a powerful motivator, and if it is implemented, it could give people a reason to keep playing Apex Legends.
Neither Respawn nor EA have responded to these reports. Like we said at the top, there's a chance these features are never implemented in Apex Legends. Code is never immaculate; references to scrapped features can be found in pretty much any game. But with this particular title's rising popularity--and its need to monetize those millions of players--we wouldn't be surprised if we saw new features announced sooner than later.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.