Sunday, august 29, 2021
Apex & Strategy
An examination between the video game Apex Legends and Sir Lawrence Freedman’s book Strategy.
While looting and gathering materials, we notice, in the distance, another party. What do we do? A team member takes a shot. What do we do? The other party shoots back. Our team decides to push, but a third party arrives from behind. What should we do? By the way, that third party is riding the circle; sound familiar?
Historically, fighting a war on two fronts does not work, but Apex Legends often has one choice: direct action. In his book Strategy, Sir Lawrence Freedman uses chapter 11 to discuss the indirect approach. Sir Basil Liddell believes "a strategist should think in terms of paralyzing the enemy, not of killing." Upon playing Apex Legends, the lesson becomes:
without a fight, there is no victory. The "Circle of Death" brings each user closer together, and if no one fights each other, that circle slowly kills the user. Imagine if no one fights. This game suddenly takes on a new look: exchanging harsh words and moving characters in a dance-like fashion. Comical, right?
As a guru on military strategy, Carl von Clausewitz has a different view of war. Clausewitz's Seminole work On War emphasizes direct action in a multitude of ways. Clausewitz is a genius in the field. However, "Liddell Hart blamed Clausewitz, or at least his followers, for their conviction that everything must be geared to decisive
battles with the sole aim of destroying the enemy army through frontal assaults." Freedman, Strategy.
Sun Tzu is also a guru and also offers a different view of war. Tzu's Seminole work, The Art of War, praises indirect action because it secures victory. "Liddell Hart followed Sun Tzu by prescribing an ideal form of strategy as it should be than how it often turned out in practice." Freedman, Strategy.
All Fights are not necessary. War is a means to an end. Winning the game is the goal; becoming the Apex champion. However, expert gamers say improvement means fighting more: utilizing perfect movement, aiming, unique character abilities, & weapon proficiency. Sun Tzu and Clausewitz would agree. However, Apex is a 3 part game: beginning, middle & end. Choices change for each one.
In the beginning, Apex's focus is gathering materials: gun, armor, helmet, and ammo. Typically in that order. Depending on the drop-in, there are fights with no materials; much punching takes place. "Twitch Gods" state direct action is avoidable; 50/50 gunfights.
The middle of Apex is defined by 50/50. It is where two players are face to face and try to kill each other. No third party, no circle. Simple. More often than not, 50/50's will end the game. When our armor goes down, we are more vulnerable. It is the rule of attrition. The more ambushes and guerrilla tactics create survival, indirect action.
Endgame takes indirect action to the next level. We intensify our strategy: single out the weak opponents, extend every fight and back off and shoot from cover; this is "thirsting." Most players are eager for the win and will become more aggressive. Apex's endgame rewards satisfied players.
We may be drawing connections where there may be none. Like in life, battle selection is vital. Some say video games have little academic merit, but Apex teaches that plans do not survive the conflict. The group must agree that Communication is essential. It leads to coordination, and this is the very definition of strategy.
Strategy - A plan of action or policy desired to achieve a primary or overall aim.
If the goal is to become the Apex Champion, then not every battle is essential. Meager satience is required.