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How to Play Apex Legends Arena Mode

Zakaria Almughrabi

Season 9 of Apex Legends has brought with it a brand-new permanent game mode. Instead of following the traditional Battle Royale format, the newest test will be the 3vs3 Apex Legends Arena Mode. Arena trades the turbulent chaos of a BR for a more team-based, economy-focused experience. Contrary to what many might believe, Arena is not just about raw aiming ability (although it certainly does help). In order to play as effectively as possible, there are many factors that you must keep in mind. With Ranked Arena being a confirmed addition, this mode will get very competitive.

Apex Legends Arena

Arena mode has come to Apex Legends. While the mode is easy to get into, it is certainly difficult to master. (All Images Credit Respawn)

What is Arena Mode?

Arena is a 3v3 team fighting game mode that functions on a round-based system. Every round, players receive credits to purchase their gear. Only armor, helmets, knockdown shields, and passive abilities are given for free. Weapons, attachments, healing items, grenades, and even character skills and ultimates must be bought. Players can increase their credits by getting kills or by interacting with the material canisters spread throughout the maps.

Once you’ve got your gear, the spawn barriers will drop and the round begins. The goal is to wipe out the enemy team before they do the same to yours. Downed players CAN be picked up, but players who have been full killed cannot be revived. To incentivize players to fight and take positions, the map will shrink down to smaller zone circle sizes over time much like in the base game. The gas hurts a lot in Arena, so make sure you are in the next zone in time.

Once only one team remains, the round ends and the process repeats. The first team to take three rounds wins the match. If the teams are tied at two rounds apiece, a tiebreaker ensues where you need to win by two rounds. If a tie persists for three extra cycles, a sudden death round occurs to decide a victor.

Legend Selection

The Arena battle begins long before players take to the map. Legend selection is crucial to building a versatile team composition. Each Legend falls into their own subclass based on what they provide. In general, the most effective Arena team compositions have some form of offense, defense, and economy. Some Legends even fit into multiple of these categories, making them incredibly valuable.

Offense Legends need to provide a way to play aggressively and jump on damage. Since you start fights at range, being able to close the gap and finish kills is important for ending rounds in your favor. Defense Legends have abilities that make them good at holding an area. Pushing into them when they’ve had time to set up will be a challenge. Economy Legends provide resources to your team that help you win the sustained war. There are a few ways Legends can do this, but we’ll get into that.

For now, here is a tier list with all of the Legends and some basic explanations.

Apex Legends Arena

S Tiers

Gibraltar, Pathfinder, and Loba are three of the best Legends for Arena Mode. Gibby’s extra tankiness from Gun Shield and Fortified in combination with Dome Shield makes him a tough character to take down. Additionally, slap a Gold Bag on him for game-changing Bubble into Revive plays.

Pathfinder is by far the best character at chasing damage. If an enemy gets chunked or is isolated, no one can capitalize better than Pathfinder. He can also make early plays onto Supply Bins, securing extra resources for his team.

Lastly, Loba fills the niche of an economy support while having the ability to play aggressively as well. Black Market can steal one or both of the Supply Bin meds (map dependent) and she can even take from the mid round Care Package. Her Jump Drive lets her play in forward positions then safely escape to her team.

A Tiers

All of the A Tier Legends perform their niche very well. Lifeline also fills the role of economy support. Her Ultimate guarantees a weapon upgrade and two Shield Batteries. Additionally, Health Drone brings extra HP to sustain and a Gold Bag Revive option on teammates who down close to you. Lifeline’s problem is that she doesn’t bring any combat power and the Care Package strategy requires forfeiting early position.

Wraith fills the same aggressive playmaking niche as Loba but better. However, the few uses that Portal brings in comparison to Black Market make her weaker overall.

Bloodhound’s scans are perfect for singling out enemies and forcing opponents to respect your peeks. Just be careful, each scan costs 150 Credits and the Ultimate can only be bought every three rounds and gives three scans max.

Bangalore’s evasiveness with smokes and passive make her difficult to pin down. Additionally, she can buy Digital Threat on certain weapons for nonreturnable fire in smoke.

The vast majority of good team compositions consist of three of these seven Legends. All of the Legends in the lower tiers either lack the strength in their niche that the higher tiers bring (i.e., Octane) or can only play in a way that is counter-productive to Arena mode like Watson and Caustic.

Shopping like a Pro

When every single item in Apex Legends is available for purchase, the choice can be a bit overwhelming. The biggest factors when it comes to picking a loadout are Credit amounts, map, and comfort. Keep in mind, your weapons, grenades, and meds do not carry over from round to round. However, unspent Credits do carry over.

Apex Legends Arena

The First Battle

When considering what to buy each round, keep in mind that meds and utility are more important than your weapon. For example, some players like to opt into first round Wingman which costs 500 of their 550 starting Credits. This is a bad move because you have no room for anything else in the purchase. The best first round buys utilize all of your Credits for the most value.

Alternator (400) Shield Battery (150) 550/550
L-STAR (400) Shield Battery (150) 550/550
G7 Scout (350) Shield Battery (150) 500/550
Longbow (400) Shield Battery (150) 550/550

All of these purchases give you a strong first round weapon and a Shield Battery for sustain. Since you can’t afford attachments in Round 1 (sniper rifles get a 6x by default), the best purchases are Alternator and L-STAR. They are both very good close quarters weapons that can shred any opponent who over-peeks, especially the L-STAR. Buying a Scout or Longbow is map-dependent and definitely shouldn’t be done if your teammates lack Alternator/L-STAR buys.

Lifeline (400) and Loba (200) can purchase their ultimates every round. This means that Loba can invest a 350 or less gun like the HAVOC, Scout, or RE-45 and reward her team with tons of meds. Lifeline’s Care Package costs 400, but gives her everything she needs. She can buy Ult plus Shield Battery and give the latter to a teammate while she waits. Lifeline and Loba’s ability to provide crucial meds allows teammates to invest in more expensive first round weapons. Volt and Flatline buys become good options with this strategy.

If one or fewer weapons are purchased, the game will default you onto P2020 and Mozambique. Most of the time, you should make sure to select the Mozambique as it is very good at landing finishing blows.

Freedom to Choose, but be Wise

As the round count increases, so do the number of received Credits. Picking a loadout at this point is more so preference than meta-focused, with some rules of course.

In mid rounds, it is better to invest in a single weapon and just run a free Mozambique as secondary.

Since Arena is a game mode based around playing for HP advantages, you will be using your primary weapon to deal most of your damage as poke. Rounds never begin with multi-kill opportunities, so having a strong secondary to swap to is unnecessary. Full HP Shotgun fights are also uncommon as one player will usually only get in close to chase damage that has already been dealt.

Keep a good mix of weapon types and fighting styles.

At the top left of the Shop screen, you can see what weapons and attachments your teammates have purchased. If you see that you already have a sniper rifle or marksman weapon, don’t double down. Arena is already about dealing damage than being able to chase for the finish. If you have two players sitting back poking, you won’t be able to effectively close the distance and win the final confrontation. Versatile weapons with multiple modes of fighting are fine to stack. L-STARs and Volts are great at mid and close-range combat for instance.

Prioritize Grenades over Attachment upgrades when possible.

The vast majority of weapons in Apex Legends don’t need attachments to be effective. Sure, a Barrel Stabilizer or 2x Bruiser is nice for quality of life, but good players can manage with just white attachments. You should try and get comfortable using 1x’s and controlling recoil if you’re not already. Instead of splurging for that 2x, buying grenades brings way more value.

A well thrown Ordinance can turn the tide of an entire round. Vertical Frag Grenades can be massive 100 damage nukes to push off of. An Arc Star can force opponents out from behind their cover. Thermites can cut off enemy rotation paths. The possibilities with grenades are endless.

Have a plan when purchasing Tactical and Ultimate abilities.

Every Legend must purchase their abilities from the shop. The costs all vary and some ultimates can only be purchased every X rounds. Some Legends start with charges of their Tactical and have the option to buy more. Spending Credits on abilities that you either don’t need or will have a hard time using based on your composition or the map can be a big waste. Some examples are:

  • Wraith and Loba can buy up to four of their Tactical abilities per round. They both start with one for free and will certainly not need all four. They should only purchase up to one extra charge most of the time if they have excess Credits.
  • If a Bloodhound can buy Ultimate, they should tell their team to buy aggressive weapons so they can push off of the extra information provided.
  • Pathfinder or Valkyrie can tell their teammates to follow them with and take early position using their ultimates. This is especially good for Legends like Rampart or Caustic who need to set up their skills in advance.

Try and get as many Crafting Material Canisters as possible.

Each kill in Arena only grants you 75 Credits to take into the next round. By comparison, each Crafting Material Canister gives a whopping 200 bonus to every teammate. On most maps, the Canisters are close to the Supply Bins. Characters who can get there and take the resources early should always try and do so. Pathfinder, Loba, and Octane to an extent can all do this. If a situation arises where a round is nearly guaranteed, such a having two full kills on the enemy to none, telling your teammates to wait on the final push while you take a Canister is definitely optimal.

Play to Win

The actual gameplay of Arena is greatly different from the base game. As previously mentioned, Arena is a game of economy. Your goal is to use your weapons, grenades, and abilities to chip away at your opponent’s meds and health. Once your squad has done enough damage, its time to close the gap and finish the job.

The exact positions and plays you can make are Legend dependent. Some characters play better as chasers, some are better as defenders. Either way, your routine during every round will have similar aspects every time.

1. Purchase your gear

2. Move forward and get into position

3. If possible, acquire meds and Credits from corresponding bins

4. Trade damage, moving from cover to cover as necessary

If damage trade goes well:

5a. Push forward, gaining ground and taking new angles

6a. Look for finishes on kills or cover teammates who are doing so

7a. Converge together to finish the round

If damage trade goes badly:

5b. Get to a safe spot, pop meds if you need to

6b. Cover for teammates who need to heal

7b. Try and turn the fight around

When playing a character who chases damage, try to stay healthy in the mid round. Peeking for a second too long and losing your shields means that your team loses the potential to chase kills until you heal.

Utilizing your skills as these characters is also imperative to your gameplay. For Pathfinder players, learn how to get max range Grapple Hooks from anywhere. Landing on slanted surfaces and sliding allows you to carry your speed even further.

For Loba, learn how far your Q goes and the best angles to throw it. Wraith players should be aware of how far their Q takes them so they can always get back to safety. One wrong move on any of these aggressive characters can result in you going down first.

For more defensive and utility characters, try and play with your teammates. Lifeline and Gibby can only pull off their Gold Bag Revives if the downed teammate is accessible to them. Gibby should be using his Bubble forward onto his damage chasers whenever it’s time to go in. Staying back for too long can remove these benefits from strong team play characters.

Improve your Mechanics, Improve your Game

Even if you put together the perfect team composition, optimize your purchases, and play towards your win conditions, you still have to be able to win your fights. Being able to win the initial damage trades and clean up kills quickly comes with proper practice. Know what to look for in your gameplay and how it can be improved. Here are some basic fighting tips that will help both in Arena and out.

  • Don’t over-peek. A quick burst of 50 damage and taking none in return is a free economic advantage. Peeking too far on a target who has some cover can give them and their teammates a chance to respond back onto you. Go for full spray downs on targets who are out in the open, or whose teammates aren’t in a position to return fire.
  • Make a mental map of where enemies are. A big mistake that players often make is putting themselves in a position to get beamed from multiple locations. By knowing where all three opponents are, you can cut off their lines of sight to ensure you don’t give up free advantages.
  • Learn how to place your crosshair. Much like Counter-Strike or other tactical shooters, having your crosshair pre-aimed on where opponents are likely to peek makes your damage come out much faster. While this is very important for click timing weapons (single shot guns like Wingman, snipers, etc.), proper crosshair placement makes your first bullet accuracy on automatic weapons better as well.
  • Utilize the terrain around you. Play in spots that give you good angles onto opponents and hurt their ability to shoot back. Head glitches and peeking over high ground are good ways to minimize your visible hitbox.
  • Move around the map efficiently. Try and peek from different angles to catch opponents off guard. Re-peeking the same spot makes it easy to pre-fire you. When trying to close the gap, always move forward onto new cover. Running in the open for too long makes you an easy target. Slide jumping while moving from place to place makes you faster and harder to hit.

3v3 apex map


Apex Legends Arena is a very complex game mode. A lot goes into playing an optimal game of Arena. While some may treat it as a casual DM mode, the eventual Ranked ladder and custom lobbies for a potential competitive format means that the mode will keep getting pushed to its limits. Legend selection, loadout building, team play, and individual mechanics are all aspects to look to improve on. As always, the best way to get better at games is to play them. Get out there and try to become a Legend of the Arena.

Zakaria Almughrabi

Zakaria Almughrabi

Zakaria is a former professional TF2 player turned caster and analyst. He has had a passion for gaming and esports for years and hopes to use his skills and experience to convey why gaming is so great. His specialty games are League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros, and PUBG.

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