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Strange things are happening in Kings Canyon today. Silence fills the air, where usually there would be a steady rumble of distant and not-so-distant gunshots. The squad counter is stuck at 20 in Apex Elite, and the game’s been on for literally minutes. Skulltown is empty. There is nobody at Repulsor. Even the new and improved Pit is not seeing any visitors dropping down its giant barrel of a top.

For a game like Apex Legends, this is unbelievable. Yet the explanation is quite simple, and a little bit silly too: It’s because of the Elite Streak badge.

The Legendary Hunt event, which began on June 4, introduced a new match queue called Apex Elite. Completing a regular game in a top-5 squad lets you queue up for Apex Elite, a closed match with other top-5 players.

As long as you keep finishing among the top-5 squads in this queue, you can keep playing in it. And for each game you get a notch on your badge.

The Apex Elite queue is a very different Apex Legends experience.

Let’s be blunt. Completing any Apex Legends match in the top 5 is no big achievement. All you have to do is survive long enough. If you drop safely and spend the first few minutes purposefully avoiding fights, you will easily make it to the “late game.” As the crescendo of gunfire fades and the blood mist settles, you face the real challenge of finding and taking down those pesky final couple of squads.

And this is what makes the Apex Elite matches so different. Players who join them aren’t necessarily very good, but they are obsessed with staying alive. You can trust your skills and rush headlong into a proper Apex brawl on a regular day, but in the Elite Apex queue there is stat tracker badge on the line.

The Apex Elite Streak badge from Apex Elite queue

Adding another +1 to their golden star badge is clearly high stakes for a lot of players. As many Reddit users have observed, Apex Elite matches are a completely different experience. They’re as close to a game of Hunt: Showdown as Apex could get. Time drags on as squads circle the edge of the map, looting and preparing to outlast each other. This is frankly a very fun exercise for the more patient, “stalkier” players among us.

Respawn might want to keep the mode around after the Legendary Hunt event is over. Apart from effectively functioning as a poor man’s Ranked queue, Apex Elite currently plays like a different game. And all thanks to a silly badge.