Apex Legends loot boxes and microtransactions guide

There's a new battle royale in town: Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends, a free to play Titanfall spin-off that's live now. Before you jump in, we can tell you what to expect from Apex Legends' microtransactions, loot boxes, currencies, and battle passes. The good news is that all of the loot is purely cosmetic. There are no pay-to-win or even pay-to-get-a-little-bit-stronger mechanics here. In addition to loot boxes, there will also be a store where you can buy cosmetics directly.

One other thing will be available in the store: Characters, aka Legends. Every Legend has a unique set of abilities, which you can read about in our character guide. While some of Apex Legends' characters will be free from the start, others will be purchasable with real money or in-game currency you earn by playing the game.

That's the short version, but there's a lot more to cover, including drop rates, rarities, and what, exactly, all these cosmetic unlocks will be. Let's dig in.

 What are Apex Legends' currencies? 

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Straight from Respawn, here's the breakdown of the three different currency systems in Apex Legends. 

  • Legend Tokens are earned by increasing your Player Level. Legend Tokens can be earned even after reaching max Player Level by gathering enough match XP. They can be used in the Rotating Shop to unlock exclusive recolors of Legendary weapon and Legend skins, or to unlock new Legends (aka characters).
  • Crafting Metals are dropped in Apex Packs and can be used to craft specific cosmetic items such as Legend skins, weapon skins, and more.
  • Apex Coins are a premium in-game currency that can be used to purchase Apex Packs, cosmetic items in the Rotating Shop, and new Legends.

In Apex Legends' in-game shop, here's the conversion rate of US dollars to Apex coins: 

How much does it cost to unlock characters? 

Characters cost 750 Apex Points to purchase, which works out to $7.50 in real money (though based on the image above, if you buy coins in larger quantities, you get a slightly better deal).

Alternately, characters cost 12,000 Legend Tokens to unlock with the in-game currency.

What cosmetic items can you unlock? 

These items can all be dropped in loot boxes or crafted under the Legends and Armory tabs, which house all the characters and weapons. Legendary tier skins cost 1,200 Crafting Metals to buy directly, while Rare skins cost only 60.

Character skins: At launch there are 40 skins for each character, across four tiers: Legendary, Epic, Rare, and regular.

Character banners: Banners that show up as part of your "player card" include the following unlockables: Frames, poses, badges, and stat trackers.

Character quips: Special dialogue lines for different situations, e.g. kill quips and intro quips.

Character finishers: Special melee kill animations.

Weapon skins: At launch there are 40 skins for each weapon, across four tiers: Legendary, Epic, Rare, and regular. 

The shop itself is a bit different. As noted above, Legend Tokens differ from Crafting Materials in that you'll use them to buy "exclusive" legendary skins. You'll also be able to buy cosmetics with the real-money Apex Coins, if you don't have enough Crafting Materials to unlock them.

Legend Tokens can be used to purchase characters, if you play enough of the game to earn them. Otherwise, the premium Apex Coins are the quick and easy way. Here's a look at what that rotating shop looked like before launch.

How do the loot boxes work? 

Loot boxes in Apex Legends only contain the cosmetics listed above. You'll never get characters in them or gameplay-affecting items. You earn a loot box for each level up of your Player Level. Each loot box contains three items and is guaranteed to contain at least one Rare-tier item. Respawn told us that the system has built in "bad luck protection" that guarantees you a Legendary every 30 packs.

One important detail: There are no duplicate items in loot boxes. You'll never get a cosmetic that you already have.

Respawn is publishing the drop rates for loot boxes in-game and online. Here they are.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).