Canny Apex Legends have figured out a way to get crafting materials from levelling up the Battle Pass instead of loot boxes: by pretending to be in Belgium, a country which has cracked down on loot boxes. This results in a slightly smaller overall reward but materials do let players craft specific skins rather than hoping for blind luck with the boxes. All you have to do is change the region in your Origin account settings, not any fiddly VPN shenanigans, which doesn't affect where you can play either. I would not be too surprised to see EA try to block this trick.
Apex Legends launched its Battle Pass yesterday. As is the battle royale way, buying the Pass gives players a digital doodad to level up by playing, unlocking bonus rewards along the way. The rewards for several levels are loot boxes of cosmetic doodads with fixed rarities but random rewards, so you might know you'll get 'legendary' gear but have no idea what. Or that's how it goes for most of the world.
One Legger in Belgium noted on Reddit yesterday that rather than the expected loot boxes (containing random cosmetic doodads) along the progress track of their Battle Pass, they were to receive crafting materials in their place. Belgium has far stricter laws on loot boxes than most country (i.e. it has any laws on loot boxes) and EA have clashed with them before. EA recently caved to pressure (i.e. Belgium lawfolk repeating their stance that certain types of loot boxes are illegal gambling) and stopped selling FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes in Belgium. I imagine we're seeing something similar here.
Apex Legends is free-to-play but the Battle Pass, as well as costing cash itself, offers the option to buy extra Pass levels. That means players are effectively paying for random chances at random loot, some of the cosmetic doodads more rare (and therefore 'better') than others. Which probably put the willies up EA.
If you too would rather receive crafting materials instead of loot boxes from your Pass, you can change a setting to fool EA. As another Legger noted, even if you've already bought the pass, you can change your country setting in your Origin account to be treated as a Belgian. EA seem not to check this, not currently, and it has no effect on the language of your game or the servers you can play on.
EA's Belgium-busting doesn't disable loot boxes entirely for our Flemish friends, who still receive the 'Apex Pack' roboboxes earned while levelling normally, only the paid Battle Pass ones. The crafting material rewards are a little less than the crafting cost of the items in the loot boxes they replace, but materials do let players craft specific cosmetics. In short, you'll get slightly less stuff overall, but you will be able to choose exactly what you do get. Sounds better to me.
I imagine EA will frown on players feigning Belgianicity to get materials instead of boxes, and soon come up with a way to ensure we get the worse reward. Every loot box in the Pass is an advert for buying boxes separately, after all, a wee rush to make you want more and perhaps pay to get them.
Apex Legends kicked off Season 1 yesterday. s. Octane is his name, and trading his regenerating health for speed is his game. Our Ollie wrote an Apex Legends Octane guide to get you going, if you're feeling a need but can't tell whether it's for speed or tweed.