The Apex Legends team knows how to make a good skin, and in 2021, players were treated to some of the best cosmetics on offer to date. From the Fight Night collection event all the way to the Ash Launch Bundle, Apex Coins and Crafting Metals flowed freely over the past 12 months as players tried to get some of their favorites. 

Since Respawn has also brought back past skins for special sales and events more regularly this year, missing out on some of these skins hurts, but there’s always the possibility they’ll be available again in the future. And if you’re in that boat, make sure you keep a look out for the best skins released in Apex Legends over the last year.

A Gaze Eternal

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

It’s remarkable how making a character’s primary design choice “terrifying murder robot” allows for some of the best skins in the game. Revenant had quite a few standout skins, transitioning with ease from demon samurai to werewolf. But “A Gaze Eternal” stands out for the fear it can evoke without overwrought homages to death and destruction.

Released in the Chaos Theory collection event, the marble skin and blank faces adorning the skin create the most haunting Revenant skin to date. And while several legends received skins in the Chaos Theory collection that evoked warriors of many different places and time periods, this kingly Revenant skin stood out from the rest by looking like it was simultaneously inspired by the Renaissance and some distant-future sci-fi. Scary and regal, it was easily one of the best skins released last year.

Haute Drop

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

In the Fight Night collection event, Respawn gave the Static Defender a more formidable and intimidating look, giving the legend a look that could easily belong to a young French-Canadian widow who certainly did not have anything to do with her wealthy husband’s sudden and rather mysterious illness and death, no sir.

Leaning into the French-ness of the character, Haute Drop presents the most adult version of Wattson to date, with a beret and matching puffy jacket alongside dark eye shadow. The teal and silver colorway alongside a geometric pattern also fit the aesthetic of Olympus nicely. The Haute Drop skin gave her just enough edge to warrant a place on this list.

King of the Sea

Image via Microsoft Store

The legendary skin released with the Gibraltar Edition isn’t exactly hard to find, since it’s available still to anyone who cares to purchase it, but that doesn’t take away from just how phenomenal this skin is. Leaning heavily into Gibraltar’s Pacific Islander heritage, the King of the Sea skin features extensive tattoo work on Gibraltar’s skin, carved wooden armor, and Gibraltar’s signature gun shield fashioned to look like a toothy fish. 

And while this skin is impressive from afar, the details included in the skin really set it above the rest: the fish tailfin—possibly that of a shark—peeking above Gibraltar’s head, the various shark teeth strung about his body, the intricate patterns, and the glittering eyes of his chestpiece. All of these elements come together to make King of the Sea one of the most visually interesting skins in the game.

Chain of Command

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Sometimes, skins steeped in lore and backstory feel the best for a character. Other times, we cry out for skins that do their best work in their subtleties, the little details that bring a skin together. In some cases, fans just want a skin that looks bright, shiny, and completely over the top. That’s what Ash’s Chain of Command skin is for.

Released in the Ash Launch Bundle at the beginning of season 11, it’s nearly impossible to miss the cues the skin takes from one of DC Comics’ iconic villains, Deathstroke. The silver armor with red-orange accents and Ash’s mask in this skin, with its intimidating eyes and the lack of a mouth, makes it impossible to ignore the similarities in design. Finish it off with a character that uses a giant sword as well as guns and the look is complete. Replete with spiked shoulder pieces and what looks like chainmail covering the simulacrum’s inner workings, this is a skin that prefers form over function and bombast over simplicity. 

Haute Hoplite

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Ironically, the best Loba skin in the game is one of her least fashionable skins. Of course, it’s still one of the most elegant skins in the game, because this is Loba we’re talking about. But the ancient Greek and Roman-inspired armor gives Loba an edge where most of her skins put… well, curves.

Hoplites were historically Greek, but the wolf details included throughout the set of armor as an homage to Loba’s overall aesthetic lumps Rome and the empire’s founding myths into the skin. The green details are a nice touch amidst the brass-colored armor, as well as the strips of leather attached to the waist, again recalling Greek and Roman military wear. Throw in the classic helmet, and you’ve got yourself an ancient commander in heels. 

Wild Speed

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Giving Octane a skin that makes him look like a cheetah makes so much sense that we’re shocked it took Respawn so long to bring this skin into the game. It’s Octane. He likes to go fast. Make him a cheetah. Print money.

Wild Speed was included in the Apex Legends Global Series Championship sale, with a portion of the sales from these cosmetic items going to the ALGS Championship prize pool. This skin shines in its immaculate execution. The headpiece is sleek and cheetah-like without losing the classic Octane look, and the black and yellow coloring just looks good. It would be difficult to get this skin wrong, sure, but the reality is the designers knocked it out of the park on this feline.

Neon Spectre

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

An offering from the Evolution collection event, the Neon Spectre skin gave Wraith mains everywhere the skin to live out their “Doctor Manhattan meets Wandavision” dreams. Most notably, the skin makes Wraith’s skin bright blue, and bright blue skin is cool. But what really makes the skin pop is the pearlescent purple flight suit in tandem with the shock of blue hair and electric blue skin. With Wraith’s customary pupil-less eyes turned an even bright blue to boot, the skin really makes Wraith look like a comic book character in the best way possible.

The otherworldly look suits Wraith and her abilities just as much as Octane’s cheetah skin or Gibraltar’s King of the Sea. She’s always been the character with some of the most supernatural abilities in Apex Legends. The introduction of the Neon Spectre skin just gave her the cosmetic to match.

Show Stopper

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

The legendary skin that came with the Mirage edition of Apex Legends was anything but subtle, which is just the way Mirage likes it. Give him a cowboy hat. Give him a visor like Cyclops or LeVar Burton in Star Trek. Give him chaps. Put them on Mirage and you’ve got the space cowboy of your dreams.

Mirage’s charm emanates completely from the fact that he is tremendously silly in his vanity and lacks all self-awareness in general. Show Stopper just captures that Mirage ethos in its entirety, from the mustache all the way down to the silver-capped cowboy boots. You can practically hear him saying “I look good. Like, really good,” as he looks at several of his duplicates wearing this outfit in various poses all around him, just so he can take in every angle. And we wouldn’t have him any other way.

Birthright

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Valkyrie’s Launch Bundle skin comes straight out of Titanfall lore, much like Valkyrie herself, and Respawn couldn’t have done much better on it. The daughter of Viper, a boss from Titanfall 2, the Birthright skin let Valkyrie don the flight suit of one of the Apex Predators, just like her dad. There are some notable differences between Birthright and the flight suit Viper wore, however. 

Where Viper had a white helmet with a yellow suit, Valkyrie’s skin has a red and gold helmet and armor alongside a purple flight suit. It’s a great nod to the obvious history Valkyrie has in the universe of Apex Legends and Titanfall, while also designating Valkyrie as her own character with her own story to tell, and not simply a character put in the game for nostalgia’s sake. And, on top of all that, the skin looks great. It’s an easy choice for one of the skins of the year.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Memoir Noir

Pathfinder gets some of the most fun skins in the game simply by virtue of being a very cheerful robot that can really be dressed up as anything. It shouldn’t have come as a big surprise, then, that the skin he received in the Fight Night event didn’t play on his robotic nature much at all. Instead, it dressed him in human clothes as a film noir-style private investigator.

And while some skins in Apex come with custom character select animations, the devs outdid themselves with the Memoir Noir character select screen. Featuring driving rain and a sultry jazz saxophone, the aesthetic comes together as neatly as the wide-brimmed fedora atop Pathfinder’s head. The MRVN unit might not be the most subtle detective in the world, but he’s certainly the best-dressed.

The Recolor Honorable Mentions

None of these skins were technically new, but they were recolors released in 2021 that are too good not to mention.

Lifeline’s Ghost Stalker skin was a rework of Judge Jury Executioner, which came out during the Iron Crown event in 2019. The asymmetric hair styling and mask are clearly the focal points of the skin, but the change in accents from gold to bright metallic copper make the skin pop.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Another entry from the War Games collection, Burgundy Knight is the recolor of the much-beloved War Machine Pathfinder skin from the Iron Crown event. The switch to a black base with red and gold accents in Burgundy Knight makes the skin better than ever. 

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Finally, there’s Crimson Queen, the recolor of Bangalore’s Outlands Warrior skin that got the red-and-gold Anniversary Collection treatment. Bangalore’s hair and face paint give her an incredibly striking and intense look, while the red on black flak jacket and pants look more natural on Bangalore and this skin than possibly any of the other anniversary recolors.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment