I guess our perception of Apollo’s shields is biased after flying a dreadnought and a carrier, and a missile cruiser that isn’t supposed to get to beam range regularily.
Personally, I think both the Apollo and the Valkyrie are excellent ships but each requires a different mindset for the captain. Valkyrie is a nice transition from a missile cruiser, and it allows to play it safe a lot. The only point we took damage while I was in command happened because of a connection failure on my end just before closing to combat range, causing helm not to receive the proper orders and weapons (which I was in charge of at the moment) to be unable to raise shields. She doesn’t suit my aggressive style, but that doesn’t mean there’s an issue.
Apollo is excellent if you’re willing to take some risks, and I am. The beams are a welcome change from my experience in light cruisers being more of a filler for a battlegroup. Energy consumption was hardly noticeable.