Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Genre: Team-Based Battle Royale With Heroes
Apex Legends feels like a byproduct of a threesome between Overwatch, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops IIII’s Blackout.
As a result, the game is fun and engaging. The gunplay is good with many nuances throughout and each ‘Legend’ is unique in their own right which would cater to even the most mechanically ungifted of players.
Utilizing its superior gunplay, pre-established lore and attempting something unique which many people thought wasn’t possible, Apex Legends carves a specific niche for itself in the crowded battle royale scene currently ruled by Fortnite.
Of course, the idea of a hero-driven battle royale game isn’t novel. Paladins paved the trend with Realm Royale but Apex Legends outperforms Hi-Rez Studios’ offering in every discernible category.
So What Is Apex Legends?
Apex Legends is the latest offering from Respawn, the guys who made Titanfall and Titanfall 2. While it isn’t a direct sequel to these awesome, massively underrated shooters, Apex Legends is set in the same universe where superhuman soldiers that run on walls and get to call giant mechs to drop from the sky reside in.
“So it’s basically a reskinned Titanfall 2 with a different mode, right?”, you would say.
In a way, you are half correct. Apex Legends does share some similarity with Titanfall 2 including weapons used, albeit updated and slightly tweaked to better serve in a battle royale setting. For example, the V-47 Flatline and R-201 assault rifles seen in Titanfall 2 are now the VK-47 Flatline and R-301 respectively in Apex Legends.
However, there’s no wall-running nor Titans in Apex Legends, which is a massive bummer considering the huge map, cliffs and absence of fall damage in the game. Just imagine the potential verticality being brought into the game.
An Atypical Battle Royale Game
At a mere 60 players per round compared to the traditional 100 (or 88 for Blackout at launch) in most battle royale titles, Apex Legends puts emphasis on squad play like no other.
Apex Legends passively encourages teamwork amongst its players by limiting the game to one single mode – which is a squad of threes made up of randoms or a pre-formed team.
The insertion mechanics was also designed to encourage teams to start strategizing early on via the concept of a ‘Jump Master’ who determines where his or her squad lands.
Members of the squad can suggest other locations but ultimately, it’s the Jump Master who has the final say. A feature to opt out of this and jump solo was introduced into the game a few days after launch which many would find out the hard way – in a game where everyone else operates in threes, there’s almost zero chance of a lone wolf winning the game on their own.
Several ‘High Tier’ loot areas are marked on the map during drop-in stage, alongside a randomly-placed (and moving) supply ship which is filled with weapons, gear and ammo which has quickly become a favourite landing spot of many. Once you’ve picked your spot, as all battle royale games go, it’s a mad dash to get yourself equipped before the other squads do.
Weapons can be customised with scopes, stock and extended magazines and unlike PUBG and Blackout where players have to manually remove and equip, attachments in Apex Legends automatically swap onto the new weapon as long as it is compatible.
I Am Legend
Unlike other battle royale games where you start rounds with preset characters – or for PUBG, in tighty whities – you get to choose which ‘Legend’ you want to play as just before the round starts. At present, there are eight legends to pick from, two of which are locked until you have enough in-game credits at your disposal.
Just like Overwatch heroes and their abilities, Apex Legends’ legends are unique and distinctive from one another. There’s Wraith, who’s a Sombra and Symmetra hybrid thanks to her disappearing act and ability to create portals. There’s also combat medic Lifeline a.k.a Lady Lucio who is a must pick for every squad. Bangalore is a genderbent Soldier 76, Gibraltar is Sumo Reinhardt, and Pathfinder is mobile Bastion.
Bloodhound is a wall-hack & tracker extraordinaire, and the two unlockable legends have their quirks; the tricky Mirage is able to conjure holographic copies of himself and Caustic looks like a cross between Dr. Junkenstein and Moira.
OK. Too many Overwatch references there, but you get the idea.
Apex Legends‘ characters jump into each round with tactical and passive abilities at their disposal. They also have a third ‘Ultimate’ ability which can be used at anytime once their Ult meter is full which instantly adds depth to the gameplay even from the offset. And they’re all fun to play as. If you want to find out which character suits you, you should check out our awesome guide.
Royale With Cheese. Dripping With Them.
Your standard battle royale strategies can still be implemented into Apex Legends as at the end of the day, it all boils down to one’s ability and smarts to outlast their enemies.
Pretty mediocre when it comes to landing shots? Fret not as nothing is stopping you from getting creative with your engagements which somehow levels the playing field.
My squad and I are not the most gifted players out there when it comes to aiming down the sights but we’ve so far notched seven #1 finishes, alongside twelve top 3 finishes since launch. Not bad eh? A mixture of good positioning, timely calls and clever use of the surroundings led to that decent record.
Respawn have added an ingenious solution for communication issues plaguing multiplayer games with their ‘ping’ feature. This enables random squadmates to convey messages and instructions sans microphone. From suggesting a landing area, to which location to head next, to alerting enemies nearby, this feature makes Apex Legends a much more pleasant game to play with strangers but it isn’t without its flaws.
Perhaps Respawn could emulate several QoL and social features as found on Overwatch such as grouping up with strangers, endorsements and avoiding certain players.
The lack of wall running is supplemented with the introduction of zip lines, launch balloons and for teams with Wraith in them, her portals which can be used by anyone on the map. Spot several squads skirmishing below and want a piece of the action but lack that skill to hit shots from afar? Call in Bangalore’s Rolling Thunder ability which rains artillery strike across a specified area.
Mirage’s decoy is a lifesaver especially when picked out first by an ambushing enemy squad while Bloodhound’s ability to track enemies and detect those behind walls makes him a valuable close-quarters asset.
It takes a while to get used to these legends which thankfully, only eight available at present. There are plans to add more heroes in the near future though, so expect the meta and play styles to shift accordingly.
Play For Free … Pay to Win?
The fact that Apex Legends is free to play is astounding. In terms of gameplay, it is a very well-polished game befitting of Respawn’s AAA studio credentials. Although, we do still encounter annoying connectivity issues such as rubberbanding, getting kicked out midway or after rounds, and the inability to remain grouped with that helpful, friendly random stranger we come across. Nonetheless, it’s still early days and you can expect these issues to be rectified soon.
But wait! Respawn is owned by EA and is there any of those Star Wars Battlefront II shenanigans going about here?
Luckily for us, Apex Legends isn’t a pay-to-win game. Sure you can plonk a sizeable amount of cash to buy Apex Coins which in turn can be used to buy Apex Packs but doing so will only reward you with cosmetic items which give no in-game advantages whatsoever.
Strategic-thinking players may opt for harder-to-spot skins for that mini competitive edge and these corresponding skins can be randomly obtained via Apex Packs or ‘crafted’ using Crafting Materials which may drop alongside the cosmetic items (via Apex Packs).
As for the weapons, obtaining say, an Legendary skin for the Peacekeeper shotgun ensures that any Peacekeeper you get from loot boxes and drops will carry that skin. When dropped, the next player to pick it up will get to see the same skin. That’s about it.
Peak Battle Royale
In our books, Apex Legends is easily among the top two when it comes to battle royale games right now. The combination of fun gunplay, fluidity of movement, the uniqueness of each hero and the longevity of the game puts it in serious contention for Fortnite‘s crown.
Fans of Fortnite may not like the more strategic approach of Apex Legends, as well as the absence of building mechanics. However, we don’t think EA and Respawn were gunning for that crowd to begin with. Those in their crosshairs are players who got fatigued by the stale progress of PUBG as well as folks who enjoyed Black Ops IIII‘s Blackout but wanted more variables when it comes to game strategies.
Apex Legends has the potential to grow up to be a valedictorian, and become a super star athlete with good looks that’d make the cut in any 90s boyband.
– Fun and balanced gunplay throughout.
– AAA quality in a free-to-play game.
– A good mixture of legends which opens up lots of strategies.
– Refreshing take on the battle royale and hero shooters.
– Too few heroes.
– QoL and social features could use a massive upgrade
– Lacking in the stats and record tracking department
Final Score: 90/100