Apex Legends launched last week and has since taken the gaming world by storm. In just a few hours it had it one million players, then a few hours later, ten million players. Now, the game’s latest record is 25 million and counting. It’s safe to say that Fortnite, the current reigning battle royale champ, is positively quaking in its boots. But why exactly?
At its core, Apex Legends is your typical battle royale game with very little frills. There isn’t a building mechanic attached, there’s no silly gimmick, you drop into the game’s world, you find weapons, and you kill and try not to be killed. So why has this game become so successful? My assumption is that this game is really the only other AAA-developed battle royale game that’s free-to-play.
Developed by Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment (and even set within the Titanfall universe) and published by EA Games, this is as premium as you’re going to get in the Battle Royale space that’s also free-to-play (and isn’t Fortnite). Sure, we’ve got titles like Rings of Elysium, Realm Royale, and H1Z1 – to name a few – but none of those have quite hit the ground running quite like Apex Legends.
Now, Apex Legends isn’t just a Blackout or PUBG copy-paste with a Titanfall lick of paint. The game does have some very, very good unique selling points. First of all, the Overwatch-style “Legends” a selection of characters each with their own unique abilities and ultimate attacks. These characters have instantly won over gamers across the board with many already claiming their favorites. Plus, Respawn revealing that some of the characters have LGBTQ+ ties has already encouraged players to dive into the lore of the game.
In addition to this, team compositions have become a hot topic among some more dedicated players, as well as the overall meta of the game. I’ve come to understand that in future Respawn plans to introduce more Legends too which will likely shake up gameplay somewhat as well as expand on the game’s lore. Simply put, Apex Legends is already establishing itself as a game many players will be playing for some time to come.
Adding to this though, the game has a clever way of making things a little more intense by indirectly setting bounties on players. Throughout the game, the player with the most kills is given the award of “Kill Leader” and banners spread throughout the map are emblazoned with their character banner and usernames. It’s a nice way of not only rewarding players but also ensuring this spotlight amps up the pressure.
In terms of gameplay, one of the main features which really gets me hot under the collar is the Ping system which comes as part of the game currently has players launch into the game as a squad of three. This system allows players to communicate with each other without having to use in-game voice communication. On PC simply click the middle mouse button on a location, a door, or a weapon, and your character will alert the other players of this as well as adding a nice little waypoint on the minimap.
Apex Legend’s Ping system is a system which, if I could I would marry. No longer am I suffering the wrath of some squeaker who’s crying because they can’t find a gun. I can simply just Ping that gun I walked past, and boom. Shut up, child. Oh, some armor? I don’t need this, but perhaps my teammates do. Ping. Ah, enemies in the distance. I’m not going to bother saying “over there” much to my squad’s frustration, I’ll ping their location instead. Sorted.
While there is the potential for errors with this system, it is overall quite intelligent. Even if you’re unable to pinpoint the exact location of the enemy who’s a couple hundred meters away, it’ll usually ping the enemy provided you’re not grossly inaccurate with your crosshair. It’s also quite good at pinging the correct thing when you’re zooming around looking for loot. Overall, this system is amazing – if used.
Having played Apex Legends on both PC and Xbox One, the game does, unfortunately, have its downfalls but not because of the game itself, because there are features in place for players to abandon their teams. The idea at the moment is to remain as your trio and help each other scavenge loot and survive until the end, however, I found that – specifically on console – more players would rather just go off on their own and try and conquer 20 teams of three.
Now, that’s not really a fault of the game, and with rumors suggesting solo and duo modes may be in the works, this may combat that problem. However, there’s nothing worse than going into a match and either being abandoned by one player, or no one making use of the Ping system. It’s there for a reason, folks. Use it.
As for other aspects of gameplay, it does very much feel like a Titanfall title, however, things such as wall running or boost jumping, which is available in Titanfall multiplayer, are missing, which is a shame. Gunplay is also pretty familiar to that in Titanfall with a healthy mix of shotgun, light, heavy, and energy weapons to find throughout the map. I also really appreciate the color coding of each weapon type as it allows you to quickly distinguish between the items you need and the items you don’t.
Inventory management is also a pretty good part of Apex Legends with obvious indicators to let you know whether an attachment, ammo, or item you’ve picked up is actually useable with your current loadout. You can simply then just drop all of those items free up some space and move on. This prevents looking for the tiny indicators or icons to show what ammo works with what weapon, or whether that attachment you picked up fits on your weapon.
Finally, Apex Legends gives players the chance to progress along with their peers even if they don’t manage to get a kill for an entire round. How? By rewarding players with XP for the amount of time they survived in the game. While other players who survive just as long and get kills will obviously progress sooner, it’s a nice, simple way of making sure less skilled players (read: me) feel like they’re not being left behind in the dust.
As a huge fan of battle royale games and the genre overall, there have been plenty of hits and plenty of misses. Apex Legends falls largely in the former an absolute banger of a hit which is a worthy contender to the top-performing battle royale games. And while it’s still very, very early days, I’m excited to see what Respawn does with the game in future. Will we see new maps? How will new Legends affect the game? Will they actually provide weapons that hold adequate amounts of ammo?
I’m 100% on this hype train and I’m not getting off any time soon.