The popularity of Apex Legends arrived in the gaming community like a tornado: there were signs of the game’s existence and then bam, it hit all at once. When Apex Legends was released, it had two million players. By the third day, 10 million, and by the end of its first week, 25 million players were active. Now, towards the end of its first month, Apex Legends has a chance to contend (maybe even usurp) the current battle royale genre’s juggernaut, Fortnite. While Fortnite is still on top, Apex Legends brings a unique and fresh look to the battle royale genre. Oh, and the game is free to play (powered by cosmetic microtransactions), so there’s no risk in trying it.
Apex Legends is a Serious Game Changer
Apex Legends is the newest game trying to dominate the Battle Royale genre. Like Call of Duty: Blackout, Apex Legends is the AAA take on this massively popular and profitable genre. Published by EA and developed by Respawn Entertainment (creators of arguably this generation’s best shooter in Titanfall 2), Apex Legends takes a piece from popular games to create a high caliber game. If you aren’t a fan of battle royale games, this game isn’t for you. But at its core, Apex is a solid game that is inviting, challenging, and flat out fun for everyone. We’re still within a month of its initial launch so there are still bugs in the game (maybe our systems shouldn’t crash every seven games or so), but its pros heavily outweigh its cons.
A Revolutionary Communication System
Despite confirmation of eventual cross-platform play, Apex is currently only available on PC, Xbox, and the Playstation 4, and team play is limited to the player’s platform. This is obviously a huge issue for people with friends who play on various platforms. While playing a team-based game without friends may seem daunting, Respawn has found a way to completely mitigate this issue in Apex Legends’ ping system.
The bane of battle royale veterans’ existence is simple: you mark a landing spot that your squad doesn’t go to, you can’t find a reliable weapon or consumables, and then you get killed while your squad is stretched out across various parts of the maps. This is especially true for players who don’t have a microphone, lack the confidence to call the shots on the mic, or have a language barrier. Apex Legends’ ping system completely fixes this by incorporating a system that allows you to communicate in game with the click of a button and automatically translates to whatever language is chosen.
See an enemy? No problem, simply click the ping button and your teammates will be notified. Found a body shield or weapons and one teammate needs one? Your legend can call it out and your teammate can easily find it on the map and even call dibs on it. Have a sniper and want to watch a vulnerable location? No problem, just click the area you’re watching and your teammates will know you’re looking there. The ping system gives a group of randomly selected players in a squad a chance to succeed and become the champions of the arena.
Team Play is Everything
Unlike other battle royale games, there is only one game mode: a squad of three. The success of the team hinges on your squad’s ability to communicate and maneuver through the map. The game encourages squad play through the ping system and each hero’s unique abilities, but the time it takes to kill an enemy is a major factor in the game. Sure, there are players who can probably wipe out a whole squad without breaking a sweat, but it’s difficult. A squad who sticks together can plan a tactical approach and keep each other alive in prolonged shootouts.
Furthermore, if a player dies early on or in one of these shootouts, that player isn’t totally out of the game. A teammate has the option to revive another player, as is customary in battle royale games, but can also completely respawn a teammate with the patience to stick around for it. While a player loses all their equipment upon revival, a full squad can make a difference in the end game scenario.
The Legends Make a Great Cast of Characters
Respawn understands the importance of different classes, like in Rainbow Six: Seige, and combines that factor with the unique abilities of hero classes, like in Overwatch. This combination produces a cast of characters known as Legends, diverse in their backgrounds and their abilities. String them together for a formidable squad.
Take the professional soldier Bangalore, for example. She has the ability to sprint at double speed when an enemy fires on her as well as the ability to use a smoke screen to blind enemies. Combine this with the technological tracker Bloodhound’s “allsight” ability, which lets him see enemies in coverage, and you have a deadly advantage.
While squads can mix and match characters based on their abilities, there isn’t an established meta that guarantees an ideal squad. This is great if your main character doesn’t seem to mesh with other legends. The combat medic Lifeline is a great legend who puts up a shield while she revives teammates at a fast pace, but she isn’t crucial to the longevity of a team. The defensive tank Gibraltar can put up a temporary shield that blocks all damage, but a squad can make do without him.
While bigger Legends like Caustic, Gibraltar, and Pathfinder have significantly higher hitboxes than smaller Legends like Wraith, Lifeline, and Mirage/Bangalore (who share the same hitbox size), there isn’t a significant or superior Legend in the bunch. This lends itself to a balanced game that allows players to choose whatever Legend they want to play.
Gunplay and Mobility are Top Tier Mechanics
As mentioned earlier, Respawn’s arena shooter Titanfall 2 is arguably the best shooter of this gaming generation, but the game wasn’t a commercial success. Apex took the fluid gunplay from Titanfall 2 and implemented it perfectly. Well, except for the Mozambique.
The map is huge, but there are various ways to traverse around the map quickly. Ziplines are scattered around the map for easy use, and if a player needs to get down a hill quickly, they can slide down for a quicker pace to escape enemies, to escape a storm, or just because sliding is fun.
Last Word on Apex Legends
At its core, Apex Legends is an amazing shooter in the battle royale genre. The encouraged squad play is great for veterans of the genre or beginners who just want to play. There are bugs; crashes still happen and there isn’t an easy way to stay with a winning squad or add a good/fun teammate to your friend’s list. But that doesn’t break the game. With the proper upkeep and an engaging team and community, Apex Legends should be the next big thing in the gaming world.
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