“Another Battle Royale” would be such a grave understatement when it comes to Respawn Entertainment’s new shooter, Apex Legends. While its core construct and gameplay mechanics are incredibly similar to that of battle royale games of yesterday; Apex Legends works to innovate the genre and build upon the solid ground-work that those games provided.
Between its complex yet streamlined looting system, fast and fluid gameplay, and unique atmosphere, Apex Legends already has earned it’s right to be taken seriously in a seemingly over-crowded market of loot’em and shoot’em massive battle arena games. No, this game will not kill Fortnite… Probably. However, the 10 million unique players (1 million concurrent) is nothing to scoff at. It helps that the game is amazingly fun and addictive. The kind of game you hate yourself for staying up till 3 in the morning for, but you do it again the next day.
The Gameplay is extremely straight forward…. Drop in the map. Don’t Die. Get guns and armor. Kill.
However what sets Apex apart is it’s verity in which you can play. At launch, there are 8 different characters (legends) to chose from. All accompanied by corresponding passive, tactile, and ultimate abilities. These abilities very from shield generation, to enemy tracking, to airstrikes. Every legend available to you feels different, yet familiar. The statement of “Overwatch Battle Royale” has been thrown around, and is very accurate. It is strongly encouraged that you pick a legend that fits your play style, and surround yourself with a squad that can play off the streangths of each other. For example, a very successful tactic I have found was to use Bloodhound’s Tracking and marking abilities to pinpoint enemy locations, then follow this up with Wraith’s Portal, this way you can bum rush the unsuspecting enemies, and have an easy escape if things go south.
And if you do end up being downed, then killed, Apex Legends has it’s unique respawn beacon. This allows a teammate to carry your beacon to a respawn point and allows you to respawn. It is a risk/reward option for sure, due to the revived player spawning with nothing, and the airdrop gives away the team’s location fairly easy. But if this is accomplished successfully, your team can be that much closer to victory.
Respawn Entertainment is best known for their work on The Titanfall series, and it shows. Which makes sense as this is supposed to take place in the same universe as Titanfall. Movement is fast. Gunplay is fluid. Every time you down or eliminate an enemy, you feel like a rock-star. Even more so when you use style such as sliding kills, or jumping on a surprised hostile from a zip line.
With all the praises I have so far sung of Apex Legends, there is a severe problem I want to mention. At launch, matchmaking can be poor. On more occasions than seems necessary, I have been in a squad of 1 (there are supposed to be 3) which means… as soon as I die, thats it. There is no timeout option that redirects me to a new game, and it is yet unclear as to if players get punished for leaving matches early. While a small gripe, it does dig itself deeper when the game is so focused on you playing with a squad. There is no solo que. It is a three-man squad game through and through. Which is a shame. Hopefully in the near future Respawn adds at least a solo mode.
This lack of different modes also makes me wonder what kind of events the developers will provide in the future. It has been stated at the Apex Legends reveal, there will be season passes and events for the community to look forward to. However, none of this is present at launch. There are no challenges. It truly makes me wonder if I will be having as much fun a month from now, as I do now at launch.
Micro-transactions are a sure topic to come up in a game that is free to play. However, I’m happy to report, that Repspawn’s goal is to not provide a pay-to-win wall. Meaning only cosmetics, and 2 legends are available trough premium currency. However the two legends are not locked behind a pay-wall. They, along with many cosmetics can be earned simply, by playing the game. This allows for a sense of progression and fairness within the community. You want that shiny gun skin? Work for it. You don’t want to work for it? okay, it will set you back $5. Respawn did their homework on public reception of loot-boxes and premium charges, and it shows.
Apex Legends is a terrific and fun game. It’s free-to-play approach makes it easy to recommend to anyone who is looking for a new game to play with friends On PC, Xbox One, And Playstation. While it does short solo players with no available friends, it does allow for a great time. My biggest hopes, are when I return to review the game in full after the first season, players will have a better picture as to what the future of Apex Legends will be.