Welcome to King’s Canyon. Get ready to drop into a chaotic battlefield where you fight tooth and nail for the title of champion.
Apex Legends has a bit of an odd title, but it lets you know what you’re getting into. Dropping from a ship onto an island battlefield, you fight other self-made legends in a bid to be the champion. The game wasn’t advertised until its quiet release in February, where it immediately took the gaming world by storm, quickly rising to challenge Fortnite as the king of battle royale. While it follows most of the common rules of the battle royale formula, Apex Legends is at the apex of the genre. We’re not going to see a better addition to this genre for a long time.
Now that we have Apex Legends Season 1 released, we can see the full scope of the game going forward, which is also helped by the roadmap the developers gave us. Apex Legends is a fun experience that combines elements of Fortnite and Overwatch with a distinctive sci-fi aesthetic. For anyone who has played Respawn Entertainment’s previous games in the Titanfall franchise, you’ll notice a lot of elements that are reminiscent of or taken right from Titanfall. The two games share a universe.
We find ourselves participants in the Apex Games, a glorified blood sport evocative of Roman gladiators in the Coliseum. Twenty squads of three enter King’s Canyon, an isolated island with diverse landscapes. Every match also has a reigning champion, a player who won a match previously and gives bonus experience if you kill them. There are loudspeakers and screens that display the current best player’s stats, reminding you that you’re in one big competition with an audience cheering on the chaos. It’s a unique dynamic most battle royales haven’t tried.
In addition to the setting, three-man squads and abilities are more unique twists to the familiar formula. Abilities in Apex Legends are like those found in team-based shooters like Overwatch. Each Legend comes with a passive, tactical, and ultimate ability. These are what really set Apex apart from Fortnite and PUBG. There were eight Legends at launch, with more to come as each season is released. Each Legend has distinct abilities that give them their own playstyles and every player will find a favorite Legend to play. What’s more impressive is that Respawn managed to make each character feel balanced.
None of the Legends are guaranteed a victory over another. Lifeline isn’t meant to be on the frontlines, but she can defend herself when necessary. Bangalore’s “Rolling Thunder” brings down a missile strike, but it can be countered by going into a building.
That’s where team play comes in. Team work is way more important than in other battle royales like Fortnite. Squads need to pick Legends with their teammates’ choices in mind. The aforementioned Lifeline is a healer without much protection. To offset her offensive weakness, you’d opt for a defensive choice like Gibraltar or a scout like Bloodhound to watch out for danger.
Communication is big in Apex, but Respawn helpfully included a ping system for players who don’t use mics. You’re able to use your ping menu to communicate all kinds of things with your squad. This includes valuable loot, an area to move to, the location of an enemy, where enemies have been, and even to call dibs on pinged loot or to thank another player for a ping. This system is invaluable to combat the lack of communication that you often find in multiplayer games. Hopefully it sets a standard in the gaming industry going forward.
Apex Legends does have a few downsides. The first is that loot is largely random, meaning that you are not guaranteed a good start. You can walk into Artillery and find a bunch of rare guns and armor or walk out with common armor and no loot for an average gun. If you drop into a busy area and other squads get geared up while you’re still unarmed, that’s a massacre. Nobody beats a shotgun with their fists. The loot does feel pretty fairly dispersed among common to rare gear. The best way to upgrade your gear is honestly looting dead players.
If you do happen to try and fight that shotgun with a few punches, you don’t immediately die. You get knocked down, which gives you a chance to crawl to safety. If your squad can push back against foes, they can revive you. If you do die, they can pick up your banner and respawn you at a respawn station. You come back with no gear, but a second chance beats bleeding out on the battlefield.
Another thing is the frankly stingy game economy. Cosmetics are expensive. Given that the publisher is EA, that’s no surprise, honestly. You do get Apex Packs (the loot boxes of this game) as you level up, but there are only so many. After you hit the low level 100 level cap, you won’t be getting any more. There’s plenty of room to fix this with a prestige system and a more relaxed game economy, so hopefully Respawn looks into those.
It’s also important to remember that Apex Legends is free, so EA banking on cosmetics is expected. The game won’t cost you anything unless you buy a skin. More content is coming every month, so the game experience will only get better as well.
Apex Legends stands poised to rival Fortnite, something no battle royale game has managed to do. With a team dynamic and unique characters that allow for diverse gameplay, there’s a huge amount of replayability. Upon release, there is already a lot of room for expanded additions that will give the game