Sick of chasing chicken dinners and Victory Royales? Try Apex Legends on for size.
Apex Legends is Respawn Entertainment’s breakout entry into the battle royale genre that surprised us all when it was both announced and released on the same day earlier this month. It’s not only free to play, it’s pretty damn fun, too. The runaway hit is already giving Fortnite and Co. a run for their money—Apex Legends is currently the most-watched game on Twitch—and if you play online alongside anyone with a pulse, you’ve likely thought about jumping on the bandwagon yourself.
You absolutely should.
It’s a fantastic riff on the genre, and the freshest take on an already-established subset of games we’ve seen in quite some time. While Apex Legends has the same fundamentals as other battle royales, it’s just different enough to feel unique instead of derivative. And that’s perfect for Fortnite veterans who’ve grown weary of Tomato Town or Loot Llamas or that relentless Technicolor aesthetic.
Even if battle royale gaming never appealed to you, Apex might finally be the one to change your mind, especially if you’re more into meaty, action-packed shooters than meticulous strategizing or resource gathering. On a scale where PUBG represents realism and Fortnite is a cartoon wonderland, Apex falls comfortably in the middle, with one foot mired in its arcade-like shooter past and the other stepping forward into the benefits of smart team combat.
But there’s just enough different about Apex Legends for it to be intimidating, even when you’re coming in fresh from one of the other titles burning up the charts at the moment. If you’re thinking about diving headfirst into the industry’s new battle royale darling, consider the following.
Teamwork is a must.
Unlike Fortnite and PUBG, there’s no way to go solo in Apex Legends. Winning means getting by with a little help from your friends. Each game begins with 20 teams of three for a total of 90 players on the battlefield, and working together with your squad is essential if you want to be the last one standing.
You drop into the map in the same way you do in other battle royales: from the sky. The stakes of where you land, however, are even higher in Apex. When you’re riding solo in Fortnite or PUBG, you might only have to worry about a few players nearby when you touch down. Here, each squad dives together, so it only takes a handful of teams landing in the same area for things to get heated quickly.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: “I have to rely on other people?!” Well, yes. But hear us out: You won’t mind it at all, because these characters are designed to work better in tandem. Even if you’re the type of person who hates talking on the mic, you can effectively work as part of a team without even saying a word. This eliminates the frustration of playing with others who don’t use a headset (or can’t) so you can get on the same page with your squad quicker and more efficiently.
Pinging is a revolutionary new communication tool.
One of the features that really sets Apex Legends apart from its peers is the pinging system. With the press of a button, you can contextually highlight to your team whatever you’re aiming at, making teamwork much more intuitive than any other game we’ve seen before. See an enemy in the distance? Ping it. Find a cool piece of loot for your teammate? Ping it. Want to head for a certain area on the map? You get the idea.
When you ping something, your teammates will see a waypoint on their screen showing them its precise location. Depending on what your reticle is pointed at, the icon and your character’s dialog will change. If you ping an item, your teammates will hear what it is, and they’ll be able to choose whether they want to come pick it up or not. If you highlight an enemy, a red waypoint with crosshairs above it will appear to alert them of your foe’s location.
The pinging system is so simple, it’s actually amazing that a developer hasn’t added it to a game before. In one press of a button, it accomplishes what could take several seconds to communicate if you had to pass along the info verbally. It also allows those with anxiety or those who might have a noisy house to play as a team without having to hop on voice chat. This alone puts it leagues ahead of the competition, at least in terms of rectifying an issue many of us have had in multiplayer games in the past.
The characters are more reminiscent of Overwatch.
Both PUBG and Fortnite have a skin system that lets you change your character’s look, but fundamentally, everyone plays the same character. Apex Legends, on the other hand, has eight characters, each with their own unique abilities.
Each squad can only have one person play a particular character per round, which reinforces the emphasis the game places on teamwork. If your team uses their characters’ abilities in tandem, you can outmaneuver and outsmart the enemy. For example, you can use Bloodhound’s Tracker ability to see other player’s footsteps and info on how recently they were in the area. You can then use Wraith’s Dimensional Rift ability to flank the enemy and open a portal for your team to pass through. Finally, you can use Bangalore’s Rolling Thunder to cut off the enemy’s escape with a wall of missiles.
The addition of character abilities into the battle royale formula adds an extra level of depth and complexity. They also make the game feel more skill-based instead of just boiling down to who fires first and who has the bigger gun.
Death is not the end.
Apex Legends is based on Respawn’s Titanfall series, so action-wise it falls right in the middle of the genre, with big, splashy battles and all-consuming firefights. It’s not quite the one-shot, one-kill, constant hiding of PUBG, but it’s also doesn’t have the bullet-sponge feel of Fortnite.
As a first-person shooter, Apex Legends has a tighter feel with gunplay than Fortnite. The weapons are all useful in their own right, and an attachment system lets you augment their standard capabilities with scopes, stability mods, extended magazines and the like.
Because of how team-based Apex is, it does feel more forgiving than its competitors. Being dependent on your team gives your teammates more incentive to revive you. Even death isn’t necessarily the end: If you bleed out or get finished off, your teammate can pick up your “banner” and take it to a Respawn Beacon to bring you back into the game.
All the above helps Apex Legends strike a balance, where it doesn’t feel like you’re just stuck waiting around or heading back to the lobby immediately after you die. It keeps you invested in the game longer, which makes the whole thing more satisfying, and saves little mistakes from feeling like a costly waste of time.
With that in mind, it’s high time you cue up Apex Legends and jump in to see what all the fuss is about. The free-to-play shooter is slowly coming for Fortnite’s crown, and it’s prudent to get in on the ground level while you still can—before it takes over the gaming world.