Apex Legends, the alleged apex predator of the Battle Royal games, has just been released into the wild of the internet for the eternally hungry and salacious gamers of the fibre-optic forests to devour. Following their last game, Titanfall 2 - a criminally underlooked FPS that features the most fluid running and gunning I’ve ever played - Respawn Entertainment have decided to venture down the booming free-to-play battle royale genre route.
From my very limited time with Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic Games’ Fortnite, I can tell that Respawn decided to make their vision of battle royale the most fluid yet. The movement is fast, the shooting is tight and the whole experience feels sleek; especially for a game that’s been out for just under two weeks. I distinctly remember Battlegrounds taking quite a few months before it finally found its legs, and even then it still didn’t feel anywhere this good.
Apex Legends irons out all the obvious kinks and problems of the genre by making traversal effortless. It doesn’t feature Titanfall’s wall-running, or double-jumps, but it still feels just as slick as you can utilize ziplines to navigate around the map, and even relaunch yourself using certain balloon points to relocate to a completely different zone. I spent a lot of time in Fortnite running around just to get blasted in the back of the head by someone three miles down the road, so at least in Apex Legends I can zipline to my inevitable grave at a lightning-quick pace.
Within the gameplay itself, you can choose between eight decently-diverse Legends. Much like the heroes in Overwatch, these Legends each have different personalities, skins and abilities focusing on a certain playstyle. They feature one passive, active and super ability each. For example, Bloodhound’s passive ability tracks the movements of his enemies; his active ability pulses, briefly, showing location of any enemies, or traps within a certain radius; and his super ability enhances his senses for a limited time, allowing him to see enemy tracks, while also making him super fast. The core-gameplay of shooting - which is almost exactly the same as Titanfall 2 - isn’t at all affected between the Legends, but the abilities do create some nice diversity that’s otherwise lacking in battle royale games.
When you die - which I do so much you’d think I believed it was the ultimate goal of the game - you turn into a banner which your teammates can use to revive you if they deliver it to specific access points littered across the map. So, even if you suck as much as I do, you still have a chance to come back for another try. Even if it does conclude with the obvious: me getting shot dead while spastically spraying bullets at every point my enemy isn’t located.
The most interesting feature comes in the form of the Ping system. No longer do we have to actually communicate in these games to create a tight unit, now all we need to do is push a button and it pings whatever it is you’re looking at. If you ping a building on the horizon, it will notify your teammates that you’re heading that way; if you ping twice in any location it will notify them there’s an enemy present; and pinging a weapon or item will point it out for your teammates to pick up. On paper it doesn’t sound like it would work as smoothly as it does, but it’s a surprisingly intuitive system. The enigmatic Colonel594Mustard and I became seemingly-lifelong squadmates over the course of a short-lived match. We pinged this and that and gave each other very clear instructions of what we were going to do at all times, entirely without uttering a word to each other. I still think of Colonel594Mustard fondly as I type this, and I hope he’s doing well out there in the eternal war of Apex Legends.
I started writing this impression as an admittance of being legitimately bad at these types of games and denouncing them forever in a blazing article, but after playing a few more hours, I’ve actually gotten marginally better at it. I no longer bumble around the map like a headless chicken with an itchy trigger-finger til I inevitably meet the one saviour who mercy-kills me. I actually have a sense of what to do now, I’ve even gotten a few kills myself. In one match I actually took out a full squad, which naturally ended up with me dying at the hands of the sneaky dude who just watched this whole battle from the bushes like a sexual predator. So, admittedly, I am finding myself enjoying Apex Legends after all.
Apex Legends combines Titanfall 2’s slick gameplay, Overwatch’s heroes and PUBG’s everything else and smooths it all out into one refined package. Basically, if you’re even mildly interested in anything this game has to offer, I suggest checking it out. I mean, hey, it’s free-to-play after all. What else do you have to lose other than your precious and incredibly limited time on this earth?