Apex Legends

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Apex Legends

Douglas Cowdrey, Writer

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A more-than-worthy battle royale successor

From Respawn Entertainment (creators of “Titanfall,” “Titanfall 2”) comes “Apex Legends:” a refreshing take on the ubiquitous battle royale genre, incorporating the teamwork and strategic tactics of other battle royale games (“Minecraft Hunger Games,” “Fortnite,” “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” “Black Ops IIII: Blackout”) while delivering countless new elements that improve significantly on its predecessors. Apex is refreshing, frenetic, and everything a battle royale should be.
Taking place in the same universe as the Titanfall titles, Apex Legends features eight different characters—each boasting unique signature abilities that can be used to support their three-player squad or affect enemy players.
Defensive players may enjoy Gibraltar, an absolute unit of a character who can deploy a shield that blocks gunfire for his squad and has an arm-mounted shield to protect himself while aiming. If you prefer a faster, run-and-gun playstyle, try Bloodhound, a mysterious hunter character with the ability to see enemy footprints and recent activity as well as a scanner that detects enemies through walls.
Bangalore features a smoke grenade launcher, which can be used defensively to cover your squad’s retreat or offensively to blind enemies. She receives a significant movement speed boost when being fired at for hasty retreats. There are even support characters like Lifeline, a medic with a handy health drone, the ability to call in care packages, or Pathfinder, a robotic character who can grapple to higher ground and set up ziplines for quicker team movement.
The game provides a Legend for every playstyle, and the variety means there is never a lack of choices if you want to change things up for a round or two.
At the beginning of each round, the three-player squads take turns selecting a Legend to play as. No duplicate Legend can be selected, which means a player must be proficient with at least three different characters in the occurrence that they select their Legend last. At the start of each round, the last player to select a Legend—known as the Jumpmaster—controls when each squad deploys from the aircraft, making sticking together in the air (and landing together) a breeze.
Anyone who has played a battle royale game knows the suspense of touching down and the ensuing panic to scoop up a weapon and equipment before enemies do. Apex Legends is no different in this aspect. Your squad may land in a remote part of the map with plenty of time to pick up weapons, ammunition and defensive gear. Or the opposite is entirely possible—a 10 second round if enemy squads snatch up guns before you. However, death is not the end in every instance you are killed. After death, surviving squadmates can retrieve your player banner and respawn you at a beacon. You will drop back in with no equipment, but it’s an optimistic addition to the game that often prevents unlucky squadmates from simply spectating an entire match.
The weapons and gunplay are well-balanced and engineered, and almost all of them are very effective if you’re able to aim well and hit your shots. Titanfall fans will find that the two games have nearly identical weapons, with just a few entirely new additions. In-game weapon customization and upgrades are simple and satisfying and can make particular guns significantly more effective at different ranges.
To further add complexity and surprises to every round of Apex, each Legend has a powerful ultimate ability that can drastically affect the outcome of a skirmish. Aerial missile barrages, portal construction, a crippling gas grenade, enhanced movement speed and heat vision, care packages with high-level armor—a firefight between two squads can feel like a much larger-scale battle with these abilities. The ultimate abilities, when used at an opportune time, can utterly shift the tide of battle and grant critical advantages over enemies to clear the path to victory.
Unlike Fortnite and Minecraft Hunger Games, there is no building in Apex Legends, no easy way out if you get caught out in the open. This makes the use of cover much more imperative in every situation, and the lack of building is balanced by the game’s movement speed and abilities. Sprinting is unlimited, and your sprinting speed is even more rapid with your weapons put away.
Just as in Titanfall, sliding is both a speed and evasion mechanic, granting you a significant speed boost going down hills and an effective dodge from explosives or gunfire. All characters have the same base movement speed, but some can move even faster as a result of their abilities. Climbing and mantling is smooth and helpful as well; you can easily climb onto one-story buildings for some quick but effective high ground, or hop small walls and obstacles without skipping a beat. Best of all, there is no fall damage. You can jump off of the highest possible cliff or structure on the map and suffer no damage, which offers an alluring escape option to many locations on the map if your squad needs a quick evacuation
Apex Legends also features an incredibly simple but versatile ping system to assist in squad communication. With the tap of one controller button, you can call out weapons and equipment to squadmates, suggest a location on the map to search or alert squadmates to enemy activity. This makes online matches with random players much more playable if you are not able to voice chat with them.
The advancement system is surprisingly fair for a free-to-play game with rewards unlocked every level. Depending upon performance, a player can rapidly acquire enough in-game currency to unlock either Mirage or Caustic, the former a wise-cracking trickster with hologram decoys, and the latter, a menacing, gas trap-planting scientist. Cosmetic items and additional lootboxes are available for purchase but can also be acquired with crafting metals.
Apex Legends revels in its post-apocalyptic/science fiction universe with no holds barred and some of the most fluid, intense gameplay in modern video gaming. Character differentiation, movement, tactical abilities, communication and gunplay all are cutting-edge and virtually bug-free, and of course, Apex is best played with friends. If you enjoy frantic action and ridiculously satisfying firefights, team-based cooperation and a slightly sweaty controller, you’ve found the Apex of battle royale shooters. And remember, a Mozambique is better than nothing, but anything is better than a Mozambique.
Apex Legends is published by Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC and is rated T for violence and blood.