Title: Apex Legends
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Genre: First Person Shooter, Battle Royale
Official Site: https://www.ea.com/games/apex-legends
Release Date: February 4th, 2019
Apex Legends is a game that I didn’t expect to be reviewing this year. That’s because it pretty much came out of nowhere. While everyone thought Respawn Entertainment was working on Titanfall 3, the studio was instead developing a free-to-play battle royale.
The Development of Apex Legends is Just as Interesting as the Game Itself
(If you don’t care about the development of Apex and just want to see the rest of the review, you can skip to the next section)
Before we get into the actual game, I want to touch on the development of Apex Legends. We didn’t expect to get this game. It looks like EA didn’t either. Executive Producer Drew McCoy talked with Game Informer about EA’s involvement in Apex Legends:
“Not to be throwing EA under the bus, but this wasn’t the game they were expecting. I had to go to executives and show it to them and explain it and…not convince but more “Hey, trust us! This is the thing you want out of us.” As a corporation, they can only quantify based on past data and they’ve never done anything like this before. There’s a giant rainbow question mark over revenue projections for this game. They’re like “We don’t know! We can’t predict.” This is a game we had to say “This is what we want to do. Help us get there.” They had no hand in development or anything about this game.”
The easy thing to do here would be to pile on EA for their lack of faith. However, in this case, I actually see why they had doubts. It’s a free-to-play battle royale from a developer you didn’t expect to be interested in that genre. As most free-to-play titles are, the game would also be filled with microtransactions. Keep in mind, EA would be slapping their logo on this as well and we all saw what happened with Star Wars Battlefront II. If I was one of the higher-ups at EA who heard this from McCoy, I would have been skeptical at best.
So, instead of trashing EA, I would much rather applaud Respawn Entertainment. They have created an amazing game and the development of this project had to be stressful.
Now that’s over and done with, we can get into the game itself. Like I said earlier, Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale where squads of three compete to survive against 57 other players. It’s your typical battle royale so far.
Here’s where it starts to get interesting. In Apex Legends, you select from one of eight characters with their own unique abilities and personalities. For a comparison, think Overwatch (By the way, how did Blizzard not come up with an idea like this first?).
So, you select your legend in a draft-style format and are put into the battle arena. The map may feel smaller than other battle royales but you have to take this into account. This is a faster-paced game. Which brings me to my next point.
Quick, Addictive Gameplay That Keeps You Saying “Okay, Just One More Game”
Titanfall is a franchise where constant and smooth movement is absolutely a necessity. Apex Legends is a lot like Titanfall in that respect (it also takes place in the same universe).
I get the hesitation for those who haven’t played Apex yet. A Titanfall-esque game without the wall-running or weaponized mechs sounds like a disaster. But, make no mistake, Apex Legends is far from a disaster.
Like Titanfall, you are constantly moving. You can loot an entire area in no time and get out of dire situations with your quickness. It’s a refreshing change of pace compared to other sluggish battle royale games out there. Everything you do from running to shooting to even managing your inventory is fluid and you never feel out of a fight due to this.
Some weapons are really fun to use and when you get into these insane firefights, your abilities are key. When you get down to the endgame stages of a match, it feels like you actually earned your place on the scoreboard and when you use one of your abilities in a clutch moment, you are rewarded for it (most of the time).
For example, I had a squad that consisted of a Lifeline, Gibraltar, and Bangalore. We became outnumbered in the late portion of the round and eventually found ourselves in between the two other final squads. I, playing as Gibraltar, quickly use my shield ability to deflect the ultimates and gunfire directed at us. This gives my squadmates enough time to find the remaining enemies and our exit strategy. We ended up going into a nearby building to get some cover as both squads try to push us. My squad came through in the clutch and we eventually got the win. Even though I didn’t get but one kill during this game, the timing of my shield was crucial to our success. This is just one example of how Apex sticks out in this genre.
Apex Legends Thrives by Doing Things Other Big-Name Battle Royales Don’t
From the jump, one person is given control on where you land and you can actually glide in together. This is absolutely fantastic. Bickering about where to land and actually landing together has always been one of the most annoying aspects of these games for me. Apex basically puts the final say on one person, making the round’s success, or failure, partially on them.
With the ability to mark items, weapons, locations, and even enemies, playing alone isn’t a waste of time. Not just that but it makes playing with friends a whole lot easier. I don’t have to say anything along the lines of, “Hey, I found a level two backpack over here, anyone need one? It’s over in the red building. No, not that building. Yep, that’s the one. It’s upstairs.”, every game.
When you die, your teammates have a short time-frame to go up to your body and retrieve your player banner. After they do this, your team must go to a respawn beacon. Once they turn in your banner there, you will be back in the fight but you’ll have to start from scratch.
Also, you can see everyone’s stats before and after each match. It isn’t as impressive as other features, but it’s cool to brag with your friends when you have a great showing. These are all huge additions to the battle royale genre and the reasons why I’m loving this game as much as I am.
Apex Legends is Great, But Not Perfect
This is a new, free-to-play title. It’s a great game but it doesn’t hit that “Remarkable” rating (yet). There’s a lot Respawn can improve upon.
First off, weapons are far too unbalanced. For me, I’ve found the most success with the Wingman pistol and Peacekeeper shotgun combo. Light-machine guns and most other assault rifles are underpowered and ammo clips seem to be a bit too small. This puts so much importance on finding extended mags on your weapons because, without them, your weapon is pretty much useless.
The same goes for the characters. Lifeline is a necessity in every game due to her care package ultimate and healing drone. Bloodhound and Bangalore are a deadly combo as well. Other than that, the remaining legends never seem to be a good selection. Pathfinder’s ability is underwhelming and Mirage is… kinda pointless. Maybe I’m just “bad” at the game and don’t use them correctly. So, if you use either character and have some tips for me, please let me know in the comments. I would greatly appreciate it.
Finally, it would be cool to see other modes included later on. Something like Fortnite’s 50v50 or maybe even a mode where ability cooldowns were increased exponentially over the course of a match. I know we’re only about a week into this game and it’s a little weird to say this now. But, I don’t want Apex to end up like other battle royales that never took risks by introducing other modes.
Verdict: Respawn Entertainment has potentially created something special in Apex Legends. It definitely stands out as a big-time competitor against Fortnite, PUBG, and Call of Duty: Blackout. Even though Respawn created a hit and put a lot on the line to do so, they still have more work to do. Balancing out characters and weapons would be nice, as would the additions of more game modes down the line.
Are you enjoying Apex Legends? Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments below!
- Smooth and fun gameplay
- Fast movement
- Makes strong additions to the battle royale genre like abilities, marking, and respawning teammates
- The faster-paced gameplay makes for shorter matches
- Unbalanced weapons and, to an extent, characters