Apex Legends Crossplay is Broken

To Crossplay or Not to Crossplay

I’m all for crossplay. After making the switch to PC last year, I want any and all developers to have crossplay in mind when building their online multiplayer experience.

Unfortunately, there’s also a dark side to the crossplay realm. Namely, getting console and PC gamers to work in perfect harmony. 

I began my Apex Legends journey on console and hopped onto my desktop early in 2020. It took me a few months to get used to the keyboard and mouse experience, but it was pretty incredible once I got comfortable.

A year and a half later, I’ve resorted back to playing on console while visiting my parents. I don’t remember my exact words, but they were along the lines of “it feels like I’m moving through molasses”.

Here are the things that make Apex Legends crossplay an unplayable mess.

Apex Legends crossplay announcement

Apex Legends Control Input

Controllers are great for racing and sports games, but when it comes to shooters, there’s no substitute for a mouse. Mice have a higher skill ceiling than a joystick, giving the gamers to flick their cursor to quickly lock onto enemies.

In Apex, controller players have access to ‘aim assist’. As the name suggests, the software draws your cursor toward enemy players when you are aiming in their direction. 

Pros and casual players alike have gone back and forth about whether aim assist is OP. Regardless of which side of the argument you’re on, it doesn’t make up for the fact that a joystick has many limitations.

I’d classify myself as a very average player on PC. Even with my level of mediocrity, I’m still able to control the recoil of Apex weapons using a mouse much better than I ever have on a controller.

Additionally, there are only so many buttons on a given controller. Compared to a standard keyboard, you’ve only got a handful of options to map your actions (see what I did there?).

The bottom line here is that anyone using a kbm has an inherent advantage when fighting a controller-user. You can laser people across the map with your mouse while struggling to keep your crosshair on a mid-range opponent using a controller. The difference is just so ridiculous!

My recommendation is for Apex Legends crossplay to group players by their input device. Controller players against other controller players and kbm vs. kbm.

Framerate Diff

I’ve been on Playstation 4 since 2014. My eyes are used to 30 FPS gaming.

Now that I play regularly on PC, my framerate is regularly above 90. That’s three times as many frames, which means three times as much information flowing into my eyeballs.

In a fast-paced shooter like Apex where information is key, this difference is massive. It means that if I’m on PC and I see a console player turning the corner, it’s likely that I see the enemy before he sees me. 

Imagine losing all of your blue shield before seeing any opponents, then trying to react fast enough to fend off a foe who has locked on their target! This is exactly what my console friends have experienced, and I never fully understood what they were describing until I went back to PS4.

My first few games back, it actually felt as though my player model was moving slower than normal. I complained to my friends about it feeling like a completely different game, but it’s hard to actually put the difference into words.

In addition to the input-specific lobbies, Respawn needs to match legends against each other based on their framerate.

Apex Legends Valk

Latency Affects on Apex Legends Gameplay

At a base level, latency describes how long it will take for you to press a button in your game and see the resulting action take place on screen. A lower latency means a smaller delay between button press and in-game action.

From my own testing, latency on my PS4 is usually around 100 ms. While this is only a tenth of a second, it can mean the difference between picking up some floor loot or getting mowed down by a nearby enemy.

On PC, my latency regularly hovers in the 30-40 ms range. For those of you in the back of the room, that translates to a 2-3X improvement vs my console days.

My console buddies had always complained that anytime we loot the same supply bin, I would always grab all the loot. I assumed I was just faster at pressing buttons, but my PC is actually giving me a significant advantage.

This is one that I actually have no idea how to solve. Latency is impacted by a number of other factors like hardware specs, internet speeds, routers, and distance to the nearest game server.

Ideally, some new technology comes out that drops latency to single-digit milliseconds for all gamers. Until then, I’ll leave it up to the Apex Legends team to figure out how to balance this for their crossplay community.

How to Save the Apex Legends Crossplay Experience

A couple of weeks ago, I described the Apex Legends PS4 experience as “trash”. This was an exaggeration based on my adjustments to PC play, but it’s definitely a different game when you play on console. Things are probably slightly better on the PS5 or Xbox Series S/X, but the optimal way to play is still on a gaming computer.

I appreciate that Respawn introduced the crossplay feature, but there are a few things that need to be fixed to balance the tides. Having more targeted lobbies based on input and framerate would be a great start!

In the meantime, I think I’m done with crossplay in Apex Legends…

What do you think Apex Legends needs to change in their crossplay setup? Are you enjoying playing with legends on other platforms? Join the conversation in the comments section, below!

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