Why you should be playing Apex Legends

What exactly is Apex Legends?

If you’re a gamer who’s been living under a rock for the last month, you may not have heard about the newest entrant into the battle royale scene.

Developed by Respawn Entertainment, Apex is marketed as “a free-to-play Battle Royale game where contenders from across the Frontier team up to battle for glory, fame, and fortune.” It takes place in the Titanfall universe so anyone familiar with that franchise will quickly feel comfortable. 

While I never played any Titanfall games, the hype that quickly built up around this game had me curious. I haven’t played a serious game of Fortnite in about 4 months so I wanted to scratch that battle royale itch.

Amassing more than 10 million users in the first 72 hours, Apex certainly got the attention of the gaming community. For reference, this is what Twitch viewership looked like this morning.

That’s right…Apex had double the number of viewers as Fortnite!

Speaking of which, the game has been described by several sources as a cross between Epic’s battle royale and my current obsession, Overwatch. With this type of reception and praise, I knew it was only a matter of time before I got pulled into the Apex world.

Last night, I teamed up with DieHardSP08 for my first foray into Titanfall madness. After a few hours of gameplay, here’s where I see the likeness and dissimilarities between two of my favorite team-based shooters.

https://youtu.be/jHYF66rCqDo

Game Mode | Fortnite

Any battle royale game that is released post-2017 will draw comparisons to Fortnite. Epic didn’t do it first, but they certainly did it the biggest.

Apex Legends does many things differently which make it stand out for me in the crowded BR space:

  • Only having a squad mode (sorry solo gamers)
  • Player count capped at 60
  • The introduction of a ‘Jumpmaster’

That last bullet is a subtle feature, but may be one of my favorite things in the game. It puts one person in charge of deploying your squad into the battlefield and allows that legend to control the flight path.At any point, you can jump out of the plane yourself, but it turns the first major decision of the game into a mini-game for one. This is especially great for me since my Fortnite squad always took so long to decide where to drop.

 

Training | Overwatch

Apex takes Overwatch’s training grounds and levels it up, explicitly telling you what buttons do which actions. The training area has shooting range targets instead of robots and has a friendly mentor to show you the ropes.

Fortnite eventually added their playground mode to the game, but it’s not the same as having a guided tour of the game mechanics

I like that the Apex training is short and gives you flexibility to mostly do what you want. 

https://youtu.be/9EfnN6EzFhE

Legends | Overwatch

Each character has their own unique abilities (passive and active) and ‘ultimate’ (oh hai, Overwatch!).

Depending on your playstyle, you’ll want to master these abilities and understand how to manage the related cooldowns. The characters also have “types”, like healer and defense, which help you build out a well-rounded squad.

Interestingly, I immediately saw similarities between some of the Legend abilities and what I’ve become accustomed to in Overwatch. Gibraltor throws down a Winston shield, Lifeline has a healing drone that acts similar to Lucio’s AOE heals and Pathfinder uses Widowmaker’s grappling hook.

Abilities - Bangalore
Abilities - Bloodhound
Abilities - Caustic
Abilities - Gibraltor
Abilities - Lifeline
Abilities - Mirage
Abilities - Pathfinder
Abilities - Wraith
Items | Fortnite

Epic added tons of items to their hit game. At first, it was great to see fresh additions that made the game more fun. Eventually, it became too much for me and I stopped playing. Balloons, really?

Apex feels like it has the right number and balance of items right now. Your inventory will look more similar to PUBG or Blackout, so that could be a good thing if you have experience in these games.

Never having played either of these BR’s, it was a little overwhelming at first. I was picking up everything and not using much of anything. Things became more clear over time, but there’s definitely a good learning curve to figuring out what should be stored in your backpack.

You’ll see the usual things like healing items, shield and throwables. The game also has some unique consumables that give you/your team buffs.

An Ultimate Accelerant will increase the pace at which you build ult. Shield batteries can be used to replenish your body armor. There’s something you drink in this game which is basically a chug jug, but I forget what it’s called.

One difference here between Fortnite and Apex is the customization of weapons via items. In Fortnite, you can grab an AR or a silenced AR, a rifle or a scoped rifle, etc. In Apex Legends, you attach items to your weapons to give the desired properties.

Fall Damage | Overwatch

Or rather, lack of fall damage. 

You can fall from any height and be perfectly fine. Given the various ways your characters can rise to incredible elevations, this is critical.

It can be a pretty immersive experience when you watch your character leap off a cliff, gain speed on the way down and hit the ground suddenly, sending a cloud of dust into the air.

The verticality of the game is much higher than in Overwatch so there’s usually another level of the high ground to your current location. Enemies can fire down on you from mountaintops, then jump down to loot your body after they’ve confirmed the kill.

Mobility | Fortnite

Apex Legends actually makes moving around the Fortnite map look like playing hopscotch in the schoolyard. Where Fortnite has balloons and rifts, Apex has wall climbing and zip lines.

Sure, you can take a gondola in certain areas of the Fortnite map, but it just seems like there are so many more movement options in Apex. And while there aren’t any usable vehicles in Legends, you can still increase your lateral speed by sliding down slopes. 

Similarly to increasing your run speed in Counter Strike by holding a knife in your hand, you can holster your weapons in Apex to gain a small movement bonus. This just makes sense!

Down But Not Out | Both

In most multiplayer shooter games, you die and then that’s gg. In Apex, you have many chances to keep going in the game after your initial health has been depleted.

First, you’ll go down to a ‘knocked’ state, where you can crawl around and continue to mark enemies in your field of view. There’s also an item that allows you to put up a barrier in front of yourself to prevent the enemies from thirsting the kill.

If you do get completely murdered after going into the knocked state, you turn into a crate. Typical.

From there, any of your live teammates can pick up a banner from your kill location, bring it to a Respawn Beacon and have you respawn onto the map.

In the Fortnite world, your squadmates can revive you once downed. From an Overwatch perspective, you need Mercy’s res cooldown to bring back fallen comrades.

Map | Fortnite

I’m actually not sure how big the Apex Legends world is, but it certainly feels smaller than the Fortnite map. It’s also possible that the flying and sliding just make the map seem smaller since you can travel faster.

You have the familiar map functionality like zooming in and setting waypoints. Additionally, the ‘map features’ legend is a nice way to explain key landmarks on the battlefield.

As usual, the named places on the map are where you’ll find the highest density of loot. I haven’t explored too much yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are hidden pockets of goodies scattered between these locations.

Comms | Both

In any competitive shooter, effective communication among the squad will increase your chances of getting a W. Voice chat isn’t a priority for everyone so it’s great that all three of these games have relevant emotes and callouts to make communication easier.

Of the three, I think Apex handles this the best. You can (and should) mark literally anything on the map. This is the most straightforward method I’ve seen for notifying your team where enemies and loot are. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are squads out there who are dominating without even saying a word to each other.

Simply hover over an item or area and tap the ‘ping’ button to mark that location on the map for the squad. Your legend will also callout what was marked so everyone receives an audio cue as well.

Initial Thoughts

Apex Legends has great potential to overtake the gaming world. Popular streamers like Ninja and Shroud have been playing all week and the number of eyeballs on this battle royale is crazy right now.

I really enjoy being able to use a legend to differentiate myself from the rest of the squad, even though I’ve only used Lifeline so far. With 8 playable characters at launch, there will definitely be additions to the roster as the developers learn what works and what doesn’t.

I’d also like to see them open up the number of game modes. When I first saw a “3-person squad”, I had my doubts about whether I’d enjoy this odd-numbered team. It’s been great so far, but I still want to see duos and a larger team option – maybe 6, given how well this works in Overwatch.

The gunplay feels really solid. Spread of the shots aren’t too crazy and the animations of shooting make me think the developers put a lot of time into the mechanics.

Graphics-wise, the look of the game is on par with Black Ops 4. Textures look fantastic and the level of detail on the characters is impressive. The game maintains its smooth look through frantic firefights and hasn’t dropped any frames for me.

Overall, the game takes some of the best aspects of Overwatch, Fortnite and other shooters and packages it into a fast-paced, high-flying battle unlike any game I’m used to.

https://youtu.be/6pjCcDalkcQ

At this point, it feels like it’s Respawn Entertainment’s race to lose. They’ve had a strong start, good traction and need to ensure that the replayability and excitement increases from here. With Anthem and The Division 2 on the horizon, Respawn will need to pull out all the stops to retain their player base.

I’m loving this game so far and am about to hop on in a few minutes to continue playing. Anyone who likes shooter games should try Apex out. Hell, even if you don’t like shooters you should still give this a try. It’s a fresh take on the battle royale genre with loads of upside!

Have you been playing anthem? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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