The battle royale genre has been increasing its popularity for the past five years or so. Games like Fortnite, PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) is mostly the reason behind it. A lot of battle royale games are being released every year but if there is one game which had a bigger impact, it would be Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends. When it was surprisingly released on February 2019, everyone’s thought was either the game will be mediocre or it will be ended up as a flop, but it was the complete opposite. Apex Legends is now one of the most popular games right now and during the past two years, the game has evolved in many ways, added a lot content and fresh ideas to make it unique from the rest in a genre which is repetitive and old.
Apex Legends, or in this game, “Apex Games” is a competition where contenders from across the Frontier team up to battle for glory, fame, and fortune. Many players will recognize a lot of things because the game is set in the same universe as Respawn’s other game, Titanfall. Apex Games take place after 30 years after the events of Titanfall 2. The game further expands the universe through story progression which is seen in every season.
There are some characters from Titanfall 2 who makes appearance in Apex Legends. Some noticeable ones are Ash, the simulacrum pilot and Blisk, the leader of the Apex Predators also is the commissioner of the games.
You are able to play as 16 characters called Legends that have their own backstory and reason to enter the Apex games. For example, Wraith, an amnesiac woman who entered the games to find out her true identity or Bangalore, who wants to get funds to get to meet her family or Loba. Her intention was to get revenge on another competitor, Revenant for killing her parents. For me this storyline is among the best as in the beginning they were enemies, then become frenemies and again became enemies.
As the story progresses, between the legends, new friendships are born, new rivalries and enemies are made. This can further be seen when in the character quips when the legends interact with each other in the game. You won’t not see much of the story in the matches but it’s told through comics and cinematic shorts as not only it shows the things that I have said before but also shows a glimpse of how the Legends interact with each other outside of the games.
Since this a battle royale game, the gameplay is pretty well known: you drop to a large map, pick up the random loot and become the last team fighting inside a closing ring. The thing that makes this game unique from the rest of this genre is the legends. Firstly, each of them has their own unique set of abilities and strengths that can be used in the matches but they classified into four categories: assault, defense, support and recon. You are able to pick a legend that can fit your playstyle. Secondly, this also happens to be the reason why the game having a three-man squad instead of the traditional four.
If you are bored of normal game mode there is also “Ranked” mode. This mode is something which is new to this genre but Respawn have somehow made it work really well. The skill-based matchmaking allows you to face against players close to your own skills, and makes it balanced but the same cannot be said for the normal mode. I am a Level 500 plus player and I do sometimes get teamed up with the level 50 or below players. Ranked mode switches between two maps for each half of the season. If your tier is higher than diamonds you will get exclusive rewards that particular ranked season like dive trails.
Due to the legends having different abilities, there are a limitless amount of possibilities that you are able to choose when making a team, as different Legends are able to work with each other to get most out of their abilities they have rather than doing it alone. For example, a team of Horizon, Gibraltar and Caustic. Gibraltar have one of the strongest ultimate in the game as mortars will rain down from the sky. It’s easy to avoid but throw in there a Horizon’s ultimate which is a mini black hole, it will suck the enemies towards it. Then throw in Caustic’s tactical or ultimate which will do gas damage. The ultimate deathtrap.
Another example would be Bangalore and Bloodhound. Both of their abilities are made for each other because Bangalore’s tactical (smoke grenade) works really well with Bloodhound’s tactical. If you strategically throw a smoke and use the Bloodhound’s scan, it will reveal the enemies to your entire team. This will give you cover when push the team and this can be used either offensively or defensively.
Even if some Legends might be stronger than others legends in certain situations, the winner of the fight won’t be the one who have the better abilities but the skill of the one who playing the legend and that is you. As the game mostly relies on your personal skill more than the abilities of the Legend whom you play as. Even the weakest Legends can win a fight. Since the introduction of Crypto, I have always seen him as a weak Legend but lately I have been playing him. Who would have thought that a dude with a drone which is able to scan enemies and shoot a short EMP can be played so aggressively and can change a losing fight into a win?
One of the things that made Apex Legends special is the revolutionary ping system that was included when the game was released. It allows you to quickly communicate with your teammates without using voice chat. It points out various things like items, weapons, direction, enemies and various other things. Also, the legend you choose to play will say all the dialogue.
For Titanfall players, playing this game would be nostalgia trip. Apex have slightly nerfed version of the guns which is seen in Titanfall. Every other season a new gun is added to the roster which allows you to make new weapons combos.
Every season there is a battle pass. At first it was not good but season by season they have improved. Right now, the way to increase the battle pass level is to do daily and weekly tasks which will give you stars. 10 stars is 1 level. You are able to get that season’s trackers for all the legends, 7 apex packs and a rare skin for free but if you buy the season pass you get a lot of stuff. From loading screens to gun charms to legendary skins. You get legendary skins for 2 legends and 2 weapons but for one of the weapons you get 2 skins which are reactive. If you get a knockdown the skin will show a unique animation.
In every season and event, Respawn changes things up with new weapon and legend updates. Some get a nerf while others get a buff. Due to this there is always slight increase or decrease in legend and weapon usage. Like the recent update gave a nerf to Caustic’s tactical and that made some players not play him.
In every season there will be an event and in that they will release skins and a heirloom for a legend. There are 2 ways to get it: either by unlocking all the event skins or buying it from heirloom shop. You will need heirloom shards to buy it though. I have been playing this game from the first month and I still didn’t get any heirlooms. It’s that rare. During that period, they will also introduce a “limited time mode” which makes the game interesting. One of my all-time favorite is “Winter Express” game mode which has the basics of “capture the flag” instead of a flag you have to capture a train at different locations. Respawn use this as an opportunity to test new ideas and some of them manage to get in the game. The “heat shield” from the recent Chaos Theory event is an example of it.
Right now, there are three maps that are rotated in each season and each map encourages you to have a different playstyle. Kings Canyon, the smallest of the three which has seen a lot of damages. Getting a third party while you fight another team is a normal thing in this map due to the size. It’s easy to hear gunfights and rotate to that location as they are really close to each other. There were moments that I face multiple players from different parties. That’s King Canyon at its peak.
World’s Edge, biggest of the three. It gives you more freedom to rotate in any way you want due to having more options. It’s not common to get attacked by third party as in King Canyon of the size and the locations. This map is perfect for people who likes to play as a sniper. Pick Rampart and place her tactical amped wall, you get to snipe anywhere. The walls also increase the damage so even the normal sniper will be as deadly as Kraber which is the strongest sniper in the game which is not in the lootpool.
Olympus, the last of the three and the most beautiful looking map. The only map which you are able to transverse using vehicle called Trident. This map has the easiest rotation of the three as there are multiple ways to get to a location. If you want a high damage or kill game, this is the map for you as because this is the only map which have a vehicle called Trident. Using it you are able to third party any fight at any locations. Also, Olympus is high up in the sky so if you fall of the map which you will sometimes it’s an insta kill.
In each season on an hourly basis, two of the maps are rotated which makes the players not bored of playing in one map all the time.
The game is not perfect as there are multiple problems with it. The biggest one would be the servers. Pings fluctuate a lot of times and due to this many players like me have faced it. There were times where I directly hit the enemy and hear the impact of the bullet hitting the armor. The blood will be clearly seen on the screen but then I got know that the enemy didn’t take damage from it. There are matches where I was unable to even heal or even switch weapons and sometimes the lag gets so bad that I’m unable to play the game even. In a very high action competitive game like this, having this problem is unforgiving especially in ranked mode. Another problem will be the audio. There were some cases where I wasn’t able to hear the enemy footsteps which then result in my team getting completely annihilated and then we will be processing on what just happened.
This is not a polished game as whenever there is a season or event update it also comes with a couple of bugs. Sometimes you are able to still shoot players after you get knocked down or the gun gets completely invisible or you are able to put Rampart’s ultimate “Sheila” which is basically a minigun on top of Crypto’s drone and wreak havoc on your enemies from the sky. Whenever there is a glitch, the players and even I do abuse it but later Respawn will always fix the bug in the next update. There were rare cases where they let some of the bug stay like when the Trident run over Octane’s jumpad, the vehicle launches into the air. It basically gives a way to rotate to another location.
The developers of this game really engage with the Apex community. Not only they answer a lot of questions but also even listen to feedbacks. The damage counter which is seen on the top right of the screen is also case of it. They engage mostly on twitter although sometimes there are Q/A on reddit. Because of it tones of stuff is revealed. Most of the time they will tell which legends or gun will be changed for the next update but would not reveal the details. The lead art director will sometimes show drafts of finishers and stuff. Not only the developers the actors who portray them engage with the community. Some of them even play the game on twitch and sometimes the actors play the game together.
As for the future I have good news for Titanfall players. In a podcast just a few days back the lead game designer said this and I quote “next season, season 9, you are actually gonna actually see a ton of titanfall back into the game in one way or another” end quote. In the same podcast they also revealed private matchmaking will be available for all of the players in the future. This will allow people to play with a group of friends or even held competitions.
I’m not really a fan of multiplayer games but Apex Legends has made me love it so much. During my 1500+ hour of playtime, Apex have never stopped being fun whether I play alone or with a friend competitively or casually. There were times that I stopped playing the game for a while but a new season or limited time modes is what drags me back to play the game again. Not to mention the story. I would play the game just to know what is going to happen in the story even if the lore gets updated like every two months or so. The Legends that you get to play along with the combination of the abilities and the arsenal of weapons to experiment with makes a fun experience to get that “Champion” screen. If you are just someone who wants to try out the battle royale genre, I highly recommend this game.