Entering the popular Battle Royale video-gaming arena, Respawn Entertainment is going in all guns blazing with Apex Legends, releasing it not only as a free-to-play title but one that seems to have taken all the elements that have made the genre so popular and perfected them.
Like the popular Battle Royale titles such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite, Apex Legends is a game where a group of players is dropped (literally from the skies) into an area and must eliminate each other until there is only winner left.
In the case of those other games, this usually means one individual survivor, while Apex Legends instead has three players form a team, and a total of 20 teams battling each other. These three players can be online (and thus real world) friends or other random players.
Respawn Entertainment’s most popular game so far has been the Titanfall series, of which there are so far two titles (released in 2014 and 2016 respectively).
Apex Legends is set in the Titanfall universe, but it does not feature any of that series’ massive, wall-climbing mecha robots (“titans”) nor its single-player option. What it shares though is the same type of fast-paced, ultra-kinetic sense of momentum and movement. This is a game where reflexes play a large part in surviving and winning.
Where Apex Legends stand out is in its level of accessibility. Players who aren’t familiar with the Battle Royale genre will have little trouble understanding the mechanics.
One of the game’s most unique and effective features is its ping system, which lets you leave a tag on locations, enemies, weapons and other things to let your teammates know they exist and where they are.
First and foremost, considering the probability of the game teaming players up with complete strangers, this is a great way to communicate with teammates without having to actually talk with them.
Secondly, the system is so easy to learn and execute that it often is the better, more effective option to talk during battles, ensuring that everyone on the team is on the same page, running the same tactical method in order to win.
The game also improves on the “dropped randomly” nature of the Battle Royale games by assigning one team member the role of a “jumpstarter”, essentially being the one who decides where all team-members land once everyone hits the ground.
As Battle Royale games have players dropped without a single weapon, making sure you land on a winning location, preferably close to where weapons are, is crucial to achieving victory.
The initial launch offers up six immediately playable characters and two who need to be unlocked to use (through purchasing a founder’s pack or through the game’s currency, which grows as players continue playing and leveling up).
Each of the characters is a part of a unique class. These classes include Lifeline (focused on healing and supplies), Pathfinder (great at assisting travels), as well as more attacking classes such as Bangalore and Mirage.
Each character comes with their own unique abilities, and cannot be used by more than one player in a team – meaning that choosing which one you’ll use within the context of a team becomes a strategy of its own. This tactical decision-making is another element of Apex Legends that make it unique.
The game’s graphics are zippy with a kinetic sense of fluidity that makes it intensely exciting to play.
The character designs are strong and colorful with a strong comic-animation feel, while weapons and objects are semi-realistic looking.
The environment surrounding the whole game is good with a lot of hiding spaces such as houses, warehouses and military bases, though it is not especially breathtaking – but as updates (and more levels arrive), I would suspect more-detailed visuals to come in.
The game also offers strong sound design, with fitting bursts of scores interspersed with details such as enemies’ footsteps that work best with a headset but still add to the thrill through normal speakers.
The weapon handling is also strong and easy to get a grasp of. It is not difficult to quickly have a favorite setup to start each round with.
With Apex Legends, the team at Respawn has made a strong contender to the Battle Royale genre.
One that not only feels immediately addictive, but offers a lot of room to grow even more in terms of modification and details. It is amazing that a game this good is being offered for free, so there really is no excuse not to take part if you can.
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