Opening Apex Legends for the first time was an experience I’ve rarely had in recent times. I went into the game knowing almost nothing about it. All I knew was that it's a free-to-play battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe.
This was largely due to the way Respawn handled the game’s release. While some had been lucky enough to see previews, for the vast majority of us the first thing we knew of Apex Legends was a rumor on the weekend, thanks to someone breaking the embargo, followed by a swift launch on Monday.
Apex Legends starts off with a nice introduction that offers an overview of the battle royale concept and the eight different legends you can choose to play as. Each one has a unique set of abilities, adding a different feel to the game.
You are placed into teams of three to face off against nineteen other trios in the quest for victory. Like many games of this type, you can play with friends or simply let the game find you a random squad to join.
To get a feel for how this played out I jumped straight into the tutorial, which is very basic. It explores simple movement and collecting, swapping and using weapons as well as the different healing and respawn features offered. This was the first big difference that caught my eye.
In Apex Legends, as well as your usual ability to resuscitate a fallen ally, you can also quickly collect a player's banner and then use a beacon to allow them to parachute back into the game, albeit without any weapons. This gives you an extra chance to revive your teammates if you weren’t quite quick enough to resuscitate them.
Another nice feature covered in the tutorial is marking, with the marks being referred to as pings. Not only can you mark targets or areas to defend but you can also mark ammo or weapon stashes, allowing your teammates to easily locate equipment. There is a range of different pings and what they are marking will be displayed when you hover over them.
My biggest gripe with the tutorial was that it does not explain nor allow you to explore the different abilities of each legend.
My biggest gripe with the tutorial was that it does not explain nor allow you to explore the different abilities of each legend. You are forced to play the medic role, and while a couple of other abilities are mentioned, you basically have to figure out what each character can do while in the actual game.
I understand that maybe it would take something away from the experience if you could practice abilities but I feel like there should be an in-between. All you are given right now is a few words to describe an ability and nothing else. Figuring out what it does and how to use it in game, often while taking fire, is less than ideal.
Getting Into The Game
The first thing I want to note about the game is how easy it was to get into matches and how smoothly they ran. I’ve played in short bursts at different times of day and so far everything has run as it should.
I’ve seen a few odd glitches but considering the scale of the launch and the fact we are dealing with 60 players in a match, this is a very solid title. It runs well and the small errors I experienced were minimal and did not hinder gameplay.
Style And Environment
You can tell that Apex Legends is set in the same world as Titanfall. The art style perfectly meshes with the world we know already, as do the characters, despite their lack of Titan technology.
I was somewhat skeptical at first about how this non-mechanical world would fit but it feels like it does. While we are lacking the Titans themselves, the heart of Titanfall still beats in this title. The HUD, in particular, feels familiar and comforting, while the fast-paced action is in line with what I’ve come to expect from a Titanfall game.
As a battle royale setting, Outlands has everything you need and more. The terrain is varied and interesting, with a wide range of buildings and structures to shelter in and search. There are also weapons caches in the most unlikely of places, making exploration feel worthwhile.
What’s going to make this title stand out in the battle royale playing field is the unique way the characters and their abilities play out on the battlefield. Offering a choice of eight different legends, all of whom cater to different play styles, adds a new dimension to the genre.
Rather than just a straight grab-a-gun battle royale, there is a lot more skill, teamwork and quick thinking needed in Apex Legends. It definitely feels more like a hero based shooter than any other battle royale title I’ve played.
Some of the abilities of the characters are also literal game changers. For example, I’ve seen Wraith’s dimensional rift ability used to teleport a team out of danger when the arena walls shrank. A nice move that made a big difference when those walls closed in.
So far I’ve mostly played as Wraith and Lifeline with a few rounds as Pathfinder and I’m overwhelmed by options. Each character plays very differently and their abilities have so many uses.
In each team of three, legends cannot be duplicated. You will be randomly assigned first, second or third choice of character. This means that teams are more balanced, while still giving numerous options. The legends you fight alongside can make a big difference to team tactics.
I feel it's worth noting that two of the legends, Caustic and Mirage, aren’t playable as soon as you start but they are unlockable without having to use cash. It will cost 12,000 legend tokens to unlock each. While that sounds like a huge number, I found that even with a terrible win/loss ratio, the tokens rack up quicker than I expected.
There’s also a loot box system but it appears much fairer than most. Items are cosmetic only, and there’s a guarantee of at least one legendary drop per thirty boxes. You can also gain the same boxes and items just by playing the game.
So, What’s Next?
So far I’ve only played for a few hours but despite usually being more of a first-person shooter fan than a battle royale buff, this game has me hooked.
The graphics are good, the characters interesting and the gameplay feels much more varied than I’d expect from the genre. Adding the hero based elements is the real game changer here and one which helps this title stand out from its competition.
While the added complexity may not be for everyone, I feel that Apex Legends is a wild card in the battle royale line-up. Time will tell if the current player base sticks around but regardless I think Apex Legends is going to have a huge impact in the battle royale genre.
Apex Legends is out now on PC, PS4, and XBox One.