Respawn Entertainment may have broken a few hearts when they decided not to give us a proper sequel to Titanfall 2. But what they did give us is a dark horse candidate for the battle royale throne in 2019. It really does look like EA managed to publish a true winner here, as strange as it feels to say that.
Seamlessly blending elements from hero shooters like Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch with the meat and potatoes of the recent battle royale craze, Apex Legends really puts a twist on the genre in all the right ways. Oh, and it's absolutely, totally free to play. You're probably waiting to hear what the catch is. That's just the thing, though. As much as I'd like to find some subversive, pay-to-win plot just waiting for an opportunity to sink its teeth into me, I can't seem to find one. This looks like the real deal.
So it's fresh, it's fun, and it's free. You should probably already be on your way to try it out, like right now. But hey, wait up. Before you're off to assemble the squad, let's give you a leg up on the competition. Here are twenty-five tips, tricks, and other things we wish we'd known before we dove into Apex Legends.
Call me a nerd, but one of the selling points for me was taking a plunge off of a skyscraper and hitting the ground like a feather. I mean, a significantly heavier, faster falling feather, but you get the idea.
Falls from any height are completely safe.
The ease with which this helps you get around lends to the fast, frenetic pacing of firefights as squads pop from position to position, easily giving up the high ground for more cover, or to flank dug in opponents.
As of right now, the game's matchmaking only allows for teams of three, whether partied or slapped together randomly. So come prepared to work with a team if you're wanting to bring home a victory.
It is worth noting that some savvy gamers have managed to dig up existing code for doubles and solo play already within the game files, however. So if you're not that much of a team player, hold onto your horses and keep an eye out for upcoming updates. You'll get your chance soon.
This is perhaps the most notable (and most awesome) diversion that Apex makes from the tried and true battle royale formula. There are currently eight different Legends, or heroes, available for play, with more undoubtedly planned for the future.
Each class carries a specific set of passive, active, and and ultimate skills, giving them unique roles in and out of combat. Bloodhound, for example, can track other squads if they've been nearby. Pathfinder can set up ziplines to assist with squad mobility, while Lifeline lays down the healing. Learning how to use your Legend's abilities will make or break your squad's effectiveness.
Apex's contextual "pinging" system is extremely intuitive, allowing you to call out supply locations, enemy positions, and more, utilizing a unique callout for each different "ping."
You can even call out specific mods or ammo types that you're in need of.
As you can imagine, this is insanely convenient. Utilizing this system, a player without a microphone can communicate almost as directly and effectively as a player that does have one. The most important ping to be familiar with is highlighting enemy positions -make sure you're highlighting the "enemy" ping to differentiate it from generic, directional pings. Your squadmates will thank you.
One player in your squad will be assigned as the "jumpmaster," choosing when you jump from the dropship and into the fray. However, all team members have the ability to ping suggested locations, and the jumpmaster has the option to pass the job to someone else.
Once you've jumped, your entire team travels together by default. But if you want a little more space, team members can opt to "split" from the combined drop and manage their landing individually. Dropping straight down will also increase your momentum, allowing you to land faster if you "stair step" to your target, alternating between straight drops and leveling out towards your destination.
You're probably going to get sick of me using the word "intuitive" in reference to Apex, and trust me, if I could find a better word to describe the movement controls and mechanics, I'd use it. But for now, you're going to have to put up with me saying that the movement controls and mechanics in Apex are intuitive.
There are a few things that you'll want to keep in mind here. Firstly, you run faster if you put away your weapon, and you can perform a sliding maneuver if you hit crouch while running at a sprint. You'll slide faster down steep inclines. And just as a note, you can climb up and over taller walls and ledges than you'd initially think, so experiment a little.
Another exciting take that Apex is taking on the battle royale genre is the ability to respawn your fallen comrades, but it's a bit of a process. First you'll need to claim their "banner" from wherever they fell. After that, locate a respawn beacon. There are plenty dotted around the map, just look for the green icon.
After you make the hike to the beacon, all that's left is to interact with it and wait for the dropship to ferry your battle buddy back into the fight, but mind that he'll have no gear and will need to loot up. This makes your squad a tempting target for nearby enemies, who will probably have noticed the beacon being used.
You may have dropped in and noticed a slow-moving, airborne platform roving from one end of the map to the other. You've probably also noticed a swarm of dropping teams making a beeline towards it. There's a very good reason for that.
That's the supply ship, and it's absolutely full of weapons, supplies and goodies for squads that can manage to land on it. It'll eventually stop and become a little more accessible from the ground, but by then it'll have been picked clean. Just be prepared for a short and chaotic bout of intense, early fighting if you decide to set your sights on it, because you won't be the only team gunning for the early loot advantage it offers.
You'll probably see quite a few balloon-like constructs floating on high, tethered to the ground by ziplines as you make your way across the map, and they're gonna become your best friends as the ring restricts the playing field.
Riding the zipline up to the top will put you back into the game's "drop" mode, letting you cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Just make sure to coordinate with your squad if you're going to drop, as splitting up over long distances makes your entire team vulnerable.
A lot of the fundamentals here are going to be familiar to battle royale veterans, but Apex definitely brought along its own set of unique quirks when it comes to gearing up. Each of point of interest in Kings Canyon has a loot tier assigned to it, with higher tiers providing better loot, the latter being more hotly contested drop sites.
The offerings range from health kits to weapon mods, and everything in between. Body armor and helmets increase your survivability, and backpacks let you carry more. There are four quality tiers for nearly every item in the game, so always keep your eyes peeled for upgrades.
There are six different regular firearm types, and approximately two to four variations of each type. Each one is unique and comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so you'll want to find a balance between playing to your strengths and working with what you've got.
Balance is key, and outside of the early game, you want to devote at least some thought to what you're carrying. You're limited to two guns at any given time, so ensuring you've got both short and long range options is a start. You also want to mind what ammo type your weapon uses, and take care to ensure there's enough for your whole team. For example, if all three of you are rocking shotguns, then you're going to come up short on shells pretty fast.
Sometimes, the little things can go a really, really long way, and this is one of those situations. The sniper rifle scopes in Apex are exquisitely detailed, and really should be paid attention to.
Firstly, there's a range finder built into the better scopes. Which is neat by itself, but what's cool is that the mil dots on the scopes are labeled in such a way that you can match the dots with the range listed on your target, giving you a no-fuss method to almost perfectly account for bullet drop.
One thing that I'm a huge fan of is how surprisingly quick and easy the looting and scavenging aspects play. Mods can attach directly to applicable weapons when you grab them, and automatically replace inferior mods if you find something better, so upgrading is a breeze.
What's even cooler is that if you decide to swap one weapon for another, if the weapon mods you have attached are compatible with the new weapon, they automatically transfer over. Less time spent picking through inventory screens is more time spent winning the game!
Legendary pieces of kit are the highest tiered items in the game. There are currently only two different legendary weapons that players can get their hands on after dropping into the map. There's the fearsome Mastiff shotgun, and the Kraber, a notorious one-shot show stopper that's sure to delight snipers.
You can also snag legendary body armor that will recharge your shields every time you use a finishing move, or a Knockdown Shield that will actually allow you a one-time self revive. There are even legendary weapon attachments. Seriously, the benefits are massive. You just need to be the lucky enough to find them first.
Though the health, armor and damage systems can result in some prolonged firefights, they definitely aren't slow paced. Everything from the easy, streamlined looting system to the basic movement mechanics reinforces the idea that you want to keep moving, and you want to do it fast.
Playing the squad that camps is a good way to make sure you're playing the squad that gets flanked, and taking too long to pick through loot will provide your rivals with an excellent opportunity to sneak up on you and take you out.
Yeah, yeah, I know. "Keep chasing unicorns, pal," you're already muttering under your breath. But I swear, it's totally true! Apex really is serious about going cross-platform sometime in the future, the only question is when.
That's what the developer has gone on record with anyway, giving this tidbit some clear elevation from rumor status. Direct confirmation is a pretty bold move when it comes to such a hot topic, so there's going to be some serious explaining to do if this feature falls through.
We've already mentioned loot in relation to the different points of interest elsewhere on the list, but one standout feature when it comes to that is the "hot zone." When the match starts, one point of interest is randomly selected and highlighted as such with a big, blue beacon of light.
The hot zone features upgraded loot, and even fully kitted-out weapons, a major advantage early in the game. But as you might expect, the hot zone tends to be pretty "hot," with players seeking an early lead dropping in by the boatload.
This is where I expected to really find something to whine about. I mean, it's a free to play title, and it's published by EA. I'd say that being suspicious of the cash shop is a pretty safe bet.
But really, I can't find much to complain about here.
Skins, cosmetics, and neat doodads for your profile. That's pretty much it. You can also unlock additional characters using the paid currency. But they're also purchasable with the free in-game currency, and it piles up so fast that I'm not sure why you'd bother spending your money.
At the time of this writing, Apex has only been out for a matter of weeks. But apparently that's time enough to garner the clout necessary for launching major eSports events.
Granted this particular example wasn't a proper tournament, as the participants couldn't exactly organize a real square off via custom matchmaking. But with rockstar Twitch personalities like Ninja and Dr. Disrespect getting a piece of the action, it's pretty safe to say that things are already getting pretty serious here.
Remember, that loner that you think you've caught looting up Skulltown probably isn't alone. It may seem like an obvious consideration, but you'd be surprised how often I've watched teammates close in on a seemingly solo player just to get jumped. The rest of their team is rarely too far away.
You can turn this to your advantage, too. Next time you manage to gun down a straggler, hang back and wait before you go in to loot him. The enemy team has a short window of time during which they can recover the banner of their fallen buddy for a respawn, so turn the tables and set up shop to ambush them when they come back for him.
In addition to being able to crawl towards your teammates if you're knocked down but not finished, there's a support item called a Knockdown Shield that you can use to soak up bullets with a directional shield. It only has so much durability, but the higher tier shields are pretty tough to crack.
This is great for when foes have picked you off at range, allowing you to provide yourself some mobile cover while you're crawling towards a good spot for a teammate to pick you up. Be aware that it's easily flanked, and doesn't seem to work against melee attacks.
And it's not because you're famous. Well, probably not. But if you were top rated in your previous game, you may be assigned as the "Champion" for your next one, netting whoever takes you down a hefty 500 XP bonus.
The champion's squad is displayed at the beginning of the match, so there's no hiding from this one.
Another fun, though admittedly more minor way Apex provides incentive for going after victorious players is by awarding a 50 XP bonus every time the player with the most eliminations is taken out over the course of the current match. All the more reason to watch your back if you're a star player!
They've really hit the ground running in terms of content for Apex, having already released a teaser roadmap of coming attractions due during its first year live.
So it's looking like the post-launch support for this title is going to come up aces if things stay the course, with new weapons, Legends, and even more scheduled to deploy over the course of four seasons. They obviously have designs on holidays and events too, with some Valentine's Day themed content having hit the game in a recent update.
The premise surrounding grenades is the same as you'll find elsewhere, mostly. You pick a grenade, you throw the grenade (preferably in an opponent's direction) and it explodes, or does whatever else it's going to do. But there's a finer point or two to be mentioned.
The three different grenade types are thermite, arc stars, and frags. Thermite burns an area for a short while, and arc stars stick to surfaces as well as players. You can't "cook off" your fragmentation grenades, there's a full fuse delay before those blow up, no matter what. Lastly, there's a throwing arc displayed on your HUD when you're preparing to throw, allowing you to really pull off some pinpoint, tactical tosses.
Despite being set in the Titanfall universe, you won't find any Titans here - I know, how terribly sad. You won't find any usable vehicles at all, actually. Just static cars and trucks that can, at least, function as cover.
But given how difficult it would be to fit Titans into a battle royale format in terms of balance, I have to say that I can get behind that decision. And I don't think the lack of vehicular transportation is really going to be much of a deal breaker for anyone, the movement is plenty fast and there are still several different ways of getting around.