Surprisingly, Respawn Entertainment has recently jumped into the battle royale bandwagon last week with the release of Apex Legends. Based on the Titanfall universe, this newest game in the fray is a squad-based 60-man first-person shooter. Apex Legends tries to tackle the scene differently with rather unique game mechanics that other games in the genre don’t have.
I’ve never been a fan of the ‘battle royale’ which places PlayersUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Fortnite at the bottom of my ‘must-play’ list. Fortnite is entertaining, but not enough to reel me in. It requires a tremendous amount of skill. If you quickly build defensive structures or an insanely high tower, you will definitely have the upper advantage. This can be discouraging for new players, but it packs a lot of commitment and practice to win an entire round in Fortnite if you go in solo. While PUBG goes for a more tactical approach, at its current state where bugs and glitches are still rampant, in short it’s an unpolished product, makes me stray away from playing the damn thing.
Blackout, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s own take, surely made the trick. It led me to a point that I might really like the genre as long as the mechanics are fair and the overall performance of the game is really stable (no constant glitches, etc.). It was the first stable battle royale game that offered balanced game mechanics where both casual and competitive players have fun. It is fast-paced, exciting, and packs a lot of thrill. However, Blackout doesn’t seem to have anything that would make me want more action. Apex Legends, however, did completely the exact opposite of the latter; it comes in similarly but with added mechanics that makes the whole experience wildly different.
To cut down the chase, Apex Legends does not have Titans. If it doesn’t have any titans, then how would the game be different from the other battle royale games out there? There are a lot of small (and big) things that make Apex Legends unique. First, the game is free-to-play and does not have any gameplay-affecting loot boxes and microtransactions. Respawn took what they’ve learned from their development on Titanfall 2 and implemented a rather “acceptable” type of microtransaction and loot box feature that only offered purely cosmetics.
Teamwork is encouraged as players can’t play the game solo yet. You have to squad up with friends or matchmake with random players in the lobby. However, the problem with matchmaking is the lack of communication which makes the entire experience ineffective and winning will be based on pure luck and skill of each individual player. It’s frustrating, yes, but Apex Legends fixes the problem of the whole “no communication” issue that most common players complained while playing games like this.
No headset or microphone? No problem! The ping system featured in the game is pretty useful when notifying your random comrades in the battlefield. It’s simply the best thing about Apex Legends. By simply double tapping R1, you can let your squad members know there’s an enemy at a certain area. Or if you want to let them know there are level 3 armors and weapons, you can look at the item and simply press R1. Or you can hold R1 and a selection of things to say are made available for use. It’s pretty handy and it addresses the concern of players who wanted to play tactically rather than guns-blazing.
Gunplay has never been so smooth and fun. Running and sliding just like what you can do in Titanfall 2 and Black Ops 4 makes the entire experience heart-pounding. You have to quickly react when you get fired at, and when you do, the fluidity of how your character responds when you quickly turn around and sprint away is just exhilarating. And the absence of jetpacks puts everything in balance when it comes to skill level. No veteran player can outmaneuver a newcomer just because of jetpacks and wall-running.
Another interesting mechanic that was added is the ability to revive your downed squad member. You’re able to do this when he’s completely killed in the game where you have to recover his Player Card before his timer ends. This approach gives players a fair chance of winning an entire match. While it seems kind of odd to be able to bring your killed comrade back to life, the possibility of getting a full squad back is just enjoyable and makes everything satisfying.
(My first win!)
Apex Legends has 8 different classes, called Legends, with 2 of them locked; each with unique abilities that can be proven effective when used properly. You start off with the basic character, the combat medic, during the tutorial. Lifeline is a combat medic that can call in a supply drop that randomly offers defensive items and armors as her Ultimate Ability. Players can take advantage of her Tactical Ability, the DOC Heal Drone, to replenish their dying squad mates. If your playstyle leans more on defending your fellow Legends, Gibraltar is handy when your team is outnumbered. He can use the Dome of Shield as a way to protect everyone from getting hit and safely retreat when needed.
My personal favorites are Bloodhound and Mirage. The former plays well for players who want to directly outflank and track enemies. His ability to passively see footprints can be really useful when scouting ahead for supply crates and houses to loot. With his ultimate ability, the Beast of the Hunt, Bloodhound moves faster with the capability to track enemy players profoundly. While the latter takes more on tricking other players with a decoy. Mirage can clone himself when he uses his Tactical Ability and Ultimate Ability which makes him one of the all-around classes in a match. Mirage isn’t an available Legend from the get-go, though. I had to grind to at least get Level 23 to unlock Mirage as you have to earn credits (12,000) to unlock him (and the other Legend, Caustic).
With 8 different Legends, and more to come in the future, Apex Legends offers tons of ways to play depending on your style and strengths, it’s totally cool.
The only gripe I have with classes in battle royale games is the studio’s ability to keep everything balanced. There will be times when a particular Legend becomes too overpowered which changes the meta. There will be counters on particular classes, a “winning mix” of Legends, and a specific Legend that can dominate all even if it goes solo.
But during my entire playthrough, each Legend is effective against each other. It all boils down on the player’s skills and how effective they use their Legends’ tactical strengths during a match. I’ve managed to abuse Bloodhound’s Tactical and Ultimate Ability to a point where I’ve can single-handedly eliminated an entire squad by outflanking them, it feels satisfying, in a way, but it does somehow feel overpowered.
Apex Legends provided more than what PUBG and Fortnite, even Blackout, had to offer. Despite having 60 players in the map, a forced squad-based battle royale with an impressive ping system, an awesome cast of Legends with peculiarly amusing dialogue, outstanding overall game performance and smooth gameplay, Apex Legends is the best battle royale game out there.
Disclosure: This review is based on a free-to-play version downloaded via PlayStation Network. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews. Current level at this writing: 24. Unlocked characters: Mirage.
Tested: PS4 Pro