Normally, I’m a gamer that loathes the battle royale genre of games. Apex Legends has bucked this trend. Since it’s virtually silent release in February of this year, it has enjoyed a rampant growth in popularity that would be the envy of any in the industry. So, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s free after all.
First off, allow me to set the scene: my problem with the format.
Having played PUBG and the early predecessors to the ‘run around like a headless chicken scavenger’ game such as DayZ and H1Z1, I found them to be an exercise in tedium. The balance between many minutes of zero activity followed by seconds of frantic action (mostly ending in my death) just wasn’t satisfying enough. I don’t think I have the cardio strength to bounce between such dichotomous feelings of boredom and frenzy. I like my adrenaline to be doled out in more measured servings thank you very much.
Enter Apex Legends. Set in the Titanfall world, there’s currently one map where teams of three go head-to-head in a Hunger Games-esque battle for supremacy. Gosh was I blown away…literally, I didn’t survive my first round very long. However, it didn’t take me long to jump back in and play again and again and again.
What Apex got right: taking the best elements of other games and putting it together.
The pacing is more enjoyable, with each round seeming to take less time. The enjoyability equation of excitement per minute is well balanced. The Source engine works well in featuring a fast-paced combat style that in my opinion fits the frantic gunplay better than the realism focused aesthetic of earlier games in this genre. The ability to revive team-mates and even respawn them by collecting their banner means the fight isn’t over until the whole team is down. Again, serving to spread out the excitement beyond a brief firefight.
Respawn has continued their pattern from Titanfall games to include a brief tutorial and firing range at the start of the game. This helps in learning the initial movement styles, utility keys, and providing an easy way to test each weapon. Legend abilities still have to be learnt in the field but a brief blurb for each character provides some basic guidance. Speaking of which, each legend is unique enough to provide some variance in gameplay without being as restrictive as Overwatch.
Clear communication tools are provided including built-in voice comms to assist in coordinating the path to victory. More importantly, a simple to use ping system allows for those without mics to still communicate easily enough. Note that pinging Mozambique is not considered communicating!
As always, there is room for improvement and so far, the most disheartening experience has been the presence of clear cheaters in-game. We can continue to spectate the player who defeated us, so it’s painfully obvious Mister/Miss eerily-perfect-tracking-of-headshots. I see you.
Still, on the whole, it’s an enjoyable game and I wish more developers could get it as right more often. Take what works from other games and build upon it.