Apex Legends

So I’ve decided to make a first impression rather than a full review of Apex Legends for several reasons which are: 1) The game only came out recently so I’d need a few weeks/months to play it before I could reach what I’d call a thorough conclusion. 2) I’ve been unable to write anything else. 3) I’ve been playing Apex Legends non stop since its release which might’ve been a contributing factor for second reason :thinking:.

In all honesty, I wasn’t going to play Apex Legends, let alone give my impressions of it, but after seeing a couple of reviewers giving it positive scores I thought I might as well try myself. God knows that I have been looking for a good shooter ever since Battlefield V decided it wanted to appeal to… I have no idea what crowd to be honest, and I’ve never been a huge fan of Call of Duty series. As for Playerunknown Battlegrounds, I have uninstalled it a year ago and have been quite happy with that decision.

Thus I did one of the most horrible things I could do to my computer and installed Origin… Eew. After downloading the game I booted it up and was hooked in from the start. For those still in the unclear, Apex Legends is a first person squad based battle royale game, courtesy of Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind the Titanfall series and luminaries of Infinity Ward, the developers of Call of Duty. Already there is quite a pedigree behind the title, ruined slightly by being published by Electronic Arts, the most evil major game publisher, except for all the rest.

Okay, another battle royale game, its not like we have a shortage of them these days, so what differentiate Apex Legends from the rest? Quite a lot to be frank. It feels to me like Respawn Entertainment played several battle royale games and went item by item on what frustrates players or slows down the gameplay and simply fixed them.

The first thing that defines Apex Legends is mobility. The game is built for free running, shoot on the move action. There is no fall damage, almost every surface can be climbed, there are zip lines strewn all over and certain characters can even make their own, you can even slide across the battlefield shooting from the hip before face planting into a boulder. Movement is key which makes gunfights all about maneuvering rather than sitting still behind cover, popping over to shoot a few rounds before ducking back in.

The second change are the heroes. The game currently has a roster of eight heroes, six unlocked from the start, which have unique abilities. Each hero has three abilities which I’ll demonstrate with my favorite one, the Wraith. You have a passive skill, which in the Wraith’s case allows her to know when she is being targeted by hostile players. There is the active ability, which allows her to become ethereal for a few seconds (basically a free get out of jail card) and an ultimate which creates a dimensional void that connects two points on the battlefield and is usable by her squad (or anyone who stumbles upon it to be frank).

This in effect means that every squad will synergize differently depending on the type of heroes chosen. To make sure there are no fights on who will be x character, the game makes a squad choose its heroes in a randomized order before each match, meaning no one can hog the same character if someone else wants to have a try.

Okay, so its Playerunknown Overwatch or Overwatch Battlegrounds? Yes and no. The heroes are just one part of the puzzle, you still have the loot. Looting itself is quite fast and convenient. You get fixed spots that can be increased via backpacks, you have your guns, your armor and your utility items. So far so good. That said, the game automates a lot, meaning you don’t have to spend time managing your inventory or dragging attachments to rifles. You want to change rifles but you have attachments? Simply swap the guns and the mods will be automatically transferred to your new weapon (if its possible, if not it just goes back to your inventory).

You have the usual range of weapons such as handguns, sub-machine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, snipers and so forth. All come in various shapes and sizes all slightly futuristic in one way or another. Thankfully ammo is color coded and the game will tell you if the ammo you pick is the right one.

Of course, what is loot without tiers? Here too, Apex Legends conforms to the mold while surpassing it. You have white, blue, purple and yellow loot. White is most common with basic stats, while yellow is legendary and is hard to find. But what happens if your nice purple body armor gets damaged in a fight? In other games, you’d need to replace it with another, in Apex Legends you simply use energy cells to repair it. This is a huge change in my view because it removes the problem of needing to loot new body armor after a firefight and being at a disadvantage compared to other squads.

Talking about squads, the game is set at three people per squad and 20 squads per match, meaning the servers cap at 60 players. You start the match on a dropship and each squad launches when it wants to. The major difference is that each squad gets a randomly assigned jumpmaster that decides when to launch and navigates the squad in the air. This means squads can’t disperse, that is unless players decide to willingly disengage and fly their own merry way, before landing near a full squad and getting butchered. Of course the role of jumpmaster can be relinquished and passed along like a hot potato in the squad.

The emphasis is on squad work. A lone player will rarely be able to fight off a full squad considering just how mobile it is. Firefights are not static in the least and players can find themselves easily flanked. To facilitate squad work, the developers created a wonderful ping system that helps player communicate even without talking. Spotted an enemy? Use the middle mouse button to report him. Found a good piece of body armor but already got one yourself? Use the middle mouse button to report and mark it for your squad. The game really helps people like me that are shy in online matches to still communicate efficiently without using the push to talk function. Oh I forgot, the game’s default is push to talk and has a dedicated key. Bethesda, take note!

Of course another innovation the game brings is respawning. I swear Respawn Entertainment just played a match of Playerunknown Battlegrounds and got frustrated when half its team got wiped out and had to sit out the rest of the match. Respawning goes like this, after a player is downed, if they bleed out or are killed, they leave a banner in their container. If a teammate picks it up within 90 seconds, they can then bring it to one of the respawn beacons strewn across the map. After a few seconds of inputting it in, a shuttle will come around and return the deceased player to the battlefield. A squad can respawn up to two members at the same time (I mean if all three died that is a wipeout). The only catch is that freshly spawned players have no equipment on them, which makes sense. There is no limit to the amount of times one can be respawn yet each respawn beacon is only usable once. This solves the problem of players dying then forced to sit out most of a match. It also gives them an incentive to remain at their desk and wait for a respawn.

Talking about core mechanics, gunplay is important in any first person shooter. Sadly, I am no expert in first person shooters so I can’t tell you objectively how good or bad it really is. What I can tell you is that I had fun with it. It feels closer in my opinion to Call of Duty’s style, with some recoil, bullet drop and satisfying sound.

The game does a good job of creating conflict zones. While all battle royale games rely on the shrinking map to force players into conflict, Apex Legends is a bit more active about it. The start of a match there is a random “Hot Zone” where you can find better quality loot but everyone will be gunning for it. The loot crates are replaced with supply ships which will drop randomly within a circle. They offer a lot of weapons, ammunition and some rarer items but can only be accessed via zip lines and are basically floating structures so firefights within them can be hectic and fun. Each match by the way starts with one of them already present and a few squads will always try to land on top of them.

Graphically the game looks good, it looks Titanfall and it feels in certain ways like Titanfall (though sadly no wall running or double jumping). There is currently only one map out but it has varied biomes, different structures and many barriers creating effectively “rooms” that are interconnected with many paths. There is never a feeling of being bottlenecked but at the same time there is a certain feeling of safety from your “neighbors”, at least if you landed far enough. Verticality also plays a part, with plenty of valleys and cliffs. Rivers are also present and wading through them is a great way to advertise your presence.

So it looks good, has solid mechanics and interesting innovations, but how does it hold up on the technical side? Very good. It is a horrible indictment of the current state of gaming when I remark to a friend how stable and polished the launch feels. I didn’t experience any lag or rubberbanding throughout my countless hours of gameplay and the few stuttering I did get were sadly client side rather than server side due to my internet provider being an utter s#*t. There were no hard crashes, no missing textures or animation fails. It was polished to a frightening degree. This launch was basically the opposite of Fallout 76’s.

We get it, its great, but does it have flaws? Sadly yes. I mean, for starters its published by Electronic Arts and is on Origin, so that is a gigantic flaw right there. Secondly, the game has loot boxes. True, they are for cosmetics only but still, its loot boxes and I hate them for what they represent. Thirdly there is quite a bit of grind needed to unlock the two remaining heroes, but you can chuck it up as giving players goals for game progression.

Summing up, Apex Legends is a first person shooter battle royale with locked three person squads, an emphasis on mobility, hero characters and a few other innovations that make it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Oh and its free but has loot boxes and forces you to install Origin.

If you like the battle royale genre, you’d like this game. However if you were never a fan in the first place this game isn’t going to convert you. Suffice to say I’d save my recommendation for battle royale fans only. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to play more Apex Legends.

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