APEX LEGENDS

APEX LEGENDS released to the world on February 4, 2019. Released with little to no fanfare, it took the world by storm overnight. The game is a battle royale team-style game, like its predecessors FORTNITE and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S. Unlike the two previous games, this game heavily mixes up the typical battle royale formula, focusing on more team-based action.

APEX LEGENDS
Character list (so far). Courtesy of Respawn Entertainment.

Taking cues from its contemporaries and even some other games such as Blizzard’s OVERWATCH, APEX LEGENDS seems poised to be the next big thing. Within days of its release, it dominated the Twitch streaming charts. Something managed to push FORTNITE from its lofty perch. “FORTNITE is dying!” cried the gaming websites. However, after a few weeks and multiple thinkpieces on it, the dust has settled and FORTNITE (as of this writing) sits comfortably at the top of the charts once again. FORTNITE seems all but untouchable. I honestly think APEX LEGENDS not only has staying power but the ability to top FORTNITE in the long run.

What is APEX LEGENDS?

APEX LEGENDS is a battle royale video game that puts emphasis on survival and eliminating other players to achieve victory. It was practically released overnight, with almost no marketing, and that is almost unheard of in gaming. Respawn Entertainment are the creators of APEX LEGENDS and it is published under EA. Respawn is the studio responsible for the TITANFALL series, too.

The game takes place within the fictional TITANFALL universe and plays out almost like an in-universe television show. Television screens litter the battlefield, showcasing the leader and their kills. APEX LEGENDS shares a multitude of weapons with the TITANFALL games, and anyone comfortable with them will feel right at home. One of the more unfortunate parts about lacking the TITANFALL name is that the game lacks its movement system. Of course, it also lacks giant mechs, but hey.

TITANFALL’s movement system was one of the best things about it. Instead of staying on one plane, you were able to freely sprint, jump, climb and even wall run. TITANFALL enables vertical combat, and it is sorely needed in a game with building size mechs. As fun as this style of movement would be in APEX LEGENDS, I understand why they didn’t. Having a class take over a typical tank role wouldn’t exactly make sense wall-running. I mean look at the guy, he isn’t doing parkour anytime soon. Especially since they already have another character who has the special ability to grapple onto walls. Now I miss TITANFALL again.

APEX LEGENDS and the Rest

One of the biggest changes APEX LEGENDS makes is right out of the gate, there is no single-player online mode. PUBG and FORTNITE both have single-player and added duos/squads later. Respawn built APEX LEGENDS for team play from the ground up. Rather than selecting a generic character and customizing them, there is a selection of heroes, as in OVERWATCH. Each hero has unique abilities, such as healing beams and grappling hooks, among others. This makes the composition of your team very important and almost forces you to work together.

Bloodhound is best. Courtesy of Respawn Entertainment.

Another important feature is the ability to revive dead squadmates. If you manage to either wipe an enemy team or (like me) run away, you’re not forced to stay solo once your team dies. If you return to the scene of the battle, you can collect your teammates’ data and revive them at certain points on the map. I honestly love this feature as it rewards you more for surviving and good playing, rather than stranding you if your team gets wiped. After collecting their data and inputting it into a respawn point, your teammates will drop back in. Unfortunately, while you drop gear-less, it just takes some gumption to get back into the game.

Avoiding the Mistakes of the Past

APEX LEGENDS not only released overnight, but it avoided the dreaded “Alpha/Beta stage.” PUBG started in Beta and it hurt the game’s rep, being barely playable. I am and always will be a PUBG apologist, however, there is no denying it still struggles. FORTNITE on the other hand, while not my favorite, has settled into a comfortable rhythm.

APEX LEGENDS
The game is very nice to look at. Courtesy of Respawn Entertainment

I feel like the battle royale genre has been saddled with the “new thing” moniker. This tends to make people stay away from whatever is popular at the moment. As someone who has played video games for almost all of my life, there is always “the thing.” It used to be zombie games (oh hey, DAY Z), then it was survival horror. Now it’s battle royale. The class-based mechanics are one of my favorite features. It allows you to find a specialist that fits your playstyle. Whether you want to be a defensive tank, squishy healer among others, you can.

Going back to the revive system — this is one their best innovations. Being the surviving member of a wiped group was always frustrating. One player alone rarely stands a change in team games, while the rest of the squad sits and waits for their friend. Having the ability to bring your friends back into the match was something that should have been implemented a long time ago.

Looking Ahead

One of the most important parts of a game settling into its niche is how it affects the competition. APEX LEGENDS already started with a simple ping system, somehow neither FORTNITE or PUBG had. As of the last month, FORTNITE just added a similar system into its game. Time will tell whether or not a revive system can be added into the others.

An oft-neglected part of battle royale games, especially FORTNITE, is the casual crowd. It’s hard for someone like me with a full-time job to get into games and keep up with a certain skill ceiling. A meta develops and you’re left out in the cold. Companies responding slowly to burgeoning problems find themselves quickly siphoning players. However, APEX LEGENDS has already received some QOL enhancements. Players were using a certain gun far too much. The developers reduced the power of the gun to keep the game fresh.

APEX LEGENDS
I’m still waiting for TITANFALL 3. Courtesy of Respawn Entertainment.

Hopefully, Respawn can keep the game consistently updated and keep up with FORNITE.

Having been a fan of the TITANFALL series since its inception, I’ve been rooting for APEX LEGENDS. It sounds paradoxical, but I’m of the mind that if it succeeds it gives them more leeway to bring the series back. A guy can hope, right? Until then, I’m going to keep jumping out of ships and trying to get that win. Maybe I’ll be hopping into Titans sooner than I think.

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