Apex Legends Overview
Picking the right battle Royale to drop into 2021 is a tough call. But let me make a case for my favorite – Apex Legend. Since its surprise launch in 2019, Apex has grown and evolved in exciting ways, adding even more fresh new ideas to a genre that too frequently feels derivative. Unparalleled mobility, versatility, and class-based teamwork combined for a thrilling and rewarding feeling you can’t get in any other battle Royale. Seriously, these fast-paced matches never fail to get the player’s heart racing as he jumps, slides, and dodge bullets while hips firing a sniper rifle.
While the Battle Royale structure here is familiar, it’s the 16 playable characters called “Legends” that keep Apex from feeling run-of-the-mill. Each Legend has its own abilities, strengths, and playstyle, as well as a compelling backstory built off the sci-fi universe that the developer Respawn created for its excellent Titanfall series.
Different team combinations can let players get more out of their individual abilities. Like pairing the smoke tossing Bangalore with Bloodhound’s ability to see through smoke and tag enemies. And even though some Legends do feel stronger than others in certain situations, Apex makes sure personal skill is more important than the specific moves of any given Legend.
There’s a wide arsenal of extremely satisfying futuristic weapons to pick across Apex’s three maps, all of which test your aim more than your luck. From hard-hitting shotguns to shredding SMGs, every weapon feels viable even if you don’t lock into the best attachments to go with them. Attachments are more about customizing guns to players’ personal preferences rather than providing a pure power boost. And there’s less of an emphasis on the strength of loot rarity than there is in something like Fortnite or Hyperscape, so you’ve always got a decent chance to win a fight basing on skill alone. On top of that, season updates arrive every few months to tweak and rebalance weapons keeping gunplay fresh.
Apex Legends Armor
Apex’s armor system also pushes a unique concept forward with the introduction of the eco shield. There are four tiers of increasingly powerful shields, but instead of just being random blue drops, you can also level your shield by dealing damage and you can only get the best shield this way. So players are encouraged to fight even if they don’t find a shield on their initial drop and it makes taking fights rewarding rather than an unnecessary risk. Also, the sounds effect that plays when your armor levels up is really just the best.
With its Titanfall roots, it makes sense that Apex is the best movement in any battle royale you’ve played. While you can’t wall run, the wide range of other running, sliding, and climbing techniques you do have can be combined to make moving around the map feel magnificent. Sliding down an entire mountainside before jumping at the end to continue running is one of the best feelings in all of Apex. Respawn’s fps movement systems are still unmatched.
Another big deal is Apex’s revolutionary contextual ping system, which has only gotten better since its launch. It’s special because it allows you to quickly communicate with your team in detail without having to use voice chat. With little more than a single button, you can do the following things:
- Ping the map
- Ping a position to say that you’re headed there
- Agree or disagree with pings, or say “I can’t do that”
- Cancel a ping that’s no longer relevant, or accidental
- Mark an area you’re watching
- Mark a place you’ve spotted an enemy
- Ping specific items within dead players’ chests by hovering and clicking on them
Not only is this a great accessibility feature, but it’s also a clever way to improve teamwork when queueing up alone. There’s a reason why so many games have copied it since.
Apex Legends Maps
Season updates also keep the community from falling into a rut by rotating two of Apex’s three maps at a given time. The diverse landscapes of Kings Canyon, World’s Edge, and Olympus demand their own specific playstyles. King’s Canyon, the original map, is the smallest of the lot and that means you see a lot of fights between more than two teams. In contrast, the much larger World’s Edge has more options to rotate around on. While the gorgeous Olympus map is sort of a hybrid of the two and comes with drivable vehicles.
Apex also introduced a ranked mode back in season 2 which is a bit of a unique idea for a battle royal. There were some doubts about how well it could work since there are so many factors to gauging success in a match beyond the single team that manages to win, but it’s actually become players’ favorite mode to play. The skill-based matchmaking underneath each player’s rank makes it, so you’re faced against people closest to your own skill level. In short, it works quite simply. By winning ranked games, players earn Rating Points (RP) and move up the ladder to the next ranks:
- Apex Predator
For a genre not known for having ranked play, this system works impressively well, but as fun of ranked play, the real thorn in this mode’s side is that Apex’s servers aren’t always up to the task. Ping within the server can fluctuate unexpectedly and there have been so many times players have directly hit an enemy, heard the impact, and seen blood fly out of them only to realize no damage had actually been dealt. In addition, as in many competitive games, there are companies that offer apex legends boost, ie, the services of highly skilled players who can quickly get the desired rank. In other words, more work needs to be done. These kinds of troubles don’t happen every day but it’s at least frequent enough.
Apex Legends has become many players’ go-to game when they want something both fun and competitive, and the hunt for that satisfying champion windscreen is the perfect mix of thrilling and approachable. Consistent updates keep the gunplay from ever getting repetitive or boring and the combination of Legend abilities, and its large arsenal of excellent weapons, and attachments are always fun to experiment with. That’s especially true with the squad friends but Apex also has the best ping system around to make communicating with randoms work great too. And while the audio and server issues can make an otherwise smooth slide down a mountainside frustratingly, bumpy at times, I still find myself spending hours queuing up for just one more game.