Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment (Apex Legends) announced a new Star Wars game during the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago last weekend. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a third-person…
EA and Respawn Entertainment’s new battle royale game continues its rapid success. This week Apex Legends is celebrating 50 million players with a fun stat-filled trailer (above). While we await…
In the 2014 sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow (also known as Live Die Repeat), Tom Cruise is drafted into defending Europe from the violent alien invaders. He’s quickly killed in combat, but at the same time becomes infected with the aliens’ time loop powers. Like an action movie version of Groundhog Day, Cruise repeats the same day over and over as he goes through a montage of getting quickly, and often hilariously, killed. He eventually learns how to fight back, teams up with an awesome Emily Blunt, and saves the world.
When playing a battle royale game, I often feel like Tom Cruise in those early moments of Edge of Tomorrow. I drop down. I run around frantically. I die, mercilessly. Repeat.
But Apex Legends feels different. Not only does it have the most well-refined systems I’ve seen in the genre, but it makes me want to double down and improve my gameplay rather than throw my hands up in frustration. For the reasons I’ve listed below give Apex Legends a try, even if you’ve been entirely turned off by the explosively popular genre so far.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Most battle royale games feature a team mode where groups can join, survive, and win together. Apex Legends is built from the group up for three person squads. Teamwork in Apex Legends is easier and more enjoyable, even when playing with random strangers.
From the very start players draft their characters together, then drop into the world together. Squads should stick together – though not too close, and many of the character abilities foster teamwork and coordination, such as Lifeline’s ability to call in a supply drop, and Pathfinder’s ability to create a zipline for quick travel.
Most importantly, squads can revive and even respawn their fellow teammates. Players enter a downed state when their health depletes and can be revived. Even if they’re killed, a teammate can grab their beacon and high tail it to the nearest respawn beacon, summoning them back to the fight. Some of my most memorable and thrilling survival stories have occurred after only one of us has been left alive to bring us back from the brink.
Should’ve Put a Ping On It
The intuitive ping system is incredibly clever. It’s the primary reason why playing with random squadmates ever has a chance of succeeding. With the press of a button, a squad mate can call out and highlight weapons, ammo, enemies, loot chests, and areas of interests. I can ping sections of my inventory to tell my squad I need ammo, body armor, or a certain weapon mod, declare an area to defend, and quickly yell out where and when I saw an enemy.
All of this is done without the need for voice chat at all. That’s particularly a huge plus for younger teens and concerned parents.
Less Players, More Action
Every match features 20 squads for 60 total players. That’s a significant departure from the 100-person matches of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. Yet even with almost half the players, the action rarely feels big and empty. Sometimes we drop in the corner of the Swamps and never run into a person until 20 minutes later. But usually there’s always another firefight around the corner.
The diverse Canyon map is filled with military bases, shanty towns, industrial walkways, steep valleys, and open desert. The map feels like the perfect size, and strikes a great balance between moments of quiet looting, tense exploration, and explosive firefights.
Choose Your Fighter
Apex Legends takes a page from online hero shooter Overwatch in providing several unique character classes to choose from. Like Overwatch you can’t have more than one character on your team, forcing teams to balance their preferred play style. All eight current characters bring something unique and interesting, like Bangalore’s smoke bombs, Gibraltar’s dome shield (hello, Winston!), and Bloodhound’s Predator vision. Apex Legends does a fantastic job incorporating these characters and their abilities, without deviating from the core gameplay of grabbing weapons and shooting each other.
Apex Legends has been a pleasantly addictive experience. When matches go horribly wrong, as they often do, it’s over in minutes. And it takes less time than that to cue up the next match. Wait times are non-existent, and we’ve never experienced a second of lag or server issues. Releasing a complete (and free to play!) game that works right out of the gate shouldn’t be cause for celebration, but here we are.
I’ve adored my time with Apex Legends, despite having yet to win a match. I’m still Tom Cruise in the middle of figuring everything out. I die, a lot. But repeating has never been so fun.
Last week EA and Respawn Entertainment surprised everyone by announcing, and immediately releasing, a fully-formed battle royale-style multiplayer shooter based on the Titanfall series.
In the week since, Apex Legends has become a smash hit. After only 72 hours, Respawn Entertainment declared that over 10 million players had played the game, including 1 million players logged in at the same time.
“This has been a truly incredible journey. We knew it would be risky to take the franchise in this direction, to go free to play, and do a surprise launch. But we fell in love with Apex Legends and wanted, needed, other people to play it too,” says Vince Zampella, co-founder, Respawn Entertainment. “From all of us at Respawn, thank you for giving us and Apex Legends a chance. Thank you for joining us on this journey.”
The elephant in the room is comparing Apex Legends’ explosive success to Fortnite’s currently huge popularity in the genre. In fact, it took Fortnite about two weeks to hit the same number of players.
EA and Respawn utilized a modern approach to marketing: live streams and influencers. This strategy paid off with a genre that lives and dies by its popularity. Some of the most popular streamers, such as Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, have completely switched from Fortnite to Apex Legends. And it helps that the game is quite good.
Interestingly, Apex Legends has gained popularity with Twitch audiences, yet Fortnite’s have not decreased. This suggests that Apex Legends may be bringing more newcomers into the genre instead of poaching Fortnite fans.
Apex Legends still has a long way to go before it can challenge Fortnite’s 200 million-strong players for king of the battle royale genre.
Apex Legends is available for free, with optional in-game purchases, on PC (Origin), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It’s rated T for Teen for Blood and Violence.
Electronic Arts has announced, and released, Apex Legends, a new free-to-play Battle Royale shooter. It’s available now on PC (via Origin), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Apex Legends is developed…