Apex Legends Review – Re-calibrating The Battle Royale Experience

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Battle Royale Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Getting Started

 

Through all of the success found in the battle royale genre developers seem to be missing the point more often than not when it comes to breaking into the popular online game mode. While the industry has seen a flurry of BR titles hit the market over the course of nearly two years, Titanfall creators, Respawn Entertainment, have courageously taken the genre to new levels of excitement with their debut into the battle royale community, Apex Legends.

 

Check out our video review of Apex Legends below:

 

 

Those familiar with the battle royale formula will pick up on Apex Legends’ concept immediately. Plunging headfirst from an airborne vessel crammed with 60 players, squads make their way towards various points of interest upon landing in the dangerous map of the last man standing mode. Discovering and picking up precious loot and equipment to increase your odds of survival, the game utilizes the familiar “closing ring of death” to force remaining players into more condensed fighting areas until there’s only one player or squad left to claim the title of a champion.

While on paper Apex Legends seems like just another BR title, there’s plenty of additional features that better separate Respawn’s BR free-to-play title from others on the market. Pinging valuable targets for squad mates, utilizing game changing abilities unique to each playable character and the clever respawning system invites a broader, less experienced audience to the table while simultaneously catering to the hardcore devotees of the genre. The incredibly smooth gameplay is a notch above most other titles buried within the battle royale community, and keeps a pace that outlasts the traditionally slower BR titles found in the industry.

 

Choose Wisely

Apex also offers a variation of characters to choose from. While each playable soldier drastically differs from one another in appearance, they also hone some unique skills to play into different forms of play styles. With eight different characters currently in selection there’s a enough diversity across the roster to keep almost every type of player satisfied. Recon, flanking, support and open battle tactics can all be found throughout the collection of playable characters making for nearly every three person squad well-balanced for every match.

Though, after some time many players will undoubtedly flock to their character of choice, Apex doesn’t allow squads to contain doubles of the same character. This helps maintain the strategy of each soldier’s unique skill set while expanding the squad-based tactics used for survival. Having two Wraiths in one squad placing portals every which way wouldn’t be beneficial to a squad, so rather than having to deal with any unnecessary frustrations that would arise from this situation, the game forces the players to pick characters based on which characters work best together. In other words, experimenting with different squad layouts can net much more rewarding outcomes rather than sticking with the same trio of characters.

With the addition of unique abilities and skills comes a much more lively battlefield. While combining skills with other squad mates can make for some pretty insane confrontations with the enemy, they’re not always effective in a positive manner. Wraith’s portal ability can lead to an enemy ambush if not careful; Bangalore’s smoke screen can confuse every player in the area including teammates; and Gibraltor’s shield negate both incoming and outgoing bullet fire. Making the best of every situation using these abilities is another dimension of learning within the battle royale genre, much like Fortnite’s clever use of the construction system.

 

The map in Apex Legends offers a variety of different biomes including dry deserts and swampy wetlands.

 

Soaking In Strategy

With every character’s active skills also comes a few passive skills as well. Everytime you aim down the sights with Gibraltor, a gun shield deploys which negates incoming fire. Wraith has helpful internal dialogue that warns her and her squad mates on the battlefield of nearing enemies or even incoming sniper fire seconds before shots are heard. These passive skills help make the matches more interesting by demanding the player focuses on every passing second. Often times death is caused by moments of relaxation as enemy fire hits when you least expect it.

The varying player skills and abilities add a great deal of depth to the gameplay while creating a strategic approach to the last man standing death match. And while creating squads that utilize character abilities is an important method for every squad to practice, communication sits as still the most important survival technique. Many online games allow precise communication via headsets and online parties, but Apex Legends manages to provide an easy communication system work-a-round for those incapable of direct speech inputs.

The unique ping system finally makes its way into the demanding world of online battle royale modes. While we’ve seen pinging throughout multiplayer shooters before, bringing an easy-to-use system over to the BR genre makes perfect sense; and Apex Legends executes this system flawlessly. Marking high-tiered equipment, much-needed health, armor or ammo, and even locating enemy fire or spotting unaware enemies creates a vivid and informative display of expert communication between squad mates. Following the on-screen ping markers allows other squad mates to see what you’re seeing, and the single button press or double tap makes for quick information drops about the world around you.

 

Choose from a diverse selection of unique characters, like the inter-dimensional skirmisher, Wraith, or the military tactician, Bangalore.

 

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Another game changing element buried within Apex Legends is the unique respawn system. While most battle royale titles provide the “one and done” method revolving around a player’s death, Apex Legends offers a second, or even third or fourth chances in rejoining the battlefield. The typical standard in BR game modes has followed the rule of once you’ve fallen in combat and your squad mates aren’t able to revive your helpless soul in time, it’s game over and on to the next match. Apex Legends graciously changes this tactic and makes for a much more engaging experience for all players.

After taking enough damage to cripple your soldier, squad mates are still able to revive the player within the “bleeding out” time limit, or if enemy fire ends your life for good. Fear not, however, as Apex introduces a new feature which allows surviving squads to respawn fallen allies. Once defeated, deceased players will leave behind a banner that’s attached to their loot box marked at the area of death. Squad mates may pick up their fallen ally’s banner within a limited time and may then turn the banners in at one of the many designated respawn outlets located throughout the open world map.

 

Using the coveted Ping system, player can inform fellow squad mates of incoming enemies or valuable loot.

 

Taking bullets and having your time in every match snuffed out quickly can be a major frustration and turn-off for many newcomers to the battle royale scene, so the ability to rely on your possibly more skilled squad mates to ensure your time isn’t quite over in any given match is perfect for those still learning the ropes in battle royale. While the entirety of respawning allies can be time-consuming, it’s delightful to know that even after your soldier has bled out, your time in the match isn’t always over. Of course, once your entire squad has bled out, then it’s unfortunately time to move on to the next match.

 

Diagnosis

Apex Legends brings in plenty of familiar features typically found in the battle royale community. With a plethora of assault rifles, shotguns, pistols, sub-machine guns and heavy machine guns to discover, there’s just as many customizing attachments to deck out your gear. The rarity color-coded system ensures players equip only the very best gear, while the ping system offers the easy ability to share your findings with fellow squad mates. The fluid, fast-paced action and gunplay, diverse open world, clever respawn system and character classes raises the bar for what we expect in a quality battle royale title.

 

Final Grade

 

 

Though Apex Legends might seem like just another battle royale title looking to bask in the current successes of the genre front-runners, like Fortnite and Call of Duty’s Blackout, Respawn Entertainment’s breakout title delivers some much-needed depth to the tiring formula. With it’s incredibly strategic approach to character classes, easy-to-use communicative ping system and unique method of leveling the playing field via character abilities and clever respawn system, Apex Legends might just be the best the trending genre currently has to offer.

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