Why should you ditch Fortnite and jump into the latest Battle Royale on the block…
On Monday, Respawn Entertainment announced and launched a new game set in the Titanfall Universe. While it wasn’t the Titanfall 3 many were hoping for, Apex Legends earned itself one million players in eight hours, proving that there’s still life in the Battle Royale space. That space, however, is becoming more and more crowded – while PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds bought the genre to the masses, Fortnite catapulted it to the stratosphere and even Call of Duty has got involved since.
Here are eight things that differentiate Apex Legends from it’s forebears.
If you like it then you should’ve put a Ping on it.
We’ve all been there. You and your team mate run into a building, and they somehow snag the best loot, leaving you clutching at a grenade or your pickaxe as your weapon of choice. No longer, say Respawn – at least if you’re playing with a good team.
Apex Legends uses the “R1” or “RB” button to “Ping” anything from enemy locations, to loot, to suggestions for where to go next. This means if you see a rifle that you think could help a teammate, you can ping it’s location for easy pickup. You can also use it to “call dibs” on equipment in the early stages of a match where everyone hoovers up loot like its going out of fashion.
While Apex Legends removes wall-running and Titans from the main franchise, it retains the highly mobile combat and movement that the series is known for. Sliding down a hill will build up speed, while using zip-lines to cover distances feels exciting every time. The fact that these moves can be combined with firing your weapon is likely to lead to some insane video highlights.
Firing those weapons is also highly satisfying, built off of Titanfall’s excellent gunplay. In fact, it often feels hard to believe the game is free such is the quality of the combat. Shotguns feel appropriately brutal, while assault rifles hit targets with a satisfying thud.
Oh, and considering how early we are in the game’s life, it’s performance is surprisingly good – it’s stable, and has launched in a much better state than PUBG did. Death comes from your own inadequacies, and not from a glitch or lag.
“You’ve got character”
Unlike it’s contemporaries in the Battle Royale subgenre, Apex Legends takes a page from Blizzard’s juggernaut Overwatch franchise in terms of characterisation. Rather than playing as a faceless avatar, players can pick from one of eight different characters.
Each has their own abilities, cosmetic options, and even dialogue. In fact, some of the conversations between members of the squad are not only fun, but serve a gameplay purpose too – in conjunction with the Ping system, your squad will give callouts.
Teamwork makes the dream work
With these identifiable characters comes a unique synergy between each troop in your mandatory three-man squad.
One character’s tactical ability to deploy a healing drone can be crucial in the late-game when health supplies are at a minimum, while another’s smokescreen can negate ambushes in one of the map’s many bottlenecks with the right timing and execution. This teamwork is woven into each map right from the menu.
Whereas in Fortnite et al, you’re able to set a waypoint and everyone does their best to meet at a rally point, in Apex Legends the player that picks their character last is designated “Jump Master” and has the choice to send their squad to the area of their choosing. While it is possible to break away from your comrades, it’s always advisable to stick together.
Combined with the Ping system and the character specific callouts, and it’s clear that you’ll need to operate as a squad to earn that win.
Full of hot air
Is there anything worse than landing on a Battle Royale map and seeing the play area close to the opposite side, forcing you to trudge from one end to the other while simultaneously moving quickly and cautiously?
Respawn have identified this as a drawback of a large map, and installed red “balloons“ across the map. If you see one of these, you’re able to climb to the top of it and essentially re-deploy to another area, allowing you to cover a large amount of ground quickly. Of course, you’ll need to keep an eye out for any snipers looking to keep an eye on them.
As you’re falling to the map, you may spot a hovering dropship. This is where early fights will often break out, and for good reason – some of the game’s best loot can be found there. Weather the storm and you’ll be able to grab yourself something nice with which to murder your way to victory. Oh, and when you’re done, just hop down to the map below – Apex Legends doesn’t use fall damage to punish players for experimentation.
Wake the dead
Picture the scene – you’re cornered. Your two companions are down. Do you give up?
Not in Apex Legends you don’t.
Grab the “banners” from your teammates and sneak your way to a respawn point to earn them a second chance. They’ll be escorted to your position by dropship (admittedly without any loot), but if nothing else you can use them as a shield.
Apex Legends is jam-packed full of neat new ideas and features. Take the banners around the arena, for example, which display the names of previous winners and players to watch out for. Killing a designated “Champion” will give a significant XP boost. Damage numbers that appear when you shoot enemies are colour coded depending on the armour they’re wearing. Sixty players split between twenty squads makes for a much faster round. Doors can be smashed to surprise opponents.
Above all else, Apex Legends is freely available now on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. What have you got to lose? We’ll see you out there.
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