It’s not often that we get to go into a game without any real knowledge of what to actually expect, but here we are! Apex Legends arrived out of nowhere, and the initial results have been more than just promising: They’ve been bloody brilliant. On the surface, Apex Legends ticks all the right battle royale boxes. It has a map that shrinks every few minutes, plenty of weapons to pick up and it handles beautifully.
There’s a backstory to boot of competition and mercenaries all fighting to be recognised and the roster is varied. Apex Legends also has a few neat tricks under its belt, ideas which don’t just separate it from the herd, but also makes it stand out as a pure triumph of rock-solid design. Here’s what we really dig about Respawn Entertainment’s surprise hit game:
It’s taken for granted these days, but you cannot discount just how much of a difference it makes to have a game that provides solid feedback to the pull of the trigger. Apex Legends has that in spades, with a selection of firearms that feel brilliant to handle. You’ve got regular hand cannons, solid marksman rifles, heavy machine guns and gigantic shotguns to help you along the way, each one providing their own character and feel.
Digging deep into the meta-game of which gun is best is still going to take weeks to fully understand, but the basics are all there and the ability to easily and quickly augment these weapons with attachments is a painless process. Compare that to PUBG’s weapons whose feedback requires the hands of a safecracker to accurately measure or Fortnite’s okayish weapons, and Apex Legends already has an edge in one of the core basics of gameplay.
I like to think that Apex Legends hits the Goldilocks zone when it comes to teams. Three is a perfect number, easy to organise and sitting right in the middle of having neither too few or too many players. Three’s a perfect crowd, able to easily communicate and adapt to danger. In fact, just about everything in Apex Legends emphasises teamwork. From your actual drop into enemy territory to your ability to help your team out, forming that cohesive unit is the real difference between life and death.
Which also brings me to the next point that makes Apex Legends stand out.
It’s such a simple idea, and one that makes sense when juxtaposed against the drive to stick together as a team. The catch with solid communication though, is that it can be a pain in the ass to accomplish properly with randoms. After all, how many games of Fortnite have you jumped into, only to have some strange fellow screaming at you in a language that predates the written word or to have your concentration ruined by a jackass who leaves his Spotify playlist running at maximum volume.
Apex Legends may have voice-chat functionality, but its ability to signal and highlight areas of interest, weapons to grab and accessories to use makes teamwork flow. All of this, mapped to a single button that does all the heavy lifting for you. Simple, yet genius design that more online games could benefit from.
Just because you’re down, it doesn’t mean that you’re out of the game entirely. If at least one team member can remain standing after a firefight, there’s a good chance that you’ll be back to fight in a few seconds. It’s not an unheard of mechanic within battle royale games, but Apex Legends takes the concept a step further by having your corpse produce a banner which can be taken to a nearby respawn point by your teammate.
It adds a delicious wrinkle to the formula, and a sense of urgency to not only take down some of the opposition, but all of it if you don’t want to run afoul of a rival team again. Which is great, because if there’s one thing that I truly like about Apex Legends the most it’s that…
It respects my time
Apex Legends is a fast game. Several sessions last night proved that, ranging anywhere from a single minute (DAMMIT GARETH THE SUPPLY SHIP IS A TRAP) to a pulse-pounding twenty minutes as the net tightened and only a handful of teams were left. Which is brilliant. We’re all pushed for time lately, and having the ability to hop into a game during a coffee break is kind of appreciated.
There are numerous little details that help highlight this, from the speed of your actual drop into a designated zone, the Kings Fall map hitting a sweet spot in terms of size and the obligatory countdown between shrinks of level being only a few minutes long. As the sum of its parts, that helps sell Apex Legends and its ability to start, compete in and finish a game before my lunch hour is over.
I like to think that this also comes down to the core design, which maxes out at 60 players divided up into 20 teams. It’s a good number, a perfect balance that provides just enough time to crap your pants when you hear footsteps and have the brief luxury of being able to scavenge for weapons before you move in for the kill.
And those are just some quick thoughts. Apex Legends is still a fresh game, one whose depth is going to explored for weeks and months to come in its current state, and will be added to as well if it proves to be popular enough. I’ve got no doubt that Respawn Entertainment has a winner on their hands, and while Apex Legends isn’t the Titanfall 3 game that everyone was expecting, it’s a damn fine experience that deserves to be played.
It’s Overwatch meets Call of Duty’s Blackout with a liberal sprinkling of PUBG on the side, and that makes for a hell of a tasty meal.
Last Updated: February 6, 2019