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Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Smooth in-game movement
Unique heroes and abilities
High skill level
High learning curve
Balance and cheating issues
Apex Legends stands out in the popular battle royale genre by offering players a fresh take with unique heroes, special ultimates, and superior in-game movement.
Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale from Respawn Entertainment, designed with the same engine as the Titanfall series. With clear graphics, solid frames-per-second (fps), and smooth character movement, Apex Legends has become a quick battle royale favorite with gamers. We played the game on PC, and took a closer look at its premise, gameplay, and graphics.
On PC Apex Legends requires Origin to be launched. The first time you boot up the game, you’ll be shown a quick cut scene, then brought into the game’s main menu. Once there, you’ll have the option to play through the training mode, which we would suggest for new players. The training mode will walk you through the most basic aspects of the game, such as giving you an area to try out all the guns, testing your movements, and trying a hero’s tactical ability and ultimate. After this, you’ll be ready to jump into your first game.
Apex Legends is a battle royale―so it really doesn’t have much of a plot, nor should it. But, the premise behind Apex Legends is unique and interesting. When the game launches you’re shown a short cutscene that sets up the characters and setting of the game. The idea is that the heroes are legendary fighters who will fight to be winners in the arena. This is enhanced by the game’s UI which calls out kill leaders, and shows banners across the map of their squads. It’s these little details that really make you feel like you’re playing in an arena, almost like participants of a game show.
This is really the extent to which Apex Legends has plot―and that’s more than enough. As a battle royale, Apex Legends is not a game with single-player gameplay. It is a purely multiplayer experience, with one game style. You play each game with a squad of three, usually in a game with a total of 60 players. Even if you solo-queue, you will be placed with two other random players. The goal of the game is to simply be the last squad standing on a map that shrinks with time, forcing people together. Survive, pick up items that have been scattered across the map, take out other squads, and win.
In Apex, you start by flying across the map in an aircraft, and one member of your squad will be chosen as jumpmaster. This was clever of Apex Legends, as other battle royales let all players jump whenever they wish, and can often lead to squad members going off on their own, or not paying attention and missing a jump point (although a member can peel off if they want, but it seemed to happen less often). As your squad glides to the ground, you’ll pick a spot to land. The map is pretty large, and you might find yourself landing next to another squad, or in an area completely by yourselves. Either way, you’ll rush to find items to help you survive: guns, armor, helmets, ammo, gun attachments, shield chargers, medkits, backpacks, shields, ultimate boosters, and throwables.
When you first start playing, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out what to pick up and what to leave behind, as your inventory space is limited.
A lot of these items will come in a quality range, distinguished by color. Armor and helmets range from level one to four, with four being the best. Certain guns and attachments are rarer than others. There is even a superior medkit/shield charge combo called a Phoenix Kit.
On top of this, there are a variety of throwables you can use, including arc stars, thermite, and frag grenades. When you first start playing, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out what to pick up and what to leave behind, as your inventory space is limited (although the higher level backpack you have, the more space you'll gain). The looting is the first hurdle you have to overcome to be successful in the game.
Next you’ll have to figure out which guns you prefer, as there are close to twenty different guns in Apex, including pistols, shotguns, SMGs, LMGs, ARs and sniper rifles. Certain guns are better than others, and of course, certain players will prefer one gun over another. Once you’ve learned the guns, you’ll have to figure out the game’s movements―although from our perspective, Apex has some of the best in-game movement of any current battle royale out there. Whether sprinting, grappling, or sliding, Apex feels good.
The game is polished and the frames-per-second usually hold steady, which is a nice change from some of the issues we’ve seen in games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. There are also some unique team mechanics we loved about Apex, including the ability to respawn dead teammates. In other battle royales if one of your squad members gets knocked down, you must save them before someone kills them off, or before the timer runs out, at which time they die permanently. In Apex, you can pick up your squadmates banner after they’ve died and find a respawn location to bring them back. This is a nice change that allows for squads to recover even after they’ve lost a member.
Currently, there are ten playable legends (the characters). Six of which are available to play immediately: Bloodhound, Gibraltar, Lifeline, Pathfinder, Wraith, Wattson, and Bangalore. Three require unlock or purchase: Caustic, Mirage, and Octane. Each has a tactical ability and unique ultimate. These range from artillery strikes, healing drones, gas traps, portals, and enemy tracking. This is a great way to keep people who already know the game well with variety to keep them interested, but it does make for even more of a learning curve for new players―and this is one of our biggest critiques of Apex Legends.
From our perspective, Apex has some of the best in-game movement of any current battle royale out there.
The learning curve in Apex feels larger than in other battle royales. It also felt like the player base was more competitive and more skilled, which makes it even harder for a new player to navigate. It doesn’t help that some heroes are stronger than others, and inevitably cheaters also appear, as with most online competitive games. Just don’t get upset if you spend your first few hours in Apex dying as you figure things out.
Overall, Apex Legends is a unique, well-made take on the battle royale genre. The introduction of heroes and tactical abilities into the genre are a fresh breath of air, and Apex does a pretty good job of offering variety for players to enjoy.
The graphics in Apex Legends are about what you’d expect for a newer game made by a large studio. On higher settings, its clean and there are no hiccups, at least none that we noticed on our system. The map looks good at all distances, whether while you’re dropping or when you launch yourself into the air on a jump pad (thank goodness there’s no fall damage).
Considering the game is free-to-play, Apex is a great game worth trying, especially if you know your way around battle royales or first-person shooters.
The setting is a simple sci-fi inspired landscape, with a few unique details, such as the bones in certain parts of the map and giant creatures standing out in the water in the distance (the Leviathans). The changing banners are also unique, making you feel like you’re standing in a real arena. It’s these little details to the graphics that help transport you to another world, but they aren’t enough to distract you from the fighting, which is the real focus of this game.
Apex Legends is free-to-play. You can use in-game purchase to unlock heroes, or to buy loot boxes―a pretty common microtransaction system used by free-to-play games to stay afloat. Each hero has skins you can unlock, as do the weapons. You can also get special animations for when you win, or certain tracking unlocks for your banners.
Of course, you don’t have to spend any money if you don’t want to, and you’ll still earn in-game currency from getting kills or wins which can be used to unlock the three heroes you don’t have automatic access too. You’ll also earn loot boxes just by playing. Really, if you have any interest in battle royales, or have been thinking about playing Apex Legends, there’s no reason not to download the game and give it a try.
Battle-royale games have grown fairly popular over the years, starting with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. PUBG was extremely popular when it first released, as battle royales were still pretty new and fresh. The movement isn’t as in PUBG as it is in Apex, but there is more variety when it comes to the gameplay. You’ll be able to do a range of modes―soloing, two-man, or four-man squads. You’ll also be able to pick different maps, or choose from first person or third.
This variety might be of interest, and overall, PUBG doesn’t feel like it takes quite as much skill to be successful in as Apex does. However, PUBG isn’t free.
Fortnite is another crazy popular battle royale worth checking out if you’re looking for similar titles. Fortnite is free-to-play and has a more casual approach to the fighting than Apex does. While it is still a competitive game, there is more room for goofy maneuvering, and aiming feels less important than it does in Apex Legends.
Finally, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a battle royale mode, and so does Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. You’ll just have to try different ones to see which is right for you.
A well-made, competitive battle royale worth giving a try.
Overall, we wouldn’t necessarily suggest playing Apex Legends as your first battle royale, as the learning curve is big, and even less skill based battle royals take some time to adjust to. But in the battle royale genre, it’s a polished game, with smooth movements and guns, strong teamwork orientation, and good graphics. Considering the game is free-to-play, Apex is a great game worth trying, especially if you know your way around battle royales or first-person shooters.
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