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by Morgan Hoskins
When Apex Legends launched about a month ago, it didn’t receive much fanfare from gamers. Popular gaming YouTuber Joe ‘Angry Joe’ Vargas had some choice words for EA’s stealth release. However, Joe—like just about everyone else—would become a born-again fan, tweeting his surprise at the game’s quality:
“Okay! I see why there is a ton of goodwill for the Apex Legends Game so far! Its pretty fun & I’m rather pleased w/ the economy and progression here, seems pretty generous and No Duplicates?! Feels like it addresses most every concern/annoyance so far! Having a good amount of fun!”
Concerns that EA scuppered Titanfall 3 in favour of a game more easily monetised were swept aside when Respawn Entertainment revealed that they asked EA to be allowed to create Apex, not the other way around. That this game was Respawn’s choice shines through in the care apparent in its design. I’ll be focusing on four design elements that I believe have reinvented the battle royale genre (until the next gaming fad comes around).
Apex’s approach to weapons is different enough from its competitors and strikes the right balance between the overly simplistic Fortnite and the slightly-too-realistic PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Weapons in Apex are often named, such as the ‘Flatline’, ‘Peacekeeper’, and ‘Devotion’, standing in stark contrast to Fortnite’s ‘Pump Action Shotgun’ and PUBG’s ‘S1897’. This, coupled with the game’s sci-fi flavour, has allowed players to grow attached to their favourite (and sometimes least favourite) weapons—many colourful internet memes poke fun at the game’s beloved worst weapon, the ‘Mozambique’.
This might sound like a small gripe, but the squad sizes in Fortnite and PUBG are too big. The biggest squad that you can form and be matched against is a four-person squad. On the surface, this sounds like a good thing, the more the merrier. However, I’ve found that encounters between these squads can grind into a war of attrition which is no fun for anyone involved. Apex, on the other hand, limits your squad to three people. I’ve sunk many hours into the game at this point and I can say with some certainty that the average encounter will be over, for better or worse, in no more than a minute. The action is fast and satisfying. It’s also worth saying that for those who struggle to get three friends to play with, it’s much easier to wrangle two.
This one is self-explanatory. Apex allows you to respawn your fallen comrades where its competitors do not. Your ‘banner’ can be collected by a teammate and taken to a respawn point where you will be dropped back into the match. This makes the game more accessible to those with a penchant for dying early. Like my point on squads, the respawn mechanic rewards a tight-knit group who look out for each other during play.
The last and greatest way that Apex reinvents the genre is undoubtedly the legends—memorable characters that the player will be taking into battle with them. This is a concept that borrows heavily from Overwatch, a not too dissimilar game, and one that fits well in the battle royale. There are eight legends (with more to come), and your choice of legend matters. Lifeline, for example, allows you to deploy a healing drone, while Mirage has the ability to create decoys that ‘bamboozle’ the enemy. They are all fully voice acted with an array of customisation options, and it’s this level of characterisation that elevates Apex to a league of its own, far away from the nameless vanilla characters you’d be playing in Fortnite and PUBG.