Apex Legends – Battle Royal in the Titanfall Universe
Literally out of nowhere Apex Legends drops without any hype, marketing or fanfare and this came as a bit of a surprise to the gaming industry as a whole and to us at We Try Anything towers.
Apex Legends landed on the PC, Xbox One and PS4 on February 4th 2019 and as it’s a fresh release we thought that we would take a quick look at it and see if it is any good as a Battle Royale first-person shooter (FPS).
So what’s Apex Legends all about?
Developed by Respawn Entertainment and set in the Titanfall universe, Apex Legends is modelled on the Battle Royale format which is currently a popular trend in online fast paced gaming.
The Battle Royale format of gaming is simple. You jump out of a plane, or in this case a dropship, and you have to eliminate a certain amount of other players while your allowable playing arena shrinks.
Along the way, you will need to pick up weapons, health, armour, weapon power-ups and the like to help you survive and if you stray outside of the shrinking playable arena then you’ll find that your character’s health will keep on draining until your character dies or you get back in the circle.
The decreasing circular arena is indicated on the game map and you will have a certain amount of time to head into the circle’s area before it slowly shrinks. As the circle gets smaller and smaller the remaining players are forced closer and closer together thus ending in a firefight until the last man stands wins, or in Apex Legends case the last team wins.
Getting Started in Apex Legends
On starting the initial Apex Legends game, we completed a short 10-minute training session to get the gist of how it works and how to access the abilities and specialities of any of the game’s characters. We found this very easy to undertake and helped immensely in the actual understanding of how the game plays, so it’s definitely worth doing before you play the actual live game.
Next, to kick things off, you start a match and once a server is quickly found you’re joined up with two other teammates to choose the character that you are going to play from the lineup.
Depending on where you are placed randomly within the team sometimes you can be the first person to choose a character, with the other players making do with what’s left, or you may be placed later on down in the team roster so you are the one to choose one of the remaining characters. We thought that it was quite a neat touch because if you are, say, in third place to choose your character then you can choose an Apex Legend that can really help complement the whole team dynamic.
At this stage, it’s worth mentioning that you can only play the game as a team of three players so you can’t setup Duo’s or just be a single player as you would with games like Fortnite. This may change in the future, but for now this is how the team setup works.
Interestingly, you can peel away from the group if you so wish, but as the game is mainly a team based game then you may find playing it without your teammates a lot harder as their chosen characters will have abilities that will be needed to help the whole team survive and possibly win! Plus if you do succumb to another team’s gunfire then the only way that you can get back into the current game is if one of your team revives you or brings you back from the dead and if you are on another part of the map then they may not be able to do that for you.
The Legends (Characters)
Regarding the characters or Legends, as they are known in the game, there are six to choose from initially with the other two being unlockable after playing for a while and gaining in-game currency or you can use real-world cash and pay for them to be made available.
Each of these characters has their own trio of abilities ranging from Passive – which can be used straight away, Tactical – which builds up over time then can be used and then finally Ultimate – which takes longer to build up but unleashes the biggest amount of damage or even calling in those essential supply drops.
The characters are also categorised into three genres which are offensive, defensive and support types and have the abilities to help with this type of gameplay, the characters are as follows:
Bangalore – Offensive
She is the professional soldier of the group, the weapons expert and therefore her abilities match that of an offensive type character with smoke grenades and artillery strikes to help make her character a force to be reckoned with.
Mirage – Offensive
He is the trickster of the group, with his abilities causing confusion and misdirection amongst his opponents through decoys and being able to cloak from enemies as part of his ability makeup. He is also a character you have to unlock at the start of the game either via gameplay grind, to earn enough points, or by spending real-world money.
Wraith – Offensive
As the name suggests this character can allow her and fellow team players travel between dimensions allowing her to be ideal in up close fire-fights against her opponents or escape trouble when it gets a bit too much.
Gibraltar – Defensive
He is the heavy duty soldier type, with his specialisms being tailored to being defensive in his approach while still being able to unleash maximum damage when his Ultimate ability is ready to use.
Caustic – Defensive
The second of the two characters that you will need to unlock when you start the game. Caustic is the specialist in chemical warfare. He can unleash a bevvy of toxic gasses depending on what ability is being used.
Pathfinder – Support
Being the Robot of the group Pathfinder can use his insider knowledge to find where the decreasing playing area will appear and with his in-built grappling tech he can create zip lines with ease, allowing him and his teammates to move about the map.
Bloodhoud – Support
As the name suggests, he is the character you need if you want to be able to track your opponents. With his abilities ranging from seeing if there are any enemies in your immediate area through to being able to move faster and smell out your opponents, he can be vital to not being taken by surprise.
Lifeline – Support
Finally, Lifeline is the healer of the character roster. With here abilities that can range from speedily reviving characters, deploying healing drones for damaged characters through to calling in supply drops – this character could be the difference between your team surviving and winning or crashing out early.
Making the leap
Once you have chosen your character from the unlocked lineup, then you and your two other teammates jump out of a dropship and the Jump Master (team leader) chooses a spot where you can land on the map, see if anyone likes the suggestion and then jump out of the dropship with your other teammates following.
Who initially becomes the Jump Master is chosen at random and if it is you who is chosen and you don’t fancy the responsibility then you can easily relinquish it to one of your fellow players.
Once out of the dropship you can peel away from your other team members but it is not advised as the game revolves around the team mechanic and playing solo may get you into hot water very quickly.
On landing, you have to quickly search for armour, weapons, ammo, health items etc allowing you and your fellow teammates to be ready for the fight for survival against the other players to become number one. It’s quite disconcerting when you jump out of the dropship and you look around only to find other teams landing next to you which ramps up the need to get these items as quick as possible.
Depending on where you land on the map and where the other teams land around you will dictate how your game plays out. There have been games where we have managed to jump out of the dropship to land an area on the map where we didn’t see anyone for at least five minutes, which is great for building up your armour and weapons arsenal. But there have been times where there have been other teams who have literally landed right next to our spot and the action really kicked off from the outset with us frantically running around looking for anything that can cause damage or soaks it up. It can be really intense at times.
As we have played other Battle Royle format games like PUBG where sometimes we didn’t see anyone for around ten minutes, we really enjoyed the early combat and it made for some enjoyable if not frustrating games, simply because we got killed within seconds of landing on the map.
So, as we have said, you do have to locate weapons and armour throughout the map and they can be from a range of items such as low powered common hands guns (some of which you will recognise if you’ve played Titanfiall in the past) through to high powered rare rifles and assault rifles.
The rarety and effectiveness of the item can be distinguished by the colour of its info marker so for example if you highlight say a helmet and it is white then it is a low powered common armour item but if it is purple or gold then it is an item that is well worth swapping for as an item with a gold coloured marker is much sought after for how good it is in the game.
This brings us onto the ammo, and what you may find could be the lack of it. While you can find quite a bit of ammo lying around in pods that you will need to open or rooms of buildings that you need to explore you do find that sometimes when you are in a gun battle against another team you will quite quickly run out of ammo. We had done this on a few times for the weapons that we held and we believe that it is an intentional part of the game make you want to explore more to find more ammo and not camp. Also, it helps to bring your team together as you can request ammo off your teammates who can, if they have some in their inventory, throw it down for you to pick up.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Talking of teams, this is what the game centres itself around. To succeed you really do need to play as a team. Sticking together and combining the abilities of all of the characters in the team can really make you a force to be reckoned with.
Playing the game as much as we did, we really did get that feeling of needing to stick near the other team members and depending on the type of people who you are teamed up with can make each game feel pretty unique in how it plays.
Sometimes you will find people who want to help each other and stick closely to one another to really cement that ability to overcome any teams that come across them and then there are other times where you will play with people in a team who would much rather go off and be more of a lone wolf and not help out at all. We found that in most games the team tended to die off quicker with this approach.
The other element which gives you more survivability when working as a team is when you are knocked down or killed. Being knocked down your character can still move about in a kind of Fortnite kind of way where you are on all fours trying to get near a team member who is close to you in the hope of them being able to revive you plus if you have picked up a knockdown shield earlier you can shield your character from being shot further and eventually killed off, which we thought was an epic idea.
As well as being revived you can also be respawned by other teammates. This is simply done by a fellow player running over to your loot box, which drops when you have been killed, and picking up your character device then finding a respawn point where they can bring you back.
You don’t instantly respawn at the resurrection point, instead, you arrive near the team via a dropship which will drop you back into the action but without any weapons or armour. So as long as you have generous teammates who can drop any spare weapons, ammo or armour they may have then you will be back in action in no time but if you are not bunched up with fellow players who like to help out, or they don’t have any spare items to give you, then you have to run off and find some weapons yourself.
We really like the fact that you can be resurrected and brought back into the game being played. With other Battle Royale type games when you are killed that’s it you have to either spectate or you just go back to the lobby and after spending 10 minutes of your life running around beefing your character up just to be killed in an instant it can feel like you are wasting your time so for that idea alone we have to say bravo to Respawn’s understanding of better gameplay.
One other part of the team aspect that we loved in Apex Legends was the ability to ‘ping’ your teammates. What pinging does is alert the other two players in your team of things that are going on. So, for example, you may want to ping to the rest of the team that you want to go in a certain direction to explore a new area of the map, there are good weapons or armour in a certain location and the important one is to say to the rest of the team that you have spotted enemies in a certain nearby location.
This adds to the team mechanic and can be vital if you are alerted to another teams presence. We simply loved this and wondered why it isn’t in other team-based games like PUBG or Fortnite.
Playing Apex Legends
We have to say that after playing Apex Legends for a good few hours, we really enjoyed playing it and had that feeling of ‘just one more go’.
We found the gunplay was crisp and satisfying, very much in the same way that Titanfall is – which is such an underrated game in our opinion.
We found the gameplay was a lot more frantic than the likes of PUBG. Plus we loved the fact that if you did get killed it didn’t mean that it was game over for your character and with a sympathetic teammate who may take the trouble to revive or resurrect your character you could find yourself back in the action in no time, which was great!
The graphics on the Xbox One that we played it on we found were good and responsive. We also found it quite a colourful game to play and the characters each had their own feel to them with the way they were designed. Also, there wasn’t any of the real gore that you might expect from playing a proper AAA title first-person shooter, which for some younger players is ideal.
On playing it, we felt it was a bit more mature than the likes of Fortnite’s cartoon type environment and in comparison we preferred it. We also preferred that it was was a bit simpler in its approach, so you didn’t have to learn how to build structures and collect material, it was more of a find, equip and shoot kind of game which we really enjoyed.
Overall – is it any good and worth your time
In a word, ‘YES’. It’s free to play and the microtransactions only unlock how the character looks and sounds. Though this may change as the game progresses in time and you may need to buy extra Battle Passes, like you do in Fortnite, in the future but that is only speculation on our part. As it stands at the time of this article is being composed, the only thing extra that may improve your gameplay through a microtransaction is unlocking the two extra characters but if you have the time and you don’t mind grinding then that can be also done by winning games and gaining points.
Overall for a free title, we were bowled over by how polished it was and we felt it was a premium AAA product that felt complete which is a big thing to say in a time where games released today feel more like betas then actual releases.
If you have some free time and you enjoy what can be a fast-paced Battle Royale type game then give it a whirl. It’s free, well polished and above all fun to play and you never know one day you may even see a Titan or two being introduced into the game.