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Apex Legends Essays

Essays 07 March 2019, 14:13

author: Hank

I Suck At Battle Royale, and Apex Legends is My Favorite Game

How to reinvent the genre and enthrall millions of players while also staying cool? This question must have been asked at least once in Respawn Entertainment's HQ. And, oh boy, did they manage.

I have never liked battle royale games very much. Mostly because I suck at them. Big time. So why did I decide to write about Apex Legends? Is there really anything that wasn’t already said about games such as Playeruknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite? Is the game truly as unique as many players claim? And, if it is, what makes it so? I’ll try to answer these and other questions below, as I unravel my own adventure with Apex Legends.

To be honest, I am not that good at any competitive multiplayer game. This, however, did not discourage me from trying my luck in the multiplayer modes of several installments in the Battlefield series, all the Star Wars: Battlefront games, Titanfall 2 (I’ll come to that in a minute, promise), GTA Online, some of the Call of Duty games, as well as others, mentioning which does not really make much sense, no? And then, out of nowhere, came Playeruknown’s Battlegrounds. Of course, it was not the first chance to plunge into the battle royale genre – it was, however, the first time it happened on such scale. The concept seemed flawless and ingenious in its simplicity. Everybody was hyped for the game, and so was I. I loved watching YouTube videos with some badasses fragging one guy after another to eventually win the whole match. I kept thinking to myself – “How difficult could that be?” And then, after playing several games, I crushed into the brick wall of harsh reality.

You never know who or what is waiting for you at the top of the hill… - 2019-03-07
You never know who or what is waiting for you at the top of the hill…

Being among the first five players to be eliminated in a 60-player game without taking anyone down (but at least with some damage dealt) time after time again was rather upsetting. I kept reading about new modes, maps, and items, I was following the game aright, but I couldn’t force myself to play again. I’m sure some of you can name at least one game you can’t give another chance.

Sometime later I heard about a free battle royale mode available in Fortnite. Initially, the king of the hill mode was a free-to-play addition to Fortnite: Save the World. I don’t think anyone anticipated how successful this mode would eventually become, and I really don’t know what went wrong, but Fortnite didn’t work out for me either. Neither did other attempts of introducing the battle royale formula in well-established games and series.

“Get the biscuits! Some serious shit is going down!”

As I was scrolling through some gaming news outlet, I noticed a combination of two keywords that, together in one sentence, almost made me drop my phone. These words were “Titanfall” and “today.” The news was about a rumor saying that on that particular day, Respawn Entertainment, the studio responsible for creating Titanfall and Titanfall 2, would announce and release their newest battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe. FOR FREE. Then, accompanied by the sound of blazing guns and choppers flying by, I suddenly had a flashback of all the bad experiences I had with the battle royale games. “But this is a new game developed by the creators of Titanfall, and it’s for free. There is nothing wrong in checking it out” I reasoned. And I downloaded. And it was good.

And since then I’ve been playing it every day. And I have to admit that apart from simply enjoying the game the game, I was also uplifted by seeing how the whole community infrastructure surrounding Apex Legends grew stronger with each day. And I don’t mean new review videos popping out on every gaming YT channel – I mean tips, tutorials, new easter eggs, news about the growing community (50 million players and counting), and new players you meet that have some character and weapon skins (not to mention banners, quips, frames, and counters) you haven’t even seen before. There are even Spotify playlists designed for playing Apex Legends. So, what encouraged so many to drop whatever they were playing at the time and switch to Apex Legends?

I'm not sure how long would it take to scroll through all of them. - 2019-03-07
I'm not sure how long would it take to scroll through all of them.

Introducing the Legends

The first thing that makes Apex Legends different from other battle royale games are the titular Legends – eight characters (with more on the way), each one featuring a unique skillset that diversifies the gameplay. This, however, led to the squad-based formula, as it is difficult to balance a game with 60 players, each one with a different character. Squads balance the game and allow players to feel a valid member of a team. The character you choose affects your playstyle as well as the overall team synergy.

When selecting a Legend, you might notice an icon in the top left corner of each Legend’s portrait. This icon represents a class of this particular character. The developers have (thus far) prepared four character classes, which fit the Recon-Defense-Assault-Medic/support scheme. Remember that even though several characters represent the same class, it doesn’t mean they all share the same abilities; classes don’t play as significant a role as the specialization of each Legend.

In the blue corner, weighing in at…

Bloodhound is a Technological Tracker, who can spot the tracks of her (yup, it’s a she) enemies, mark the current location of nearby opponents and hunt them down in the Beast of the Hunt mode. Gibraltar is a Shielded Fortress using his personal or dome shields to protect himself and his teammates. He can also call in an air strike to damage (or even eliminate) an entire enemy squad. Lifeline, a Combat Medic is a great addition to the team, as she can revive her companions faster, dispatch a healing drone, and even call in the Care-Package – a pod full of high-quality defensive gear. Pathfinder, a Forward Scout is (at the moment) the only robotic character players can use in Apex Legends. Its abilities are focused around mobility – it can move around using a grappling hook, foresee the location of the next ring, and create a zipline for everyone (friends and foes) to use.

Who’s your favorite? - 2019-03-07
Who’s your favorite?

Wraith, an Interdimensional Skirmisher should be your choice if moving between dimensions is your thang. She can jump between realities to flee from opponents, create portals for her teammates, and is also warned by an odd voice about incoming dangers. Many “guides” and “tips and tricks” videos recommend starting your adventure in Apex Legends with Bangalore, a Professional Soldier. That makes a lot of sense, as she moves faster when sprinting under fire, allowing you to escape tight situations real fast. Also, you can cover your escape (or ambush an enemy squad) using a smoke screen. Lastly, Bangalore can call in an artillery strike similar to the one mentioned when describing Gibraltar, with one difference – the missiles explode not on impact, but after a while, giving your squad time to retreat.

And in the same corner, after they’re unlocked…

The above characters are available to all players right from the beginning. The remaining two characters become available after they are unlocked using one of the in-game currencies – either for points you get for playing the game and completing objectives (Legend Tokens) or for the currency you can purchase with real money (Apex Coins). Either way, the two characters are Mirage (Holographic Trickster) and Caustic (Toxic Trapper). The former is for those of you who like bamboozling others rather than being bamboozled – he can deploy holographic decoys. One decoy is deployed automatically when Mirage is knocked-down in battle; another can be set to confuse opponents, while a group of clone decoys can be deployed to allow cloaked Mirage to hide or escape. And last, but not least – Caustic, who can dispatch individual canisters of deadly gas or cover an entire area with a suffocating cloud. Moreover, his toxic clouds are sort of a one-way smokescreen, transparent for Caustic, but impenetrable for others.

An example of the ability overview. - 2019-03-07
An example of the ability overview.

So, what makes Apex Legends so unique? And is it unique after all?

Well, first of all, the diversified squads. While other battle royale games introduced team-based modes, as I have pointed above, selecting characters depending on their abilities and figuring out how they will complement the squad is possibly the mainstay of Apex Legends. All the skills mentioned above should enable you to choose a character that caters specifically to your needs, or at least to collect the in-game currency to unlock the one you desire.

As it was already mentioned, Apex Legends is set in the same universe as the Titanfall series. And what was so cool about Titanfall games (apart from the Titans) was the freedom of movement and high mobility of characters. You could slide, run across the walls, and combine the moves in flawless rootin’ shootin’ parkour sequences. So far, you cannot run across walls in Apex Legends, but you can still perform slides, use and set up zip lines, quickly glide to another location with the balloons, try some tricks that make you run faster and utilize a variety of different character skills to explore the game’s mechanics. When sliding from a hill, you do not have to bother controlling the character’s speed – your Legend slides automatically, enabling you to aim, reload, heal your character, or replenish their shield.

What are the chances you’ll get shot right before reaching the top? - 2019-03-07
What are the chances you’ll get shot right before reaching the top?

The balloons are also interesting – just climb the tall rope and you’ll be able to glide on the balloon to another location. Horizontal and diagonal ziplines can take you across precipices and rooftops at an increased speed. You can move in both directions on the lines, but you cannot heal when ziplining. Another important aspect is that there is no fall damage in Apex Legends. You can literally jump from a supply ship flying over the map without taking any damage whatsoever. Still no titans, though…

Another element that’s praised often is the pinging system. You can indicate anything you want with a single press of a button. Need an extended clip? Just click the empty clip slot in your inventory. Seeing an extended clip lying that you don’t need? Point at the clip, and ping your teammates to let them know. Want to let your squad know where you think you should be landing? Point and click. Want to tell them which way you want to go? Point and click. Want to warn your teammates of an enemy nearby before you’re revived? Point and click.

The last element mentioned above brings us to another topic – getting shot doesn’t instantly end the match for you. First, if you’re knocked down, you can move (slowly, but still), ping, use a personal shield and hide. Before you bleed out, other players can revive you. After your second life bar is depleted by a pesky foe, you leave a crate behind you, which your teammates can use to retrieve your banner. And this is when the fun part starts. By bringing the banner to a station (in a manner similar to capture the flag mode), your mates can revive you. After such a revival, you join your team, however with no gear.

The respawn point (I was killed right after taking this screenshot. You’re welcome). - 2019-03-07
The respawn point (I was killed right after taking this screenshot. You’re welcome).

What next?

According to the official Roadmap released by Respawn Entertainment, Apex Legends is not just a fad – quite the contrary; it should become one of the permanent residents in the BR office. The coming year will be divided into quarterly seasons, each one introducing new Legends, loot, cosmetics, weapons, etc.

A lot of these have already been mined from the game’s source code. For example, below are the names of 11 possible new Legends to be introduced throughout this year:

  • Blackout
  • Crypto
  • Husaria
  • Jericho
  • Nomad
  • Octane
  • Prophet
  • Rampart
  • Rosie
  • Skunner
  • Wattson

Of course, each name brings a ton of clues about what sort of character it might be and what abilities he or she could possess. Nonetheless, let’s leave that for another time, shall we?

The official Roadmap published by Respawn Entertainment. - 2019-03-07
The official Roadmap published by Respawn Entertainment.

Apart from entertaining all kinds of hopes and speculations, players are also waiting for Respawn to deliver some of the promises the studio has made. First of all, the crossplay functionality looks promising – I personally have a lot of friends who enjoy Apex Legends on a different platform than myself and it would be amazing if we could all play together.

Apart from this, it was announced that Apex Legends will become available on iOS and Android devices, as well as on Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, we don’t know any specifics. Still, the crossplay issue isn’t going away!

Ride on!

I have to say I really enjoy playing Apex Legends. I love seeing how the entire infrastructure, together with the community that surrounds the game, evolve and add something new to the menu each day. Discovering new tricks, easter eggs, people coming up with new “ultimate squad/weapon/gear combinations,” forums boiling with fan theories and speculations is what, in my opinion, makes this game unique. Let’s just hope nobody messes this one up. Fingers crossed!

Hank | Gamepressure.com

Apex Legends

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