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Gameplay from Apex

Review: Apex Legends is the best battle royale experience money can't buy

  • New NQ Games editor, Callum Lane, reviews new release Apex Legends
  • Though it has paid elements, these are not necessary to be able to play
  • Playing styles are evened out so no particular has style has an unfair advantage

Apex Legends, having dropped last week completely out of the blue, with no marketing campaign or any hype, is undoubtedly the best battle royale experience money can’t buy.

In unprecedented fashion, the game has managed to gain 25m unique players and over 2m concurrent players in its first week.

Like its mammoth counterpart Fortnite, Apex is a free to play battle royale game using cosmetic-only microtransactions to fund itself. However, those are the only similarities the two games share.

Despite borrowing many first person shooter and battle royale ideas from other games, Apex Legends manages to perfect the amalgamation of all these ideas, creating the premier battle royale experience.

Developed by the founders of the Call of Duty Series and more recently the Titanfall series; Respawn Entertainment, Apex is a hero based first person shooter battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe. Sounds a lot? Well that’s because it is, but somehow Respawn have managed to fine tune all of these combining factors to create an excellent game.

Gameplay from Apex
Some of the Legends. Credit: Respawn Entertainment

LEGENDS

The game starts you off with eight legends, characters you can choose to play as, all of which have three unique abilities; a passive ability, which acts as a background ability that is always being used, a tactical ability which can be used in between recharges and an ultimate ability, which is the legend’s defining ability. This ability takes longer to recharge than the tactical ability.

Having these abilities allows players to use their preferred playing style. If you want to play the stealth game, you can play as Bloodhound and become the ‘Beast of the Hunt’ or if you want to play in the medic role then you can play as Lifeline and call in care packages for your squad.

Despite two of the Legends being placed behind a grind/pay wall, the Legends all work perfectly in the game. No Legend feels underpowered or overpowered, with the exception of Wraith who, in the hands of a smart player, can be devastating to other squads with her teleportation abilities. Nonetheless, Respawn have clearly spent a ridiculous amount of hours in finetuning every Legend’s abilities to work perfectly in every squad.


SQUADS / PING

Apex forces players into one of 23-player squads, which for a lot of lone wolf players, or players that just do not like other people, might sound a bit naff. But it’s not naff/ Like a lot of you, I too do not like other people and the very thought of having to talk to them makes me sick.

But, Apex, with its perfected ‘ping’ system, manages to make not talking to your squad through mic chat a preferred option. Squad members are able to tag enemy positions, alert squad members if an enemy has been in a location, suggest locations, highlight the location of loot or request gun attachments with the tap of a button. Apex has the most intuitive ping system I have ever seen in a first person shooter.

As well as this, the Legends offer unique lines of dialogue to the squad, telling them how far from the circle they are or how long till the circle closes and when a care package is being called in. It makes communicating with your squad incredibly easy, despite no one saying a word over voice chat.

However, there is a gap in communication when engaging enemies. Without a mic, planning attacks on squads further afield can prove to be difficult with squad members in the dark with regards to attacking the enemy squad, or holding fire to get closer.


MAP

Apex offers what a lot of its battle royale competitors  do not, and that is an interesting map. Where PUBG offers just a dead field with a few compounds, and Fortnite offers a fully destructible map, Apex offers a map full of closely integrated smaller maps, which all link with one another through the use of a ‘Titanfallesque’ movement system.

Gameplay from Apex
A map from Apex. Credit: Respawn Entertainment

As well as this, the map in Apex offers tons of verticality, allowing for creative ways in which to engage your enemies. Want to slide down a hill, kick a door down and one bang a squad with your shotgun? You can do that. Doors can be smashed open, blown open with explosives or kicked down, all whilst doing damage to any poor player stuck behind them. The map is not only interesting, but it is interactive too.


GUNS

The guns are good, they’re really good. This is Respawn’s bread and butter, making shooting stuff feel really good. Unlike most battle royale titles, there is not a clearly overpowered gun yet, with your choice of gun being down to your chosen playing style, as opposed to just if the gun is a good level or bad level, like Fortnite.

Gameplay from Apex
One of the Legends. Credit: Respawn Entertainment

All the bases are covered: SMGs, pistols, LMGs, snipers and assault rifles all feel unique and ridiculously fun to shoot. My only criticism of the shooting and damage model would be the time to kill is a bit too long, but with a bit of work, I’m sure Respawn would be able to perfect this.


LOOT BOXES

Apex, unfortunately like most free to play games, has the inclusion of loot boxes but these contain only cosmetic items and the game has no pay-to-win elements whatsoever.

Despite this, project lead Drew McCoy was aware of the ire loot boxes would cause, hence why they chose to do a surprise launch: "We're doing a free to play game, with essentially loot boxes, after we were bought by EA, and it's not Titanfall 3. It's the perfect recipe for a marketing plan to go awry, so why have that - let's just ship the game and let players play."

Drew’s comments sum up Apex perfectly. This game is self aware, it understands where it sits in the greater sphere of battle royale shooters, it’s not trying to be like Fortnite, Blackout or PUBG. Instead it has taken all the best bits from these games, along with a few new ideas and created the best battle royale game we’ve ever seen.

In a world where £55 games are launching in a broken unplayable state it’s a breath of fresh air to see a free to play title launch which works so well with no bugs, has great accessibility options, and is on the whole, consumer friendly.

Apex Legends has managed to gain 25m players in a week, so this game has a future, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the likes of Activision and Epic getting a little bit nervous. 

Final rating: 9/10

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