Does Respawn Entertainment’s newest entry into the battle royale genre have enough to stick
out from the pack?
With so many battle royale games out nowadays, it’s easy to get fatigued. You can hardly go a month or two without a new title coming out. Even long-standing franchises like Call of Duty have thrown their hats into the rink. What I mean to say is that you have to offer a really high quality product if you even want to get noticed by the mainstream populous. So how does the most recent outing by Titanfall powerhouse Respawn Entertainment fare?
"You have to offer a really high quality product if you even want to get noticed by the mainstream populous. So how does the most recent outing by Titanfall powerhouse Respawn Entertainment fare?"
Apex Legends is Respawn’s crack at the battle royale genre. You probably know the deal by now: you group up with two other players and drop from a ship onto a large map in order to search for guns and survive until the end of the round. This game takes place in the Titanfall universe, and it’s pretty apparent once you get into the game. You’ll have access to much of the weaponry you became used to in the Titanfall games, and a lot of animations look taken right out of the beloved shooter. You’ll even be able to play as one of those robots you would always see running around in the background.
Which brings us to the characters. One of Apex Legends’ biggest twists to the battle royale formula is the introduction of hero characters. Starting up a game, you pick from a selection of six characters, with two more available for you to unlock. These characters all have their own quirks, from access to a grappling hook to a deployable healing station. While giving players abilities that not all other players don’t have might sound counterintuitive to the whole concept of battle royale, it actually works out really well. No character is given such a powerful tool that they outdo another class outright. Through smart utilization, every class can be a useful asset to a team. Team composition isn’t something that a lot of battle royale games have players manage, and that makes Apex Legends stick out from the pack.
Using abilities is just flat-out fun, and actually did a lot to engage me. No longer would I just be out of luck if someone got to a great gun before me. I could either grapple hook out of there and live to fight another day, or scout the enemies out and sneak around them. Learning to use these abilities in creative ways is when Apex Legends is at its best. While you can easily use a teleportation warp to create a quick escape from trouble, you can also use it to disorient enemies that try to follow you through. These addition wrinkles make it fun to keep playing and experiment with all the different characters.
"While giving players abilities that not all other players don’t have might sound counterintuitive to the whole concept of battle royale, it actually works out really well."
Let’s talk about the gameplay. To those of you familiar with Titanfall, you’ll probably have to adapt to some things you took for granted before. For one, there’s no wall running. Apex Legends is a much more grounded game. You won’t be summoning giant mechs in this title either. You’re still able to scale low walls and slide around down hills or in the midst of combat though. Overall, the game feels as tight as you would expect from a game coming from Respawn. Apex Legends does end up sort of feeling like Titanfall-lite, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun time- it’s just a different set of skills to adapt to.
Shooting in this game feels great as well. All the weapons feel just as good as they did in Titanfall, with tons of feedback with each pull of the trigger. You have tons of options if you can find them, and there’s plenty of gear to pick up around the map as well. Picking up items and sorting through your menus has always been the bane of battle royale titles, especially on consoles, but thankfully, Apex Legends mostly avoids this pitfall. The UI is streamlined and easy to use once you get the hang of it. You can quickly equip items and armor as you find them in the wild without having to manually swap out gear. You always have easy access to your healing equipment, and can open up a quick radial menu in order to select what item you want to use. This system keeps the gameplay from getting bogged down in menus, and does a lot to improve the pacing of a match.
"Apex Legends does end up sort of feeling like Titanfall-lite, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun time- it’s just a different set of skills to adapt to."
However, there are issues present. The map in Apex Legends is also a mixed bag. Starting off with the things the map does right, you’ll be able to engage your opponents in a wide variety of biomes and locales. There’s also a great emphasis on verticality, which sets it apart from other battle royale titles. Like any good battle royale game, you’ll have your choice of where to scavenge. Players can drop into more secluded areas, like the barren and dusty Thunderdome, to start the match slowly without too much fear of other players. Or they can try bum rushing the floating Supply Ship, potentially grabbing killer weapons right at the start of the round, but most likely having to put up with other players along the way.
However, these areas aren’t always the most inspired locations. Too many spots on the map look like little bits and pieces from Titanfall maps that have been ripped out and loosely connected by grassy plains and muddy slopes. Without much to differentiate locales, you’ll be looking at a lot of repetition over your time with the game. While the map does serve its purpose, the lack of identity is really a shame.
Very quickly, I’ll go over the progression system that Apex Legends has in place. After matches, you get points for performing well and and after enough time you can spend them to grab some cosmetic items. As a free-to-play battle royale title, most of your points are going to be going towards these cosmetic items and loot boxes. You’ll be given these loot boxes when you level up, and they’ll include gun skins, winning poses, quips for you character to say, and more. For players who are hooked on this game, the grind to earn another change at a shiny new item will be enough to keep them going. But for most folk, they’ll probably just open up a free loot box or two and get on with their lives.
"The map in Apex Legends is a mixed bag."
Ultimately, Apex Legends is a pretty fun game. While it probably won’t topple the battle royale juggernauts, it’s a fun time to dive into if you’re tired of Fortnite and PUBG. The issues that the game has with its lack of map variety and game modes hold it back from being a truly competitive force in the genre. But there’s enough quality content here for players to dig into if they feel so inclined. If you’re just looking for solid fun and some cool toys to play around with, then Apex Legends will give you what you want.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Gameplay feels smooth; Hero characters add an interesting twist to the battle royale genre.
Lack of map diversity.
Apex Legends is a fun entry into the battle royale genre. Besides suffering from some issues in map design, it brings enough new ideas to the table to warrant a look.