It’s not often that a game comes, quite literally, out of nowhere to explode into one of the biggest video games in the world. That has been the case for Respawn Entertainment’s newest entry into the Battle Royale genre: Apex Legends!
Now look, I have to admit… When I saw the initial gameplay reveal, I figured it would be a solid game that would stack up with the other big powerhouse Battle Royale titles out there, but at first glance I wasn’t sure it was going to be enough to really pull me, or others, away from the games they were currently playing. Would it really set itself apart enough from games like Fortnite and PUBG, or from Call of Duty’s Blackout mode? I felt like it would be a fun experience, but I wasn’t sold that it would be a game changer in the genre. Boy was I wrong! All it took was one night of getting my hands on it that I realized this game really was a breath of fresh air in all the best ways for shooters and Battle Royales alike. What was it that made Apex Legends such an incredible gaming experience for me? Well, I’m glad you asked! For me, it boiled down to Apex Legends feeling like the perfect combination of Borderlands, Blackout, and Overwatch. Let me explain…
When I first saw the reveal for Apex Legends, one of the first things that jumped out at me was the art style and overall aesthetic for the game. The comedic elements, the dialogue, and the visuals and designs felt very much like a Borderlands to me, in the best way possible. I really feel like Apex blends a sort realism (not unlike what you’d see in the Blackout mode for COD), with something more stylized and cartoony – and in my opinion, I feel like this is an art style is going to age incredibly well and will allow Respawn to make some really cool characters, guns, etc, that won’t pull people out of the world the same way it would for a more realistic game mode like Blackout.
This is the same reason I feel that Borderlands is able to create some really wacky and larger-than-life characters with “bazillions” of guns at your disposal. You can go back today and play any of the Borderlands titles and they’ll still look and feel great, and will still be really fun to play. Now, am I saying that other Battle Royales and shooters won’t age or evolve as well? I mean, not necessarily, but I think there’s an argument I can make that the more realistic shooters are going to end up feeling clunky or outdated, which gives games like Fortnite and Apex and Borderlands a better chance at lasting appeal, in the same way you can go back and play classic SNES games because their art is just so damn good. We’re clearly only at the tip of the iceberg for Apex Legends, but thanks to this art style decision it’ll be a game that will potentially look and feel good for years and years to come.
Once I got a chance to play Apex Legends, I realized it was more than just a game that looked good, but it felt incredibly smooth and fun to play right out of the gate. The best way I can describe how the game feels is that it takes the mechanical and gameplay fidelity of games like Call of Duty and Titanfall and drops it in a very stylized Battle Royale game. What I mean by that is the game just feels so damn good to play – everything is so fluid and fast-paced, the gunplay feels really, really good (outside of that damn Mozambique, gross), and overall when you hit your buttons on your controller or keyboard and mouse, it just works. This was a welcome sight because I had my fair share of frustrating moments playing Fortnite (which I have several hundred hours in) where the guns I was using, and the buttons I was pressing, just weren’t quite doing what I wanted them to do. I never became proficient enough at the very important building aspects of Fortnite, so I relied on my combat and gun skills to overcome my enemies, and that more often than not ended in me getting outbuilt, outflanked, and outshot at almost every turn.
Meanwhile, in Apex Legends, I feel like if I lose a gunfight or I get downed/eliminated, I know exactly why it happened: either the player I was fighting was just that much better than me (or I missed my shots, which happens more than I’d like), or I got double or triple teamed by other teams wanting to come in and clean up fights for easy kills. Granted, sometimes I lost fights in Fortnite because the people were better than me, but sometimes I lost to the random number generator and the bloom mechanic that would sometimes, inexplicably, just make bullets not hit where I wanted them to hit. In Apex, once you are comfortable with guns and their effective ranges, how to use your scopes, etc, you know exactly where your bullets are going to go and it’s a matter of out strafing, outflanking, outshooting, and outsmarting your opponents – which I really like, because I feel like after almost every game I see something I did wrong, something I can improve, whereas with games like Fortnite sometimes I just threw my hands up and went “I did everything perfectly, and it didn’t matter”, which is a really frustrating feeling to have.
The last big thing that jumped out at me that differentiates Apex Legends from other Battle Royales is it’s almost Overwatch-esque approach to Apex’s “Legends” and their abilities. Apex Legends is a Battle Royale shooter at its core, but its inclusion of a roster of characters with unique skills and abilities is really going to set itself apart from the other Battle Royale’s in the space right now – and not just because of how your Legend plays, but how your Legend interacts with the other two people on your team. I love the synergies I’m already seeing from certain characters and abilities: do you have friends that are really enjoying playing Bangalore or Caustic? I’d suggest looking at Bloodhound as a character to play then, since Bangalore and Caustic utilize smoke grenades and poisonous gas, respectively, as some of their primary abilities, and Bloodhound’s abilities include ways to track and highlight enemies, regardless of smoke or anything impeding his vision in a fight. Have a team that is relying more on turtling and winning long engagements posted up in defensive positions? I’d consider maining Gibraltar or Lifeline, as both have really powerful ways to defend points, with Gibraltar using big shielding bubbles and Lifeline utilizing healing robots to keep people topped off in fights.
This is just the beginning of these kinds of synergies, too. Each of the eight characters has unique strengths and weaknesses, and despite all the tier lists you might see out there on the internet, every single Legend is viable, in my opinion, and can be incredibly potent and lethal in the right hands. Some passive abilities are more niche than others, some Legends might have ultimate abilities you’ll basically use on cooldown, while others have ones you want to hold on to and use at the perfect time, which may be only once or twice a game, but at the end of the day picking the Legend (or two) that you really like, and just owning them, is going to pay off big time once you really get the nuance and strategies down for them, and how they best interact with other Legends in-game. Which, for me, is incredibly reminiscent of Overwatch, as I picked a couple of characters to really own, and master, and I was able to synergize my abilities with other people in much more effective ways – and since these games are team sports, learning how you work, but more importantly how you work within a team, is a major key to becoming a Champion!
So now that I’ve told you why I think Apex Legends is rad, maybe I can share some interesting little tips and tricks I’ve learned in my time so far!
- If you’re playing Wraith (like I am!), you can use your ultimate ability to not only flank people, not only for increased speed and mobility around the battlefield but it’s an incredibly useful tool to save your teammates – even if they’re already down! Not only can you use your portal to run in and collect your teammate’s beacons to revive them, but if someone is only down, you can drop your portal for them to crawl through. So if things are getting spicy, drop a portal for your buddy to crawl through so you can grab an easy rez – just be ready in case an enemy or two follows you through your own portal!
- If you’re in the middle of an intense gunfight, don’t forget to use your crouch button to your advantage. Not only can the quick changes in height impact your enemy’s shots (especially if they’re chasing headshots), but if you run out of bullets in your magazine and need to swap weapons, hitting crouch at the right time helps you to instantly swap your weapon without having to wait on the animation to finish. This might be unintended, but ya know what, I’m going to use it to my advantage anyway!
- TAKE YOUR TIME! I know a lot of people want to just spray and pray on people when the fights start getting hectic, but if you just breathe and really focus on your shots, you’re going to have a lot more luck. Sure, sometimes just emptying entire magazines with reckless abandon will net you some kills, but more often than not you’re going to miss too many of those shots and get whittled down. Because of everything having a relatively low TTK (time to kill), and everyone having a decent amount of health (up to 200 hp with shields, and up to 50% headshot reduction with helmets), it’s often the smart, calculated shots that win fights as opposed to the frantic ones.
- If you want to practice and get better in gunfights, I’d recommend landing hot as often as possible – jump into those blue circles, jump to Artillery, to Skull Town, etc, because the sooner you can improve on your gunplay, and the sooner you realize how to engage and what guns you like, the better off you are. Because at the end of the day it won’t matter how safe you were getting gear to start a game, or how “kitted” out you are at the end of that game, if you’re not comfortable in gunfights, you’re almost never going to come out on top.
- My recommended way to set up my guns is to find a mainstay gun I really like and will use in pretty much every fight, and a second gun that is designed as your back up or “closer” to finish out fights. For example, one of my ideal setups is the R-301 as my main weapon, because it’s consistent damage and relatively easy to use even without attachments, with the Peacekeeper shotgun as my secondary, because once I empty a magazine or two of my 301, I’m usually in a spot where I just need to push and finish fights, which is where I use the Peacekeeper as my finisher weapon. This approach may not work for everyone, but it’s worked incredibly well for me as of late.
- My biggest suggestion, and one I have for every Battle Royale, is that to have fun with games like this you really need to have a short memory. You aren’t going to win every game – in fact, you’re likely only going to win 5%-10% of your games. So don’t let that difficult loss get you down, because you can just load back up, fly back in, and try it again. If you go into every game looking to just have fun and improve in any way you can, instead of NEEDING to win every game, you’re going to have a much, much better time.