Apex Legends thoughts9 Feb 2019
Just a quick post this week.
Ok, so in case you missed it Apex Legends is a Battle Royal game from Respawn (the dev that made Titanfall 1 & 2), that was released this week with no pre-launch at all.
The games aesthetic is somewhere between Fortnite and PUBG, not cartoony, but not realistic either. I’ve seen comparisons to Borderlands in art direction and it’s a pretty good one, just without the strong outlines.
In someway the games characters have a similar design to Overwatch, with each of them having their own special abilities. Apex Legends differs with the specials being the only difference however, all characters move and attack in the same way the rest of the time. This means that you can pick up a character you’ve never played and still be useful, unlike Overwatch where you need to know how to play a character to be any good with them.
Which brings me to the next bit change from the current crop of battle royal games, in that it only supports 3-person teams. Normally this would be an issue, team play with randoms isn’t always fun, but luckily they’ve made a few tweaks to the game to stop this from being frustrating.
When you drop in with your team one player is appointed the drop leader (you can give this up to the next player if you want), and they decide when the team jumps and where they land. All players can mark points on the map or directly using the ping system, but by default you jump under control of the leader. You can hold a key to break off and do your own thing, but it means that by default you all end up in the same spot without having to worry about last-minute changes leaving you with a split team.
The second feature that helps team play is the ping system. You can middle mouse click anything or anywhere in the world, and it guesses what you mean and tells the other players (you can click and hold to select from a wheel to skip the guessing part). See an enemy, ping it. Want to go in that direction, ping there. Found some good loot, ping it. This also tells them exactly what the loot is so they can decide if it’s worth grabbing or not.
It’s quick enough that you can do it without thinking but it means you can play in teams without mics or voice chat turned on. They also added a single button press to thank another player if you pick up something they dropped for you, which is a nice touch.
The other main difference between Apex Legends and the other battle royal games is that you can respawn your dead team mates. When someone takes enough damage they get knocked down, which you can easily bring someone back from with a few second button hold. Take more damage and they die, turning into a futuristic coffin that other people can loot. However, this has a banner on it that your teams mates can grab (within 60 seconds) and then take to one of the respawn points scattered across the map to bring you back into the match.
This gives you a reason to hang around even if you get killed as most players will try and bring dead members back. If you’re dead, you can press a key to ping the nearest respawn point once they’ve got your banner, to give them a reminder.
Of course, F2P games need to earn money, so there’s a micro-transaction system. Currently there’s a shop where you can buy custom weapons skins with credits (which you can only get by buying) in the same style as Fortnite (so each item stays for a few days then swapped out for something else). You can also buy loot boxes which drop random items, you get one every time you level up in the game. These are all cosmetic (weapon skins, characters skins, voice lines, takedown animations), but they do have a system that ensures you don’t get duplicates and you’ll get a legendary item at least once every 30 boxes. Loot boxes also drop crafting material which you can use make anything, but stuff does seem expensive to craft so you’re not going to be getting too much this way.
They’re launching a Fortnite style season pass in March, so this will probably be the most cost-effective way of getting content while supporting the game.
Currently two of the eight characters are locked and must be purchased (either with credits or earned stuff), much like Rainbow Six : Siege. They work out at £6 each, so not overly cheap, but not expensive either. As all the characters mostly play the same, you’re not limiting your team composition by not having all of them, unlike in R6:S where I feel that you really want as many as you can.
In terms of other players so far every game has been fun and there’s been no greifing and everyone’s tried to help out. The respawn mechanic helps here I think as being a jerk will lead to you being left and the other players carrying on without you. I've ended up on quite a few two-person teams either due matchmaking or someone wandering off and dying a little too far away to risk a pickup and managed to come 2nd most of the time.
Overall, it’s feels a lot smoother to play than PUBG, which still feels sluggish now after playing Fortnite, and skips the annoying bits in Fortnite (the slow drop and looting/smashing phase, and the building phase at the end).
You really should give it a try.