Apex Legends waltzed into our lives as the latest addition to the group of battle royale (BR) games. Developed by Respawn Entertainment, the genre of shooters is based on the 1999 Takami novel Battle Royale, where a class of high schoolers are locked on an island and forced to battle each other ‘til the last man’s standing. More recently, The Hunger Games ran the same concept but with way more lore around it.
You’ve encountered this king of the hill shooter in Fortnite, Call of Duty: Blackout, and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). You jump off a ship and land somewhere on a vast map where you scramble around for guns and equipment before engaging anyone.
Unlike other shooter games, once you die, you’re dead until the next round. Having no respawns means you have to play way smarter. You land in a team of three, with 19 other squads. That’s 60 fighters in a compact, highly vertical map. What sets Apex Legends apart is that you get to choose from eight characters with varying classes, abilities, and ultimate moves.
Right now there’s a tanky shield-wielding big boy, a grenade-launching soldier, a rappelling robot, a care package-dropping medic, a clone deploying trickster, a toxic gassing mad scientist, a teleporting space ninja, and a sneaky techy tracker. For this reason, Apex gets more comparisons to Overwatch, a 6-on-6 first person shooter where every character has vastly different weapon mechanics and specific team roles.
This introduces a whole new dimension of gameplay where your team composition greatly affects how your squad navigates the map towards the final circle, and engages enemies. Compared to previous battle royales where your game is dictated solely by your aiming, positioning, and luck in finding loot, you now also have to worry about missile attacks dropping on you, or entire teams teleporting behind you. With any configuration of the eight currently available heroes, the variations of synergies and strategies are endless, and make for totally different encounters every time.
The thrill of battle royale comes with the added need to stick with your squad, and survive the onslaught of enemy teams and your environment.
You can also say goodbye to waiting for the next 10 to 20 minutes after your early game death as your squad progresses towards the final circle. When you’re knocked down, you can be revived; but, if you bleed out, your squad can recover your dead body’s banner, and take it to a nearby revive beacon. This makes a stronger case for Not Being A Dick to your teammates, because you playing out the game lies in their hands. Top that off with a pioneering ping system that almost completely eradicates the need for in-game text chatting, or audio comms. At a single click, you can note your team’s direction, or supply drops.
Communication is key in any squad shooter, and it’s just so much easier with this system. In other battle royales, I’m always so afraid to queue a game while solo, by fear of getting selfish teammates who are only after their own loot and kills. Yes, these are still team-based games, but the almost pure reliance on your individual skills of aiming and positioning can mean a prominence of lone wolf types. I still get bad teammates from time to time, but more often than not, the entire philosophy behind Apex nudges you towards being a better teammate.
The current landscape of popular shooter games has gravitated towards more team-oriented dynamics. You can see this from the run of games like Call of Duty and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which had team death matches but primarily with the sole objective of gaining kills or capturing flags. In those games, you just had to keep your kill/death ratio up and secure wins.
The thrill of battle royale comes with the added need to stick with your squad, and survive the onslaught of enemy teams and your environment. Apex represents the new wave of games. With all the premium on teamwork and camaraderie, it’s almost like a throwback to the fun of playing split-screen in your living room with a bunch of friends. Hopefully, this is a sign for what’s to come.
Play Apex Legends here.