By Juan Calvillo
“Apex Legends” is a new free-to-play battle royale game from Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts, giving the gaming community a unique take on the tired battle royale formula. Three days after its release, Vince Zampella took to Twitter to announce that “Apex Legends” had it the ten million download mark. Respawn created a game that now rivals and beats better well known online streamed battle royale games.
The game is entirely free to play and is available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.
Despite being free-to-play, it does have the same style of monetization as other free-to-play games.
It uses a “loot box” type of reward system that is earned at every new level up or can be bought using real-world money.
These boxes contain only cosmetic enhancements to characters’ looks or to the things they say. It is entirely up to responsible players to decide whether to buy them or continue playing and collect them as they level up their characters.
The story for “Apex Legends” is somewhat thin and relies on being tied to the immersive game universe of another one of Respawn’s video game franchises, “Titanfall.”
The game takes place on outside worlds that have become known as “The Outland.”
Instead of bloody wars, they have decided that people of these worlds will resolve conflict with matches between their chosen heroes. This all leads to the amazing combination that Respawn has used to make an epic battle royale gaming experience.
In “Apex Legends,” Respawn took all the things that gamers have come to love about online shooters and mixed it into a game that can completely take over a person’s social life.
The game is centered on the same idea that is common in battle royale game types in which many enter and only one can survive.
But instead of single-player battles or battles that put together groups, “Apex Legends” has used the idea of hero archetypes to make teaming up not just interesting, but needed to survive.
That is why “Apex Legends” creates teams of three and drops them in against 19 other teams.
At the time of this article, the limit has been established to 20 teams of three with a maximum number of 60 players per match.
Despite the lower number of players, it’s the mechanic of hero characters that has really changed the game.
The idea of heroes with diverse power sets and abilities comes from the various first person and third person hero centric massively multiplayer online games. Games like “League of Legends” and “Overwatch” have heroes that are crucial to team based fights. “Apex Legends” follows this structure and adds it to the BR universe of games. The only other game that somewhat follows suit is a smaller BR game named “Realm Royale,” but where that game simply dips its toe in the water, “Apex Legends” jumps in head first. Giving individual heroes special abilities that truly alter the battle strategy of a team, players can decide if they want to be a healer type or go into the fray as a damage dealer. The simple idea that an enemy team may have a healer in the group changes the way players interact with each other. Likewise, a hero on the other team that can drop a strafe run of bombs in an indicated area may end the fight in a flash. And the game doesn’t falter in the flash department.
Respawn hit it out of the park with the visual style of the game. Taking its visual cues from the “Titanfall” universe the game has inventive weapon designs and the characters all have unique looks. Watching some of the characters use their ultimate abilities or special abilities is a treat to see. There is a total of eight heroes to choose from, and they are representative of the three class types: healers, damage dealers, and tanks. Of the three, tanks might need to be fleshed out more. These characters tend to be damage sponges in most games where as here they tend to be defensive types to protect the rest of the team, but at launch there are only two characters to choose from.
The real icing on the cake though is the battle mechanics. Respawn took the twitch sensitive controls that they perfected in “Titanfall 2” and gave them a slight refacing in “Apex Legends.” Special abilities are smart and varied, and the shooting is crisp and tight. They also added the very useful ability to mark items and locations in world so that players can highlight them for their team. This simple tactic allows players to better communicate if they don’t have a headset for gaming.
“Apex Legends” was released with very little fanfare and has since become an enormous hit for Respawn. The game and the company deserve all the attention they are getting from the community. There have been some server issues over its first weekend, most likely due to an even greater number of new players. Yet, “Apex Legends” still established itself as a great game and an even greater BR game. In the BR set where games like “Fortnite” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” have become synonymous with greatness, “Apex Legends” really does stand at the front of the pack.