I'm not trying to be the best in Battle Royale games. I don't troll or anything, but it's not so much about skillful victories, it's about having fun or telling an exciting story. But Apex Legends makes me try. I also get some great stories.
Apex Legends is a Battle Royale by Titanfall developer Respawn. It has something to do with the world of this series, but the connections aren't that important. Twenty teams of three heroes, known as legends, compete against each other on a map. Each legend has different abilities – healing drones, air strikes, protective domes – that can give your team an edge in combat. The heroic aspect of the game is a change for Battle Royales, but apart from that, the basics of Apex Legends are standard for the genre: collecting weapons and attachments, overcoming an engaging circle and murdering the way to the last standing team.
Apex is a tasting menu with Battle Royale moments and not the potato chip jump die restart of my Fortnite experiences. There are countless moments when you can surprise or disappoint yourself. If I don't die immediately after landing on the game map and find no weapon before someone else does it, I will stay far into the endgame and survive several brushes with death before being knocked down.
The game's legends are compulsory to choose from, but they lack the personality of Overwatch's characters or the visual flair of Fortnite's myriad skins. You can customize them to a certain extent and give them different language lines and outfits, but I haven't found a combination of adjustments that even my favorite legend, the healer Lifeline, feels like mine. Instead of being defined as who they are or how fans can customize them, legends are defined by what they do.
Do you want to be hyper-mobile? Choose Pathfinder for its ziplines or Wraith for your portals. Would you like to use your surroundings? Use the Bangalore smoke detector or the Caustic gas traps. Do you prefer to use stealth and trickery? Try Bloodhound's tracking skills or Mirage's decoys. Legends are bodies rather than characters, but these bodies have to live.
Unlike the comic clumsiness of Fortnite or the technical creep of PUBG, the movement of the apex characters feels balletic. You can run fast, slide down hills and seamlessly overcome high walls and obstacles. There is no fall damage and it is dizzying and exciting to jump from impossible heights and keep moving. The game's map is designed for athletic enjoyment, with balloons for abseiling and diving into cities designed to move from low to high ground. You can cross parts of the map in a clip, move smoothly in and out of battles, and reposition yourself like a ninja to get the final shot.
The capable, creative bodies that Apex gives me inspire me to do justice to them with my tactics. I take risks that I don't want to take in other Battle Royales. I wriggle through an explosive airstrike to save a teammate. I slide down long corridors to escape the danger. I jump off a cliff to surprise an enemy team below. At this point, I feel like a badass just going through the game.
The actual shooting, on the other hand, feels less liberating. Target drifts, weapons retreat wildly and your magazine is ridiculously small. You need to find the right attachments and add-ons to counter the natural tendency for weapons to rebellion. Even with perfect utilization, you can shoot frantically in a fight while doing little damage. The contrast – how wonderful and nifty it feels to just move around the game compared to the attention and control necessary to actually succeed in combat – has sent me back to YouTube videos and Reddit threads, Back to the short tutorial of the game to test weapons and study bullets Spray on my wall with tape and print out weapon rankings and attachment lists from my computer.
As in the concession to its unpredictable weapons, Apex Legends forgives in a different way. You will find armor and helmets of various rarities, from ordinary white to purple to the legendary gold shield, with which you can revive yourself when you are depressed. Additional health packs and shield charges allow you to fortify yourself in the middle of a fight. As a result, legends are robust. Friends I've played with have noticed how many hits we can make or deal without dying or felling an enemy. I can fall and be resuscitated, knocking down an enemy just to knock him down minutes later. My team can be out of action and sent to pack, then destroy the next enemy squad we are facing and then be surpassed by the next.
Down is not out in Apex. As with other Battle Royales, after the crash you have a certain amount of time during which you can still be revived. Once you officially die, your teammates have even more time to grab your "banner", a customizable tablet that represents your character, and take it to one of the card's respawn beacons. From there you can be brought back to life, without equipment and stay in the game.
You have to calculate the risks of this system. Does the enemy let your dejected teammates live as bait? Will they store the respawn beacon and then catch you? This tension creates some memorable scenarios. Once I ran back into the circle to scoop my friend's banner the second before it expired and finally take it out of the game. Another time, I worked through balls like Neo from The Matrix to track down the banners of my two teammates while two other teams fought for their prey.
The respawn system also creates loyalty, especially in a game where you, as a lone wolf, are unlikely to last long. In most of my games, a teammate revived me instead of letting myself die. Once after I got my banner, a teammate said to me in voice chat, "Don't worry, I won't loot your things." When I laughingly asked why, they replied, "Ethics, man." I was able to reappear my hard-earned equipment.
Apex Legends promotes this intimacy, both because you need your teammates and because they have so many ways to talk to you. Apex Legends has a voice chat and ping system that you can communicate with by placing markers instead of speaking. Success in all Battle Royales depends on team communication. Apex Legends makes it easy to find a way you feel comfortable with. With a click of the mouse I can see the locations of the enemies, loot, where I want to go, what equipment I need. I muted voice communication in Overwatch and Fortnite, but not in Apex Legends. This is partly because there is no non-bulky option to mute others. Combined with the current lack of in-game reporting capabilities, it can be difficult to avoid toxic players. On the other hand, I don't often have to mute voice chat because relatively few Apex players bother to use it. There are many easy ways to communicate non-verbally, which is why in my experience only the friendliest or most aggressive players seem to come into the chat.
This intimacy is supported by an amazing amount of transparency between the players about their wishes and decisions in the game. At the start of a game, you have a limited amount of time to select a character. By hovering over the icon, you can indicate who you want to choose, whom your teammates can either respect or overwrite. As soon as you have selected, the rank of your teammates and their statistics will be displayed. This is indicated by customizable trackers that show damage, kills, revives, or character-specific achievements, such as: B. Kills in the ultimate ability of Bloodhound "Beast of the Hunt" or healing you did with lifelines tactical drone. You'll also see the game's "champion", a high-ranking player. If you take them out, you get additional experience.
Banners can give you an insight into how good another player is or what game priorities they have. Trackers and their unlocks are character-specific, so they don't necessarily paint a complete picture of a particular player's abilities, but there is still a lot more information than other Battle Royales I've played about the people who are responsible for my game life . Sometimes it can be a lot of pressure to see the skill gap between random teammates and me, which either inspires me to do my best or puts me in a spiral of fear (or alternating between the two).
In a recent game, a lower level player and I teamed up with a high level player who had hundreds of kills. During the text chat of the game, the higher-ranking player informed us that we had "Fuck Boi statistics" and that we had disconnected. This encounter heralded a night of toxic games in a row. Other teammates criticized my character selection and stats, scolded me when I made a mistake, refused to restore my banner, or parted company as soon as they died, rather than giving me a chance to respawn them again. Sometimes the malice of other players suffocates me. It will be worse for me when I hear how teammates berate me for every shot or every non-ideal choice of landing site. In other cases, this pressure makes me stronger because I need to prove myself. Once, when my teammate was knocked down with hundreds of kills, I rushed in to kill her attacker and revive him. Your praise at that moment meant more to me than I ever expected, although it was really just a stranger typing "thank you".
I also experienced this pressure from the other side. When I work with newer players, I feel a sense of readiness to protect and the need to face the occasion and be an infinitely better player than I am. I was recently in a match with two new players, both of whom appeared to be underage when they started using voice chat. They were amazed at my poor number of kills and asked me how I was "so good at the game". They even asked if I was a superstar streamer ninja, despite my clearly non-ninja origin grip.
I held back for a while and felt strange to be a grown man playing with two children. But her questions were so energetic and frank – what is armor? Why does this lady keep mentioning a ring? My mouse wheel is broken, what should I do? – that I finally jumped on the voice to explain the game. I made sure I was conscious of my language, drawing on my experience as a teacher over a decade ago. You can do more damage with armor, I told them. The ring is this bright orange wall and we should avoid it, but it won't kill us right away. You can press the number buttons.
While pillaging, one of them fired a full clip into the air for no reason. I jumped into protection mode, scanned the horizon with my sniper rifle, and urged her to take cover if anyone heard us. I felt a wild loyalty to them as we pillaged the map, shouted what I found, and then explained to them why they might want it. With a good choice of landing sites, we actually made it into the last three teams, although I had to explain again and again why they should run away from the ring instead of into it.
When shots were fired nearby, my heart leaped into my throat. I asked her to sit back when I looked ahead and felt the full weight of her first experience with the game. When they started shooting despite my advice – kids these days! – I jumped into action. I drove across a ravine and slid under cover to the enemy flank, then emerged and started a fire. I danced between buildings and pinging enemies, drawing as much attention as I could. Finally I got knocked down and both died seconds later. I turned the game off immediately and felt much more intense emotions than I expected or even wanted from a quick turn through a Battle Royale. But it was also a better game than ever: riskier, more tactical, more meaningful. For this one match, Apex Legends did my best.
In a recent chat with some of my Kotaku colleagues about Battle Royales, I said that the community of a game made me stick to it or leave it. If Apex Legends takes root, its community can become anything. According to Respawn's roadmap, the game will show seasons and a combat passport, which could mean new cosmetics, loot, weapons and characters. The game will change and its community will change with it. In two months, it could be the same serious Call of Duty landscape or the same Fortnite playground after school.
There are currently a variety of pluralities in the Apex Legends community. It has its assholes and its heroes. Anything could happen. I only know that the game is doing my best. And when it becomes self, I want to do justice to where it is going.