The battle royale genre is something that I have not experienced too much. I have played a few matches in Fortnite and realized it was not for me. I have also played a bit of Blackout, which was fun but I did not stick around too long. The genre has seen plenty of games come and go. Realm Royale is still around and Spellbreak, a battle royale with magic, is entering alpha here soon; so the genre is not lacking in games. But for me, I have not found a battle royale that hooks me as Apex Legends does. The character abilities, movement, gunplay, and map all work very well together to create a very fun and intense experience.
I think the thing that brings me in the most about Apex Legends is the arena atmosphere. You are taking part in the Apex Games and it shows. While you are running around looking weapons and people to shoot you will see banners with the current kill leader, the top team etc. It creates this feeling that you are in a game, not just dropping into another mindless battle royale match. You can hear the announcer shout out if the kill leader has been killed, when half of the squads are left and more. It may be a small thing but it is something that I really like.
One big thing that jumped out to me was the characters and their different abilities. I really like how they all play a different role in your team, but the game is not falling down to character abilities. You still have to shoot people to win. The characters all bring their own charm to the game. It doesn’t feel like you are playing a random nobody that doesn’t matter. You are controlling Bangalore who is fighting “to raise money for passage back to the IMC home base, where she hopes to reunite with what remains of her family”. The lore does not play a significant role in the game; not yet anyway, but gives each character their own unique personality. And you can really feel that when you are running around, casting out abilities and listening to your hero talk through the ping system. It gives the game a real sense of identity that few other battle royale games have.
Accompanied along with the unique players is some solid gameplay and systems. The gunplay feels nice and tight. Each weapon has its uses (except maybe for the Mozambique, I have not found a situation where I wanted to have that gun on me). I don’t feel as though any gun outplays another, although a case can be made that the Peacekeeper is overpowered. But nonetheless, the gunplay is pretty spot on.
While you are searching around for the best guns, you will be communicating with your teammates through the ping system. The ping system lets you ping just about anything in the game: to let your squad know to go to a certain location, tag an enemy, request a certain type of ammo or even let them know you need a certain item. You can tell that Respawn took their time fine-tuning this system because you do not have to even talk to your teammates to communicate effectively. It is very intuitive and lets everyone have the ability to talk to their teammates without having to actually mic up. The ping system does wonders for Apex Legends in separating itself from the pack.
So what’s left? What else is Apex Legends doing right to garner 25 million players in its first week? Alongside the characters, gunplay and ping system, what else is there to talk about? The movement. The movement in Apex Legends is the sweet icing on the cake. All the heroes have the same move speed, but you can slide down hills, swing around on zip lines and fly around once out of a launcher. All of this adds up for some very fun and engaging gameplay. I think sliding down a hill is my favorite. My team and I do this a lot to catch up to enemy players or to get the surprise on another team. The map is built in a way that encourages you to slide. It is kind of sectioned off into different areas that are surrounded by hills. This really lets you take advantage of the great movement mechanics to get to or run from a situation quicker. It creates more moments of action, and less time sitting around waiting for something to happen. Don’t get me wrong, you still sit around sometimes, but there is the option to take a zip line and catch the opponent off guard.
We have been highlighting a bunch of positives about Apex Legends, but what about the negatives? Is there anything about the game that is not good? To be honest, the gameplay is pretty flawless. Everything feels as though it is right where it should be. The biggest negative to me is the economy. It is terrible. Let me explain. You play matches, you get experience, you level up. Once you level up you can open Apex Packs to get cool skins and other cosmetic items. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Right. You can also get crafting metal from these packs to buy skins with. Sounds good right? Wrong. I am level 33 in Apex Legends right now and I only have 330 crafting metal. Yes, that could buy me some low-level items but the good stuff costs 1,200 metal. And after you hit a certain level (maybe 22 or 23, I cannot remember) you only get packs every other level. So it is a crawl to get the crafting metal to obtain cooler stuff.
Yes, it is free-to-play but after I got to a certain level I felt as though I was not being rewarded anymore. I think there can be a good balance between playtime and getting the metals to buy cool stuff, and with Apex Legends that balance feels way off. I want to be able to show off my cool skins, badges and poses to the world, but I can’t do that because it would take an eternity to just get a few legendary skins. This is not a game breaker at the moment but the grind will get worse as you progress with less reward, and that could affect the longevity of the game. They will be releasing a battle pass so this could help with this problem but as it stands, the economy is awful.