Upon hearing rumors that EA and Respawn Entertainment were planning on delivering a stealth launch for an unnamed upcoming shooter, our thoughts were – ‘This is completely out of the question’. Why would Titanfall 3 have a quiet launch without all the marketing bells and whistles associated with its pedigree as a triple ‘A’ shooter? Lets not forget the scandalous launch window associated with Titanfall 2. There is simply no way this could happen.
Well, it did, yet to our surprise there was something new on the horizon.
In an effort to control the narrative and with no hints to the experience, EA and Respawn quietly released a new IP, APEX Legends, a battle royale game, which is free-to-play, set in the Titanfall universe, supporting various hero characters with super-abilities the likes of Overwatch, taking place 30 years after events of Titanfall 2.
Offering a guileless Titanfall/Borderlands gameplay and visual pattern APEX Legends with great ease manages to ever-so slightly bend the traditional battle royale blueprint of rules. This unique approach immediately grabs your attention and refuses to let go.
As mentioned before APEX Legends incorporates pre-defined heroes with unique abilities that fall into such roles as Offense, Defense, Support and Recon. This team based tactical approach among other exclusive features are the building blocks which set it apart from the playing field of its contemporaries. Currently, players can only squad up into teams of three, with each match featuring up to 20 teams.
As is the case in battle royale, players attack the vast playing field with no equipment. Teams scour the game map for weapons, ammo, and other equipment, while fighting to be last team standing, all while staying within an ever-shrinking safe zone on the map. What truly separates APEX from other battle royale games is how it all comes together remarkably well. A player can be downed into a vulnerable bleed-out state, leaving them only able to crawl for cover or reach a squad mate, who can revive them. In this position the downed played can also shied themselves from incoming fire, if they were able to acquire a ballistic shield, which like other equipment such as a helmet and or armor offer levels of protection. These levels are classified from lvl1 white, lvl2 blue, lvl3 purple and lvl4 gold or legendary.
If the player bleeds out, or an opponent uses a finisher move on them, they are then eliminated, dropping their equipment to be looted and a banner. However, here is one example where APEX is unique, despite being basically eliminated from the match the player can potentially be respawned if their squad mates recover their banner and take it to a Spawn Beacon, which are scattered across the map, in a limited amount of time. At his point the downed player is then drop shipped back in to the action, with no equipment of course.
APEX does support voice-chat communication with squad mates, which is quite necessary in the tactical fray, however because some players are not voice-chat friendly Respawn has implemented a simple to use yet sophisticated contextual single-button communication approach, allowing a player to ping map features like weapons, opponents, or rally points. This allows the experience to maintain a seamless and consistent level of team cooperation and balance.
Based in the Titanfall universe, the weapon assortment is basically a copy and paste job from Titanfall and Titanfall 2, however this is a very good thing. The variety here is well balanced with an assortment of rifles, shotguns, pistols, hand cannons, sniper rifles, and more. Weapon ammo is categorized as light, heavy, energy and shotgun, and for good measure throwing weapons such as the arc star, frag grenade and thermite grenades round out the battle wares. There are also shield repair devices, health packs an the like. While all the weapons offer a relatively distinct usage of feel, players will find their sweet spot of combining certain weapons such as carrying a heavy ammo weapon with a light ammo weapon and so on. Again, it all depends on your play style.
Thankfully the heroes unique abilities are well balanced and when utilized alongside your teammates strength and weaknesses make all the difference towards being the last team standing. APEX does not force team play, however it greatly compliments the team effort, so for those players who prefer to oftentimes approach the game from a guns blazing rogue position, should not expect to live very long. The bullets fly hot in APEX Legends and squads that accurately shot in the same direction are impossible to defeat on your own.
Similar to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout, which offers an aesthetically pleasing visual canvas of carnage, APEX Legends also abandons the PUBG/H1Z1 cold and dreary gray template for a more fleshed out and colorful presentation. Mixed with how attractively smooth the game runs and it is fairly easy to invest all of your battle royale time into this bold new experience.
Earlier on while playing the game there were some slight lag issues and minor texture pop-in, however as of this writing the runs in splendid fashion. Not only is APEX Legends the best looking battle royale we have played, it is arguably the best the genre has to offer.
It is one thing to offer a decent free-to-play game, yet it is altogether different when a free-to-play game is one of the best shooter of the generation. APEX Legends is that good! Sure the current offerings are on the slim side as there is only one mode, one very large map and the only play option are three man squads. Still, how it all magically comes together is a credit to Respawn Entertainment.
Respawn Entertainment has once again proven why they are one of the best shooter developers in the industry. With new maps, weapons and mode updates coming to APEX Legends in the coming months, the experience is only going to get better and of course we will be front and center ready to dive back into all the action.