Powered By Square1.io
In the battle royale of the battle royale genre there are winners and there are losers. The winners earn hundreds of millions of dollars and have dedicated player bases that often cap at nearly 50 million players. Respawn Entertainment’s new entry in the genre Apex Legends came out swinging and looks well on its way to being a winner.
Released just last Monday Apex Legends already had 2.5 million within the first 24 hours. Set in the Titanfall – those really solid mech FPS games that no one played – universe Apex Legends is high energy and high octane. There are two routes a battle royale game can take: the slow and tactical or the fast and frenetic.To date the only slow battle royale that’s had any kind of proper success has been PUBG. Elsewhere it’s games like Fortnite, Black Ops 4’s Black Out mode and now Apex Legends that have secured the fast, frenetic and (let’s be real) fun side of the battle royale genre.
PUBG has been bogged down by broken systems and poor matchmaking and Fortnite’s ongoing lawsuits have affected the clean cut image EPIC Games so desperately wanted for its free-to-play game. Apex Legends on the other hand represents a rare PR win for EA. The publisher has been better known for killing off developers than actually publishing decent games especially in the last few years. Its many cancelled Star Wars IPs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of developers and games that EA has sunk.
The problem with EA is the same as it is with Activision and the PUBG Corporation and EPIC Games. It’s money but it’s not just the starter fee publishers want anymore nor is it DLC add-ons they can cash in on three months after release. It’s a constant cash flow. The endless income generated by the likes of Fortnite V-Bucks, FIFA Ultimate Team and PUBG loot boxes is what the major publishers are after. Once they see that games like the many cancelled Star Wars titles or the Destiny series don’t fit the market model it’s easier to dispense with them than it is to keep developing. Square peg, round hole.
Despite this problem Apex Legends shrugs off most of the worries that come with it. Yes there are two locked characters from the jump and both the gas throwing Caustic and hologram projecting Mirage cost 12,000 Crafting Materials (the in-game currency) to unlock. With consistent, decent play that amount can be earned but there are six other versatile, personality-driven heroes to play as while you work towards adding to your roster.
Pathfinder is the friendly scout robot. Wraith is a half-insane inter-dimensional teleporter. Gibraltar is a Maori rescue worker built like a brick shit house. Bangalore is your typical, hard-bitten soldier type. Bloodhound is an unknowable tracker that dresses cool. Lastly Lifeline is the sarcastic medic with a heart of gold. But treating every character like a different skin over the same FPS tropes is a one way ticket to boredom and a huge loss sheet.
The hero shooter has been pulling in the big bucks ever since Overwatch debuted on the scene. With Overwatch’s sun beginning its slow set new challengers have arrived. The multiplayer of Black Ops 4 had a roster full of tough-as-nails characters with their own passive, active and ultimate abilities. Apex Legends does much the same.
Bloodhound, my favourite character, is a tracker and so can see timed tracks ranging from blood to footprints indicating the paths of other players. They can scan for enemies and their ultimate allows for faster movement and highlighted enemies. In Apex Legends speed is of the essence especially in the quick-or-the-dead firefights as well as looting and moving across the large map. Every character has their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s these that make the game special.
Pathfinder moves easily through the air with his grappling hook and zip-line but he’s clunky on the ground. Wraith’s teleportation might help her get out of tough spots but the trail she leaves is easily followed. Gibraltar’s bulk helps him in attrition firefights but if he’s caught out in the open at a disadvantage he’ll go down like a prize boar. Everything about Apex Legends feels cared for and considered. After all if Respawn Entertainment know anything it’s first person shooters.
The devil’s in the details when it comes to Apex Legends. The game radiates quality and attention to detail. It’s in its bright, colourful world. It’s in the orbiting supply ship that’s always a bloodbath at the beginning. It’s in the colour trails that spray out as you and your three man team jet downwards. It’s in the finishers and the pre-loaded guns and the the fact that a futuristic blood sport makes sense in the game’s world. Apex Legends is not the new king of the battle royale yet but watch this space.