Early on February 4, Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment revealed Apex Legends — a free-to-play battle royale game in the Titanfall universe — to the world. I downloaded the game on Origin and played it for a few hours. Here's what I think so far.
The best way I can describe Apex Legends is that it feels like Titanfall 2's movement mechanics had a child with the class-based style of Overwatch or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Sprinting, vaulting, and sliding feels almost identical to Titanfall 2, although some of the more advanced movement abilities, like wall-running, aren't present. The class gameplay comes in the form of the playable characters, dubbed "Legends." Each one of them has two unique abilities, as well as a special ultimate ability that can turn the tide of a fight.
Every Legend in the game is designed to suit a specific playstyle. For example, Bloodhound is a stealthy hunter character that can track enemy footsteps and get a better idea of where foes are, while Lifeline is a combat medic who can heal her allies in combat and put up a defensive barrier around teammates being revived. Nearly all of the Legends are designed to work well together in one way or another, which is important: Apex Legends is incredibly teamwork-focused.
While most battle royale titles offer a squad mode alongside solo play, Apex Legends is inherently a team-based game, and therefore, you always play with others. In Apex Legends, 20 squads of three players each face off in a large map designed to foster both close-quarters and long range combat. No single player can effectively fight an entire team on their own, so it's incredibly important to stick with your teammates and communicate. On top of voice chat support, Apex Legends also has a helpful array of "hotkey" commands that allow players to quickly tell their allies where they are, where an enemy is, or where they saw a gun.
Speaking of guns, Apex Legends has a large arsenal of them in its sandbox, including everything from designated marksman rifles to burst-firing sub-machine guns. You can only carry two of these, though, so you can't just pick up every weapon you come across. In addition, there's also shields, body armor, grenades, and healing items. It's hard to know how balanced all of these gameplay elements are so early after launch, but I wasn't able to notice any one Legend, weapon or item that was oppressive during my playtime.
How it looks
In terms of graphics, Apex Legends looks good, but it doesn't look amazing, even on the highest possible settings. The game has a nice stylized appearance to it, but some of the game's colors are a little muted and the draw distancing could be better. When it comes to performance, the game is solid, although there are noticeable issues such as the occasional stuttering, which is potentially going to lose people gunfights if it happens in combat.
Overall, for a free-to-play title that just came out, Apex Legends looks and runs well. It will need further polishing but so does every game.
The elephant in the room
As expected, Apex Legends has microtransactions, although thankfully none of them have a direct impact on gameplay, meaning a player who wants to avoid spending money doesn't have to worry about pay-to-win antics. However, they're not cheap, with some of the skins costing $18 to buy outright. If you want to take your chances with loot boxes (dubbed "Apex Packs"), there's a chance you'll either pay a lot more or a lot less to find Legendary items.
The good news is that the drop rates of said loot boxes are visible in-game and are planned to be posted on the game's website, and there are protections in place to ensure a player can't go too long opening loot boxes without getting a Legendary item. As the game grows, it will be interesting to see what gets tweaked about these micropayments.
Final thoughts on Apex Legends (so far)
From what I've been able to play, Apex Legends is a fun, intriguing battle royale game that brings Titanfall's mechanics to a new genre of gameplay. Things aren't perfect by any means, but if Respawn commits to the title and continues to build upon its foundation, the future is bright.
Apex Legends is free to play and is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC through EA's Origin service.
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