As Respawn Entertainment’s most recent venture into the battle royale genre, Apex Legends made waves in the gaming community, gathering a player count of 50 million within its first month alone. Following in the same vein as its competitors, such as Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Apex Legends launches players into a death match with nothing but their wits and luck, fighting among themselves to gather the best gear, strike down their opponents and finally claim victory, all while the arena shrinks around them.
What separates Apex Legends from its competitors is its squad-based gameplay. Although we see this in both Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Apex’s squad system takes this to a new level. Much of the gameplay revolves around the coordination and cooperation of the squad over individual play, something that is manifested in its complex ‘ping’ system. With the use of a single button, players can signal various types of loot to their squad mates, directions on which way to advance, enemy movement and much more. This provides a much-welcomed alternative for those unable to communicate verbally or who prefer this method of in-game communication.
Other aspects also stand out in comparison to its competitors. Apex’s unique Legends system provides a refreshing spin on a genre that can otherwise become monotonous after months of repetitive gameplay. It achieves this by combining aspects of Overwatch’s system of heroes (where each hero has their own unique abilities and personalities), with standard FPS gameplay. Whether it is the customisable quips or the exclusive abilities of each Legend, this feature injects Apex with life and variation, similar to Fortnite’s dances and Overwatch’s iconic characters.
This is not to say that the game is faultless. Upon completing the barebones tutorial that gives you a rough outline of the game, first-time players are suddenly launched into both combat and the game itself. This means they are left to tackle veteran players with only their limited knowledge. Although simple, many aspects of the game, such as weapon attachments, abilities and even the closing arena, are left to be puzzled out by the players themselves as they work their way through their first couple of games. Apex seems to rely upon the tropes of the genre established by its predecessors to push players through this trial-by-fire.
Apex also does not offer a form of practice mode beyond the initial tutorial, limiting players from discovering their favoured weapons and Legends to actual competitive experience. This can dissuade players from trying out the unfamiliar or attempting to master more difficult Legends. Although the tutorial can be repeated and offers a certain amount of freedom, this is still limited to what the tutorial itself contains, such as basic shooting ranges with a limited supply of guns and ammo.
Yet it is important not to forget that Apex Legends has only recently been released and still has time to improve, something easy to overlook considering its well-polished initial release. Unlike many other popular online games that are littered with bugs and clunky gameplay at first, Apex stands out as a well fleshed-out addition to the genre both in terms of its gameplay and how smoothly it runs, with only a few minor bugs being reported around its release.
Apex Legends is by no means a perfect game, but within its chosen genre it stands out through both its sociability and variety. In offering a fresh and welcome alternative to the current Fortnite-led streaming and gaming scenes, Apex Legends has successfully reinvigorated what can be a repetitive genre.