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“Apex Legends” breaks through stale Battle Royale gameplay

Ian Davino, A&E Editor
Originally published March 8, 2019


For those unfamiliar with the genre of Battle Royale, it consists of a formula where a large amount of players are dropped into a map with slowly shrinking barriers, forced to scour buildings for randomly placed weapons and gear. The last player alive, through skill or luck, is dubbed the winner with all the appropriate fanfare.

Ever since the initial explosion and success of “Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds” or PUBG, every video game developer and their mother has attempted to tackle the Battle Royale genre, with various degrees of success. “Call of Duty Black Ops 4,” “Counter Strike Global Offensive,” “Fortnite,” “The Culling 2-” the list is long and bloated. The genre offers an interesting hook but every game that attempted it always fell short.

Which is why “Apex Legends” came as such a surprise. Released as a free to play Battle Royale without any advertisement or extensive marketing, touting 25 million active players it’s first week out.

Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA, “Apex Legends” is set in the Titanfall universe, adjacent to the central conflict of the story while retaining weapons, themes and designs from Titanfall 2. 60. Players are dropped into the arena in teams of three, forced to become the last group (or player) standing.

Where “Apex Legends” immediately differs from the Battle Royale formula is with the focus on teamplay. The inclusion of Legends serve as preset character classes that have a specific squad purpose. For example, Lifeline can deploy a health drone to heal teammates, or Pathfinder can construct ziplines to allow for access to previously hard to reach locations. Each legend comes with a passive skill that is a constant bonus, a tactical (such as Pathfinder’s zipline) and an ultimate ability that has a slow recharge rate. With eight legends at launch and the promise of more on the way, there’s room for every type of FPS player to flourish.

Despite the teamplay based focus, there’s never a need to directly speak to your teammates. The ping system permits a wide variety of commands and notifications, allowing for victories won from a circle of mutes silently exterminating other players. With a press of a button you can alert your teammates to the presence of an enemy, that you’re going to check an area out and much more. On your own end, you can tap the same button in your inventory to request various items.

With the founders of Respawn Entertainment responsible for creating the original Call of Duty franchise, and many of the employees developers from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1&2, it comes as no surprise that the gunplay is consistent and solid. There’s a variety of weapons that perform differently, can be modified with attachments and strike the right balance of gameplay where gunfights are generally focused on skill rather than reaction based.

The map is condense and memorable, each area providing a unique situation that seamlessly flows to the next. Rounds generally fall within a thirty minute time frame depending on how long you last, and the adrenaline inherent with being in the top three is hard to find in any other game.

The soundtrack is made up of a small number of tracks, but is still worth mentioning. Composed by Stephen Barton, the standout theme is the musical intro that comes with your player launching into the map; pounding drums backed by frantic yet graceful strings, low synths grounding the song in its sci-fi setting with a hint of desert ambiance. It’s the perfect adrenaline pumping sound to start a match, and it never gets old.

“Apex Legends” is a endlessly fun gameplay cycle, presenting various unique systems to the genre, polish unseen in any other Battle Royale and genuinely entertaining gameplay. Considering it’s free to play on nearly every available modern platform with an internet connection, there’s no reason not to try it out for yourself.

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“Apex Legends” breaks through stale Battle Royale gameplay