Apex Legends came out of nowhere, even considering it actually “leaked” days before its planned surprise reveal and release. The world – at least in the minds of game journalists, anyway – was waiting patiently for Titanfall 3, but whatever that once was is now Apex Legends, the battle royale totted to dethrone similar success story Fortnite. And it’s made by the very same geniuses that brought us Call of Duty 4.
With copious amounts of multiplayer shooter experience under the belt, we probably should have seen Vince Zampella’s Respawn Entertainment as those best equipped to take on the Battle Royale genre that’s swept the gaming world by storm. There’s no complicated and convoluted building mechanic here ready to turn every enemy encounter into a battle of the tallest towers, but it does draw upon another popular genre – the hero shooter – to diversfy itself from being another Blackout or PUBG.
It might be exactly the kind of thing that shoves hardcore FPS fans back into that vanilla Battle Royale format, but for the most part, it offers the closest thing to a best of both worlds. There’s the diverse character lineup those who poured hours into Fortnite can enjoy, the option to master a particular hero’s skills to aid the team that Overwatch or Paladins players fell in love with, and the raw run and gun gameplay of title that started this whole craze off.
But Apex Legends doesn’t just shine as a grand mash of the biggest multiplayer shooters on the market right now; it innovates with a ping system that honestly feels like it should have been common sense for game designers working on squad-based shooters.
A simple click and/or drag of a button opens allows you to ping locations to your teammates, meaning it’s quick and easy to tell your squad where you’re going, confirm enemy locations, suggest an advancement, and so-on. You don’t need to grab your mic and talk to strangers or risk not hearing telling enemy footsteps or gunshots because that one bossy alpha-male won’t stop screaming in your ears.
Copious skins and voice lines will keep matches from feeling like a record on repeat, but I can’t say I agree with how much finding higher-tier loot can throw a game in one’s favor. Nailing someone with 4 shotgun slugs only to get KO’d in a single strike isn’t a fun or fair way to end a promising run, but the notion of high-risk high-reward when it comes to finding such gear in clearly marked zones helps justify an otherwise questionable design decision.
It’s early days yet, but Apex Legends has already left a very positive impression on an audience that seemed glued to Fortnite, PUBG, or Blackout and has unified them in a way only veteran designers of the FPS genre could.
Its single map isn’t quite as vast or memorable as the competition, and we don’t know exactly how they’ll continue to monetize the game going forward, but with bigger maps already said to be in the works, and solo/duo play seemingly on the horizon, there isn’t much more Respawn Entertainment needs to do keep the
Apex Legends obviously isn’t Titanfall 3, but it feels just as good and has finally given Zampella’s team the recognition they deserved years ago.