Battle royale genre nowadays is quite packed with a number of popular titles like Fortnite, PlayersUnknown’s Battlefield (or PUBG) and Call of Duty Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode. Each of these titles has its own charm, but that also means it is extremely difficult to make a new groundbreaking battle royale game. Intriguing enough, that was exactly what Respawn Entertainment – the studio behind the critically acclaimed Titanfall series – did with their latest IP: Apex Legends. At the point of this article (February 25, 2019), it is reported that Apex Legends player count have reached top 25 million players only after more than 1 week. By far, the game has received tons of positive reviews and in fact, this game is really, really great. And with no further ado, let’s see what makes Apex Legends great!
1. A squad, hero-based battle royale game
For those who have played battle royale games before, this can be the first thing many people may have noticed. In many current battle royale titles like Fortnite or PUBG, players can play solo or as a squad.
On the other hand, Apex Legends did try something new in battle royale. It is actually a squad-hero-based battle royale game in which 20 squads will fight together with each squad featuring up to 3 players. Not only that, Apex Legends is the first full-fledge battle royale game to feature hero-character elements (similar to Overwatch).
Now to be fair, squad-based FPS and hero-character element are not new at all in the current gaming industry. However, the shining point of Apex Legends is how they successfully implement both elements in a battle royale game. Currently, there are 8 characters; or “Legends” according to this game’s term, and they are divided into 4 different categories: Offense, Defense, Support and Recon.
Each Legend has 1 Tactical Ability (active skill), 1 Passive Ability, and 1 Ultimate Ability (also active skill which has a very long cooldown). Interestingly, all of these abilities are surprisingly useful for many different situations, making the game a lot more fun to play. For example:
- Wraith is an unique Offensive character who has inter-dimensional abilities. Her Ultimate Ability called Dimensional Rift allows her to connect 2 locations via an inter-dimensional portal. This ability is extremely useful in so many situations as it lets the entire party to safely get from one place to the other.
- Bloodhound does exactly what his name implies: tracking the enemy’s footsteps, traps, door uses, etc…. And especially his Ultimate Ability which called Beast of the Hunt allows him to see all the enemies no matter where they are in red.
Not only that, playing as a squad of three means there are many squad compositions and also, many interesting strategies. For example, Caustic, Bangalore, and Bloodhound team can be an extremely annoying team to fight against due to their aggressive play-style. Essentially, this team relies on Caustic and Bangalore’s abilities to shroud enemies in fog, completely blinding them while Bloodhound can use his Ultimate Ability to easily see through the fog and dispatch the opponents.
Aside from that combination, there are many other interesting squad comps to experiment. And it is even more fun to test things out with friends.
2. Unique map design – more combats
Just like many other battle royale games, Apex Legends follows the similar gameplay trope: throwing a number of players into a huge map. These huge maps often include multiple smaller areas where players can scout and find loots. Players can control where they want to land, find weapons and items, and try to be the last man/team standing to win.
Apex Legends also did the same thing; however, there is a big plus in their map design: It is a closed huge island with various areas. Each area is separated by huge walls and therefore, each area feels like a proper individual multiplayer maps. When a squad reached an area, they will have to expect to fight within a closed area and they cannot just easily retreat to other places. Furthermore, due to areas being enclosed with high walls, players can jump in the area rather easily but getting out proves to be much trickier. Not only that, the way this map is designed creates many choke points where players often find themselves encountering other squads and furthermore, gunfire and actions occur more often.
Another big difference in Apex Legends’ map is the lack of vehicle. Instead, players can find ziplines scattered throughout the areas to quickly move from point A to point B. In addition, there are towers which allow players to “climb” to the top and jump down with jetpack (similar to how players start a match). As for the character’s movement itself, unfortunately this game does not feature the exciting parkour movements like Titanfall series. Still, character control is still solid, and players can actually move much faster by holstering their weapons.
With all these changes, they help Apex Legends’ game-flow to feel much faster than the other 2 major competitors Fortnite and PUBG. And to certain extent, it probably feels even more engaging.
3. Never underestimate the UI
If we have to describe UI design in Apex Legends, we have to say: it is simply fantastic! It is not even exaggerating to say those who designed UI for this game really needs an award.
The UI in Apex Legends is shown in a clean way, easy to look and navigate. Players can take a look at the map rather quickly and everything is clearly presented on the map. Not only that, it also added a small, but handy feature in which the game will show the loot-drop levels in different area (e.g: Skull Town can drop mid-tier items).
Then there is one extremely useful feature which is the ping system. In short, this ping system allows players to warn other squad members about many, many things like: where to group up, the location of a good item, the spot which enemy used to be at, the place where squad members are fighting with enemy, and more… Not only that, the character will also say clearly what players are pinging, including even some details like what type and rarity the pinged item is on the ground. This system provides a much quicker, faster form of communication as teammates can easily understand the essential information. Furthermore, it is an effective way for people who don’t want to listen to “trolls” or people who don’t like to talk to strangers in online games.
4. Surprisingly reasonable microtransaction?
For many gamers nowadays, microtransaction is like a “bane of gaming” throughout the past few years. Not only that, the fact that Electronic Arts (EA) is the owner of Respawn Entertainment only makes people to feel more cautious towards this game. Yet for some reason, Apex Legends is probably the most “un-EA” game to date.
So first off, yes, Apex Legends do include microtrasaction and loot box in the form of “Apex Pack”. This microtrasaction system only includes cosmetic item like voice lines, banners, or skins. Players can buy Apex Pack with real money, or, craft it with in-game currency called Crafting Materials. Surprisingly, players can seem to grind for Crafting Materials in a pretty acceptable rate and they will surely get one Apex Pack each time leveling up. And if that is not enough, they even tell you the item-drop odds, specifically:
- Rare or better item: 100%.
- Epic or better item: 24.8%.
- Legendary item: 7.4%.
Considering EA’s notorious reputation, such transparency is an absolute surprise indeed.
The only thing we may complain is that many items sold in the store look really lackluster. They really need to offer much-better looking stuffs in order to attract players. That said though, this is just a nitpicky point and definitely they will add more items in the future updates.
And that’s it folks! What do you think of Apex Legends? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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