Review: ‘Apex Legends’ Better than Expected

Jake Sapp | Staff Writer

Score: 82%

Going into Apex Legends, I really wasn’t expecting much. Upon its reveal, the game seemed like it was just going to be a shoddily made cash grab by EA in order to capitalize on the current Fortnite hype. However, much to my surprise, I found myself enjoying the experience far more than any other Battle Royale game that has come before it.

Developed by Respawn Entertainment, “Apex Legends” takes place in the world of Titanfall, a galaxy filled with mercenaries, giant robots, interstellar travel, and machete-toting assassins. After the critical acclaim and fanfare that the first two titles in the series received, many were surprised by the announcement that the latest entry would stray from the arena shooter style gameplay that had made the series so famous, and shift towards the now prolific Battle Royale genre. Many were also surprised to hear that the quintessential Titans would also not be returning.

Given all of these changes, I can’t help but feel like the game suffers from a severe amount of missed potential. The fast paced and fluid wallrunning that was so prevalent and fun in both Titanfall 2 is completely absent, which could have made for an interesting shakeup to the monotonous “shoot, run, hide, repeat” gameplay style that other Battle Royale games follow. On top of that, the Titans could have brought an entirely new element to the matches had they been included, forcing players to tactically take them down without being spotted. Many of the weapons and power ups have returned, which all bring a different strategy of play to the table (my personal favorite being the grappling hook, which makes map traversal much faster).

The game takes place many years after the events of Titanfall 2, but the story doesn’t go very far beyond the opening cinematic (so you don’t have to have played the other games to understand it). The frontier of space has become a lawless land filled with contract killers and multiple factions of mercenaries. You take control of one of these mercenaries working for the Apex Predators, and compete with others in a competitive arena in order to become top dog. There is a bit more to it than that, but that’s all you really need to know to understand the plot.

In the game, players assemble into squads of three, with one being the leader that will determine where and when the rest of the team leaves the dropship. Upon exiting, the players can choose to land on dozens of key looting points that may or may not lead them into an immediate firefight with another squad. The maps are densely populated with armor pickups, weapons, ammo, and other useful items that will assist players once they find themselves in a tense firefight. There are a wide variety of items for players to choose from that will greatly change how they go about taking down their opponents. This allows for the areas to feel more alive than other games in its genre, constantly giving players things to manage and sort through as the clock ticks down and the ever-shrinking barrier grows closer.

Each of the locations within the multiple maps feels varied from the others, which allows for landmarks to be easily recognizable and navigable. A key mechanic to the game is the marker system, which allows individual team members to point out key things as the game goes on (such as items, locations, etc). Collaboration is the key to survival in Apex Legends, so a careful utilization of the marker system is crucial to a team’s success. Oftentimes I would find myself losing a match because one of my teammates decided to run off into a different area, leaving the rest of the group open to attack.

The actual gunplay in the game feels just as fluid as it did in Titanfall, and is incredibly snappy when it needs to be. I played with Keyboard and Mouse controls, so I cannot speak for the way it plays on consoles and controllers, but the movement and aiming felt incredibly snappy. All of the weapons and tools are widely different from one another, and are each effective in their own right. The time it takes to take out another player has been greatly increased from the previous game, which makes firefights draw on for much longer than they did in previous entries. This decision is understandable because of the nature of Battle Royale, but it can be frustrating when a single opponent can drain you of most of the ammunition that you had spent so long trying to collect. Weapon balancing is relatively sound, with only a few weapons feeling unfairly powerful in comparison to others. New weapons such as the Peacekeeper shotgun make for very fun additions to the already extensive roster.

The game also borrows from class based hero shooters such as Overwatch, in the vein that players can choose from a set list of characters that each have their own skills and abilities that will assist their team in battle. While one may function as a healer and bring in support items, another might utilize toxic gas in order to smoke out enemies and create cover for teammates. Each of the “legends” feels different from the rest, and offers a different style of play in order to cater to different audiences. There aren’t very many of them at the moment, but there will hopefully be more added as the game continues to expand.

The servers for the game work relatively well, barely taking any time at all to find a match. I did run into a few connection issues when playing that inhibited my ability to spot other players, but otherwise it was a relatively smooth experience.

As with many online multiplayer shooters, Apex Legends offers a wide variety of cosmetic attachments for weapons and characters for players to equip as they play. However, most of the cosmetics feel incredibly basic, and don’t offer anything substantial for the price you pay for them. The controversial loot-box model also leaves something to be desired, especially since Titanfall 2 allowed players to purchase highly sought after cosmetics for a very small price without including loot-boxes at all. This is obviously something that can be fixed in the future, but with EA spearheading the publishing of the game, I can’t imagine anything changing in the foreseeable future.

Because of the fact that the game is a relatively recent release, it is a it baron in terms of the content department. Menus feel incredibly empty, with only the standard Battle Royale being offered when it comes to game modes. This also applies to the cosmetic options, which are mostly limited to simple color variations, voice lines, and executions. Respawn has stated that they plan on adding much more content to the game at a later date, but as of now the game isn’t the most dense package.

In all, the game offers a fun alternative to Fortnite in the Free-To-Play Battle Royale circle, while also bringing to the table many elements that are exclusively found in more expensive games such as Call of Duty and PUBG. While it may be a bit bare and not live up to the potential it has, it still has many mechanics that vary it from the competition. It’s not be a true sequel, but it’s enough to bide our time while we standby for Titanfall 3.