Thursday, March 4, 2021
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Apex Legends: A Surprise to Be Sure, But a Welcome One

By: Giovanni Arias

        “Apex Legends” is a new “Battle Royale” game, developed by Respawn Entertainment. The game was released on Feb. 4 as a free-to-play game for the Xbox one, PlayStation 4, and PC. It takes place in the same universe as the developer’s prior AAA game, “Titanfall.” Though the aesthetics may share the DNA of its predecessors, the game differs greatly in terms of gameplay.

        Instead of going down the traditional shooter route, Respawn have opted to throw their hat in the ring of “Battle Royales.” The genre is akin to “Fortnite,” where a large group of players are launched into a map and duke it out in an attempt to be the last man standing. “Apex Legends” seems to fit the bill perfectly until certain design choices are observed. It stands out from the crowd by adding character classes that make for much better cooperative opportunities. Currently, there are 8 characters to choose from, each offering their own roles within teams of players.

Bloodhound Character Selection via Apex

        For instance, the character “Bloodhound” gives players the ability to scan the immediate area for enemies, making it easier for a squad to gain situational awareness. If a team wants a more efficient way to traverse the map, they can choose “Pathfinder,” who can launch improvised ziplines. Then there is “Wraith,” who can create warp portals that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, a player can use this portal ability to create an escape route for them and their teammates to retreat to. In combination with the abilities of other characters, the class-based system offers a fresh take on the classic battle royale.

These aspects increase the variety of ways in which encounters can resolve themselves. Instead of the players’ options being limited to shooting, hiding, or running away, there is the opportunity to deploy tactics that wouldn’t be possible in other games. It also allows for an improved sense of cooperation between players since each character is dependent on the other for success. Abilities can be used in tandem with another person to create much more dynamic series actions that teams can use to engage enemies. No longer do interactions between teammates begin and end with sharing supplies, they now get to formulate plans bred by the creativity of the game’s mechanics. In addition to these extras, Respawn nails the map design and gunplay.

        Despite being based on how each character plays, there are things that the characters share. Every character can equip the same guns and use them to their fullest abilities the same as another. The map is also built in a way that accommodates different methods of travel. A player can slide down hills, ride ziplines, and even launch themselves off towers that are placed throughout the map. This makes it so that each character has a base set of abilities that makes it easier to focus on learning what makes them uniquely useful. The available weapons also have pros and cons that make for more interesting gunplay. So, in terms of gameplay, Respawn has succeeded once again in creating a foundation to build a great game on.

        Though the game does offer a great basis as a standalone game, the graphics are a departure from what came before. While the game still offers satisfactory visuals, there seems to have been a choice to shift the focus from realism, to a more cartoonish style. The style can be off-putting seeing as prior games in the series took a realistic science-fiction approach. The original games were also known for completely different gameplay styles that offered bombastic gameplay in giant mechs along with fluid-feeling parkour. However, “Apex Legends” includes neither of these traits. This can make the association between the games appear to be little more than a marketing ploy.

        Regardless, the game has seen massive success accumulating over 25 million unique users in its first week after release. A player count that high bodes well for the game in the near future, seeing as how crowded the market for this genre is at the moment. The game also seems to have been received well by newcomers and fans alike, praising its innovative systems.