Casey weighs in on the latest Battle Royale.
Battle Royale should not be a difficult concept to master - especially when you have the living breathing embodiment of a near perfect BR ruling over you in Fortnite, and then again in Call of Duty's Blackout. Though, for pretty much every company, that’s hasn't been the case. For every BR release, the public becomes witness to yet another developer pushing out a shell of an IP in order to line their pockets. With that being said, I sat down to play Apex Legends for—I want to say—the tenth time, in almost a weeks span and I could tell that this one was different than the others that I had dipped my feet into. The game, developed by Respawn, was a surprise release—almost two weeks ago? I’m not too keen on specifics—but a surprise it was.
I have never been a fan of BR games - I played Fortnite at the rise of its popularity, but—when my friends kept progressing—and buying the battle packs; the interest, for me, fizzled away. There was something about the shooting, the building, the movement—it all felt a bit too clunky, as if I were actually controlling a third person camera, that is controlling the character on the screen.
"With Apex, the controls feel fine tuned—and the only slips are my own."
I would take a moment to make comparisons to CoD Blackout, but I have never played, though today while playing I had two people in separate games tell me they were “saying goodbye to Blackout for this.” I know it’s not a statistic, and if you want to disagree, it’s for sure not a strong one—but I think it says a lot about a free-to-play BR competing with the supposed “Fortnite Killer” that costs $60 USD to purchase.
With Apex, the controls feel fine tuned—and the only slips are my own. I am not clunking over what I can and cannot jump over - the game makes it quite clear what you can vault, and how far you can run up any wall. There isn’t a moment where I can vault a fence line, but can’t vault an object only inches higher. Even most ledges that seem out of reach—I find my character able to wall run up to the position. The same goes with falling - the game lacks any sort of fall damage, which some may hate—though I love. I hated in fortnite having to obtain the information on my fall limits. I am assuming the same goes for CoD.
I understand there’s a whole other exhilaration factor to it, but I find it much more intense plummeting to the earth as fast as possible, and landing flush—ready for battle. It also makes for different battle scenarios. For example, today—I learned—that when first dropping in a squad can choose to land on a battle ship cruising high above the map, filled with valuable loot. After the cash out a team can simply jump from the side of the craft or ride it to the end, where it will land somewhere on the map.
Another simple feature added to the controls was the ability to run faster with your weapons equipped. A feature as old as Counter Strike, but you don’t understand how much it adds to a game until you play a game where exploration and looting is key on a grand scale. When you’re running from the circle, or running from one point to another, you holster your weapons. It makes for a different experience when stumbling upon another squad, also with their weapons holstered. The use of the sliding and zip lines are both highly intuitive—they feel smooth—even with the zip lines, which are usually a clunky feature in nearly every game, is something so fast and fluid, it could be used on the run—while in battle.
The way that Respawn developed both features, you are able to fire your weapon, or use any other weapon you’d like, during the action. You can also control your speed with both by holding the right analog stick either forward or back. The simplicity of the controls make the game easy to pick up and get into, but with all the other features the game deepens, and will take a while to master.
"These abilities give the game a few MOBA tendencies, though it doesn’t feel as if you are playing a traditional MOBA. You do in fact feel as if you’re playing a BR."
Each character is capable of their own ability, styles, and even all seem to move at their own speeds. They all look completely different—and have their own corresponding skins. Along with their own, as I said before, abilities. Each character has three abilities, a passive, a tactical, and an ultimate, which change the way battles can play out—completely shifting them if used correctly. When paired with other character abilities, characters become even deadlier. These abilities give the game a few MOBA tendencies, though it doesn’t feel as if you are playing a traditional MOBA. You do in fact feel as if you’re playing a BR. None of the abilities, from any character, I have found so far, are unnecessary—or overpowered. Though, I will admit, I’ve heard a few people complain, but no complaints felt too dire.
Each character’s ability is also, however, nothing new - each one is something I have seen before, but they are all well known to the first person shooter/gaming community. Hand picked from other games, you have the bubble shield, you have a medic healing station, you have a UAV, and you even have a character that can create a portal for the entire team to move through. Yes, a portal, like the game portal—you read that right. These separate lists of pros and cons, abilities, strengths and weaknesses make it crucial who to pick, and who accompanies each other into battle.
The characters, in my opinion, are one of the most important aspects. They make you feel like a cohesive squad that must work together, rather than one man bound to 3 other useless/careless people. When I played Fortnite, that’s the feeling I was met with - that I didn’t care about the other members. To me, they were weights around my ankles. I didn’t want to play solo, but I didn’t care about my teammates because they did nothing for me, and in return—I did nothing for them. Even when jumping into the battleground, the squads jump together. A player is given the title “jumpmaster” and the two other players can choose to follow the master, or take it upon themselves to jump solo. The importance of squads in this game is much more apparent. The abilities they give to each character caters to different types of players, and also caters to the other characters abilities too. It forces squads to stick, and work together, using their specific abilities to help one another.
Along with the characters, are the weapons, which is probably the most note worthy. Each weapon has a unique name—along with a set of unique skins you can unlock, just like your character. Though, along with skins, and names—each weapon has its own feel. A specific feel and recoil and shot pattern. Some of the weapons even have the ability to shift the fire method. Much like PUBG, you can loot attachments, automatically adding them to your weapons—and this is of great importance. The more attachments, obviously, the better your weapon performs.
Though, like other games, the change is awfully apparent. The game makes you want to search for attachments—because if you don’t—your gun will jump, spring, and fire health packs with the best of shit weapons. On the topic of guns, when it comes to this first person experience the shooting is one of the most solid aspects. The characters don’t feel like bullet sponges, but they are able to take a beating—they do put up a fight—it makes for some intense battles without the need for building. Mixed with the different abilities of each character, the battles are hard fought and intense.
The map, though about the same size as Fortnite, labeled with specific names for landmarks, seems more compact—though I haven’t played Fortnite since like—season 3. So I really can’t say much. The map seems divided into two sections, a lush green half of prairies, grass, trees, swamps, and speckled with vegetation—but it dwindles away to the other half—a desert land, and by the looks of it a desolate boneyard—ravaged by battle. At the start of the match, each squad is given the same location of top tier loot—creating a choke point of action—for those squads willing to take the risk; much like the battle ship hovering in slow motion above the battle field. There are also balloons scattered about the map that allow you to soar through the air once more, in sky dive fashion, boosting you across the map—but, what I’m told from other players, gives away your position to those around you. Which, I’m assuming, because it makes a sound? I have no confirmation on this.
The health equipment feels much like Fortnite, they have armor you can loot—and replenish with canisters. Body armor and a helmet, which both work in their respective manner. If you have body armor, and I pop a headshot, the armor—no matter the level—will have no effect. They have syringes, which as you would presume, replenishes your health, and a canister titled the Phenix Cannister, that acts much like Fortnite’s chug jug, but also allows you to revive yourself if you are downed. Each of these armor canisters and syringes come in different sizes, replenishing different amounts of each, and each character can carry only certain amounts of each size.
"I think this is a BR worth playing."
With all that said, or in conclusion, yada yada—I think this is a BR worth playing. Even if you are still holding onto Fortnite and Blackout, Apex is at least worth a try. All I know is that I will be playing it religiously, leveling and obtaining apex packs—rolling for new character skins—banners—quips. Killing to earn new badges, crafting new weapon skins with crafting materials, and unlocking the two characters that are—for now—locked. I'm awaiting the day that they announce new material, events, weapons, and characters. If this is how everyone else felt with Fortnite, well—bring on the seasons!