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Review

Apex Legends Review -- A New Battle Royale Titan

  • First Released Feb 4, 2019
    released
  • Reviewed Feb 8, 2019
  • PS4
  • XONE
  • PC

Big-budget battle royale.

If Apex Legends has one thing going for it, it's the feeling of being complete--something not every battle royale game can claim. The shooter sub-genre's huge popularity means there are lots of games that do last-player-standing competition well, but with a few troubles along the way. Some well-established shooters are adding battle royale to their offerings, fitting their existing gameplay into its framework. Other battle royale games are constantly struggling with balancing issues and bug fixes, adding and removing elements as they figure out what works and what doesn't. And still others started life as something else and managed to retrofit their mechanics into the battle royale mold, with some ideas fitting better than others.

Apex Legends, on the other hand, focuses on doing one thing extremely well. That thing is team competition in the battle royale genre; at launch, it only includes a team-based mode where 20 groups of three players square off against each other. Everything in Apex Legends works to further teamwork: that includes a number of improvements to issues that plague the whole genre, like cleaning up inventory management and increasing accessibility, and the addition of new ideas, like squad composition elements and special character abilities.

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Apex Legends excels by combining good ideas that have worked in shooters before. The battle royale ruleset is the same as in similar games, with very few changes: Teams skydive onto a huge island with nothing and scramble to gather up weapons and items to use against any other teams they encounter until only one team survives. While there are no titans or wall-running, it's still possible to see the bones of Titanfall 2 undergirding Apex, which reuses Titanfall's weapons and some of its fluid movement mechanics, like sliding and mantling. But the core of the formula here is the tight, three-player squad structure, which all the other pieces benefit.

Another big change to the battle royale formula in Apex Legends is one extremely similar to what Blizzard brought to multiplayer FPS games in Overwatch. At the start of each match, each player chooses one of eight characters, each with specific abilities that serve specific roles. The defensive Gibraltar can drop a shield and call in an airstrike to drive another team back; the offensive Wraith can create portals between two locations and briefly disappear to avoid damage; the supportive Pathfinder uses grappling hooks and ziplines to help the team reach areas where they might have a tactical advantage.

It all plays back into the focus on teamwork, since no character is especially powerful, and no abilities are useful all the time. You're not a lone wolf--instead, you have a specific role that complements teammates as you play, and that works to help find a new side of battle royale that hasn't been explored before.

Moment-to-moment, though, what's remarkable about Apex Legends is that it just works. Battle royale is a bit of an obtuse genre with a lot of moving parts; in most games, you find weapons, gun attachments, armor, healing items, and more. You'll spend lots of time digging in menus to manage inventory. Apex streamlines all of that with user interface tweaks that make it possible to instantly identify what you need and ignore the things you don't. Ammo types are color-coded to the guns that use them. Attachments automatically join with guns they fit and swap to appropriate new guns when you pick them up, while things you can't use or don't improve your gear are brightly marked as such. It's an even more accessible version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale improvements with its Blackout mode, and the rest of the genre should adopt it.

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The best feature in Apex Legends is its extremely robust "ping" system, which lets you press a button to create a marker on your teammates' screens. The ping system is super smart--aim it at a gun or a helmet and your character will identify that object's location to everyone else. You can ping in your menu to call for things you need, mark places you want to go, or identify spots other players have passed through. Most importantly, you can use pings to mark enemy locations. The system is so responsive and well-implemented in Apex Legends that it can fully replace talking to your team at all. In fact, the accuracy of a ping on-screen can often be better at helping you quickly convey information than talking.

A revival system also helps you get more engaged with your team. If a teammate falls in battle and is knocked out of the match, you can recover their banner, an item that drops with their loot, and use it to respawn them into the game as if they just started. The system adds some intense, harrowing strategy to Apex that requires you to risk everything to save your squad; you can only call back dead teammates at specific, single-use Respawn Beacons on the map, but you're completely exposed while doing so. Pull off a clutch play, though, and you can bring your team back from the brink. The system provides a great incentive to stay in matches and keep talking to and aiding your team, instead of just leaving when you die to join another match.

Like in Respawn's previous games, shooting here is hefty and satisfying, and Apex sports a wide variety of cool guns to learn and master. However, gunplay sometimes gets held back because lots guns carry strangely small magazines. Players have a lot of health, which gets increased greatly with the addition of armor, so it often takes a lot of shots to take people down. Ideally, you're always shooting someone with the help of a pal, but the small magazines have the effect of making you feel underpowered alone. In most matches I've played, shotguns get the most use from players because they have the highest likelihood of actually taking down an opponent, while many of the other guns spray bullets too much and leave you vulnerable as you reload and reload and reload.

Apex Legends is a mix of smart shooter ideas that makes for a competitive, team-based game that gets at all the best parts of battle royale while addressing a lot of the weaknesses.

As a free-to-play game, Apex Legends includes both loot boxes and in-game items that can be purchased with real money, and loot boxes can also be earned by playing. Everything on offer is cosmetic, much like in Fortnite or Overwatch, so paying money isn't essential to playing the game and staying competitive, and you can largely ignore microtransactions if you aren't interested in paying.

The one place Apex Legends' microtransactions can irritate is in trying to unlock new characters. At launch, six characters are available for free, with two that can be unlocked either with paid or earned currency. Neither is essential--they offer different abilities but not better or worse ones--but as an average player, it still took me around 17 hours of play to earn enough currency to buy one character (it'll be shorter if you get more kills and more wins). With Respawn adding more characters to the game in the future, it's fully possible trying to unlock new characters will become a slog that turns off casual players and those unwilling or unable to pay.

Apex Legends is a mix of smart shooter ideas that makes for a competitive, team-based game that gets at all the best parts of battle royale while addressing a lot of the weaknesses. Respawn's intense focus on team play makes Apex more than just a worthy addition to the genre; it's an indicator of where battle royale should go in the future.

Back To Top
The Good
Combining great shooter ideas refreshes the battle royale formula
Streamlines and fixes a lot of irritations of the genre
Ping system should become an industry standard for team shooters
Teamwork incentives make playing with friends rewarding
The Bad
Some guns feel ineffectual thanks to small magazines
Earning characters without paying will take quite a bit of time
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Phil Hornshaw is a first-person shooter veteran who spent over 20 hours playing Apex Legends for this review, largely trying to make as many clutch revives as possible with Lifeline. He once took down a whole squad with just a Wingman pistol. He mostly played on PC, although also spent some time with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.
202 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for izraal
Izraal

Up until now I have downloaded most major battle royale titles, played one or two matches, and then uninstalled them. Player Unknown Battle Grounds, Fortnight, etc., they all provided similar poor experiences with different aesthetics.

Apex Legends represents something different altogether: the first battle royale game I've been able to say "no thanks" to without putting myself through the misery again. Based on the fact that I haven't wasted 20-30 minutes on it, I suppose oddly that makes it my favorite battle royale game at present.

Avatar image for yeknomdab
yeknomdab

M'kay... Hopefully this will be the last of these "BR" clones to be shoved in my face every time that I visit a gaming site or digital store. (Not gonna hold my breath, but there's always hope.)

Battlefield's slow downward spiral has eroded my taste for competitive shooters, and these weird little freemium variations on arena pew-pews aren't doing anything to revive my interest.

It's both telling and sad that the only compelling PVP shooter experiences (in recent memory) have been limited to much larger solo/cooperative games such as Division 2 & Destiny 2--neither of which bother to try anything new.

At any rate, we need to stop encouraging the creation of more dull derivatives of old FPS mods. Just stop. Please?

Avatar image for kjsmith1980
kjsmith1980

I love Titanfall and i was ready to love apex but i simply can't get into battle royale. Run around for 5 minutes then get shoot and spectate. No thank you. I will play this if they add team death match. I deleted it the same day that I downloaded it

Avatar image for gettingonwithgaminglife

I played and I had fun...for a while. I'm crappy at most online games so I got carried but I just liked the chill. No one gave a crap if your were bad. Maybe a solo mode for me.

Avatar image for mattock1987
Mattock1987

It’s overrated. A lazy love child of Fortnite and Overwatch.

Avatar image for r0ninx73
r0ninX73

What this game needs on the next update is to add titans to the game. No not everyone gets a titan but one character in your group could get it randomly just like when it randomly picks the person to manage the drop. The players that don't get titan can work as support and they can steal the core from other titans. Also you the titan character can run it remote if needed. You would only have max 20 titans in a game on the map every and the world is more than big enough to support that. After that I would like a pure pilot class with jet pack or wall running or if you get the titan you get the pilot class automatically.

Avatar image for apexlegendsfan
ApexLegendsFan

I love team DM ! :) https://apexlegendsfan.com/ if you like this game.

Avatar image for gamehoy
GAMEHOY

I really hope they add a traditional team deathmatch mode.

Avatar image for toreey2k
Toreey2k

Id give Apex Legends 10/10

This is the first Battle Royale I like, really love!

Like it so much that we decided to start an Apex Legends Community Discord

If you like to find other people to play with, come join the community!

https://discord.gg/3H2yCzK

Avatar image for ghost44678
Ghost44678

the issue is that many of you compare everything to everything , Apex legends on its own as a game is absolutely insane and "camping" should be an option not a forced route. you can either camp and make your own Mayhen (this goes for all games) love it beautiful game for what it is.

Avatar image for salty101
salty101

Whiniest comment section yet.

Avatar image for chakan2
chakan2

Eh...I don't get it. It's boring as hell...2 minutes of rushing around finding guns and praying you don't get shot, then 20 minutes of camping, then 2 minutes of clearing out the stragglers. It's so much downtime and so little action.

I like the feel of the game, it would have been great as a death match / team death match game, but it's another flat Battle Royal snore.

Avatar image for kenundrum7
kenundrum7

@chakan2: I agree. I am not a fan of Battle Royale. This one looked good, so I downloaded it, and took it off after 20 minutes. It is good for what it is, but it is not for me. Too dull.

Avatar image for salty101
salty101

@chakan2: You got Titanfall 2 for that

Avatar image for csward
csward

"Earning characters without paying will take quite a bit of time"

Can we please get an estimate of time (possibly from the devs)? It would be nice to know how much EA cranked up the dial and have number to compare to other games so we can define how greedy the monetization scheme is.

Avatar image for squateye
SquatEye

@csward: I'm an average player, I've unlocked my first aroun20-30 hours, now I'm 84 hours in, and I estimate another 30 or so to get the second. (You get 600 points for each level up, you need 12 000 points for one, and leveling up is exponentionally longer after each level). I guess with the ranked system they will implement some other ways to get points and crafting minerals, because so far you can only get these from leveling up and lootboxes.
BTW, these 2 chars are far inferior to those you get from the beginning :)

Avatar image for ryogapower
ryogapower

@csward: 17 hours as mentioned in the review

Avatar image for ftskamins
ftskamins

First online game that I enjoyed after many years!

Avatar image for greaseman1985
greaseman1985

I really hope they add a traditional team deathmatch mode. The game looks amazing, definitely the most polished f2p game I've seen, but I just can't get into the battle royale thing.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

Titanfall 3 died for this shit , let that sink in for a bit.

Avatar image for chakan2
chakan2

@off3nc3: To be fair, Titanfall 3 died because they totally dropped the ball with Titanfall 2. This feels like they're still chasing after Overwatch and Fortnight instead of treading innovative territory.

It's interesting because it's not Fortnight. The shininess will wear out in a couple months.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@off3nc3: I'm not worried about that. Titanfall 3 has a better chance of coming out and being good if Respawn has a mega hit going for them. And that way we'll get a good BR game and a good traditional shooter.

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

@Mogan:

https://kotaku.com/titanfall-3-is-not-in-the-works-respawn-says-1832336218

This game is your titanfall 3 bro enjoy it !

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@off3nc3: They’ve already said there’s more Titanfall in the works over there. And if that isn’t a game called Titanfall 3, I’m still not that worried about it; Titanfall 2 was great and all, but either way we’ve got a real good playing shooter here and more on the way.

Avatar image for mari3k
mari3k

No turn based combat = NO BUY !

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@mari3k: A turn based Battle Royale game seems like it might take a very long time to play. : p

Avatar image for JustinGoSka
JustinGoSka

@Mogan: it'd be like playing a game of D&D with no campaign, lol

Avatar image for Abdulrahman1981
Abdulrahman1981

No Nintendo Switch port?

Avatar image for coveyleadrshort
coveyleadrshort

Played this for 5 days on 2-3 hour intervals on PS4. I will admit a got a lot of 2nd places and top 10s, but no wins (Conservative play when the last squads are alive is key). I also got a ton of early eliminations, mostly from no team cohension, 2 man squad start ups, and bot teammates. I stopped playing after one round where my team just sat and watch a player slide into me and knock me down, even after I knocked off his armor beforehand and was melting his brain after reload. Literally was unloading my gun at his head while sliding towards me. Recorded this to make sure I wasn't seeing things and confirmed at least 5-6 hit markers. No damage during slide maybe?????

I'd had enough. I'm like some others here, I might come back if this gets a solo mode or different team based modes once season one starts. Until then it was deleted and I'm back on PUBG.

IDK it might just be the pace of Apex??????

Avatar image for beantownsean
BeantownSean

Couldn't get the game to Launch...promptly uninstalled.

Avatar image for ghost140
ghost140

It's fine

Avatar image for xboxfanonly
xboxfanonly

I refuse to play this game until respawn/EA disclose all of the characters/legends political affiliations!!!

especially the robot

Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

@xboxfanonly: L O L :D

Avatar image for Luminious0
Luminious0

Give us something newwww!!!! not some dime a dozen battle royale knockoffs. Getting olddddddd

Avatar image for ShimmerMan
ShimmerMan

Earning characters is not an issue. The issue is that earning loot boxes stops after 45 boxes. And the only way to progress in unlocking customization = gambling.

Avatar image for ditronus
Ditronus

They really do need to up the capacity of ammo for almost every gun. Everyone opts for a wingman and shotgun because it's easy to finish off a person without reloading. There's a lot of weapon imbalance people will start to notice as they play more.

Avatar image for lastofus234
Lastofus234

Didn’t mind the game but still prefer pubg mainly because of the realism of the shooting etc and you can play on your own. When apex gets solo BR rather than just squads I’ll be back

Avatar image for pcgamer2019
PCGamer2019

@lastofus234: I agree about PUBG but ill never be back to Apex as its just not that good, certainly compared to PUBG

Avatar image for apexlegendssite
ApexLegendsSite

Fan social network > apexlegends.site

Avatar image for naruto945
naruto945

Been waiting 13 years for KH3 and this blew it out of the water right after release.

Also if you don't like BR it's probably because you can't win. If you haven't won a round you have no right to speak on a br game imo.

Avatar image for pcgamer2019
PCGamer2019

@naruto945: Shut up you pretentious like dork. Or maybe just maybe its not very good.

Avatar image for naruto945
naruto945

@pcgamer2019: look at all the likes from people who can’t get a win lol

Apex Legends More Info

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  • First Released Feb 4, 2019
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    7.5
    Average Rating108 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Apex Legends
    Developed by:
    Respawn Entertainment
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Genre(s):
    Tactical, Action, First-Person, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood, Violence