Well, now this was a surprise.
Apex Legends is a strange game. It's come at a time where Battle Royale is starting to slowly ebb away from a lot of peoples "wants" from a game, Yet It adds such a pleasant entry to the genre that may actually have a great chance of keeping up with its rivals, by being more focused around its unique premise of a more tactical, squad based experience, Apex Legends feels like a fresh premise worthy of a look at the very least.
Anyone who has played a Battle Royale game will know roughly what to expect here. You are part of a squad of three, and only three, as there are at time of writing no other options, versus nineteen other squads of three, who at the beginning of the match take it in turns to choose from a small group of characters with different unique, albeit interchangeable, skills and ultimate abilities that can help your team in a different way. You pick where to land and you can fly there, start looting and doing the usual for a Battle Royale, either run around, hunting down your fellow players to loot them and decrease the player pool size, or sitting in a building near the edge of a circle blubbing and clutching a shotgun like a paranoid duck hunter.
The premise is the same, but it's the small changes that help this game flourish into a more tactical squad based experience, for example, a player in the character choosing phase will be assigned the role of "Jumpmaster", which entails having control of all 3 players characters on the descent, meaning it's a lot easier to stay with your squad and land with them, also choosing when to break away so that you cover enough ground to loot your chosen land point quickly, yet also be close enough if any other teams have decided that they want to fight, you can regroup quickly and attempt to fend them off.
I like the feel that Apex Legends provides in that regard, you feel like you can be much more aggressive, as it feels like it actually favours it, by keeping the combat smooth and fast paced, adding ziplines, wall climbing and sliding it means if you communicate with your team, you can run circles around the enemies like they're nothing but gormless sheep and you're a heavily armoured Border Collie. There's been more than one occasion where me and my team have felt a pang of self-satisfaction, setting up clever strategies where we circle around enemies, providing each other covering fire whilst we circle a building an enemy teams held up in, before breaking in all the doors and getting three clean kills, it's moments like that that make you realise why this genre has basically defined the last couple of years of gaming.
Teamwork is essential with this game, you will get the most out of this buddying up with two of your other gun totting friends, or going into the public chat and hoping to find someone who's similar to you in play style, you will get a mixed bag of players right now, as in early doors people are coming from other games, such as Fortnite and Blackout, to come see the fuss the noisy neighbours at Apex Legends are putting on, so you will meet plenty of players microphoned up and ready to communicate, either that or talk about how many chicken dinners they had in PUBG. If verbal communication isn't your bag though, they have added a really thorough "ping" system, so you can mark locations of enemies, locations and different gear such as body armour or weapons for your team to get eyes on, and the characters will all make it very clear that a ping has happened, as the characters have many verbal lines to announce what you have pinged, making sure that no miscommunication occurs. I really like how simple yet extremely useful this system is to helping you group with players who may not even talk to you yet you reach a mutual understanding through the tap of a single button.
Apex Legends currently has six playable characters, eight if you count the two locked behind their premium credits or a lot of levels of grinding the "Legend Tokens", and each of them have a different passive skill, unique ability and an ultimate ability for use, all of which do work well in the format of this genre, as it feels particularly well balanced right now, however the skills are quite interchangeable, with character selection not particularly feeling like the be all and end all that you would expect it to be, which can be a positive, but I don't feel like any of the characters particularly have much personality, and I'm not a massive fan of some of the designs of them either, a lot of them feel like they just took a stereotype and rolled with it, like the "Dark and Broody lady who can stealth and talks about four octaves lower then she probably does naturally" and "Hi, I'm generic happy robot voice with a lot of quips about how happy I am a killed you" (Granted he easy is my favourite out of the characters in terms of personality, but that's like saying you have a favourite breakfast spoon)
Apex Legends however, that it’s a very new game, there is only one map at current, and a rather small selection of different guns and attachments and characters, so you will very quickly end up trying most the games variety of weapons, and none of them real particularly stand out to me, the design is fine, but nothing apart from decent body armour or the super rare weapons really makes you go “I really wanted that” or “This is really damn cool”, all bar the shotguns anyway, they are fantastic.
This is where Apex Legends does start to show the cracks in fairness, it does feel like it's intended to just be "Marketing - The Game!", With this mix of hero shooters and Battle Royals spliced together like this, along with locking nearly everything behind loot boxes of all things, which you can at least earn for levelling up in game, as well as getting scrap to exchange for anything in particular you would like for a certain hero, It feels like they've been real stingy with what they're willing to give you. There isn't anything offensive with this game, it just feels like rather than going all in on the more tactical squad-based shooter they had, they just cast a net for mass market appeal, which is a shame, as its more unique assets are what make the game so interesting.
The other real problem isn't really any reason to keep coming back to it, as at time of writing there are no daily challenges, only a few "badges" you can earn on your player cards, all stats are locked behind the characters pages and hidden in the trackers part so it's hard to keep all your stats together and work out better characters and who you have had wins with, which I feel is almost needed for a game like this which is playing the same mode over and over again.
Apex legends is worth a go at least, at the price point of free you have got nothing to lose if you don’t enjoy it, it is great with friends or strangers that have headsets, as the faster pacing, smaller map and unique team based quirks, make it a great addition to a genre that has felt stale for a while now.