Move over Fortnite, there’s a new free battle royale game to play. Releasing on February 5th, seemingly out of nowhere Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends has quickly taken the gaming world by storm. It has amassed over 25 million players since its launch, and just this past weekend had over 2 million concurrent players. To say this launch has been impressive is an understatement.
Besides launching and being featured on pretty much every relevant gaming streamer’s Twitch/YouTube channel and being covered in depth by most of the games media, Apex Legends has already hosted their first tournament. The Twitch Rivals Apex Legends Challenge featured 48 of the biggest names across Twitch, including the likes of Fortnite stars Ninja, DrDisrespect, and CourageJD. So in case you haven’t heard about Apex Legends, I wanted to explain what it is, how it will shape the gaming world going forward, and give some of my early impressions of the hottest new Battle Royale game on the market.
Developed by Respawn Entertainment and Published by EA
We all have probably heard of Electronic Arts by this point, but many of us may not be familiar with Respawn Entertainment. Seeing a game this polished and thought out coming from them is not surprising to me at all. Respawn Entertainment is best known for their work on Titanfall and Titanfall 2, an FPS series of games that featured regular soldiers fighting in a large battlefield with giant weaponized robots and “pilots” to control them. It was fast, fluid, and featured a lot of gameplay elements that have carried over to Apex Legends. Something that a lot of people don’t know about Respawn Entertainment is that the founder and CEO of the company, Vince Zampella, along with many members of his team, were the original masterminds behind Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare as well as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. These guys are experienced at making successful FPS games, and they just may have another hit on their hands here with Apex Legends.
Titanfall, without Titans, and with Overwatch characters?
Apex Legends is technically set in the Titanfall Universe, but it is a very different beast than Respawn’s last few titles. The game features squads of 3 launching into a large open world battle arena where they all fight to the death. As is the usual with battle royale games, you will spend a lot of your time looting the world for guns, armor, attachments, and more. The map will continually shrink during the duration of the game, and squads are forced closer and closer to one another. The last squad standing wins, and gets a “You are the Champion” message in place of what Fortnite calls a “Victory Royale.”
Something unique about Apex Legends, though, is the characters that you can choose to launch into battle with. Similar to Overwatch, at the start of a match each person on your team drafts a special character. All of these characters possess their own unique side powers, as well as an ultimate ability, which has to charge up throughout the match. Some of these abilities include a special enhances vision, the ability to set up a zip line across the map, and setting down a teleporter for teammates (or enemies) to jump through.
For fans of the Titanfall series, you may be wondering why Respawn decided to omit your beloved mechs from this game. The developers addressed this, saying that they tried to incorporate Titans into the gameplay formula, but it just didn’t end up working out. They were either way too powerful, not powerful enough, or they made the character’s abilities feel useless. For a game that is largely focused on teamwork and the use of the character abilities, the Titans would have been a crutch.
Personally, I am a huge fan of Apex Legends. I have loved the super fast FPS genre ever since Call of Duty Modern: Warfare 2 back in the day, so this game is my favorite battle royale title out right now. I particularly love the ping system, which allows you to point out everything from weapon drops, to weapon and ammo requests, to incoming enemies and more to your online teammates without having to speak a word. In today’s gaming culture, no one really bothers being in game chat, but communication is still a key component to victory, especially in a game like this where there are squads of 3 players. Luckily, the ping system marries those two dynamics, allowing you to casually play whilst still communicating effectively with teammates.
It will be very interesting to see how Apex Legends evolves after its hot start. The game seems to be in good hands, though, as developer Respawn Entertainment seems to have a plan as far as post-launch content goes, with a Battle Pass and multiple seasons of content announced already. The eSports scene surrounding this game will also be interesting to see develop, as teams, such as this one, are already actively recruiting talent for when the game gets picked up as an official eSport. Regardless of when this game becomes an eSport, it has already done a lot to change the industry. The battle royale genre seems to be heating up, and it is a great time to be a fan of games.