When was the last time we had a game announced and released on the same day that was actually good? Because that’s exactly what Apex Legends did a couple weeks ago. Not only is the game really well-polished for having no public testing, but it is also incredibly fun to play, having consumed a large amount of my time over the past two weeks.

Pros:

Slick movement. Shooting is a very important element in any FPS, something that Apex Legends does recognize. However, Apex goes beyond just shooting and makes movement equally as important. In fact, one could even say that movement is more key to the game than shooting is. I have been in several fights where, despite being outgunned, my squad and I were able to outmaneuver and win the fight due to our constant dodging and superior positioning.

Of course, all of this is possible due to just how well the game’s movement works. Climbing, sliding, jumping, vaulting, and even running all feel very intuitive and just work. There are no anchor points, long animations, or other similar issues that often plague games with movement like this. Like I said, it just works. This is quite the feat, especially so considering that the game came out of nowhere and had no public testing.

Nice map design. One of the biggest complaints I had with games like PUBG was that the maps were often designed in a way that did not easily facilitate fighting. PUBG’s default map, for example, is so large and barren that it was not uncommon to go fifteen minutes without seeing any enemies. Apex Legends, on the other hand, has a very nicely-designed map that not only encourages constant encounters, but is built around the game’s movement mechanics.

For example, each match begins with a “hot spot” indicated on the map. These “hot spots” contain better loot than the surrounding areas, encouraging players to land there and duke it out early on. The same applies to the dropship, a floating ship full of loot that also spawns at the beginning of the match and slowly flies to one of many landing zones on the map. On top of that, each area of the map is divided into zones telling players what level loot is available there, further driving players to specific points on the map.

Outside of these “hot spots”, the map itself is designed in such a way as to facilitate constant movement. There are large slopes that can be slid down, zip lines allowing players to go to and from certain areas, and even redeploy zones that allow players to relaunch themselves onto the map. In fact, due to these many additions, dying outside of the zone becomes a rare occurrence, which, in turn, indirectly discourages camping the edge of the zone (a tactic popular in other battle royales). It makes for a very refreshing battle royale experience and I only hope that future map additions can maintain this level of polish.

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Extensive pinging system. Apex Legends does something that I have seen no other battle royale do: it makes it possible to play without any voice or text chat between players. Although the game does offer both of these options, the randoms I played with usually communicated entirely through the game’s ping system. The game makes it incredibly easy to ping items on the ground, enemies on the map, areas to watch for, and a variety of other things to help out your squadmates.

No longer are players constantly shouting out directions, asking what a squadmate is shooting at, or telling the squad where they are watching. All of this and more can be vocalized using just the game’s ping system. Although I still play the majority of my matches using voice on top of this system, I did win quite a few games with randoms using these pings alone.

Revive system. One of the worst feelings in a battle royale is dropping into some hot spot on the map and dying early on, only to then have to watch the remainder of the game played out by your teammates. This is where Apex Legends‘ revive system comes into play. In Apex, death does not have to be permanent. If you bleed out or are otherwise killed in any way while down, your loot is left behind along with a marker. This marker can be picked up by a squadmate and activated at any of the respawn beacons scattered throughout the map. This allows the dead player to rejoin the fray, although without any loot.

This not only provides an incentive to stay in the game after dying, but can also make for some pretty good plays. For example, I had one such game where my squad and I were caught out by an enemy squad. My two squadmates had died and I had managed to hide myself in a bush nearby. This enemy squad gave up on searching for me after a short while, looted my squadmates, and left (as the circle was coming in). This allowed me to grab my squadmates’ beacons and revive them shortly thereafter. We actually went on to win this game despite the lack of loot, going to show just how impactful this mechanic can be — it’s definitely a welcome change of pace compared to what we usually get from other battle royales.

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Cons:

Loot boxes. Being a free-to-play game, Apex Legends does have to make money somehow. Unfortunately, it chooses to do this through the manipulative mechanic that is loot boxes. You’ve probably already heard enough on the topic (as it has been debated endlessly over the past several years), so I will just leave it at that. I only hope that these boxes never actually impede on the gameplay in the future.

Caustic’s poor design. I think that every Apex character does have their place, but the one named Caustic definitely has some design flaws. His abilities revolve around deploying gas traps and throwing gas bombs at enemies, slowly whittling down their HP while also blinding and slowing them. Of course, this does not affect Caustic himself as he wears a gas mask to negate the effects.

This where the problem arises — the gas actually still affects Caustic’s squadmates. It does not damage them, but it does slow and blind them, just as it does the enemy. Considering just how team-focused the game is, this makes Caustic an incredibly risky pick, as it forces a squad to work around his gas. This requires a lot of coordination which, when combined with the low damage actually dealt by his gas, really makes Caustic a pretty bad character overall. His design definitely needs a bit of a rework to make him more viable for team play.

Bugs and crashes. Although the game does run well for the most part (which is, again, quite the feat for a game that just came out of nowhere), it does still have some issues. My main complaint would have to be the game’s intermittent crashing. It seems like just about every play session, I or one of my friends will run into a sudden unexplained crash. They did not appear to have any identifiable trigger and usually took the form of a slight freeze and then the game just quitting out on itself. Of course, there was still the occasional “party leader has left” false kick, but most of the time it was a freeze and crash. It is quite the annoying problem and even cost my squad and I some wins.

Outside of the crashes, the game does have a few other issues, one such issue being the server-wide rubber banding. I have been in several matches where the beginning had every player basically running in slow-mo, rubber banding to and from. It was not just me either, it affected my squadmates and even enemy players. It usually went away after a couple minutes, but it does make early fights and looting a lot more difficult than they need to be. This is definitely a problem with the game servers rather than the client, so hopefully this is just an issue of heavy server load that can be fixed with time.

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Apex Legends is exactly what the battle royale genre needed. Not only does it improve upon its predecessors, but it adds its own unique twist in the process, providing for a really refreshing battle royale experience. From its slick movement to its extensive ping system, there’s a lot to like here. Even so, the game does have some issues when it comes to the more technical side of things, but the developers have already taken steps towards patching those up, so hopefully these issues are completely fixed with time.

Score: 9/10

You can check out Apex Legends on its website here.

Read more about how I do my game reviews here.

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