There’s a new competitor in the Battle Royale genre of multiplayer-only survival shooters, Apex Legends, from Respawn. It’s a free-to-play Battle Royale-style shooter with a risky system that lets you revive your teammates by retrieving an object at the box they leave behind, and a middle-click option on your mouse to let you mark items, enemies, and other important objects on your HUD that you would otherwise have to manually call-out.
The good news is that Respawn are some of the original Call of Duty developers, so the shooting feels good, even though this game lacks the wall-running and mech-suits from Titanfall.
Apex Legends also has different character classes. The first of which drops a healing drone, for example.
There are only 3-player squads in Apex Legends, are no other modes besides a short training mode that doesn’t really explain the now-traditional Battle Royale mechanics of the shrinking battlefield and dwindling players until there is one winning team.
I had a lot of thrilling moments in Apex Legends, mostly around reviving and respawning squadmates. Death isn’t necessarily the end in this game: even if you get killed, your squadmates can pick up your ID tags within a short window and bring you back at respawn points scattered about the map, as you spectate and bite your nails. It’s a feature you wouldn’t see in most battle royales, but it makes total sense in a squad-focused game, and adds great tension to every fight. You can be dead but still rooting on a friend. You could be alive and wonder if your squadmate’s killer is camping their body, waiting for you to come claim their ID. You can make it to a respawn point and stand there activating it, totally exposed, praying you don’t get shot in the back.
No matter what you’re doing, the ping system is just such a great tool for communication. In some cases it’s better than voice chat: you can highlight a specific object, like a door or a gun, and tap middle mouse to make your character say something about it. They’ll call out the name of a gun you might not know. You can double-tap to signal an enemy’s nearby and that’ll show up red for your teammates. After someone pings an item, if you pick it up, a prompt will pop up on your screen to thank them for pointing it out. In the world of horrors that is online gaming, it’s so pleasant (and, honestly, weird) to have a built-in courtesy button. Saying thank you: Somehow, just as thrilling as shooting a guy.
Unfortunately, like most free to play games, Apex Legends has loot boxes and different currency systems. They mostly seem to be for aesthetic choices, like weapon skins, but there are also new characters to unlock with unique skills you won’t get to play without ponying up with either real money or through another currency that might be earned in-game. The free-to-play business is as sad as ever, and many games that cost money up-front have these systems anyway.