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Apex Legends Review - The Titanfall Battle Royale

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: AL
Respawn Entertainment, the team behind the ill-fated Titanfall series is back with a free to play battle royale game that supposedly takes place in the Titanfall universe. The game was released on the same day it was announced, and not in early access. Apex Legends is a finished product that hopes to compete with Fortnite, PUBG and Call of Duty Blackout in a genre that many gamers feel is already overcrowded. Is Apex Legends worth dropping into? Let’s find out right here in our MojoPlays review.
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Apex Legends Review

Respawn Entertainment, the team behind the ill-fated Titanfall series is back with a free to play battle royale game that supposedly takes place in the Titanfall universe. The game was released on the same day it was announced, and not in early access. Apex Legends is a finished product that hopes to compete with Fortnite, PUBG and Call of Duty Blackout in a genre that many gamers feel is already overcrowded. Is Apex Legends worth dropping into? Let’s find out right here in our MojoPlays review.

I want to get something out of the way first, this is not a Titanfall game. Respawn and EA are being open about this fact by not putting the word "Titanfall" in the game's title. But even saying it takes place in the Titanfall universe is a bit of a disservice. There are no Titans. The game plays out in the typical by-the-numbers battle royale fashion but scaled down to 60 players per match. While there are lots, and I mean lots of slight changes like class based combat, to the way players drop in and even the way the game handles revival; you can still expect a standard battle royale experience but in a tight, streamlined package.

For those of you who've been avoiding battle royale games since Fortnite became just a bit too popular, the gameplay goes as follows. Players drop in to a huge map, in this case in squads of three, and immediately scramble for loot consisting of weapons, armour, upgrades and health supplies. A circle is drawn on the map and then quickly closes in, killing any players trapped outside it. As the play area gets smaller and smaller players are forced to fight until the winning team is the only one left standing.

If I have to point to the biggest thing that sets Apex Legends apart from other battle royale games, it's the speed, which is also the only thing, besides a few visuals, that justify calling it a “Titanfall” game. Players run quickly and navigate the map with incredible ease thanks to wall scrambling, ziplines and certain abilities such as the grappling hook. Titanfall’s signature wall running and double jumping is absent, and I can see how that could upset a lot of people. As a fan of the original two games, there are literally dozens of us damn it, parkouring around the levels is something I personally miss a lot more than the Titans themselves. Sliding is still around however, and it is an absolute blast. My favorite thing about the map is it’s verticality, which lends itself really well to just sledless tobogganing. Most of the time it’s not particularly tactical, but it does make fighting on slopes my favorite kind of battle.

Because of this fast pace, the collapsing circle is a very minor concern. You won't spend much time, if any, worrying about the play zone. The only obstacle are other players, and because the map is relatively small compared to something like PUBG, you’re going to be fighting a lot.

As I said earlier, there are no big changes to the B.R. formula, but Apex Legends offers up a significant amount of really smart tweaks to just about everything. Classes are the most obvious. At the start of each round players choose a character, and each character has different short cooldown active abilities, passives and a long cooldown ultimate. Classes don’t effect the game that much, as each one still spawns with no gear, and uses all the same weapons, ammo and equipment as everyone else. Personally I really enjoyed the addition of classes, as they add a lot of variety to each play session. If I had one or two frustrating games with one class, I would change to another class and enjoy how it’s perks encouraged me to play a little differently. Although some characters are straight up more fun to play than others.

Lifeline, I’m talking about the medic Lifeline. She doesn’t get anything fun... like at all.

Teamwork is more encouraged in this game than any other BR I’ve played so far. Not only do a lot of the character’s skills benefit a team of players, but a lot has been done here to encourage players to work together. When you drop in, a player in the squad is randomly selected to be the drop leader. They chose when to exit the dropship, and everyone automatically jumps out with them. Furthermore that player also controls the team’s descent, and everyone, unless you specifically choose to opt out, lands together in formation. While this definitely isn’t a system I that would make sense in a game with a bigger map, it works really well here, and again, you can still go off alone.

The pinging mechanics however, is something that I want to see every other BR game steal. You can quickly and easily ping locations, targets, weapons, armor, pretty much any piece of information you would want to give you team, you can do so quickly and easily. Overall Apex Legends handles audio ques really well, when you’re under attack or finish off a squad, your characters will automatically bark useful information. All this not only makes teamwork easier, but also makes the experience for new battle royale players a lot less intimidating, without dumbing down any of the core mechanics. I’m talking about battle royale mechanics, not Titanfall mechanics, I’m still salty about losing my wall running.

Another clever mechanic that worked really well were the respawn beacons. In other battle royale games, if a knocked teammate was killed, they were out of the game for good. Meaning if you dropped into the hot heat and someone died, they would have to wait out the rest of the match or just quit the match entirely. But in Apex Legends, a ‘killed’ teammate drops a tag on their corpse, along with a generous timer. If friendly players can retrieve the tag before the time runs out, they can then take it to a respawn beacon and that dead player can rejoin the match. Not only is it a welcome way to keep people in the game and further bolster teamwork, but it makes for some really fun situations where you get to run into the middle of a fight, scoop up a teammates tag and run out again, feeling like a fucking hero.

Because the game is free to play, and published by EA, the monetization is definitely a concern. EA was, justifiably, dragged through the mud for Battlefront 2’s “pay to win” loot boxes, but it looks like they may have learned their lesson. Apex takes an approach almost identical to the loot boxes found in Blizzard’s Overwatch. And I don’t just mean aesthetically, you get loot boxes, in this case Apex Packs through standard gameplay for free or by purchasing them, and those loot boxes only contain non gameplay modifying aesthetic items. You start the game with six characters unlocked and, at time of writing, there are two more characters that can be unlocked either with in game currency or premium coins.

Overall I was really impressed with Respawn’s foray into battle roayle. It’s not Titanfall 3, and that is upsetting, but for a free to play multiplayer game, Apex Legends is probably the tightest and most fluid BR on the field today. It doesn’t make huge changes to the formula, but the little things like mobile loot platforms, the ping system and respawn beacons mean Apex Legends does stand on it’s own, and prove that even with a huge title like Fortnite hogging the spotlight, the battle royale scene always has room for innovation.

It’s that right Marvin?
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