Respawn Entertainment takes on the battle royale genre with its free-to-play Titanfall spinoff, Apex Legends.
Over the weekend, news broke of a new game from Respawn Entertainment, the studio responsible for the Titanfall series. The rumors suggested it would be a free-to-play battle royale game in the same vein as Titanfall, minus the giant mechs. Those rumors turned out to be true as EA officially lifted the lid on its brand new game, Apex Legends.
Seemingly taking the place of the long-rumored Titanfall 3, Apex Legends is still set in the futuristic Titanfall universe and shares many of the series’ signature gameplay mechanics but puts them in a battle royale game mode. Think of it as a spinoff of the popular first-person shooter franchise, released completely free and monetized with loot boxes and optional cosmetics similar to Overwatch or Fortnite.
Apex Legends plays with a general ruleset similar to most other battle royales. You’re dropped onto an island with an enclosing circle and your job is to kill all of the other players until you and your squad are the last ones left standing. However, Respawn is introducing a few wrinkles to the genre.
For starters, there’s a roster of eight Legends to choose from, each offering their own unique abilities and playstyles. With an emphasis on teamwork, selecting a character that balances the squad seems critical to your team’s success in a match.
Giant mechs aren’t the only thing missing from the game. Apex Legends also ditches Titanfall‘s signature wall-running mechanic but maintains its emphasis on quick traversal through zip lines that take you back up to the dropship and allow you to redeploy. The Pathfinder Legend also has a Zipline Gun as his ultimate ability, so movement is still a point of emphasis.
Prior to the match, each squad is assigned a Jumpmaster who chooses when to leap from the ship and onto the map. Once the Jumpmaster leaps, the entire squad will follow, avoiding any sort of drop confusion and ensuring the team can stick together. With other games, poor communication the freedom to jump from the dropship at your own discretion often leads to a lone wolf approach, which more often than not means an early squad wipe.
Speaking of squads, Apex Legends will feature 60 players total divided into teams of three. If you try to go into a match solo, you’ll be automatically paired with two teammates. For lone wolf players, I can see how this could be an annoyance, but nothing is forcing you to stay with the team once you drop. You’ll just be considered a really crappy teammate.
Once you drop onto the map, the typical search for weapons and gears begins. Apex Legends has a wide variety of loot inspired by Titanfall’s robust arsenal of weaponry – including SMGs, shotguns, light machine guns and energy weapons – and gear, like body armor, defensive items and attachments. As explained during the livestream, your best bet at acquiring the best loot early on is to drop in one of the marked hot zones or landing on a supply ship.
Another major deviation from the norm is how Apex Legends handles death. Teammates can be revived if downed, but Apex Legends really bucks the trend by allowed you to revive expired teammates. If you are unable to revive a downed teammate, you have a second chance to bring them back into the game by recovering their banner card and bringing it to a one-time use Respawn Beacon. This will allow them to drop back into the action, but will also put you at an increased risk of exposure to other players.
This feature is undoubtedly one that’ll draw the ire of traditionalist battle royale players, but I absolutely love it. Battle royale games tend to run fairly long. There’s nothing worse than hopping into a game with friends, being among the first players to die and then having to sit through the rest of the game should your teammates survive. This feature at least provides the opportunity to get back into the action. It also further emphasizes the need to stick together as a squad.
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As I mentioned, Apex Legends is completely free to play, so EA and Respawn will rely on microtransactions to generate revenue. This will come in the form of seasonal Battle Passes that contain exclusive cosmetic items that are unlocked by playing the game. Apex Legends will follow a seasonal model with the first season beginning in March, which is around when Battlefield V will launch its own battle royale mode. Each season will last approximately three months.
Apex Legends looks like a pretty entertaining spinoff, especially for fans of the Titanfall series. While it is a full-fledged, standalone game, I could just as easily have imagined it released for free as an expansion to Titanfall 2. While it’s timing strikes me as odd, given Anthem is right around the corner and Battlefield V‘s own battle royale game is on the way, there are reports (via Kotaku) that this was the result of some reshuffling by EA.
In any case, Apex Legends is available today for Xbox One, PS4 and PC. It’s completely free so there’s no reason to not give it a spin if you’re interested. You’ve literally got nothing to lose except your time.