Apex Legends made battle royale fun again (but it still needs Titans)

Eric Abent - Mar 1, 2019, 3:57 pm CDT
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Apex Legends made battle royale fun again (but it still needs Titans)

If you’ve spent the last year or so suffering from battle royale fatigue, you definitely aren’t alone. It seems that everyone is trying to get a room in the house PUBG and Fortnite built, which has lead to a ceaseless stream of new battle royale titles. It doesn’t matter if developers are reworking existing titles to include battle royale or they’re making battle royale games from the ground up – everyone wants in and they want in as fast as possible.

With so many different battle royale games launching throughout the past year, it’s easy to lose interest entirely in the genre. Back when PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds first launched into early access on Steam, I spent a good amount of time playing it. Eventually, though, the game’s many flaws started overshadowing the fun that I was having, so I quit playing as regularly as I was.

I was still interested in battle royale as a genre, but since putting PUBG on ice, I haven’t really found anything that pulled me in. I gave Fortnite the old college try when it first started picking up steam, but for someone who is only okay at shooters and battle royale games to begin with, tossing building into the mix increased the complexity significantly. I wasn’t interested enough in Fortnite to put in the time to learn how to build effectively, so that was shelved as well.

Then there was Blackout, which seemed like a solid battle royale entrant at first but then just kind of petered out for me. I don’t know what it was, exactly, that made me put down Black Ops 4, but I can say that if I hadn’t quit after a few weeks like I did, I definitely would have once Activision rolled out its awful microtransactions. That stuff may be fine in a free-to-play game like Fortnite, but not one that comes with a $60 price tag up front.

After trying a few different battle royales and not finding anything that stuck, I just figured that I was done with the genre. Then, out of nowhere, Respawn launched Apex Legends. Though I don’t really count myself as an FPS player, I loved the Titanfall games, and a battle royale set in the Titanfall universe was definitely something I wanted to check out.

Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that there aren’t any Titans in the game (more on that in a bit), but with the early reaction toward Apex Legends being one of excitement, I decided to give it a try anyway. I’m glad I did, because I’ve hardly been able to put it down since I started playing.

Apex Legends, as many of you have figured out by now, is a fast game that doesn’t really have many dull moments, just like the Titanfall games that came before it. Apex Legends doesn’t turn the battle royale genre on its head, but the feeling of speed has certain addictive qualities to it that make it easy to keep queuing up for matches. Beyond that, the game also makes a few quality of life changes to the standard battle royale formula that help make the whole experience more fluid than what you’d find in other games.

For starters, making you opt out of dropping with your squadmates is a great decision that means solo players can find more success in matches. Obviously, once your Jumpmaster decides to jump, you’ve got the option of splitting off and going your own way if you wish, but you’re much better off sticking with your teammates even if you don’t like where the Jumpmaster has chosen as your drop location.

You’re better served by sticking with your teammates because each one of them has unique capabilities through Apex Legends‘ class system. The class system isn’t very hardcore – all Legends can use every gun and item in the game, so there aren’t any restrictions in that regard – but special abilities and ultimates are often best used within the context of group play. As an example, Lifeline’s special ability allows her to drop a drone to heal up anyone close by, while Bloodhound’s ability highlights enemies in red for a short time – something he and his teammates can all see.

Since abilities often give your allies some kind of benefit as well, it means that going off on your own can put you at a distinct disadvantage. Apex Legends puts a heavy emphasis on squad play, so much so that your only option is to play in squads of three people.

Another thing that encourages teamwork is Apex Legends‘ ping system, which allows you to place waypoints on the map, call out important items, or even flag enemies for your squadmates. We’ve seen ping systems like this before, but not really in a battle royale title. Most of the time, battle royale ping systems simply allow you to place a marker on the map, so it’s nice to see Apex Legends go more in-depth.

Fortnite recently expanded its own in-game ping system to behave more like the one in Apex Legends, and it isn’t really a secret why. Apex’s ping system allows players to communicate quickly as accurately without using voice; while having teammates in comms talking to one another is still ideal, the ping system means that you’re no longer at a disadvantage if one of your squad mates doesn’t have a mic.

Here’s the ironic thing about me being so into Apex Legends: I’m awful at the game. Confrontations with other players typically end with me dying quickly, and if there’s ever a situation where it’s my responsibility alone to claim victory, my team will surely lose right then and there.

We can blame some of my lack of ability on the fact that I’m still learning how to play the game, and learning a new battle royale is no small task. You have to learn the map so you understand where good loot spawns and how an enemy might be able to get the jump on you in any given area; you have to learn not only which loadouts are good but also the weapons you’re comfortable with using; in the case of Apex Legends, you now also have to learn character abilities and figure out when you should and shouldn’t use them. Perhaps most importantly, you have to learn when to shoot and when to hold your fire, which is knowledge you can only gain by playing.

In the end though, most of my struggles come down to the fact that I’m just bad at the game. I want to get better at it though, which is something I haven’t really felt about a battle royale game since the early days of PUBG. I wasn’t willing to go through the learning process with Fortnite or Blackout, so the fact that I’m so eager to get better at Apex Legends definitely come as a surprise to me.

The game still could use some Titans, though. How is Respawn going to give us a battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe without letting us use Titans? Wallrunning needs to be added to the game too, because as it stands, Titans and wallrunning are two of the best things about Titanfall and neither of them made the cut with Apex Legends. It seems to me that if Respawn really wants to make Apex Legends stand out in a sea of other battle royale titles, Titans are the way to do it.

I’m sure as time goes on we’ll see the addition of more Legends centered around mobility, so maybe some of them will be able to wallrun. It also seems very likely that we’ll eventually get special game modes that allow us to call down Titans in the middle of a match. If you believe the leaks, modes that give us both are already planned for the game.

For now, though, I’ll just work on getting better at playing the game and look forward to getting my Titan fix when they’re inevitably added at some point down the road. I’m not sure how long my obsession with Apex Legends will last, but for now, it’s going strong.

What about you? Has Apex Legends managed to get its hooks in you, or do you prefer another battle royale game? Head down to the comments section and let us know!


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