Apex Legends Review: Battle Royale Taken to a Whole New Level

by David Sanchez March 14, 2019 @ 7:31 am

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

It’s been a little over a month since Apex Legends had its surprise launch, and I’m just now finding the time to write this review. Why is that? Well, to be quite honest, it’s because Apex Legends is a lot of fun, and I haven’t been able to stop playing long enough to sit down and actually review the game. But now that I’ve managed to show a little self-discipline and restraint, it’s time to delve into the world of Respawn Entertainment’s awesome battle royale title.

If you’ve played one of these games before, you know the score: You drop down from a flying vehicle, and then it’s a race to scour for the best loot in order to be the last person standing. Apex Legends does things a little differently than, say, Fortnite because, at least at the time of writing, it only features one mode. This mode groups up 20 squads, each with three players.

What elevates Apex Legends above the battle royale kingpin Fortnite is its excellent gameplay. Folks who are familiar with the Titanfall franchise will instantly recognize the tight feel of the shooting mechanics. The aiming and shooting gameplay offered here just feels really, really good. There’s a level of polish that’s absent from other battle royale titles, which is kind of surprising when you consider how out-of-nowhere the game’s release was.

When you’re not engaging in standoffs, you’re searching for better loot. Sometimes you’ll find the best guns and upgrades early on. Other times you’ll find them toward the end of the match. Then there are those moments when you don’t get anything good (like the good ol’ Mozambique). That’s just the random nature of the battle royale, and that charm is not lost here. While your chances at success are theoretically greater if you have something like a Wingman with a Skullpiercer hop-up, though, nothing is a guarantee in the battlefield of Kings Canyon.

Every character has his or her own special passive and active abilities, adding a twist to the team dynamic. Wraith’s passive, for example, allows her to know when she’s in someone’s crosshairs thanks to a voice from “the void” warning her of impending danger. Bangalore, on the other hand, will gain a running boost whenever she’s being shot at. These passive abilities are extremely useful and can be detrimental to survival.

Active abilities function differently in that they have a cooldown. The gas mask-wearing Caustic can drop toxic gas traps that are triggered whenever players hit them. The trickster Mirage can send out a doppleganger to confuse enemies. And the previously mentioned Bangalore can fire a smoke bomb that allows her to either get away from dangerous situations or ambush the opposition with a surprise attack.

Last are the ultimate abilities. These typically have the longest cooldown, and they can really turn the tide of battle. Lifeline, the resident medic of Apex Legends, will drop a care package that houses three random items such as armor, weapon upgrades, or med kits. Wraith’s ultimate allows her to set two portals, which can be used to flank enemies, retreat from battle, or get a downed comrade out of harm’s way. While cooldown for these abilities is somewhat lengthy, it’s important to constantly use them — otherwise you’re just letting a potential advantage go ignored.

Apex Legends looks pretty good, but it is rough in a few spots. Abandoned tanker trucks, certain buildings, and even foliage often have a low-res look. It’s hard to fault the game considering how it launched with no real hype, but you can’t help but notice an ugly pixelated tree or tire rim.

There’s not a whole lot of music in Apex Legends outside of the menu theme and the tune that plays during those first few seconds as you drop into battle. Thankfully, even though you hear those two themes a lot, they’re pretty epic-sounding and help to get you pumped for the ensuing carnage. The voice acting is also solid, with the characters’ quips ranging from witty to funny. Some characters take themselves more seriously than others, but the overall delivery is solid across the board.

Despite the high level of polish, Apex Legends is a free-to-play game and as such thrives on microtransactions. The game’s been out a month but thus far has only offered cosmetic items and a couple unlockable characters. The majority of these items, including the locked characters, can be acquired by using in-game currency that you earn just by leveling up, which isn’t hard to do. Basically, you can give the devs money if you want to — given how awesome Apex Legends is right out of the gate, Respawn certainly deserves a few bucks thrown its way.

Though Apex Legends has been dubbed a completed, final product, there are still a few wrinkles to iron out. Most of those are minor, though, and connection or performance issues are typically rare, so there’s definitely a feeling that this is indeed a finished product. That said, for folks who want more, the upcoming battle pass, skins, weapons, and characters should be enough to keep players coming back for a very long time.

It took Apex Legends one week to hit 25 million players. Here we are one month after the game’s debut and it’s already hit the 50 million player mark. That’s one-fourth of Fortnite‘s total… in just one month. In a genre that’s quickly becoming saturated with random titles and less-than-exciting also-rans, Apex Legends stands out thanks to its exhilarating FPS gameplay and rock solid controls. It’s an incredible entry in the battle royale genre, and arguably the best take on this style of game to date.

Score: 9 out of 10

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