Why Apex Legends is the Best Battle Royale
Examining the winning formula
While some may disagree, there is no denying the level of quality put into this popular battle royale. Apex Legends would sit proudly in the hall of fame from all the popularity it has acquired over the years since its inception, as well as the steady stream of players it has maintained over the years. It is a PvP-only battle royale game from gaming legends Respawn Studio, the same company that made Titanfall. It is themed in the same universe as Titanfall with some interesting dialogue from the legends, lore to discover, and easter eggs hidden within different maps.
The primary game mode sets you in a team of 3 where you select a Legend (a playable character with unique abilities that falls into a certain class). You're thrown into a large map with 59 other players (20 teams of 3) where you launch from a ship that soars across the world, giving you the freedom to choose your landing location. From there, you gather gear and equipment while traversing the environment to continuously battle other teams until only one team remains.
Its the same formula used in just about every other battle royale out there, but there are aspects Apex Legends just nails on the head and does even better than any other game in the genre that exists to date. Given its constant high player count and all the gameplay components Respawn provides, it's no wonder it sits atop of the list for many people. Let's take a closer look at some of these components.
We'll start with the movement and combat, which are undeniably frickin’ incredible. Movement is very responsive with smooth transitions and intuitive controls; it doesn’t feel too fast or too slow either, falling right into that sweet spot. A major component of developing games is play control, which can sometimes take a full year or more of development as it requires countless hours of tweaking and play testing to perfect. Clearly Respawn infused Titanfall DNA into the movement and refined it in a very impressive way.
The gameplay is also phenomenal and easily some of the best I have ever experienced in any game. The weapons are all unique and have their pros and cons to fit multiple different play styles; not an easy feat to accomplish given most PvP games typically have one 'Meta' that dominates. Feedback from firing, weapon animations, the VFX, and handling all combine to cultivate a very satisfying experience within the gunplay. It never feels dull or uninteresting to down an enemy or get into a firefight; the engagement just works really well. With Apex Legends being a FPS, the developers are able to emphasize these more minute details that players will notice. This ultimately works in the game's favor as it is able to rest on a solid mechanical foundation.
Game Modes/Map Rotation
Battle royales have a well-known flaw of hitting a certain point where they stop offering up enough variety to the gameplay loop. Sure, in a PvP game every match is unique in its own way, but a magnitude of players tend to grow weary of the repetition and crave more variety. The developers at Respawn offer two major advantages to help appease with that appetite:
- Map Rotator — Currently the game has 5 massive maps that are put into a rotation, where every 1–3 hours a new map becomes the selected zone. Additionally, every season a designated map gets an update with a change-up in the points of interest and every once in a while a new map is introduced, which offers plenty of diversity throughout the seasons and year.
- Game Modes — As of the most recent season, Apex Legends now offers 4 different game modes (Battle Royale, Team Deathmatch, Control, and Gun Run). Battle Royale game mode is constant as that is the core experience of the game. The other three modes are put in a rotation in which they convert every hour or two. Not to mention each mode feels distinctive in its own way for those looking to take a break from the default battle royale.
Generating this type of conversion from the standard gameplay loop earns massive favor from the players. Once again, only games like Fortnite have accomplished such a tall order, and it explains why most of these live-service battle royales die within the first couple years of their inception. You can also mosey on over to the Firing Range - where every weapon and gear available in the game is at your disposal - at any point for some decent practice. It's the extra cherry on top.
Have multiple playable characters in these types of games is important in determining the number of play styles that will be catered to and can either enhance or diminish the replay value. Apex Legends introduces them as ‘Legends’, very fitting given the game's title and the backstory of the lore.
Once more, Respawn has garnered high praise for the flexibility in the Legends they offer. Between their in-game abilities and their custom skins/emotes, this shows a level of detail the developers have worked hard to create. The balancing act of carefully curating these Legends is far more of a laborious effort than I think most people give it credit. Not only do you have to consider the current features of the sandbox world itself - mechanics, maps, weapons, and game modes - but you also have to take into account how strong/weak they would release and try to tune that strength somewhere in between for that sweet spot.
More recently, Respawn has added a new implementation, as shown above, to continue to flesh out the in-game experience. Legends are now split into different classes that have passives tied to them to better mesh with the play style. This is another characteristic that is present in many games within the genre, but with the added flare of Respawn's own unique spin.
Environments in Apex Legends are downright stunning. They present enormous beautiful skyboxes as the backdrop with layers of carefully placed detail inside the playable areas. Any caliber of player can appreciate just how great the game looks flying into each map. Even when trying to escape a hellish 3rd party or figure out exactly where the hell you are in the zone you can’t help but stop to respect the graphical fidelity.
Sure, frame drops are not uncommon and occasionally a piece of the environment glitches out, but its only a small blemish compared to the big picture. It's obvious they have employed some of the most talented game artists to cultivate the implementation of this stimulating scenery.
Respawn obviously has especially talented artists that work on all the aspects that meld together sensationally well. From graphical artists, to 3D modelers, UI engineers/designers and the art team as a whole, they all produced magnificent quality that is instantly noticeable to the players.
Given the game is free to play, Respawn need to find some revenus tream for it. Fortunately, their non-predatory cosmetic system is, in a word, stunning. It isn’t just the Legends outfits; Respawn goes out of their way to add more transmog options to other portions of the game including character emotes, Legend cards with stats that are unique to each Legend, weapon skins of differing varieties, gun gun charms, and more.
Aside from that, they also offer an exclusive melee weapon option for most Legends in the game that is very difficult to acquire. This is just another prime example of the depth provided that allows Apex Legends to stand above the rest. Its also worth reiterating that these do not provide any advantage to anyone using them, they are solely cosmetic and a great way to flex on earned skins or provide some cool in-game effects.
The game isn’t perfect - no game out there is - and setting that expectation is just setting yourself up for disappointment. It has its crashes, seasons can launch with bugs, the predatory monetization does exist, and occasionally Respawn can be slow to implement favored changes by the community.
All that said, Apex Legends delivers a game experience that a lot of players have come to cherish and appreciate. Especially for a free-to-play game available on multiple platforms, where a much wider audience can participate and where player numbers pretty healthy year round. If you haven’t tried the game and this type of genre sounds even remotely interesting, I encourage you to try it. I am confident most that do will find plenty to enjoy about the game as many others and myself still do.
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