"Apex Legends" Review

Titanfall 2 remains to me one of the biggest tragedies of this console generation. Here you had a shooter that was as close to perfect as you could get: incredible mechanics, tight campaign, epic multiplayer. And thanks to publisher Electronic Arts deciding to release the game in the week between their latest Battlefield game and rival Activision's latest Call of Duty game back in 2016, no one played Titanfall 2. For all intents and purposes, this new franchise from the original Call of Duty creators was potentially dead in the water.

When leaks started happening the weekend of the Super Bowl that developer Respawn Entertainment was going to release a Battle Royale game set in the Titanfall universe, my heart sank. I was dismayed at the fact they were chasing what I now consider a fad that's been dominated by Fortnite for so long. With "Battle Royale" being a genre I've tried to love but never have, I was ready to write off the Titanfall series as another victim of EA's continuous mismanagement this generation. 

Another Battle Royale contender has entered the arena

Then the game, titled Apex Legends, launched for free last Monday. And I gave it a shot. Almost 30 hours of playtime later, it is the most fun I've had with PVP multiplayer in a long time.

Everything in Apex Legends reeks of style and polish

What immediately makes Apex Legends stand out against the competition is just how freaking polished the game is. Keep in mind, this is a multiplayer only shooter that released in 2019 with virtually no beta test, and somehow its launch has been the smoothest I've seen in any game in recent memory. Compared to other releases in this genre, where they've had to launch as a yanky mess in "Early Access" before morphing to complete games (or in the case of Fortnite, still remain in early access 'til this day), that Apex Legends was able to launch this polished is quite a feat. This level of polish is felt in virtually every aspect of the game, from its clean visuals, its rock solid framerate, its pitch perfect controls, its menu's, etc. The game could have launched as a $30 release like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and I would have been happy with it. The fact this is free and with much higher quality than something like PUBG is a feat to itself.

Down but not out. Dying is not the end of the game in Apex Legends.

For a PVP game to have got me this hooked for a while says a lot to how great Apex Legends is as a game (full disclosure: I'll always side more with PVE shooter options like Destiny). The additions it has done to the Battle Royale formula gives me hope this genre has the potential to grow and add new wrinkles without sacrificing what makes it special. Yes, this is still a game that punishes you with permadeath when you die, so every combat encounter can still turn into a nail biter. At the same time, it also shows that combat can still control well without sacrificing the feeling of combat dread, which has been something that always bothered me with other battle royale games. Other than perhaps Call of Duty's Blackout mode, I've never felt battle royale games played well. Apex Legends is the best playing game of the bunch. 

Apex Legends path-finds its way to a unique hook in the Battle Royale genre

But it's not just the tight mechanics that makes this standout over its competition. Added wrinkles like making it a strict team-based affair complete with different hero classes ala Overwatch helps give the game its identity in the genre. Better yet, these hero classes offer enough gameplay variance that will give players enough choice in battle, which helps combat be more dynamic than the camping that's plagued this genre. The strict team-based structure also comes in clutch in other ways, like the chance of being able to respawn back to a match if your teammates play well and retrieve your fallen ID badge, as well as armor perks that can help extend your playtime. While to some the idea of respawning in a battle royale game may sound like heresy, it works well with the limitations and execution in Apex Legends. 

With all that said, there are still a couple of issues that hold the game back. For one, something has to be done with player quitting that can leave your team at a royal disadvantage. Maybe penalties or the chance to invite a friend to fill a suddenly empty spot unless the teammate was killed. Also, as smooth and polished as everything else is in the game, the one area that needs touch is the server disconnects from when you're transitioning back to the lobby after a match end. Also, as amazing as it is that the microtransactions are so unintrusive and not gameplay breaking like tends to be the case with EA's games (seriously, an EA game with microtransactions done well? Are we in the Twilight Zone?), I have to say some of the skins you get in the game are not super enticing, which makes me question the long-term hook of the game if the rewards are not that great. Obviously this last part may change as the game introduces the Battle Pass in March and we move through the planned "Seasons" this year, but for the here and now, the cosmetics feel a little lacking.

Yup. An EA game with lootboxes. Somehow, they did it right here. Wish there was better loot.

These issues, while a little noticeable, still don't undermine the accomplishment of what Respawn Entertainment did with Apex Legends. As the first game to be released after EA outright purchased the studio back in 2017, and at first glance a game that was trend chasing what was popular in the market while forgoing franchise staples like Titans falling and wall running, everything could have gone wrong with Apex Legends. Yet it did not. Everything so far has been going right with this game, and with an audience of 10 millions players accrued in the span of 3 days, this is the big hit Respawn needed after their last masterpiece was criminally underplayed. And free on top of that? 


Written by Alejandro Segovia.

Apex Legends was reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4.
 All pictures used were captured via the PlayStation 4''s SHARE feature.

Game Scoring rubric:
★ : 1 point  ☆ : 0.5 points

★★★★★: Essential. Excellent games. Close to flawless. Transcends any minor flaws it may have. 
   ★★★★: Great/Highly recommended. Great games. Some flaws worth mentioning, but nothing to worry about.
      ★★★: Okay/Recommended. Good games. Contains things worth playing & experiencing, but flaws can hinder the experience.
         ★★: Caution/Questionable. Mediocre games. The flaws start to significantly hinder anything good the game has.
             ★: Avoid. Bad games with terrible design decisions and flaws. No fun to be had. Don't waste your time.


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