Apex Legends – Fortnite meets Overwatch as Respawn joins battle royale fray

Guardian Technology 05 Feb 2019 12:02
A fight to the deathApex Legends Photograph: Electronic Arts

It was only a matter of time before another world-class game developer entered the lucrative battle royale genre. The new type of multiplayer online shooting game, which drops up to 100 competitors on to an island and requires them to fight until only one remains, is dominated by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the cultural phenomenon that is Fortnite, currently earning $300m a month. Last October, Activision joined the fray with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout mode, and now Beverly Hills-based Respawn Entertainment, creator of the respected sci-fi blaster series Titanfall, has thrown its explosive hat into the ring.

Simultaneously announced and launched on Monday, Apex: Legends is located in the Titanfall universe, taking place 30 years after the events of Titanfall 2. Set in a remote area of the galaxy named the Outlands, the game is essentially a cross between Fortnite and Blizzard’s popular hero-based shooter, Overwatch. Players are left in a ruined planetscape, in squads of three (you can’t play solo or in a duo), and must gather weapons and items while fighting 19 other teams to the death. Before the action starts, each player must choose one of eight characters, all of which have their own special skills and offensive abilities. Gibraltar, for example, is the brute strength option, capable of calling in an air strike to take out an entire side, while Wraith is able to create a wormhole from one point of the map to another, allowing her team to either escape a tricky shootout or warp straight into one.

What’s immediately noticeable about the game is its departure from a variety of Titanfall elements. The visual aesthetic switches from the realism of previous titles to a stylised comic-book look, and there is none of the sustained wall-running or double jumping that characterised the Titanfall titles. Movement, however, feels fluid and dynamic, thanks to a pleasing slide mechanic, the ability to sprint when you holster your weapon, and the array of rope slides littering each location, making it easy to cover lots of ground quickly.

In action, Apex Legends feels fast and polished. The basics of the game – touching down, exploring buildings for loot, then battling it out with other players – are very familiar. The weapons, too, are highly derivative, with the usual SMGs, LMGs, assault rifles, snipers and shotguns to work through. But Apex has some really nice touches. The various abilities of the characters forces you to think and act as a squad, almost tag-teaming into action depending on the environment while keeping support characters, such as the medic Lifeline, in the background. It’s also possible to revive downed teammates, even if they’ve been killed rather than just wounded, by grabbing their banner icon and taking it to one of the respawn points on the map. This feature can create tense little mini-dramas as your focus shifts from attacking another squad to rescuing a fallen comrade.

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