I went to Disneyland recently. Late January and early February is the time to go—shorter lines, cooler weather. There I was, walking around the happiest place on earth with my friends, when we all get an alert on our phones. Some new battle royale game was about to drop.
Great, I thought. Another gimmicky BR game to clutter up an already bloated, gimmicky genre.
I’m not the biggest fan of BR. I’ve talked about how I came to the first person shooter genre late. It took Overwatch to get this role-playing game player hooked. While I do indeed have a newfound love for clicking on heads, it never translated to my few brief attempts at BR games. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds felt clunky and I died way too much. I liked Fortnight’s aesthetic, but I could never get the hang of the building mechanics. (And nowadays where better players do a single 360° spin and magically create a full tower complete with staircases and a roof, I have no hope.) I liked Realm Royale well enough, but I didn’t know anyone who played.
And you know what? It’s fantastic. I’m hooked. Don’t get me wrong, I suck. I’m total trash. But I love it. And with 2.5 million players in the first twenty-four hours and over two hundred thousand watching on Twitch, so does everyone else.
I’ve tried to figure out what this game does differently. I’ve heard a bunch of people—both in real life and in various forums—call this the first BR game they’ve actually enjoyed. It’s not just me.
While there are more than two reasons to love Apex, here’s the two big things that work for me.
As butter. Really. In a time where so many games release riddled with bugs, wonky controls, terrible UX, Apex feels like it’s had six months of polish already. It’s not perfect. For some weird reason they decided to blow your ears out with the character selection music, for example. But the combat is responsive, the slide and climb mechanics are fluid, and the guns feel really, really good. The map is gorgeous and not too generic. For the most part, everything just works.
But the most important thing: the ping system. It’s brilliant. Respawn Entertainment managed to create a way to communicate with your team without ever needing to speak. You can ping enemies, armor, ammo, guns. You can suggest what direction your squad should go. If I don’t see systems like this in all upcoming multiplayer games, I’ll be real disappointed.
Overwatch hooked me because it’s a hero shooter. Every character has an identity, a story, and a role like in RPGs. Tanks, healers, DPS, cohesive team compositions. That’s what I love. Apex manages to capture some of that magic. You’ve got support heroes, tanks, sheer DPS characters. Every legend (their name for hero) has a set of abilities and an ultimate. Gibraltar pops a bubble shield, Wraith creates portals, Bangalore drops a smoke screen, and so on. Don’t misunderstand, the emphasis is still the gunplay. The abilities aren’t so powerful that you can decimate another squad with them (unlike Overwatch), but they add enough flair to the gameplay to keep me interested.
I still haven’t gotten a win yet. (I really am trash.) But I’m addicted. There’s no going back now. If you’re like me and never enjoyed the BR genre, give Apex a shot. I bet it’ll hook you, too.