The Apex of Battle Royales

The enemy team didn’t see me, and I could barely believe it. My teammates had just been wiped out after we assumed the Pathfinder we saw enter the building had been alone.

I ran onto the roof of the dilapidated house after they went down. There was nothing I could do solo against another team of three. I didn’t have enough time to fully run off the building’s roof without getting shot in the back. Instead, I crouched in a thin shrub and hoped the Bangalore who followed me out wouldn’t explore the roof fully.

No such luck. She ran along the sides of the roof, never turning her back long enough for me to run. Worse still, her teammates had joined her. I hadn’t thought I was that well-hidden, but the enemy team kept on coming dangerously close to my hiding spot, then wandering off again.

At one point, the Bangalore went to jump off the roof, leaping over my head in the process. I’m sure I stopped breathing at that point, but one by one, her teammates followed, running to the next building. Somehow, I had survived. I walked to the hole in the roof that I had used as an escape and dropped down to retrieve my teammates. We made it to the final two teams after that, so very close to the precious championship that would name us, for one game, champions of “Apex Legends.”

“Apex Legends” is a battle royale game released in February 2019. Players are put on teams of three and sent out onto a large map to battle 19 other teams, for a total of 60 players per match.

One user on each team will be dubbed the jumpmaster and will control the area where the team lands. The map is made smaller every couple of minutes with the closing of the circle, which is the area that is safe to play in. Every time you step outside of the circle, you will take damage. If you stay out of it too long, however, you will die. This forces confrontation between teams, who otherwise could have been on completely different sides of the map.

The battle royale genre is one that has quickly become oversaturated since the release and popularization of games like “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” in 2017. “Apex Legends” builds off its predecessors by making improvements every step of the way.

One of the biggest changes from other games is that “Apex Legends” has a character selection. In other games, you will play a base character, which is a character who is the same across all players. The lack of customization in other games make skill and tactic in battle the most useful skill. Here in “Apex Legends,” there are characters that have their own abilities and personalities. However, the biggest difference between a player and their rivals is the kind of loot they pick up once they land in the map or purely cosmetic skins that change the appearance of the character.

There are currently nine characters in the game, the newest one launched with the first season of the battle pass. A favorite of mine is Bloodhound. It is a masked hunter whose abilities allow it to see if people have been in an area in the last minute and if so, allows it to lead its party to battle. It puts me at ease knowing I’m not likely walking into an ambush, especially if one of my teammates takes the lead and I have to follow or risk being split up when we next encounter rivals.

The main driving force behind any team game is communication. “Apex Legends” allows teammates to communicate even if they lack a microphone by implementing a pinging system. Players can alert their teammates to useful loot, warn them when they see an enemy, and suggest where to go next with the push of a button. This allows people who have anxiety about the general toxicity of online games not to have to worry about flamers or bullies. There is also a voice-to-text function that allows people to turn down the volume of the in-game voice chat while still getting the gist of the conversation. So well done was the ping system that rivals like “Fortnite” have been looking to implement their own versions of it.
There is also a level of communication with the characters to the players. Every so often, a character will comment on something related to the game, whether it’s at the start by announcing who is jumpmaster, when the first person has died or mid-game or when players have to race to the next circle. This is done without any prompting by the player, giving a new illusion of life to the characters they control. In a recent update, when players ping an object, the character they control gives some more information about it, allowing new players to get used to the game more quickly.

One aspect that I haven’t seen often in battle royale games, even those that are team based, is the ability to be respawned. When a player is killed, they drop a death box, which contains the loot that they had gathered during the game, and a respawn beacon. The player’s teammates have limited time to get to the respawn beacon before it times out. If the team can get the beacon, they have an unlimited amount of time to get to a respawn point and revive the dead player. If they fail to get to the beacon in time, the player is out of the game. The map contains a limited number of respawn points, and each one is a one-time use. Be careful though; each time a respawn point is used, other teams can see that it disappeared off the map, and there is a respawn animation that allows anyone in the vicinity to see that someone is being respawned. When you are respawned, you lack any equipment that you got during the game and so must gather resources again.

Usually, at that point, it is far riskier because other teams will have had enough time to acquire high tier armor and better weapons than the basic Mozambique gun that you might find in a crate.

“Apex Legends” is so unlike any battle royale game I’ve played before, despite its simple formula. I poured almost an entire day into it when I first discovered it. Although I was bad at aiming, I entertained myself just by slipping and sliding around the map. It promises many hours of shenanigans — both with friends and random people online — that will keep me busy during spring break. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of battle royales, or of games that rely on shooting, I recommend trying it out at least once.