Playing battle royale games can be a lonely, frustrating experience. You've already heard the formula by now: 50-100 or so players drop onto a single map with nothing, and then they loot and fight until a single player or squad is left standing. The randomness inherent within the battle royale genre is a huge reason why games like "PUBG" and "Fortnite" have exploded and come to dominate the industry within the past year.
It's also a huge reason of why they can be so frustrating. Sometimes you drop in, immediately find everything you need and then spend the next 20 minutes or so gleefully trying to outsmart and outshoot the competition — otherwise known as "playing the game." And then sometimes, for like 5 games in a row, you drop in, find nothing and die within 30 seconds — spending more times in menus and lobbies waiting for the next game to start.
Last week, developer Respawn Entertainment surprise-released "Apex Legends," a multiplayer shooter set in their popular, although arguably overlooked, "Titanfall" universe. Looking at the bullet points, it has everything you would expect from a multiplayer game released in 2019. It's a battle royale game, initially popularized by "Playerunknown's Battlegrounds." It's free-to-play, like "Fortnite." It has a class-based character system, like "Overwatch." A cynic might look at this and think that Respawn, and publisher EA, took every market-proven industry trend, crammed it into a "Titanfall" game, and then took out the mechs and the wall-running.
But just three days after launch, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella announced that "Apex Legends" hit a mind-blowing 10 million players — a feat that took "Fortnite" two weeks to accomplish — and after the weekend more than doubled to 25 million players. Amongst my friends, on Tuesday no one was playing it. By Thursday everyone was playing it. Granted, the entry price of zero dollars surely has something to do with it, but just what is it about "Apex Legends" that hooked so many people so quickly? Did Respawn finally find the jumble of mechanics to lure away "PUBG" players and "Fortnite" players and "Overwatch" players? Maybe. But I would argue that the early success of "Apex Legends" comes down to a single button press.
For decades, game designers have been trying to get players to work together.
In the beginning, multiplayer games had text chat — which was fine except for the fact that it's very hard to both play a game and type specific instructions at the same time.
In 1999, "Counter-Strike" popularized two potential solutions for this: pre-recorded voice lines and microphone support. They were, of course, imperfect. The former made it slightly easier for players to communicate with one another, but you still had to dig through menus in order to find the right message, and using it effectively meant taking hours to memorize the dozens of lines and associated keybinds. The former made communication a lot easier, but it required another piece of hardware and also meant that any stranger on the internet was now more-or-less free to shout at you.
Microsoft, seemingly determined to spark a new wave of multiplayer communication, packaged headsets with the 2005 launch of the Xbox 360. If everyone has a microphone, the thinking went, then everyone would surely want to play games over Xbox Live. Obviously, Microsoft severely underestimated the consequences of giving microphones to anonymous teenage boys with internet connections and short tempers.
Since then, we've seen developers make half-steps towards designing multiplayer games with good communication systems. In 2005, "Battlefield 2" introduced a spotting system where if a player saw an enemy, all they had to do was hit one button and that enemy's location would be added to your team's minimap. This was later improved in 2006's "Battlefield 2142" by placing an actual marker over enemies within a player's HUD, and expanded into a radial menu where players could select a handful of common voice commands.
Valve's "Team Fortress 2," released in 2007, didn't have the complex spotting system, but demonstrated how you could automate inter-player communication. When approaching objectives, players automatically spout off voice lines imploring other players to help capture them. Engineers announce whenever they're building something. There's even an option in the game to automatically call for a Medic when you're low on health.
Both games arguably raised the bar for what good interplayer communication could look like without having to resort to a microphone, but they weren't perfect. In "Battlefield" if someone kills an enemy you spotted, you get some points, which is a great way to use in-game system to incentivize positive teamplay, but more often than not games devolve into a whack-a-mole of just trying to be the first to kill the spotted enemies as they pop-up. And in "Team Fortress 2" if the game is doing all the communication for you, after a few dozen hours or so, it all just becomes background noise. It's not another player talking to you, it's the game.
By and large, most online multiplayer games have microphone support, and the communication options start and end there. In games like "PUBG" and "Fortnite" if you want to work cohesively with a squad of people, the easiest option is to 1.) own a microphone and 2.) squad up with a group of friends who have microphones. Sure, you might get a few like-minded folks joining random squads, but the combination of competitive multiplayer games and internet anonymity almost always ends up in a toxic situation — doubly so if your fellow teammates are homophobes, misogynists, racists or transphones (more often than not, all four!)
So now we're back at square one: How do you make players work together, without a microphone?
On paper, "Apex Legends" seems like a game that would require a microphone. Unlike "Fornite" or "PUBG" you cannot drop solo. Every "Apex Legends" game consists of 60 players split into 20 squads of 3 players. In the beginning of every game, players take turns picking their "Legend," one squad member is designated "Jumpmaster" and the game defaults to you and your squad landing together. Compared to "Fortnite" and "PUBG" it's much harder to kill someone "Apex Legends," which makes interplayer coordination essential to eliminating a rival squad. But you don't need a microphone to win, or even have a good time, in "Apex Legends."
There is a lot this game does right. The movement feels fast and fluid. Aiming and shooting feels intuitive, yet still rewarding and challenging when done right. The cast of eight "Legends" have just the right amount of personality, and their abilities add enough complexity to the gameplay without making it feel like using their skills is essential, or worse, a barrier to playing well. The respawn system removes one of the biggest frustrations of battle royale games — dying early — without turning the game into a giant team deathmatch. Apart from one weapon, everything seems to be working right. But the glue that holds all of this together, and arguably the reason why players keep coming back, is the ping system.
The ping system in "Apex Legends" is a masterstroke in interplayer communication — not only in how easy it is to use, but also in how much it does for you. The mechanic is simple: ping something, and it'll send a flag to your players. The beauty of it, is that pinging is context-sensitive, and it works on almost everything.
It might sound complicated, but literally within the first few moments of playing your first game it's stupid just how easy and effective it is. Even when playing with friends, the simple act of trying to find a landing zone is needlessly complicated. People hem and haw, others don't know the map that well. In "Apex Legends" someone can suggest a landing spot, others can ping that spot to confirm it, and within, like, 10 seconds you already have a consensus on something. Think about that: In a genre where a good landing is crucial to your success, "Apex Legends" only requires you to hit a single button to get on board with your fellow teammates.
And that continues once you hit the ground. Ping a weapon, ammo, or item and your character will call it out to the other players, and place a marker on their HUD. While you're on the ground, pinging a location will tell your squadmates you want to relocate there. Pinging enemies will flag those enemies to your teammates with a special icon. What's more, is that your teammates can respond to any of your pings with a ping to confirm them. In a genre that requires an incredible amount of situational awareness in order to play well, "Apex Legends" is able to cram all of that into a single button. Press R1 to be situationally aware.
It's such a simple thing to do, but it also speaks volumes about who you're playing with. It's comforting to drop in with two strangers and watch them start pinging stuff left and right. They're only hitting a single button, sure, but it communicates the simple fact that they are willing to work with you. It's so easy and essential that neglecting to ping things in "Apex Legends" arguably makes you a worse player and teammate. Pinging gives players a in-game mechanic to master and make themselves useful to their squad. If you're not great at shooting or don't really have a mastery of a particular Legend's mechanics, you can still ping the heck out of everything and still be useful to your teammates.
What's more, the ping system is robust, but it has its limits. This is a good thing! Unlike using a microphone, which gives players access to the infinite power of the spoken word, the ping system can only be used to help, not harm. The fact that "Apex Legends" matches you up with to strangers on the internet every match undoubtedly made a fair amount of under-represented folks in gaming nervous. But the ping system removes this concern almost entirely by making pinging arguably more effective than voice chat. Why tell people there's a Hemlock in this shack when you can just ping it? In addition, "Apex Legends" has an option that will auto-transcribe microphone chatter into text, so it's entirely possible to play without ever having to hear another human speak ever.
Humans are social animals. While it feels great to jump onto a digital island with 100 other people and be the last one standing, it feels even better to be the last squad standing. And if you have a group of friends that you can do that with, then great. But not everyone does. Respawn's choice to make "Apex Legends" a squad-based battle royale could have gone wrong a hundred different ways. Imagine going into every game with not only the uncertainty of what's going to happen when you hit the ground, but also with what kind of randos the game is going to pair you up with.
If the game just had microphone support, you'd inevitably spend the first minutes of the game figuring out if other players could hear you, then figuring out who these people are, how to communicate with them, how to motivate them and how to play with them. And then after doing all of that, your squad gets wiped 30 seconds after hitting the ground. Imagine coming home from a long day at work, hoping to unwind by spending an hour or two shooting computer men, and then having to figure out how to manage two complete strangers every 5-10 minutes. It'd be exhausting.
With the ping system in "Apex Legends" you don't have to. You just ping stuff, and your teammates figure it out. You can coordinate with two other humans, and expend almost no emotional energy. It's like some sort of interpersonal perpetual motion machine: button presses go in, and out comes complex relationships with your squadmates. In the real world hell is other people. But not in "Apex Legends."
Why is Apex Legends so much fun? ›
The game is like over watch, because you can choose a variety of characters and you have an ultimate ability as well, so combined with the fact that it is free, it is going to be a very popular game. It is also a Triple A game coming from the developers of Titanfall which was a very good game too many people.Is Apex noob friendly? ›
Apex Legends is a popular free to play battle royale game that can be tough to get the hang of when you're first starting. Despite being limited to six free characters known as legends, they're not all great for beginners.Is Apex Legends good for casual players? ›
Several others lamented that Apex Legends doesn't really offer casual players a chance to improve. Typically, pubs should offer somewhat of a laidback experience, while ranked play is for learning. As one player opined, however, Apex only features “ranked and ranked lite.”Why is Apex still popular? ›
Apex Legends has become one of the most popular FPS games since releasing in 2019 as new seasons continue to attract players to the battle royale in 2023. Each season, players gain new content to enjoy, including new Legends, weapons, and even maps.Who is the most fun character in Apex? ›
Octane. The speedy trickster Octane is definitely one of the most fun Legends to play. Running super fast with his stim, soaring over enemies with the jump pad, and healing on the move makes him a joy to play.Who is the most fun in Apex? ›
- Wraith – 12.7%
- Pathfinder – 11%
- Octane – 10.9%
- Bangalore – 7.3%
- Bloodhound – 7.1%
- Lifeline – 5.4%
- Valkyrie – 4.5%
- Horizon – 4.5%
The difficulty between these two battle royales is subjective, but Apex Legends is the more challenging video game to play.Who is the easiest character on Apex? ›
Bloodhound takes the top spot on our list of beginner-friendly Legends in Apex Legends. He's an instrumental Legend to have on your team. He can help your entire team out by using his abilities.Who is the easiest Apex legend? ›
Apex Legends is rated T (Teen 13+) with Content Descriptors for Blood and Violence and Interactive Elements that include Users Interact (meaning players can communicate online if they choose) and In-Game Purchases (meaning the game offers the ability to exchange real-world currency for in-game currency or items).
Can girls play Apex Legends? ›
All of the signs point in the right direction, though. While most multiplayer titles are still toxic places for women, Apex Legends is a confident step forward for online gaming.Is Apex skill based matchmaking? ›
Apex Legends currently makes matches using your pre-made party's best player's skill rating, and our system does consider your pre-made squad's size when matching you with opponents. We are working toward creating fairer matches compared to today as you play with friends of different skill levels.What game has the most active players? ›
- 8 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
- 7 Destiny 2.
- 6 World Of Warcraft.
- 5 Apex Legends.
- 4 Among Us.
- 3 Fortnite.
- 2 League Of Legends.
- 1 Minecraft.
Is Apex legends easier to play than fornite? long answer: yes, but not if you're trying to get into the high levels. It has a more dynamic feel to it and takes little to no skill to pick up, but it would take a long time for most players to really reach high levels of gameplay in it.Is Apex more successful than Fortnite? ›
It turns out that Respawn's iconic title has managed to beat out the competition since Season 11's release, too, as it has overtaken both Warzone and Fortnite to become Twitch's battle royale regent. Respawn Entertainment As Ash continues to dominate in the Apex Games, Apex Legends is crushing the competition.Who is the weakest legend in Apex? ›
1. Mirage. This may be a controversial pick, and many players will disagree. But we must say that Mirage is not the Legend he used to be.Who is the least used legend in Apex? ›
- Mad Maggie: 2.6 percent. ...
- Vantage: 2.3 percent. ...
- Crypto: 2.2 percent. ...
- Catalyst: 2.2 percent. ...
- Caustic: 2.1 percent. ...
- Seer: 2.1 percent. Image via Respawn Entertainment. ...
- Gibraltar: 1.5 percent. Image via Respawn Entertainment. ...
- Newcastle: 1.3 percent. Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment.
, can you remind people about Bloodhound's gender identity? It's been a huge point of debate lately! With pleasure! *taps mic* Bloodhound is non-binary.Who is the best female apex legend character? ›
Wraith is the overall best character in Apex Legends.
Her high mobility, tiny hitbox size, and powerful survival-based abilities have made her the most popular Legend in every single Season of Apex Legends so far.
The Gaming Merchant designed a separate ranking to consider animations when ranking legends. According to that map, Revenant is the easiest target to hit, surpassing tanks such as Gibraltar and Caustic. Wraith maintains her title as the hardest character to take shots at, followed by Pathfinder.
Who is the scariest legend in Apex? ›
Gamespot uploaded this trailer for the new legend, Revenant.Is Apex FPS hardest? ›
He was left in a tough one v. 3 situation where he just could not clutch up, and this is what he had to say when a viewer said, don't worry, Apex is the hardest first person shooter. Apex might be the most difficult FPS game right now.Is Apex still the best battle royale? ›
Despite the recent surge in popularity for the likes of Warzone 2 and Fortnite, Twitch star shroud believes that Apex Legends is still comfortably the best battle royale on the market.How hard is Apex 100 tier? ›
While it will take different players different numbers of hours to complete the Apex Legends Season 1 Battle Pass, we do have official word from the developers on an approximate length of time. Thanks to this Reddit thread, we know that it should take around 100 hours to reach Tier 100 in Apex Legends.Which legend is best for beginners? ›
Apex Legends: 10 Best Legends for Beginners
- 1 Bloodhound. Bloodhound, the recon Legend, is one of the best characters to play as and, luckily, one of the easiest to learn.
- 2 Gibraltar. ...
- 3 Bangalore. ...
- 4 Wraith. ...
- 5 Lifeline. ...
- 6 Mirage. ...
- 7 Caustic. ...
- 8 Octane. ...
- 18 - Vantage.
- 21 - Rampart.
- 22 - Crypto.
- 22 - Wattson.
- 24 - Lifeline.
- 24 - Octane.
- 26 - Seer.
- 29 - Catalyst.
While not massively more violent than Fortnite, the presence of blood splatters when dealing damage and the inclusion of finishing moves does make Apex Legends a slightly more mature game, as highlighted by PEGI's older age guidelines.Is there cursing in Apex Legends? ›
Not appropriate for persons below 16 years of age. ' This PEGI rating only takes into account the content in the game and not the contact element, where players may be exposed to swearing and other offensive language from strangers in voice or on-screen text chat.Is Loba Lgbtq in Apex Legends? ›
Loba – Bisexual
Loba was confirmed as bisexual by Senior Writer of Apex Legends, Tom Casiello. She also has a voice line where she implies she's a heartbreaker, no matter if you're a man or a woman.
Apex Legends' Wattson/Crypto Ship Has Plenty of Evidence
Since Season 5, Wattson and Crypto's growing relationship was documented in their in-game voice interactions. Many Apex fans suspected a romance in the future until Caustic intervened.
Why is apex so hard? ›
The first and most obvious explanation for why you are dying so soon in the game is that you're putting yourself in bad positions. Many new players get so focused on getting kills and doing damage that they forget to restrain themselves and will rush forwards into a vulnerable position.Can you lose Apex Predator? ›
Why did I lose my Apex Predator rank? The Apex Predator tier has a cap at the top 750 players per platform. Because it has a cap of a certain number of players, if you lose your RP or another player gains more than you, you may drop back down into the Master tier.Is Apex Legends matchmaking broken? ›
Apex Legends has had a bit of a bumpy start to 2023, with widespread connection issues affecting players for hours upon hours. Additionally, fans in Europe have complained about strange matchmaking during Ranked, such as Element 6 pro player KSWINNIIE, which has only led to more frustration among the playerbase.What is the #1 game ever? ›
The best-selling video game to date is Minecraft, a sandbox game released by Mojang in May 2009 for a wide range of PC, mobile and console platforms, selling more than 238 million copies across all platforms.What is the #1 game in the world? ›
Minecraft has sold over 176 million copies across multiple platforms. It is the best-selling and most popular video game of all time!What game is better than Apex? ›
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (recently renamed PUBG: Battlegrounds) might be the best alternative to Apex Legends.What is older Apex or Fortnite? ›
Fortnite was first released in 2017 with Apex Legends following two years later in 2019.Why is Apex better then Fortnite? ›
8 Better Than Fortnite: No Building
Apex Legends has a stronger focus on the actual weapons and for most people, the tight first-person shooter controls greatly outweigh the looser third-person shooting and building of Fortnite. Hard to take someone out if they build a house around themselves in two seconds.
Some of the biggest innovations featured in Apex Legends, later copied by Fortnite, include: Reviving dead teammates. Vaults full of loot that take keys to enter. Map pings.What game overtook Fortnite? ›
Through Twitch Metrics the players will be able to observe that Fall Guys has surpassed Fortnite and Apex Legends in terms of peak viewership in the month of July. Fall Guys at the moment stands at 412,019 peak viewers which higher than the likes of heavy hitters such as GTA V, Apex Legends and Fortnite.
Is Apex basically Fortnite? ›
What is this? Apex Legends follows the basic Battle Royale structure of Fortnite wherein teams compete to be the last squad standing. Unlike Fortnite, it's a first-person shooter game with a huge cache of weapons and other tools players can use to fight each other.Is Apex Legends more fun than Valorant? ›
Video games are meant to be fun so as long as you are having a good time both games excel in their own way. However, if you want to pick a game as a way to break into the Esports industry as a professional player, being an Indian, Valorant is the clear winner.Is Apex Legends an addictive game? ›
Not only that, but the items you can obtain through gameplay become increasingly frustrating to acquire as you rise through the ranks in-game. The systems in place make Apex Legends a lucrative sales funnel, and players with certain addictive tendencies towards gambling could end up losing a lot of money.Is Apex or Call of Duty harder? ›
The difficulty between these two battle royales is subjective, but Apex Legends is the more challenging video game to play. This is primarily because Warzone is focused on simplistic shooting mechanics, while Apex Legends has many things to consider.Is Apex Legends more violent than Fortnite? ›
While not massively more violent than Fortnite, the presence of blood splatters when dealing damage and the inclusion of finishing moves does make Apex Legends a slightly more mature game, as highlighted by PEGI's older age guidelines.What game is Apex most like? ›
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (recently renamed PUBG: Battlegrounds) might be the best alternative to Apex Legends.Are Apex Legends for adults? ›
Apex Legends is a popular game for adults as well as children and young people.Is Apex Legends a blood sport? ›
Its pioneers, explorers, and outlaws used to spend their lives locked in an endless power struggle – now, they settle their differences in the Apex Games, a bloodsport where Legends from all corners of the Frontier compete for money, fame, and glory.Should I let my 13 year old play Apex Legends? ›
What age should you be to play Apex Legends? To play Apex Legends, you have to have an active Electronic Arts account, which EA restricts to users 13 and older. But Common Sense Media recommends Apex Legends for teens 14 and up, due to the online chat and frantic violence.What is the most popular game right now? ›
- Fall Guys.
- League of Legends.
- PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
- Lost Ark.
Who has more players Apex or Fortnite? ›
According to Statista, Fortnite had almost 350 million players across the globe in May 2020. The last available numbers for Apex Legends are from October 2019, when the game had more than 75 million registered players.What age is Apex Legends suitable for? ›
Apex Legends is rated T (Teen 13+) with Content Descriptors for Blood and Violence and Interactive Elements that include Users Interact (meaning players can communicate online if they choose) and In-Game Purchases (meaning the game offers the ability to exchange real-world currency for in-game currency or items).Is Apex the best battle royale? ›
Despite the recent surge in popularity for the likes of Warzone 2 and Fortnite, Twitch star shroud believes that Apex Legends is still comfortably the best battle royale on the market.