gameplay / story / graphics / sound
An Island, interesting contenders wielding powers and gadgets similar to that out of sci-fi wet dreams, all battling just to be called the Apex Champions. Welcome to Apex Legends, the new kid on the block in a market of battle royales, which may I add, is completely oversaturated.
With great gunplay, mobility and lovable characters along with gameplay that promotes teamwork and accuracy, Apex Legends seems like a great contender to set itself apart from other BR (Battle Royale) games that are out. And yet, it’s popularity has died out recently despite holding a healthy number of concurrent players, I think I know why and I’ll talk about that later on in this review. For now, though, let’s talk about the negatives the game holds. The minuscule mountain of issues the game unfortunately has.
Silence, and then deafening war.
Apex does a great job of making you stressed. Whether it’s the beginning of the game or the near end where it’s silent, you are stressed over finding gear, health items, shield items, etc. With this element in most BR games, you would need your ears to hear movement, abilities being used, items being used, etc. An issue that I’ve come across multiple times and randomly is that the audio will “crunch”. Sounds get mixed up to the point that you cannot hear anything but digital gore going off in your ear. It’s frustrating and it can totally ruin some games as then you cannot hear anymore. As far as I can tell, this issue only lasts in matches and not in the game’s UI or main menu because as soon as I die, the issue is gone as I return to the main menu to begin another match; it doesn’t seem like Respawn Entertainment, the developers of Apex Legends know about this issue as it’s been happening since launch day for me.
(Update: As I was writing this, Respawn put out an update that attempts to fix the issue of the sound being crunched. If it’s still there, I do not know. I am going to assume it is gone.)
Even with the Internet Speed of Hermes, you will feel like Hephaestus
Apex’s number one issue that is not a glitch. It’s the lag. Every 2 out of 10 games, the beginning of an Apex Legends match will be so laggy that it feels as if everything you do happens 2 months later. Every step you take, molasses encased. Every bullet you shoot, frozen in time. This and the fact that your character slows down when shot, are the only negative things I can truly find about the game.
If it’s not the bullets, it’s the bugs that eat you.
Apex Legends is at times, buggy as all hell. The game can range from perfect to downtrodden pretty quickly. There are/were* bugs such as moving slowly after being revived, having teams of people using the same characters, and the ever so rare glitch of continuing to die even after running out of the ring of death and into the safe zone. While these bugs are rare and by the time I publish this review, they have or will be fixed, it still makes the game experience a tiny gamble. A gamble in which we ask, “Am I going to lag and move as slow as my grandma towards her death bed?”, “Am I going to get fucked over and suddenly die from a glitch?”, or “Is there going to be someone who’s cheating by using an exploit”? These tiny questions haunt my mind from these past experiences. However, I believe they now haunt the developer’s minds as well, as now the game receives hotfixes and patches often. Which brings me to the positives I want to talk about, the majority of the review.
Respawn has Respawned my enjoyment of BR Games
Respawn, as far as I’m concerned, is a great studio filled with people who legitimately care about Apex and it’s players, they are strict on cheaters going so far to ban the computer or console they play on including the account, balancing the game often as I’ve mentioned above, and designing characters that I absolutely adore for their writing and design. Let’s talk about the gameplay of Apex and how Respawn has made me, a man who despises BR games, enjoy a BR game.
1. Bullets whizzing by do not terrify, rather they excite…
Bullets whizzing by in Apex Legends do not terrify, rather they excite me as it then means I ask myself two things. 1. Am I well equipped enough for this fight? Am I ready to destroy another squad? 2. Where do I run? What’s the escape route? These questions run through my mind as fast as the bullets themselves and I become an adrenaline filled bastard who becomes something else depending on the character. Apex does a good job of making you stressed, I’ve said it before, but what I didn’t say is how it improves my play. How my friends and I use the stress to become Apex Predators as every other player does in time. The movement of Apex is smooth, and being able to climb virtually everything as long as it has a ledge reminds me of being Crane from Dying Light. I feel versatile, quick, and most of all, deadly. The gunplay is good enough to the point where if I miss, it’s my own fault. There is no damage wobble, there is no slight movement whenever your character breathes, it is all your own accuracy and your own positioning at work in Apex; by that logic, it is also your own skill that earns you whatever kills you receive. The gameplay is great, and it’s enough to have me return to the game time after time.
2. In a world where characters have lost personality and adopted sexualities and genders, Apex Legends has characters that remain true…
In a world where it seems that characters in video games have lost personalities and are now centered around adopted sexualities and genders, Apex Legends has characters that remain true to themselves rather than trying to impress the politically sensitive people in the gaming industry and I appreciate this from the bottom of my heart. Each character in Apex Legends put their values and combat ability first, Bloodhound considers themselves a hunter sent by the gods and acts like it, Gibraltar shows himself to be the local dudebro who puts himself on the frontlines while supporting his teammates, etc. What you may have heard or what you may have not heard is that Bloodhound considers themselves non-binary, and Gibraltar is gay. Why do I draw attention to this? Like I just mentioned a few sentences ago is that characters put their values and combat ability first, there is not a single stereotypical voice line the characters can do that reveal that Bloodhound is non-binary or that Gibraltar is gay, it’s not their whole personality, it’s a part of it. Almost like characters in video games should not be centered around their political aspirations, sexuality, race, or gender but rather their ability and skill to do what they love. And for the characters in Apex Legends, that is to become the Apex Champion, it is to fight, it is to help each other, it is to be the #1 fighter in the ring. This earns my respect.
3. Apex has healed my wounds that Overwatch has given me…
Apex has healed my wounds that Blizzard’s hero shooter Overwatch has given me. I used to love overwatch because it felt that no matter what character I chose, I could beat any other character and if I ever had any issues it was because of my inability to do well or it was my internet. Now Overwatch feels like every character is either underpowered or overpowered. Apex is still early in its lifetime here in the gaming industry and this review may prove to be incorrect in the time to come but for right now, Apex does an amazing job of balancing characters and guns to make it so that everyone has an equal chance to win as long as they have the skill to win.
It feels as If I’ve killed a Mammoth, so why give me a slice of bread?
Apex’s balanced gameplay is tight, gunplay is accurate and depends on your ability, and characters are unique, diverse in ability, and all are fun to play. So why don’t I play Apex every day like a madman? Because the game’s rewards are quite frankly awful. Apex runs on the system that you get 40 loot boxes from level 1 to 100. Let that sink in. It takes hours upon hours to get to 100. And yet, we only receive 40 loot boxes? As soon as you reach 100, there are no more loot boxes, so the incentive to win is lost. Why play a game with content continually being added if I can’t earn any of it without dropping some cash? While I can understand that Respawn needs to make money off of Apex, I don’t like the way it is implemented, as loot boxes are the only way to receive crafting materials, the currency to buy skins and stuff for free. Yet, we cannot earn loot boxes for free after level 100, so what’s the point? It’s disheartening to those that cannot afford to buy loot boxes and are playing Apex because it’s free. I’ve put hundreds of hours into Apex and even though I’ve racked up plenty of wins, some of those wins feel empty as I receive no reward, only character tokens, which are either used to unlock characters or special skins. (Special skins are not showing up on my storefront. I do not know if Special Skins are removed but if they are, this makes character tokens after 100 useless.)
The season pass is no better as the skins it offers are subpar, and you only receive a few regular loot boxes and one golden loot box that guarantees a gold. It’s a disappointing season pass and the only reason I would even suggest buying is to level it up as to earn enough apex coins to buy the next season pass for free.
The point remains is that Apex as of now has a horrid reward system that is designed, whether by ignorance or by malicious design, forces players to break out their wallet in one way or another in order to continue to receive awards that feel neither the time nor the money spent. In basic simple terms, players play for free 24/7, until the Fortnite esque tactics creep in, demanding your cash. This would not be as much of a problem as it is if Apex had content rolling in every month or so, instead of going months without new content as the game is going now.
A Flawed Masterpiece
Apex in its every right is a great BR game. The controls, gunplay, character design, and map design are all sublime with little to no major flaws. Yet the minuscule glitches that ruin one in every one hundred games, the lack of teammates as they all leave or lag out, and the lack of content leaves Apex Legends feeling like a dull house party. Sure there is plenty of people to talk to but what use are they if the party keeps playing the same fucking song every two goddamn minutes? What fun is there if every person running the party is either gone or too busy trying to make the party fun in the first place? In a world of PUBG’s and Fortnites, Apex Legends definitely adds something new to the market. However, if the rewards system is not fixed soon, and if there is no new update soon, this game will continue to lose its consumers for something with better rewards and better content, regardless if the opposition has subpar gameplay.
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