(Pocket-lint) - Apex Legends is a reasonably new player on the Battle Royale scene and a potential rival to both Fortnite and PUBG - games which are incredibly popular with gamers across PC, console and mobile devices.
This is a free to play game from Respawn Entertainment, the same team behind the popular Titanfall franchise. While some are disappointed the company hasn't released Titanfall 3, many are happy with this new release. So much so in fact that the game managed to clock up over 25 million players as the hype built in the first few weeks of play.
What's all the fuss about? We're here to help you find out.
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What is Apex Legends?
Apex Legends is a new free-to-play first-person Battle Royale style shooter that's available to download on PC, Xbox One and PS4. You can get it here:
In case you've been hiding under a rock for the last year or more and have no clue what Battle Royale is, the premise is simple enough.
60 players are dropped onto a battlefield where they need to scavenge for weapons, loot and ammo while battling it out with other gamers. An ever-shrinking ring pushes players closer and closer together until just a handful are left and a single team becomes the victor.
Apex Legends is set 30 years after the events of Titanfall 2. It takes part in a place called Outlands where both humans and robots are forced to battle it out for victory in the Apex Games. 20 squads of three players are fighting it out in a furious battle for survival. This battle takes place on one map - Kings Canyon - though there is the potential for more maps in future.
Apex Legends is not Titanfall 3 though, so don't go in expecting mechsuits, wall-running, double-jumping or other similar mechanics. There is a fast-paced play, including the ability to slide across the floor or down slopes. There's also a brilliant gunplay style, but fans of Titanfall may be disappointed if they're expecting more from that franchise with this game.
How is it different from other Battle Royale games?
Apex Legends stands out from other Battle Royale games by including human and robot heroes known as "Legends" - these are hero characters with special abilities and tactics which set them apart in battle. Think Overwatch but with Battle Royale style gameplay.
This is fairly unusual as most other games in this genre create a level playing field by setting everyone off on the same foot with basic characters that have no physical attributes or skills to give them the upper hand over opponents.
The various character's skills also work well with each other and can be used to complement the squad to make you an efficient fighting unit.
The game is also unusual in that it only supports three player squads at this time. There's no solo or duo play here, at least for the moment anyway.
Another difference comes when you jump into a game. One member of the squad is selected as a "jumpmaster" - essentially the squad leader who chooses where the team is landing. Other players in the squad are bound to the jumpmaster as they vector in on the landing spot ensuring all the team stick together and are ready for action.
Other highlights include the ability to use ziplines to neatly dash across areas of the map and various hot-air balloons that you can venture up to then glide across open ground to another location. Players are also able to call in things like airstrikes to deal death on enemy teams.
With Apex Legends, it's also possible to revive fallen teammates. If one of your squadmates dies, but you manage to survive the battle, you can go to their loot crate and pick up their banner/data chip and take it to a green respawn location. From there you're able to call them back into the battle. Doing so is risky as it takes time and exposes you to being killed yourself but it's worth the effort to keep the team at full strength. Revived teammates won't have any weapons when they return, but at least that brings your numbers back up. It also means if you die, you don't just have to spectate until the end of the match.
It's also worth knowing that there's no fall damage, so you don't need to worry about a horrid death from falling off a high location.
Loot and gear
Apex Legends is similar to other Battle Royale games in that there are varying levels of loot scattered around the map for you to pick up. Not just weapons but armour too. These vary in quality which is highlighted by the colours - grey, blue, purple and gold.
The usual armour style exists with helmet and such being collectable, but there's also a shield mechanic and the ability to both recharge that shield and your health by finding boots as you play.
Killing other players gives you access to their gear. Downed players drop loot crates, these crates are also highlighted in various colours to let you know which player has the most valuable gear and what to loot first.
Players can also highlight items and enemies for their team with a "ping" system. This lets the squad know about important things in the nearby area and is a brilliant option for those who don't have or don't want to use a mic. Visual and audible pings make it easier to grab the attention of your friends and keep the squad playing together.
One cool feature of Apex Legends is the simple way the looting works. If you swap out your weapons, any attachments you had will automatically move to the new gun, saving you the hassle and time of faffing about with tweaking manually.
Another stand-out feature of Apex Legends is the champion. This is a specific single player in a given match. The winner of a previous game who is now seen as the most important player in the new game - if only because killing that play gives you more experience points.
An image of that champion is projected on massive screens around the game world as a constant reminder of their value to other players.
It's worth noting that if you subscribe to Origin Access, PlayStation Plus or EA Access then you'll have some loot before you even start.
Levels and experience points
Playing and winning matches earns players experience points. These points will eventually see you levelling up. Each time you gain a new level, you'll also earn rewards like Apex Packs and Legend Tokens.
Currently, players can reach a maximum level of 100, but can continue to earn Legend Tokens after that point.
What characters are there?
Apex Legends sports a number of different characters with their own special abilities. These "Legends" allow you to choose a character to suit your own play style and customise your experience.
These Legends have both a tactical move and an ultimate as well. These are subject to cooldowns to prevent them being overused and keep the game balanced. Each Legend also has a passive ability they can use throughout the game.
There are currently several main legends available with more available to unlock in future. You can unlock the other characters by earning 12,000 Legend Tokens from gameplay sessions.
The developers will be monitoring how these characters are used and tweaking to ensure a balanced and rounded gameplay experience.
This player's abilities almost appear overpowered at first glance. Bloodhound is a technological tracker - meaning he can stalk enemies and reveal their location with ease. Using Bloodhound you'll be able to see enemies through walls, clouds of smoke and even track their footprints.
Gibraltar is a chunky tank-like character with a big personality. He has a dome of protection that can temporarily shield teammates from damage, a personal protection shield for close-quarters battle and the ability to call in a bombardment airstrike. Gibraltar is the go-to character for players who enjoy a defensive play playstyle
Caustic is essentially an evil scientist with a bad attitude. He sports toxic gas traps, nox gas grenades and the ability to see anyone who happens to be unfortunately covered in the gas and yet survives. He's thought of as another defensive class like Gibraltar and certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Lifeline is the support medic who's able to deploy passive and active healing abilities. These include deploying a healing drone to give teammates an extra health boost, activating a small shield to protect downed teammates while they're revived and an ultimate skill that lets her call in a care package. That care package is filled with random weapon and health items - so it's well worth having Lifeline on your team.
Bangalore is likely to be a Titanfall fan's favourite character. She has the ability to sprint more quickly while under fire, shoot a smoke launcher to give the squad cover and to call in an artillery strike too. Bangalore is the soldier class and a real fighter.
Wraith is a pretty special Legend who has the ability to manipulate spacetime by opening rifts in the fabric of reality. This means she can turn invisible for a certain period of time, move between two places using portals and also highlight enemies to her squad on-the-fly.
Pathfinder is a funky looking robot with some nifty abilities. He has a grappling hook that helps him dash around the map and get the edge on enemies. He also has a very handy ability that lets him hack survey beacons to see where the next ring location is going to be - helping his squad to get their first. His ultimate is a zipline that the entire squad can use to get out of (or into) danger quickly.
Mirage can deploy various holographic devices aimed at deceiving enemy combatants and getting them to shoot in the wrong place. His ultimate sees him deploy multiple holograms designed to really confuse the enemy. His use should certainly make for interesting gameplay.
Wattson is a new Legend for season two. She has a "Perimeter Security ability" that lets her use electric fences, block incoming missiles and keep the squad's shields fully charged.
Does Apex Legends feature cross-platform play?
No. Although Apex Legends is available to play on PC, Xbox One and PS4 it does not currently support cross-platform play at this time.
What are ranked leagues?
Starting from season two, Apex legends is introducing a ranked mode into the game that allows more competitive players to battle it out for scoreboard glory.
This ranked mode includes a ladder that lets players see how they stack up against the competition, but it also has a skill-based match-making system that ensures players are up against other gamers of similar skill level. This ensures a more even playing field and much more competitive game.
Gamers getting involved in ranked mode will also get access to in-game rewards at the end of the season based on the rank they achieve in that period.
Ranked Leagues have different tiers split into Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Apex Predator. All players will start the league on the Bronze tier but can work their way up through the tiers as the season progresses.
Higher tier matches cost RP to play (silver costs 1RP, gold costs 2RP, platinum costs 3RP and so on) but you can also earn up to 17RP during a match. Getting kills and placing in the top positions is the best way to earn RP.
Find out more about ranked leagues here.
What about Microtransactions?
Apex Legends is free-to-play, but it does have microtransactions too. These include lootboxes (known as Apex Packs) and a premium currency called Apex Coins. This makes it possible to purchase cosmetic items in the store - skins, weapon camos and other cosmetic items that make no difference to in gameplay.
You can also pay real money for new Legends or grind through the game to unlock them. Apex Legends is not pay to win though, it's carefully balanced to ensure everyone gets a fair game.
What is the Battle Pass?
Apex Legends also has a similar seasonal based system to Fortnite. This is a Battle Pass that rewards Apex Legends players with cosmetic in-game items. These rewards include seasonal items and Apex Packs.
EA that say "Every player can unlock some of these items each season through normal play; those who choose to purchase the Battle Pass can earn everything available that season, around 100 different rewards."
Players get to keep what they earn and continue to use it in the next season as well. Each Apex Legends season will last for around three months with future seasons promising new weapons, loot and characters to unlock.
The standard battle pass costs 950 Apex Coins (around $9.50/£7.99 in real money).
What's new in season 2?
Apex Legends is using seasons to keep things interesting and ensure players have a reason to keep on playing. To achieve this the new season has a swathe of new content that includes new challenges, more Legendary skins, emotes, loading screens and more.
Season two also includes music packs - that let you update the music you hear when dropping into the game, when you achieve victory and more besides.
Players purchasing the new season battle pass instantly get access to various skins including the Gilded Gibraltar, Valor Bangalore, Dreadnought Pathfinder and Spitfire Intimidator skins.
You'll also have the chance to earn over 100 different items throughout the season, though you'll need to work hard to grab them all before time runs out.
Any items you unlock during season two will carry over into future seasons, but anything you fail to unlock will be out of your grasp.
This season, there will be different daily and weekly challenges to complete to help you unlock the various items.
If you want to get a boost, you can purchase the battle pass bundle that costs 2,800 (around £24/$28) and gives you the first 25 levels instantly as well as the Prince of Darkness Caustic skin instantly.
EA says that playing different characters is the best way to level up as quickly as possible:
"Each character earns bonus Battle Pass XP at the end of a match based on survival time, up to a weekly cap. To reach your maximum Battle Pass level the fastest, you should maximize this bonus by playing a variety of characters throughout the season. Each character can earn up to 25,000 bonus Battle Pass XP starting the first week of Season 2, and the cap increases each week."
Playing with friends gets you boosts, as does the first kill of the day with each character as well. So variety is very much the name of the game here.
L-Star light machine gun
If all this isn't enough to get you excited for season two, how about a new weapon? The L-Star is a new energy based light machine gun that fires plasma projectiles to deal out the damage.
The L-Star is apparently so powerful that it can knock down doors and needs to be used carefully or it will simply overheat. Interestingly, it's only available via a high-risk airdrop too, so it's going to be hard to get your hands on.
Season two has already started and is set to end sometime in September, so you better get playing!