You might think the “late-to-the-party” qualification is a little premature, but I assure you it’s perfectly apt. Apex Legends is popping off, but not without context. According to Respawn Entertainment big wig Vince Zampella, the latest title in an ever-growing list of Battle Royale games cracked one million users after just eight hours of public availability yesterday. Some might call those rookie numbers when compared to the records boasted by Fortnite — but for a developer that’s yet to truly find its rhythm, and a publisher that’s been referred to as the “worst company in America,” more than once, things are looking pretty good so far.
Racing to the top of Twitch (280K viewers at the time of writing), it’s been an explosive start off the blocks for the latest Battle Royale offering. And while popular streamers appear to have already “partnered” with the title, Apex Legends is coming across the attention honestly. The free-to-play title does much to introduce several quality of life fixes, retooling the mechanical elements and design choices of other popular shooters in ways that improve the Battle Royale Experience considerably:
- Group drops at the beginning of the match have one team member control the squad’s trajectory, allowing players to peel away at their discretion
- Selection of playable hero-personas with unique class based abilities both passive and chargeable a-la-Overwatch
- Entering named areas on the map display loot potential, letting you decide whether you’d rather pass by or scour the space for gear
- KIA players can have their “banner” collected and deposited by teammates into one of many respawn beacons around the map, potentially alleviating the frustration of dying early
- Players can visually ping enemies, objects, and points of interest that they sight, improving squad communication beyond vocal call-outs
- Armor doesn’t break upon getting hit, but instead houses pips of health and shields that can get refilled Halo-style
- Sustained power-slides and the absence of fall damage combine with intuitive clambering for an encouraging range of mobility
While Apex Legends has ditched the Titans and the wall-running the game still very much feels like a Titanfall kind of game, a pedigree to which is owed the snappy and satisfying gunplay. Indeed, what seems a surprise to many is naturally to be expected of Respawn Entertainment: Titanfall 2 was well-received both critically and by us rank-and-file product purchasers. The slick shooter was unfortunately released alongside some very heavy hitters (in late October, after Battlefield 1 but before Infinite Warfare). At the time, the move was chalked up to EA interference: a publisher known for angling, acquiring, and subsequently shutting down studios, ready to gobble up another one. But recently whispers have surfaced that paint a different picture, one of ego, suggesting that the release date was deliberately chosen to compete against the impending Call of Duty title.
Vince Zampella and Frank West, formerly of Infinity Ward (responsible for pioneering the wildly successful Modern Warfare and establishing Call of Duty as a FPS juggernaut) founded Respawn Entertainment nearly a decade ago. After what was a nasty public divorce from Activision, after helping build a keystone franchise into a multi-billion dollar industry giant, one can only smirk at the defiant conceit of naming the rival IP Titanfall, a sequel whose release date was the stuff of showdown. It makes for an entertaining narrative if nothing else, notwithstanding conjecture. But that Activision beef is all in the past, Black Ops 4 is currently rocking about 6K viewers on Twitch and as it stands, the day belongs to Respawn.
One lingering question, however, is what’s to become of the Titanfall IP — especially now in the wake of Apex Legends‘ early popularity. With multiple outlets reporting that Titanfall 3 died for Apex Legends when the studio pivoted away from the trilogy title in 2017, and Zampella confirming on Twitter that Respawn is in fact still working on experimenting with the Titanfall universe, it will be exciting to see what happens next. Not trying to ball out with Titanfall 3, and becoming a more versatile IP than “codkiller” (a hill many have died on) would be far more interesting anyway.
Itchy trigger fingers can jump into the action through EA’s Origin client, and read an open letter written by the game’s executive producer here. If you want to get sped up on some extra culture, you can read our November LTTP rundown of the Senran Kagura franchise.
Image Source: Respawn Entertainment