Apex Legends — One Year Later

How Respawn Entertainment changed the battle royale for good.

Although it certainly wasn’t the first of its kind, Apex Legends made subtle changes to the way battle royale games are played; with some improvements to multiplayer gaming that were sorely needed.

As we pass the one year anniversary of Respawn Entertainment’s free-to-play battle royale game, we have an opportunity to look back and see the impact that it has had on gaming and the ways in which it has improved the battle royale experience. With no campaign, unlike its primary competitor Fortnight, Apex was able to focus their efforts on a single mode through the majority of its first year of existence. That singularity allowed more polish rather than several half-baked modes.

Respawn took the opportunity to develop a game with one of the most compelling aspects from another popular multiplayer shooter: Overwatch. By creating several characters, each with their own personality and abilities, Apex felt more personal and welcoming that other games with nameless protagonists. Just as impressive, the balancing between the characters was nearly perfect from the beginning. With only small alterations involving characters, Respawn has been able to perfect those characters that it launched with while also introducing a host of new faces that players can choose from.

That’s not to say that the game is without its problems. Soon after launch, bugs were popping up in most everybody’s game; not all of which were game-breaking, but many made the experience unreliable. Matchmaking was usually good, but occasionally very poor. Inconsistencies in the build-up to games were expected. But the game itself was, for the most part, extremely well polished. Learning from those that came before, Apex managed to really nail its single mode of gameplay on the first time around, with a notable inclusion: the ping system.

Since its inception, multiplayer gaming has relied heavily on voice-chat for communication. Although it was never a requirement, it was a huge help in organizing tactics and alerting teammates to other players and teams that are nearby. Those not using voice chat were at a big disadvantage. Enter the ping system. Apex Legends launched with a system that would allow players to alert their teammates to enemies, loot, and items that they required. In retrospect, it’s obvious. In reality, it’s genius. It simply changed the way the game could be played. Even playing with a headset didn’t really require much game-oriented communication; the pings took care of it all. It helped even the playing field and introduced tactics to teams that would otherwise be without them.

The game also had tight, fun gameplay. The more floaty, cartoony controls of Fortnight were replaced by snappier controls that are more akin to, but not the same as, Call of Duty.

That said, in its first few months of launch, despite its meteoric rise to success, the game certainly leaned heavily into its “beta” tag. Certain guns were clearly more powerful than the rest whereas others were almost useless. But the core of the audience stayed on board. And with the introduction of new seasons of play, other game modes, new maps, and new characters, it’s clear that Respawn isn’t anywhere close to being finished.

From its silent release to now, Apex has changed multiplayer gaming for the better. I can’t wait to see what else it has up its sleeve.

(Mostly) tech writer based in NYC. Other interests include movies, games, music, soccer, and traveling. You’ll find a little bit of all of that here.

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