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Apex Legends - The Year Ahead

2019 saw the launch of Apex Legends and the growth of ranked mode and competitive play. What will Respawn do in the year ahead with its popular battle royale title?

Isn’t it crazy to think that this time last year we had no idea Apex Legends existed?

In an industry where leaks are commonplace, Respawn’s launch of their battle royale in February 2019 was a surprise to many.

It seems strange to assess the first year of a game that’s not even a year old yet, but it would be fair to say Apex Legends has shown more than enough to suggest it’s here to stay.

 

Born in 2019

Apex Legends is the total package, having won the hearts of players and press alike by taking much of Titanfall 2’s gunplay (one of the decade’s finest first-person shooters) and filtering it through Overwatch’s varied characters and abilities.

It’s not as diverse as Blizzard’s shooter, sure, but what it does it does exceptionally well.

In a traditionally “lone wolf” focused genre such as battle royale (albeit with most offering some kind of squad-based mode), Apex Legends’ commitment to team play is not only surprising, but brave too - many players likely scoffed at the possibility of being forced to squad up, but Apex Legends gives players the tools to build on-the-fly strategies with the “Ping” system, something aped by Fortnite shortly after.

 

Opposite sides of the same coin

In fact, Apex Legends is in many ways the antithesis to Fortnite - something that has helped it earn over 70 million players as of October (a figure eclipsed by Fortnite’s 250 million but notable given Epic’s head start).

Where Fortnite is cartoonish, Apex Legends is surprisingly grounded given its setting on the frontiers of known space. Fortnite’s building mechanics separate it from the rest, but Apex Legends relies on superior combat and locomotion.

 

Rough season

It’s not been all plain sailing, though. Apex Legends’s first season, Wild Frontier, was disappointing - with some dismal cosmetics and a focus on grinding to earn them. The second season improved things somewhat, while it’s finally found its groove with Season 3 which has carried into 2020.

Chief among Season 3’s additions is an exceptional new map, World’s Edge, with varied biomes and a fully-functioning moving train that acts as both fast-travel network and battleground. It makes needing a fresh map in 2020 less of a concern - at least for a season or two.

 

Legend... wait for it

Apex Legends hinges on its character classes, all finely balanced. These titular “Legends” come in all shapes and sizes, and each new addition has offered something fresh. Octane is a risky attacker, capable of sacrificing health for a quick flanking move. Wattson is a defender that’s impressively capable in the late game with powers that are fun to use.

Finally, Crypto can provide a squad with more information than they know what to do with.

With that in mind, we would say a fourth additional Legend is a shoo-in for season 4 in early February. In fact, thanks to That1MiningGuy, a renowned dataminer, we know Revenant is coming - a robot with a human brain and suitably creepy move set.

If That1MiningGuy is to be believed (and history is on their side when it comes to veracity), Revenant has enhanced movement abilities, a tracking poison dart, a slowing poison bomb (maybe he borrowed this from Caustic), and a totem that can prevent teammates from dying - instead respawning them at minimal health wherever it’s dropped.

 

Get it while it’s hot

Respawn hasn’t been afraid to mix things up, and the game’s limited-time modes have been excellent so far. They’ve ranged from Iron Crown (sending players into a match solo), to Fight or Fright (where players battle against deceased enemies returning as ghosts).

We’d expect plenty more of them in the next year - and we can’t wait to see what Respawn comes up with.

 

I want to be the very best

One area we expect Apex Legends to push on with is esports.

Perhaps dubious to throw themselves into the arena with an untested product, we didn’t see much in the way of Esports from Respawn, and with the surprise launch it would be fair to say that many weren’t expecting a great deal.

March 2020 will see the first Global Series event, and with a prize pool of over $3 million the devs look keenly aware that its a sizeable area to invest in. Considering the varied team setups on offer, it should be fascinating to watch - even for the most casual viewer.

 

Next generation battle royale

Of course, one sizeable advantage Fortnite has is its ubiquity. You can play the same game on your phone, your PC, your console, and probably some toasters.

Apex Legend’s art style may not owe itself to optimisation on less powerful platforms, but we’d be very surprised if Respawn hasn’t begun work on a mobile port (or, dare we dream, a Nintendo Switch version).

Aside from thinking smaller, there’s the other end of the spectrum - new consoles. We’ll eat our collective hats if Apex Legends doesn’t find its way to PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X - so does that hinder the chances of a more mobile version?

After less than a year, one thing is for sure - players will keep jumping into Apex Legends because it offers something fresh in a genre filled with an increasing number of copycats. It’s arguably the best *feeling* Battle Royale - and we can’t wait to see it grow in 2020.

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