Isnât it crazy to think that this time last year we had no idea Apex Legends existed?
In an industry where leaks are commonplace, Respawnâs launch of their battle royale in February 2019 was a surprise to many.
It seems strange to assess the first year of a game thatâs not even a year old yet, but it would be fair to say Apex Legends has shown more than enough to suggest itâs 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 2âs gunplay (one of the decadeâs finest first-person shooters) and filtering it through Overwatchâs varied characters and abilities.
Itâs not as diverse as Blizzardâs shooter, sure, but what it does it does exceptionally well.
In a traditionally âlone wolfâ focused genre such as battle royale (albeit with most offering some kind of squad-based mode), Apex Legendsâ 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 âPingâ 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 Fortniteâs 250 million but notable given Epicâs head start).
Where Fortnite is cartoonish, Apex Legends is surprisingly grounded given its setting on the frontiers of known space. Fortniteâs building mechanics separate it from the rest, but Apex Legends relies on superior combat and locomotion.
Itâs not been all plain sailing, though. Apex Legendsâs 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 itâs finally found its groove with Season 3 which has carried into 2020.
Chief among Season 3âs additions is an exceptional new map, Worldâs 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 âLegendsâ 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 thatâs 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 itâs dropped.
Get it while itâs hot
Respawn hasnât been afraid to mix things up, and the gameâs limited-time modes have been excellent so far. Theyâve ranged from Iron Crown (sending players into a match solo), to Fight or Fright (where players battle against deceased enemies returning as ghosts).
Weâd expect plenty more of them in the next year - and we canât 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 didnât see much in the way of Esports from Respawn, and with the surprise launch it would be fair to say that many werenât expecting a great deal.
We're excited to announce the Apex Legends Global Series!â Apex Legends (@PlayApex) December 17, 2019
ð Twelve global live events
ð¥ First online tournament on Jan 25 using new tournament servers
ð $3 million up for grabs
Get all the details on the Apex Legends Global Series: https://t.co/6gjYDtrTka pic.twitter.com/4BNb5pATGl
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 Legendâs art style may not owe itself to optimisation on less powerful platforms, but weâd be very surprised if Respawn hasnât begun work on a mobile port (or, dare we dream, a Nintendo Switch version).
Aside from thinking smaller, thereâs the other end of the spectrum - new consoles. Weâll eat our collective hats if Apex Legends doesnât 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. Itâs arguably the best *feeling* Battle Royale - and we canât wait to see it grow in 2020.