We've been checking out the mobile edition of Respawn's battle royale ahead of its imminent launch.
Considering the knockout success of Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, and various other big name shooters that have made the jump to mobile, Respawn Entertainment's beloved battle royale, Apex Legends also seeing the light of day on Android and iOS devices always felt like a matter of when and not if. And lo and behold, last year it was revealed that we'd be getting a mobile version of the game. Over the past few weeks, EA, Respawn, and Tencent have been ramping up their campaign for the game, to the point where last week it was formally revealed that the full game would be launching worldwide on May 17 (tomorrow!). While many of you are eagerly waiting for a chance to try out this edition of the game, I've been fortunate enough to be able to get early access to Apex Legends Mobile, and after spending the past few weeks jumping into the battle royale and multiplayer modes, it seems pretty clear to me that this one is shaping up to be a hit. But let me tell you why.
First and foremost, anyone who loves Apex Legends will be glad to know that not a lot has really changed in this edition. Sure, there are fewer Legends currently, and the graphics aren't as striking as on PC and new-gen consoles, but the core gameplay is very, very similar. You can use a whole host of different weapons of different archetypes, be it the R-99 SMG, the Havok assault rifle, the 30-30 Repeater marksman rifle, even unique weapons such as the Kraber sniper rifle, there's a bountiful list to play around with. And at the same time, the movement-heavy gameplay is still present, as you can sprint, slide, mantle and climb. Match all of this up with the selection of available Legends (which right now includes 10 characters, one of which is the new and mobile-exclusive Fade), each of whom have their own distinct set of abilities - that are the same as they are in Apex Legends - and a movement and shooter control system that has been built from the ground up to suit touch screen controls, and you get a very complete shooter experience.
But this isn't what makes Apex Legends Mobile great in my eyes, as considering the success of Apex Legends, these areas were expected to be delivered on. What makes Apex Legends Mobile such an exciting premise is that EA, Respawn, and Tencent know that in an era of crossplay and inclusivity, mobile devices often get the short end of the stick when lumped in with other platforms. So, to overcome this, Apex Legends Mobile is a standalone product. It's similar to Apex Legends in a lot of ways, but does not work on the same development roadmap, and won't feature the same updates as the main game. Instead, mobile players can look forward to a unique roadmap of planned content, and a unique game coming as the product of that, as Seasons won't align with the main game, balancing won't work the same, and as I very briefly mentioned earlier, there will even be some exclusive new characters that come only to mobile - at least for sometime this is.
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For the moment, the exclusive character category consists of only Fade, a Legend who specialises in Phase tech and can teleport to previous locations and even send enemies into the Void with his Ultimate. While the kit seems pretty basic, it's fun to use, and for fans of the overarching Apex narrative, Fade has his own story, which you can read all about in-game.
So, to summarise, Respawn has delivered a game that is free-to-play, designed solely for mobile gamers, and boasting the potential for plenty of support down the line - be it new characters, seasons, or events - to ensure players don't get bored at all. And that's a very exciting thing to believe in, as Apex Legends itself has grown into one of the best supported live service/battle royale titles out there, and this mobile edition seems to be following in its footsteps.
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This can only succeed if the game itself is good of course, and from my experience, it seems like fans will have a lot to love. At launch there will be one battle royale map, World's Edge, as Kings Canyon needed to go back in the oven for a little while before it makes its debut, but there are also plenty of other ways to enjoy your time in multiplayer. Apex Legends Mobile supports Arenas, as well as a couple of Team Deathmatch modes, and if all of that doesn't whet your appetite, there's Ranked and various Battle Royale Event modes to really spice things up. The point is, this isn't just a battle royale game, meaning if you're looking to jump into a few quick TDM games on the commute to work, Apex Legends Mobile can hit just the spot.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a flawless shooter yet however. For example, the shooting isn't the easiest, as is the case with most touch screen shooters. There is a solution in Apex Legends Mobile however, and that is the ability to play in third-person if you so desire, which does ease the issue a tad. Likewise, the game is pretty heavy on your device and will absolutely drain your phone battery. My iPhone 11 Pro - which admittedly doesn't have the greatest battery of all mobile devices - ended up haemorrhaging around 50% of its battery in around 45 minutes of gameplay, and that's when playing with visuals set to HD (and not UltraHD or ExtremeHD) and the frame rate set to Normal (the lowest setting). I'm sure this is less of an issue with a more modern device, but it's something to be aware of all the same, as my phone also ended up becoming incredibly hot especially during longer play sessions. I will say though, Apex Legends Mobile looks pretty great and plays well, even at generally lower settings.
As for the connectivity and the servers, these also seem to be pretty top notch. Whether I'm on home Wi-Fi, or using 3G or 4G (5G is a rare luxury where I live) while sitting at the bottom of a beer garden, the game plays without issues, and enemies and allies never seem to lag or display connection issues at all.
As a final note, there are microtransactions in Apex Legends Mobile, but that's pretty much a given considering the way that Apex Legends is monetised and the fact that both are free-to-play games. You can buy skins and other cosmetics using premium currency, as well as battle passes, but just to be clear, everything that can be bought is strictly cosmetic and doesn't affect the gameplay at all.
But all in all, I think Respawn has done a very good job with Apex Legends Mobile. Whether you're a fan of Apex Legends or not, I'd implore you to give this a go, as it's fun, well-built, and very easy to pick up and begin to master, and with so much promise for the future, there's no better time to do so, as it looks like Apex Legends Mobile could be around for a while.
9 / 10
Standalone game with its own future support plans. Simple to pick up and play. Free-to-play. Plenty of game modes to check out, and loads of weapons to use.
Shooter systems aren't the easiest to master. Drains your mobile device's battery.