Apex Legends seemingly came out of nowhere. In the first week alone, this new battle royale amassed over 25 million players. It was released on February 4th, 2019 for Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and PlayStation 4. The rest is history. When I first told my friends about Apex Legends, I would get the same response from all of them: a look of exhaustion, followed by a dreary, “ugh, another battle royale?” Understandable.

Credit: Apex Legends, Respawn Entertainment

After all, battle royale seems to be infecting every gaming platform and franchise possible ever since Fortnite fever took the world by storm. Yet Respawn Entertainment has done the impossible. Apex Legends doesn’t really feel like a battle royale. Actually, it feels better. So, what’s in a battle royale? We all know Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Those two are the first games I think of when I hear “battle royale.”

Fortnite brought building into the equation. That, plus its unique style, made it stand apart from other games. However, Apex Legends does something very different. It redefines the battle royale genre, by way of mechanics and content.

Memorable Characters, Memorable Powers

What happens when you drop into Fortnite or PUBG? You’re given a random, plain character – “Default Joe,” as I tend to call them. PUBG lets you gear up your guy, and Fortnite’s skins are pretty infamous at this point. But what’s in the actual character, besides cosmetics? A blank canvas. Apex Legends, on the other hand, gives you a roster of characters to choose from. It is reminiscent of a MOBA game, or maybe Overwatch. You’re given a bunch of characters to choose from, all with unique abilities. Each has a passive ability, an active ability, and an “ultimate.” But these characters are more than just their powers.

Credit: Apex Legends, Respawn Entertainment

They have a wide array of voice lines, clearly-defined personalities, and backstories. It makes trying them out fun. That’s what struck me about Apex Legends. It is battle royale, sure, but it makes playing as its characters fun to begin with. With each of the characters, or Legends, a new variable is thrown into each match. In one match, my team was pinned against a dead end about to face our demises.

But our Wraith was able to use her portals to maneuver us out of that tight spot. Another time, our Bangalore threw a smokescreen onto an unsuspecting enemy squad. I, myself, ever the Bloodhound enthusiast, used my Beast of the Hunt ability to spot the enemies and take them down. It’s these extremely memorable moments that make the game what it is.

To Each Their Own (Gun)

Can we talk about the guns? Surely, you must remember Borderlands – it’s a classic. If not, what about Destiny and Destiny 2? These games are staples of their genres, but they also have a culture surrounding their guns. Which guns feel the best? Which ones kind of suck? What gun can you absolutely not do without? These are the kinds of things that contribute to gun culture in games. Both Borderlands and Destiny have huge rosters of guns to find and choose from, and each of them are unique and feel different to shoot. Not to mention the cool names most of them have. This gun culture has found its way into Apex Legends as well.

Apex Legends
Credit: Apex Legends, Respawn Entertainment

I find that Fortnite and PUBG lack this element. Of course, Fortnite has its basics covered: shotgun, pistol, SCAR. And while there’s an obvious difference between shooting a shotgun and an assault rifle, I find that the guns feel a bit basic to me. There isn’t anything exciting about them. In Apex Legends, not only is each gun different from the last in design and feeling, but you can also add attachments to them.

Scopes, magazines, barrel stabilizers. There are many attachments to find in a match, and each one does something different to your gun. It ensures that you’re always going to be mixing and matching new combinations in your games. Getting that combination of gun and attachments just right and shooting it for the first time is a great feeling. And it does make a difference in your games.

Difficult, But Rewarding In Apex Legends

The last thing I’ll say about Apex Legends is that it’s hard. You might think, “it’s a battle royale, of course it’s hard!” But there’s a lot going on in Apex Legends. The Legends and their abilities, the guns, and attachments, the shields and armor – it’s a lot to get used to, and the game doesn’t hold your hand through it. This difficulty makes it all the more rewarding when you survive a skirmish, or take down an enemy. Even getting to the top 5 feels really good. It’s hard, and there’s no easy out. You and your team are there in the ring with everybody else. Just you, your guns, and your abilities.

Apex Legends feels different from other battle royale games. I believe, based on that alone, it’s worth checking out. It’s innovative and challenging. It reminds me a lot of classic shooter games like Halo and Borderlands. If you enjoyed games like those, or enjoy battle royale games, you should definitely give Apex Legends a go.