Apex Legends hit 25 million players in a week, approximately nine times faster than Fortnite Battle Royale. While the game from Respawn Entertainment doesn’t necessarily revolutionize gunplay or reinvent the battle royale wheel, it does deliver an impressive, well-rounded experience that is complemented by fantastic quality-of-life improvements over current battle royale titles like Fortnite and Call of Duty’s Blackout. With a recipe that follows Fortnite as a free-to-play BR while invoking gameplay that is reminiscent of Call of Duty’s gunplay and Overwatch’s MOBA-like hero elements, Apex Legends has continued to pull millions of players and Twitch views despite intermittent bugs and server issues.
The game, bolstered by a sophisticated suite of QOL features, has already earned a reputation for smooth gameplay and communication — and other Battle Royale titles have, and should continue to, take notice. Just two weeks after Apex’s release, Call of Duty patched in a similar feature to Blackout that enables players to swap attachments automatically when looting weapons. As Respawn continues adjusting to player feedback, other team-based and battle royale titles should pay attention to the game’s current features. From simple UI design features indicating teammate shield status to the monumental ping system, here are our 10 favorite improvements Apex has brought to battle royale:
10. Lobby Readiness
Games like Overwatch and Call of Duty have party leaders who queue your squad up for matches. Sometimes you use the bathroom between matches and the party leader accidentally begins a match while you’re still interacting with porcelain. Apex Legends smartly uses a feature, longstanding in games like Heroes of the Storm, that requires each party member to click “ready” before the match can start. It’s nothing crazy, but we appreciate quality-of-life features that improve the quality of our digestion.
9. Area Information
When reaching a new location in Apex Legends, a subtle sound effect plays and the quality of loot is briefly and unobtrusively indicated on your screen. While other games, like Blackout, require extra experience or research to judge locations — Apex’s small features make the game incredibly accessible to new players
8. Armor and Health UI
Other games typically allow players to see the health and armor/shield status of their teammates, but Apex makes it even easier. The game uses the same health and color-coded shield bars for each teammate, stacked at the bottom left of your screen. This UI makes assessing your squad’s status much easier than a format like Call of Duty’s, which displays an image of your armor that depreciates when in need of repair.
7. Firefight UI
Battle royale games are chaotic and knowing who is fighting who and where can be a confusing mess. Fortunately, Apex Legends features a flashing muzzle alongside the name of any squadmate who is currently firing. This gives you an easy way to check between your teammate’s name and the minimap to estimate where exactly the firefight is going down.
6. Leg Damage Scaling
Again, nothing crazy, but another minor feature that feels immediately intuitive: damage scales from the head through the legs in Apex Legends. While most games credit additional damage for headshots, Apex also rewards additional damage when shots land above the belt. Shots to the torso and arms don’t just feel more rewarding in Apex, they are more rewarding.
5. Looting Information
Looting feels amazingly intuitive in Apex. Loot quality is indicated by color, even for the bags (or “death boxes”) of fallen players, and the UI makes it easy to determine how appropriate loot is for your loadout. When hovering over ammo or attachments, the game indicates whether or not said loot can be used by any of your weapons and, if not, which weapons would be compatible. Oh, and if you’re a veteran who doesn’t need as much loot information — you can switch to “Compact Loot Prompts” for a more streamlined looting HUD.
4. Looting Mechanics
As already absorbed by Call of Duty, the mechanics of looting attachments and equipment in Apex are particularly impressive. The game doesn’t allow you to pick up weaker loot than you already have and automatically swaps all applicable attachments when you pick up a new gun (while dropping ammo and attachments you might no longer need). The second feature was essentially just implemented in Call of Duty’s Blackout, but we’re still waiting on the first.
3. The Jumpmaster
A coordinated deployment is crucial to battle royale success. With that in mind, Apex assigns each squad a designated “Jumpmaster” who controls the entire squad’s deployment. This makes coordination easier, while still granting your squad the flexibility to split off from your deployment and you the option to relinquish your jump mastery if you don’t feel comfortable with reddit’s optimized jump patterns just yet.
2. Scope Ranging Marks
In what seems to be a first in gaming, the ranging marks on each sniper optic in Apex Legends remain accurate despite your target’s elevation and distance. While other games feature accurate ranging marks for distance, the optics in Apex adjust to the elevation of your targets as well. This makes calculating ranged shots much simpler, especially if you read reddit’s explanation instead of ours.
1. The Ping System
Literally nothing has made gaming teamwork easier since the invention of the microphone. The pinging system in Apex Legends feels otherworldly. While games like Ring of Elysium have played with similar systems, the Apex ping system has revolutionized our standards for in-game communication. Voice chat doesn’t feel nearly as necessary when the game allows you to ping loot, dibs on pinged loot, the type of ammo you need, sighted enemies, and more objects than can be communicated in a concise sentence. From opened doors and crates to enemy abilities and supply ships, the Apex Legends ping system allows you to communicate practically everything you could want to simply by pressing one button for a simple marker, double-tapping to indicate an enemy, and holding to open a menu of other options. Such a sophisticated, intuitive system for in-game communication sets a new standard for team games and we’re hoping that other titles follow suit.
Words are by Théo Salaun aka Tepojama who can be found on Twitter or pinging the Mozambique on PS4.