The Weekly Raid: Are You Playing Apex Legends?
When PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) launched in 2017 it catapulted the niche Battle Royale genre into the mainstream. Its success was quickly followed by Fortnite which grew so fast that it transcended the video gaming industry and became a cultural phenomena, not unlike Pokemon in the early 1990s. With so much hype around Fortnite and PUBG, it was easy to assume the 2-year old genre had already peaked. A few smaller titles tried to enter the fray, games like Realm Royale launched with strong numbers but quickly fizzled.
So it was a complete surprise to most industry watchers, including us, when EA-owned studio Respawn Entertainment dropped the free to play Battle Royale Apex Legends on February 4, 2019. Within 7 days, the game boasted 2 million concurrent players and 25 million total registered players. While that still falls short PUBG's concurrent peak (3.2m) and Fortnite's (8.5m), it does set a record on how quickly a Battle Royale has grown. If Apex Legends continues its launch week momentum, it could surpass PUBG at its peak by the end of the month.
We've been playing the game almost every day since its release and what is most surprising for us is how it makes a now very familiar experience feel fresh. 60 teams, broken into teams of 3, decedent on a single map and rummage for loot with the goal of being the last squad left standing. The arena progressively gets smaller and a few air drops containing powerful loot occasionally drop somewhere in the field of battle. Sounds familiar. But Apex Legends spices the formula up with a splash of Hero Shooter. There are 8 characters to chose from, each with a unique passive, active skill, and ultimate skill. Some characters have clear roles: Lifeline can summon a healer drone and additional air drops. Others have skills that drastically increase mobility. There's even an in-game mechanism to resurrect fallen teammates, solving a down-time issue that has plagued the genre for the past 2 years.
Another boost to Apex Legends has been its simultaneous release across PC, PS4, and Xbox One. There are murmurs of cross-platform play, and even a mobile version down the line. Perhaps the greatest feat Apex Legends pulled off is reminding us of the value large companies like Electronic Arts still play in the industry. Apex Legends wasn't some pre-alpha, buggy mess that languished in perpetual beta for years. It was announced the day of release and launched in a nearly flawless state. It was more stable on day one than PUBG is today, 2 years after its release. Lets not even mention PUBG's disastrous console version.
With all the attention focused on it, we want to know what you think of the game. Has it won your heart, or is it just another in a long series of titles in a genre you're hoping will fade away? Let us know!