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Apex: The New Battle Royale Legend?

Joseph Higgins discusses the survival of Respawn and EA’s new big battle royale hero.

A/N: This article was written for the March 5th 2019 print edition of Nouse and is part of a small backlog of articles that have not yet been published on the website. As I have turned over the gaming section to bright new minds it is with their permission that this article and the others be posted here for posterity.

It’s been about a month at the time of writing since Respawn Entertainment’s latest addition to the pool of Battle Royale games, in what could only be described as an unceremonious landing into the dropzone that is our gaming lives. The game was released on February 4th with no fanfare or even an announced release. The marketing ploy was odd, especially considering the game’s official publisher is EA; one of the most prolific advertising publishers out there. However, the game's initial hype came from a large group of gaming media influencers and streamers,andApexhas been riding that hype since its launch. However, this leaves a question: canApexkeep its momentum going and is it enough to compete with other Battle Royale games that are trying to fill if not the same space, very similar ones?

Comparing its viewership figures and gameplay numbers to its most popular competitor, Fortnite, shows the newer game in a rather favourable light. Viewership figures are misleading, however. Typically, the same popular streamers tend to play games on alternate days so when those streamers play Apex the viewership numbers for Fortnite or Call of Duty’s Blackout, will fluctuate accordingly. However, it is important to note that these streamers have continued playing the game at regular intervals because they enjoy it even after their sponsorships have ended. Similarly, the number of players Apex is difficult to track, or at least it would be if the official Apex Twitter account hadn’t informed us all that they had reached an enormous 25 million unique players only a week after launching. These figures do come from the game’s developers but if they’re even close to accurate then it’s a good indication that despite being a surprise launch, the game quickly picked up massive amounts of support that has only continued to grow since its launch.

As for how it can compete with other games of the same genre, Apex had a little bit of luck in that department. Apex launched only a week after Fortnite’s Ice Storm event came to a close. The event changed default Fortnite into something akin to a zombie survival game mixed with a battle royale and caused controversy from the beginning, driving some players away who couldn't enjoy the mode and leaving them ripe for the pick-ing when a newer and fresher Battle Royale was released. Furthermore, Apex has been developed by the studio behind Titanfall, a game which has enjoyed critical and user acclaim because of its remarkably good gunplay which has transitioned to this first-person battle royale game perfectly.

Finally, the titular Legends. Apex’s unique player characters all offer different abilities and perks that mean each team, and thus each match, will have a different composition and feel different and new. It is the Legends which have the potential to make Apex live up to its name atop the Battle Royale pile. Respawn has said that they will continue to add new ones as they innovate and update the game. If they can keep the Legends balanced and not make them pay-to-win style then the squad-based shooter may enjoy a very long and very successful tenure as the new champion Battle Royale.

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