Respawn Entertainment recently debuted their newest title, Apex Legends, a free-to-play Battle Royale shooter. Revealing and releasing the title on the same-day, Respawn went with the rare “no-hype” marketing strategy, where developers will release a game and allow the gamers around the world to access it immediately, preventing early bad press, rumors, and demos from soiling a title’s reputation. Innovation and new ideas like this are a common theme in Apex Legends, the most notable of which is it’s unique communication mechanics.
Unlike most Battle Royale games, Apex Legends is, for the time being, exclusively squad-based. Players form groups of three and select heroes with unique abilities, and then drop into the map with the intent of being the last team standing. It is a game that requires players to work together and to use their different powers to level the playing field for their allies. In any other game, being matched with players that don’t utilise voice chat would be a major disadvantage. However, Legends utilises an innovative system that allows players to communicate practically everything they would need to through certain button presses.
Want to point out a sweet weapon you found? Simply ping it, and a notification will appear on the in-game activity feed, and a marker will appear on your HUD to lead your teammates to it. Want to notify your team that you spotted an enemy? You can hover your crosshair over them and mark them. It is also contextual, for instance, if you go down, you’re ping options are more limited but also more useful to your situation; you can ping to request a revive when an area is safe, or tell your teammates that the enemy who downed you is nearby.
It is a refreshingly simple take on in-game communication. Other games, such as Hi-Rez Studio’s MOBA, SMITE, utilise a similar system that is operated through keyboard shortcuts. Why these kinds of convenient and seamlessly integrated pinging systems have not seen wider adoption in the industry is a mystery.
Apex Legends is a game that seeks to streamline and innovate the Battle Royale genre. On top of the mentioned comms system, smart features such as syncing-up the squad’s drop path and resurrecting dead players remove a lot of the frustration from a genre that offers little forgiveness for mistakes. And anyone can jump in and try the innovative title for no cost. Apex Legends is currently free to play on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.