The next big battle royale game on mobile is finally here. Yesterday, Apex Legends Mobile dropped onto iOS and serves up a modified version of Respawn Entertainment's smash multiplayer hit that is custom tuned for touch and mobile play. I have not played a lot of the console and PC version of this game, but in my limited time with Apex Legends Mobile so far it does, in fact, seem to capture a lot of the original game's spirit, tension, and flow.
To check out the game in action from the initial boot, through the tutorial, and on to real matches, check out the video above. For some more detailed impressions, read on below.
For starters, Apex Legends Mobile is exactly the same kind of game as the original Apex Legends. Squads of three heroes with unique abilities parachute onto a combat map where they have to scavenge for weapons and cooperate to take down other teams of players in a competition to be the last ones standing. To drive combatants together, there is an energy ring that closes in on a specific point on the map that damages players that wander outside of it and eventually creates a combat space so small that firefights are inevitable.
All of that said, Apex Legends Mobile isn't just a 1:1 port of Apex Legends to mobile. This game is uniquely tuned for play on touch screens and there is no cross-play functionality with the original game. Unlockables like the battle pass and other progression mechanics are also kept separate between the games (though you can get some goodies if you link your EA account to your mobile profile). Otherwise, though, Apex Legends Mobile feels like the fully featured game, with match lengths taking around the same amount of time (20 minutes or so).
A big part of the appeal of Apex Legends is the game's feel. As opposed to a lot of clunkier battle royale games, Respawn Entertainment seems to hang its hat on its ability to take traversal mechanics from previous releases like Titanfall 2 and make them work in a multiplayer context, with players zipping around the battlefield as they gun each other down. Mechanics like these (i.e. sliding, scaling walls, zip-lining, etc.) are certainly present in Apex Legends Mobile, but they feel much less fluid and harder to control than they do in the original game.
This is obviously understandable, seeing as how this is a touch-based game. Dealing with the amount of buttons on screen just takes a little bit more time to develop any sort of fluidity of control, though it also seems like Apex Legends Mobile only really wants to enable certain kinds of movement after giving you specific prompts. My guess is that this is an effort to equalize player movement for times when you may be playing against (or as) someone using a controller (which works fabulously, by the way, though connecting one does not hide the on-screen buttons).
As a result of this slight clunkiness, Apex Legends Mobile's combat definitely feels slow and awkward, but at the same time more manageable. I'm sure this will change as a dedicated playerbase spends more time with the game, but hopping in to the experience cold and without much original Apex Legends experience I found myself winning my first two matches while barely understanding or managing how to pick up items or climb walls.
In finishing those two matches, I'll also say I'm surprised at just how many goodies were handed out to me. At the time when I was playing the original Apex, it felt like a long road to unlocking new legends to play as, but after completing those two matches I got two new legends as a reward. I'm sure this deluge of initial gifts will dry up, especially the more I resist putting any money into the game, but it was nice to see some immediate options open up from just a short time with the game.
Speaking of monetization, my only real beef with Apex Legends Mobile right now is just how obnoxious it is about serving up banners and giving you notifications trying to point you at things to buy. I'm glad that seemingly none of those things affect the core game balance, but I also just wish that I could boot up the game and play a match without having to close out multiple banners advertising game events and shop items first.
Overall, Apex Legends Mobile seems like a really solid mobile battle royale game. I'm looking forward to spending more time with it to see how the game and my perception of it change in the coming week or so. At that point, I'll probably put out a review with more fully formed thoughts, so stay tuned.