Can Apex Legends Become The New Battle Royale Genre Leader?

Apex Legends is the latest in a long line of titles attempting to jump on the battle royale bandwagon. From AAA releases like Call of Duty Black Ops 4 to obviously derivative clones like Fortcraft.

Success has varied but nobody has really come close to seizing the crown from Fortnite. Some purist fans of trend-setter PUBG might disagree but the genre belongs to Epic’s free-to-play juggernaut.

That is until now at least, as Apex Legends has built some serious headwind after a phenomenal launch period. There’s a new kid in town and it may finally be the next step in the battle royale genre.

The Apex Legends’ Team

In what was perhaps one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, Apex Legends was a ‘surprise’ launch on February 4th. For those not tuned in to industry news though it may have come out of the blue after receiving zero promotion.

The game has some considerable clout behind it and actually takes place in the Titanfall cannon. Respawn Entertainment was the studio behind the hugely successful Mech based shooter Titanfall.

The sequel was released to rave reviews in 2016 but flew under the radar due to a troubled release period. A confusing marketing strategy saw the game released in the week between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.   

Dropping an up-and-coming FPS in between two of the biggest names in the genre proved a huge mistake. Whilst both DICE and Activision’s latest instalments were commercial successes, Titanfall’s sales suffered.

EA who published both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 hoped to kill off the competition but it was the latter that was pronounced DOA. And so an innovative and fun FPS series was shelved due to poor financial performance.

The Titanfall team has taken what they’ve learned and moved that same quality gameplay into Apex Legends. With industry juggernaut EA publishing the new title as well, hopes are high it will be both highly successful and profitable.

The New Formula

The Call of Duty series is known for its tight gunplay mechanics that make it a leader in the FPS genre. Treyarch relied on this and the brand recognition to set themselves aside from Fortnite and PUBG. It proved a fairly good gamble but the £50 price tag of the game hurt its chances against the free-to-play market.

Respawn Entertainment will also be relying on better FPS mechanics but Apex Legends is a free-to-play game. Nobody could claim Fortnite’s gunplay isn’t fun but it’s not exactly a highly polished system that rewards highly skilled players.

Apex Legends offers some of the most detailed gunplay in the genre, taken straight from the Titanfall series. And it’s not just gunplay that’s better, general traversal is more dynamic and varied too. From the simplest things like fluid running, jumping and cover mechanics that fans have come to expect from AAA shooters.

Whilst the mech suits and wall running the series is famed for don’t make an appearance, there are a number of other nifty traversal ideas like zip lines and grappling guns. All-in-all it creates a smoother, more enjoyable playing experience than its predecessor.   

Apex Legends also borrows elements from other FPS juggernaut models like Overwatch. Each character comes with unique abilities and an ultimate so players can craft their ideal playstyle. In stark contrast to Fortnite’s purely cosmetic character differences.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Apex Legends popularity has skyrocketed since its release, taking an immediate stranglehold on the battle royale genre. The game shot to the top of the Twitch viewers charts, displacing Fortnite which had held the number 1 spot for several months.

Despite Fortnite having an extra 600,000 hours of streamed content available on Twitch this week, it came a distant second. Apex Legends had a sensational 11 million more views. Dominating the total viewing figures and completely eclipsing what Fortnite managed in its first week respectively.

That equates to an average audience of over 254,000 people tuning into to watch Apex Legends. Outdoing second-placed League of Legends by over 110,000 views. Respawn Entertainment are also reporting the game has had over 25 million downloads in the first week alone.

The studio has already revealed a ‘road map’ of where they intend to take the game over the coming months as the plan for longevity. If Apex Legends can continue attracting audiences at its current rate, it will indeed become the new go-to game in the battle royale genre.

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