Developer: Respawn Entertainment, Panic Button Games
Genre: Battle Royale, First Person Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC)
Age Rating: 16
Release Date: 10/03/21
A code was provided for review purposes.
Apex Legends is a first-person shooter battle royale that’s set within the same universe as Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall franchise. The main objective of Apex Legends is to lead your team to victory in the Apex Games and is achieved by being the last team to survive. With plenty of heroes to choose from and a vast array of seasonal lore to discover, Apex Legends has added a new lease of life to the battle royale genre.
Now, Apex Legends is dropping towards the Nintendo Switch. But does the hybrid console have what it takes to blow its competitor consoles out of the arena? Come with me as I find out…
The central story of Apex Legends gets added to with each new season, and as so to describe everything would be an entire article itself. For this review, I’ll give a brief overview that will gloss over a lot of details.
Apex Legends is based after an interstellar war called the Frontier War (Titanfall & Titanfall 2). The Frontier is a part of space that’s arguably compared to the old American Wild West. Before the war, the Frontier was settled by an Earth-based conglomerate called the IMC (Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation). Due to unsettling issues back on Earth, the IMC withdrew the bulk of its resources away from the Frontier to help back home. During this time those who remained at the Frontier advanced on their own and formed the Frontier Militia. A few years later the IMC head back out to the Frontier and come into contact with the Militia and war soon breaks out – which sets the stage for Titanfall and Titanfall 2.
So where does Apex Legends fit in? Well after the war had ended, Titanfall 2 antagonist Kuben Blisk sets up a shadowy organisation called The Syndicate who then take over a collection of Planets dubbed The Outlands. It is here that an ancient Outlands ritual is turned into the Apex Games.
Each character who appears in Apex Legends has their own story. It’s incredibly complex but does make for an interesting read. There’s a lot to learn, but not knowing the story doesn’t hamper the experience. If anything it gives you a lot to discover along the way. And if you haven’t played Titanfall or Titanfall 2 then stop reading this review and get them downloaded!
Apex Legends is a class-based Battle Royale, that sees teams of two/three players battle for supremacy. Each character has their own set of skills such as the ability to manipulate their surroundings, to the more traditional use of shields and various airstrikes. Although different each character is exceptionally balanced and neither character has an advantage over another. With Apex Legends being a free to play title, you’re only given a slither of the heroes to start with. These starter classes will serve you well, to begin with, but the more advanced characters are locked behind the games optional paywall.
Currently, Apex Legends has 16 playable heroes to choose from. You get 6 heroes for free with the other 10 being unlocked via in-game purchases or via Legend Coins which are earned by levelling up. Each character costs the same currency (750 Apex Coins, 12,000 Legend Coins), so there isn’t any pay 2 win aspect. With each new season comes a new character which naturally shakes the meta up a little, but regardless of how you play there will be a hero that suits your playstyle…I’m looking at you, Revenant!
The gameplay is played via a first-person viewpoint with weapons and equipment being scavenged as the game progresses. To keep the players constantly moving Apex Legends utilises a zonal format that restricts the map size every couple of minutes. This means that you always have to move, as failure to do so will result in being caught up in the ring which results in your health bleeding out. Weapons come in all shapes and sizes, with many crossing over from Titanfall. There’s plenty of various rifles, pistols and shotguns to choose from, with plenty of traditional styles to the more exotic. While each has its own strong and weak points every weapon is fairly well balanced in comparison.
Apex Legends comes with three standard game modes; Duos, Team and Ranked. Naturally, it goes without explanation as to what each mode means. There are often special game types called ‘events’ which offer a limited-time mode that adds certain modifications to the rules of the game – such as Zombies or starting with a loadout etc.
Much like other battle royale games, Apex Legends features an optional seasonal battle pass. Currently, this is centres around the new character Fuse and features many “Mad Max” style cosmetics that tie into Fuse’s look. This battle pass is an entirely optional purchase and aside from adding unique cosmetics, doesn’t affect the game in any other way.
Apex Legends on the Nintendo Switch is a mixed bag. The good aspect is that the game plays surprisingly well considering the Switch’s limitations. Playing in handheld mode offers a 576p resolution while docked mode sees this upped to 720p. Framerate is also capped at 30FPS for both modes, which seems logical considering the Switch’s hardware limitations. There’s also an option to activate crossplay which does offer the ability to play with other console players, but considering the higher framerate and resolution of the bigger consoles, this isn’t necessarily a good thing. While deactivating crossplay can lead to a longer matchmaking time, you’re only playing with fellow Switch players which gives you all a fair deal.
When it comes to graphics, the Switch port looks okay. Due to the low resolution, both draw distance and overall graphics suffer from a lot of texture pop-up. I also found it easier to experience playing on a smaller screen as using a larger one made it look a lot worse. It’s a shame, but goes to show what was sacrificed to make sure Apex Legends runs as smooth as possible.
The biggest bugbear to the Switch port is that current progress isn’t shared between consoles. While you the ability to both sign in to your EA account and play with friends, everything else is thrown back to the start. It’s a real shame as I had to re-buy previously bought heroes as well as the battle pass.
Across-the-board, Apex Legends on the Nintendo Switch offers the complete Apex Games experience on a much-condensed scale. The core gameplay is all here and the ability of crossplay does open the game up. However, the inability to keep prior progress and the limitations of the Nintendo Switch means that it’s a hard sell for returning players to make the switch…
Rapid Reviews Rating
Apex Legends can be downloaded for free via the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.