Respawn first launched Apex Legends in 2019 as a direct competitor to Fortnite, which already captured a lot of popular culture at the time. In the years since its release, Apex Legends has received several seasons of content along with the assertion that it takes place in the Titanfall universe, resulting in the growth of a successful co-world for Respawn. However, in all that time, the game hasn’t made its way to mobile like many of its competitors. That has changed with Apex Legends Mobile.
Rather than being a simple port, Respawn built Apex Legends Mobile from the ground up for mobile devices. The developer confirms that Apex Legends Mobile will have its own update tempo and event seasons unrelated to Apex Legends on console and PC. Although it contains a fraction of the content that Apex Legends provides – at least at launch – there is a lot to get you excited about it.
I’ve been able to play the game on early test servers for several days now and I’m having a lot of fun. Converting a mobile game so quickly is no easy feat, and while I think I prefer the console version as opposed to mobile, it only sparked interest in the Apex world bodes well for Respawn.
Apex Legends Mobile: What’s cool
Most of the basic Apex gameplay rules that players know and love remain the same. Sixty contenders fall into one of their royal locations into battle – World’s Edge will be the only ones available at launch, though King’s Canyon is on its way – either individually, in duos or in teams of three, and from there it’s all about collecting the right weapons and equipment to stay on Alive.
The maps themselves translate well to mobile. While the visual resolution is a hit compared to its console and PC counterparts, the level design itself and the ever-shrinking playable area force players into combat zones to keep matches interesting. It’s not quite as dense, but each map has a good balance of close quarters and long-range battles, along with designated areas for players to get from point A to point B. The maps are not much different from the main game, but some modifications have been made to make it simpler and to unlock some areas.
One of the problems with long-range combat here is that aiming is much less accurate, and given the size of most phone screens, it can be difficult to see an enemy at a distance unless you’ve equipped a better range.
|category||Apex Legends Mobile|
|Type||Battle Royale / Shooter|
|Minimum Requirements||Android 6.0 or later, 2 GB of RAM, Snapdragon 435 (or equivalent), 4 GB of storage|
|device used||Pixel 4 A|
|game size||4.1 GB|
|players||up to 60|
|launch price||Free with IAPs|
New in Apex Legends Mobile is the feature system. Each Legend contains a skill tree that can unlock passive buffs and improve their abilities and powers. One of Bangalore’s passive perks that can be unlocked, for example, automatically triggers Double Time when smoke enters. One of her other ability buffs lets her use the Smoke Launcher while falling.
In order to unlock these perks, you’ll need to gain more experience with each Legend to unlock the characters’ tokens, which can then be exchanged for perks below their skill trees. Select their character’s gear and you can equip a passive feature, ultimate leverage, and ability improvement for each character.
These may seem like small tweaks, but they make a big difference to the actual gameplay, and encourage players to try new things. I never used the terminator until I unlocked a feature that gave me an instant shield recharge when using it. The number of times he ended up saving me during the match is a bit embarrassing.
You can mix and match these skills and save up to three of your favorite settings for each hero if you want to switch between them quickly.
Team Deathmatch is another excellent addition, ensuring that players continue to get the fast-paced gameplay that they might have missed in the Battle Royale move to mobile. Players can choose between Deathmatch (random respawn) or Clash (basic respawn) in a 6v6 match in which you see the first team win up to 30 times. Each map is fairly small, so players generally head towards the center where the battles are taking place.
No matter what game mode or map players jump into, there are only 10 playable Legends at launch: Bangalore, Bloodhound, Caustic, Gibraltar, Lifeline, Mirage, Octane, Pathfinder, Wraith and the latest mobile-exclusive Legend Fade.
It’s clear from the start that Fade is built for mobile because his skills focus on maneuverability above all else — an issue that many mobile shooters seem to struggle with. The passive Surge gives him great speed after a knee slip, making him the perfect tool to take down any enemies. The tactical, Flash Back, returns it to its previous position about 60m away, serving as another way to effectively get out of a deadly situation.
As far as performance goes, it ran extremely well on my Pixel 4a. There are some popups on the home screen when loading a new legend or during matches, but they don’t get in the way of actual gameplay. It went surprisingly smoothly in my time with her. We’ll just need to see the servers can hold up once it’s launched worldwide.
Finally, it has a deep settings menu to fine-tune the experience exactly the way you want it. Since not everyone will be as comfortable with touch controls as other players, this is a huge benefit. Most buttons and layouts can be reset along with camera and motion sensitivity. You can even set secondary features like miniature rotation or low ammo notification that can be set on or off completely.
This amount of control should be in all games to make the experience easier.
Speaking of making the game more accessible, Respawn has added a third person mode in Apex Legends Mobile in addition to the first person players are familiar with. Players can switch between modes at any time during a match by tapping on TPP or FPP near the bottom of the screen. Although the field of view can be adjusted for both, third person still gives players a wider camera angle in the end.
It also did not eat up my phone battery as I expected. I can get in over an hour of playing and only lose 15%-20%, which means I can comfortably play for a few hours at a time if I really want to. I don’t think Apex Legends Mobile is necessarily supposed to run this way, but it’s still nice to see that it doesn’t drain the battery right away.
Apex Legends Mobile: What can work for you
This will certainly change over time, but Respawn hasn’t quite been able to squeeze in improved console support for launch. That’s not to say it doesn’t work – I actually spent most of my time in Apex Legends Mobile playing with an Xbox console – but the team definitely needs to tweak it better. There were settings for controllers in my review build so hopefully they will be added soon.
Movement and aiming seem fine, but the interaction with the elements and the environment is not always smooth. The wonki button prompts sometimes made me drop or pick up items I didn’t mean to (auto capture can be enabled or disabled in settings), and it was difficult to switch between shield recharges and media packs on the go with a controller. In the current situation, it is better to use a controller along with the touch screen controls.
Although the touch controls are not as precise as the other input methods, they make the game somewhat easier oddly. Since maneuverability can be a problem and people are still learning how to attack effectively, it may be easier to shoot them quickly. Aiming assistance and automatic shooting also play a huge help.
It’s a double-edged sword in this regard, because while the controls for mobile games shouldn’t be as complex as PC games, those looking for a more competitive experience may find it very Easy – although those in the latter group always have the option to rank play.
It’s hard to tell how prevalent any microtransactions will be because EA has provided players with early access with a Battle Pass and a significant level increase along with in-game currency. However, the store appears to mostly sell cosmetic items such as Legend skins, banners, and emojis. There don’t seem to be any pay-to-win mechanisms at the moment.
Next, there’s the matter of visual resolution, which will really vary depending on your device. On my Pixel 4a with graphics set to Normal (recommended), the textures were muddy and less detailed. The graphics quality can be changed in their settings between Smooth, Normal, HD, Ultra HD and Original.
Apex Legends Mobile: Should you play it?
For anyone already rooted in Apex Legends on console and PC, I don’t think Apex Legends Mobile will win it to become their main game. It lacks much of the same content and fast-paced Battle Royale gameplay. However, it is a great addition to complement the PC game for players who want to experience Apex Legends on the go, wherever they are. The introduction of 6v6 Team Deathmatch along with Fade makes it more interesting.
Since it is free to play, I would definitely say that people should download it and try it out for themselves. I can see myself coming back to it sporadically, especially when a new season falls. As it stands, it makes me want to play Apex on PlayStation or Xbox.