Fortnite went from making $3 billion in revenue in 2018 to being joked as a “dead game” by the gaming community two months later. Just as the Fortnite phenomenon was emote-dancing its way to becoming an untouchable force on the competitive gaming/Twitch throne, Respawn Entertainment pulled a "hold my beer" moment with their new viral hit Apex Legends.
The newly released battle royale game – labeled as "the Fortnite Killer" – went from a buzz-worthy title to an online phenomena in mere days. Following a reveal stream from Respawn, Apex Legends unexpectedly launched Beyoncé-style on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 to instant success.
In 8 hours of release, the game reached 1 million players. By hour 72, AL hit a whopping 10 million players, beating out Fortnite, which took two weeks to hit that mark. After one week, the game has already surpassed 25 million gamers and has "well over two million" concurrent players, according to Respawn CEO Vince Zampella. With the player count rapidly increasing daily, in addition to Twitch's biggest streamers including Ninja and Dr, DisRespect shelving Fortnite for Apex, does the gaming industry have a new battle royale king? Here's a few reasons why Apex Legends stands out from the rest.
An initial advantage over Call of Duty:Black Out and PUBG is that Apex is free-to-play. Fortnite is free also, but requires a $10 battle pass to enjoy most of the games features including the level up system and cosmetic rewards. For AL, micro-transactions obviously exist, but don't lock the majority of features behind a pay wall. Almost everything in Legends can be obtained just by playing the game. The grind can be long depending how much you win, but by saving up in-game currency or leveling up your rank, players have access to character and weapon skins, emotes, banners, and more.
It's looting system is a breath of fresh air
There's always 99 problems to worry about while playing in a battle royale game, but Apex's loot system isn't one. Its next level looting system nearly does all the work for you by automatically equipping gear and accessories to your specific inventory slots. This key feature – which we didn't know we needed, but can't live without now – allows players to focus less on overwhelming inventory management and more on jumping right into the fight.
Vast characters create gameplay variety
In games like Overwatch and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, players take on the role of specific characters who each have their own personalities, voices, backstories, and abilities. When it comes to battle royale games, characters only differ cosmetically. A huge missed opportunity for COD: Blackout, not for Apex. The game features eight playable characters, all with their own unique skill set and abilities creating more gameplay variety and strategy than other BR titles offer.
For examples, play as Lifeline, a medic who uses a drone to increase her own and teammates’ health and has fast healing capabilities, or Wraith, a sprite-like presence who can create portals through which players can effect attacks and retreats. Each character adds exciting new ways to approach a match with a different level of strategy mixed in.
Quality-of-life features are the best in any battle royale game
Mostly quality-of-life UI tweaks paired with smooth, accessible but competitive gameplay, are the kickers that make Apex Legends so attractive. There's nothing truly groundbreaking here, but it's the vast amount of little things that Apex does extremely well that makes it stand out from the rest. For instance, the ping system allows gamers to communicate with their squad the location of certain loot, areas, or enemies. Furthermore, the group drop-in system gives teams a more efficient way to land in close proximity to each other; no fall damage is like a gift from the gaming gods; and respawning downed teammates gives players a second chance to get back in to the fight.
Apex Legends is an exciting, smooth experience shaking up the battle royale community. From being free-to-play to its smooth, varied, and stunning gameplay, it's hard to play anything else right now.
So, the question that is on everyone's mind, is Apex Legends really "the Fortnite Killer"? After only being released a week ago, it's a little early to tell, but we can't downplay the LeBron James-level numbers the game is already putting up. The more important questions is, how long can it last on-top? Fortnite still has an extremely large players base sitting at around 200 million, as well as billions in the bank to improve the game.
What happens when Epic Games implements the Apex features mentioned above into Fortnite? Will players jump ship again? Time will tell.