Apex Legends is finally coming to mobile with a global release, and while there’s still a lot to look forward to, the basis for an excellent translation of the core game is here.
It’s hard to remember a game launch in recent years as impressive as Apex Legends. Sure, servers can chug a bit on new season days, and there’s been no shortage of bugs and community disruption, but that first drop on Kings Canyon after Respawn’s impressive reveal stream is a long one to remember.
The good news is that Apex Legends Mobile offers much of the same thrill and frenzy as its bigger, older brother. It’s an excellent mobile battle royale that will take some getting used to for some Apex Champions, but could be of great importance to the franchise and mobile play in the future.
Apex Legends Mobile Important Details
- Price: Play for free
- developer: Respawn entertainment
- release date: May 17, 2022
- platforms: iOS, Android
Apex Legends mobile trailer
If looks could kill
While it would be fair to say that much of Apex Legends has been scaled down to fit in your pocket, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t still an impressive visual achievement. While testing it on the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, we consistently noticed very little slowdown and responsive controls.
Your mileage may vary by device, but we were impressed with how much detail of World’s Edge survived the transition from console and PC to mobile. Early signs are mixed though – while the legend’s selection screen is exactly what you’d expect, there are plenty of textures and object pop-ins as you drop onto the map.
And yet, once you reach the surface, everything works as you would expect. The ring will close, you will loot weapons, and if you’re anything like this writer, you’ll be ambushed more than once. However, the difference with Apex Legends Mobile lies in its difficulty.
While we suspect our high kill counts are likely the result of bots, there’s definitely a more forgiving side here – and that could be down to the transition to touch controls (something we’ll get to in a moment). Either way, it pays to keep moving, and clever tweaks like an area-to-cover indicator are a godsend in the middle of a firefight.
Apex Legends is well known for its fluid movement and gunfire, and you’d rightly assume that’s a difficult target when using a cellphone’s touchscreen for input. While there are some quirks, there’s also a lot to like.
As is common for many mobile shooters, Apex Legends Mobile allows players to use a virtual analog stick on the left side of the screen, while actions and objectives can be found on the right. You can sprint by holding your left stick forward while crouching and jumping on the bottom right. In our experience, it didn’t take long before we were sliding down slopes and jumping over fences like we would on PC, but there’s a definite learning curve that will no doubt put off some long-time Apex fans.
Stick with it, however, and you’ll find that you’ll be the kill leader in no time – although again we suspect this is because bots are used to come up with the numbers in our playtests. Either way, an abbreviated tutorial helps cover how to use abilities, revives, and combat, and while you might already be familiar, it’s a whole different game here.
While much of the game’s UI is impressively clear, right down to ammo counts, the attachments on your weapons, and more, it’s worth noting that things can get a bit tricky when it comes to picking up loot. An auto pickup option is great for dealing with ammo, but trying to tell which attachments are in a deathbox while scrolling isn’t ideal. There’s also an odd inconsistency where Death Boxes have a very specific button that needs to be pressed, but Supply Caches can be opened with a tap.
Still, the naturally looser controls don’t feel so much of an obstacle as a different kind of Apex Legends match; Aiming is snappy and the weapon’s recoil feels dialed in to be a bit more forgiving. There are also a lot fewer players taking cover, although we suspect that’s because many are still figuring out the best way to do it with the controls.
All things considered, but if you grimaced at the announcement at the thought of playing Apex Legends on a mobile device, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised. There’s also a shooting range and a team deathmatch mode, meaning there’s plenty of opportunities to practice your aim. Arenas is back too, giving you the perfect opportunity to test out all sorts of weapons.
One of the things we can’t talk about at this point is how the in-game economy will work, but we did have a look at the Battle Pass in our pre-release build. As you can imagine, there are unlockables to earn, but you also need to unlock your core legend list.
Players only have Octane and Bloodhound initially, although in our experience we’ve been able to unlock each subsequent Legend within an additional game or two. While the whole gang isn’t here yet, there’s a new addition to Fade.
Fade is fun to play, and while it’s not reason enough to install Apex Legends Mobile, we’re hoping it makes the leap to the console and PC versions. He gets a speed boost when sliding, meaning he’s ideal for closing the gap on enemies when going downhill, and can jump back in time a few seconds to get out of danger, making him a great one choice for newbies.
Unfortunately, however, Fade’s addition doesn’t make up for the lack of BR maps in Apex Legends Mobile at launch – we’re curious to see how Kings Canyon translates, but the map won’t be available in Battle Royale at launch. There are plenty of arenas and TDM maps, but with characters like Fuse, Horizon, and Ash missing, it feels like the game will grow in the coming months.
Apex Legends Mobile may lack maps and legends, but it does an excellent job of translating the squad-based battle royale formula to mobile devices. Fun and frantic, it’s a great way for newcomers to get into the franchise while also offering a unique appeal for veterans.
Reviewed on iOS (iPhone 13 Pro Max)
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