's Games of the Year: Apex Legends

Apex Legends -- literally -- came out of nowhere when it released onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, [...]

Apex Legends -- literally -- came out of nowhere when it released onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 4th. On paper, it should have failed. No marketing, EA was, arguably, in something a rut, and the free-to-play battle royale space was already crowded. The only the game had going for it was that it was made by Respawn Entertainment, makers of Titanfall. Despite the odds, the game flew out the gate, and for it moment it looked like it would dethrone Fortnite'sstrangle hold on the battle royale genre in the western market. Ultimately, it didn't do this, but it sure made a pop, and unlike many that came before it, it stuck around and still commands a healthy player base. Why? Because it's an incredible battle royale experience with some incredible first-person shooting. There's no denying its content drip leaves much to be desired, but its core experience is as good as -- if not better than -- any other battle royale game.

There's two games I sunk an unhealthy amount of time into: 2015's Rocket League and Apex Legends. Yes, years later I'm still incredibly addicted to Rocket League. But you know what snapped me from this addiction for a brief period? Apex Legends. The only other competitive games that have achieved this: Fortnite and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. Pretty good company, right? I feverishly played Apex Legends when it came out, and continued to do so for three months. I don't know even want to know how much I played, but it was never enough to satiate my need to play it. And if E3 didn't force me to go cold turkey, I'd probably still be playing it to this day.

What immediately made Apex Legends stick out is that it's not marred by technical performance, undermined by a budget, and it doesn't really have a gimmick. It's -- primarily -- such a great battle royale experience because it's first-person action not only feels good, but is incredibly polished. Further, it keeps things simple. You pick a Legend, each with unique abilities, you drop on the map in a squad of three and slug it out. Unlike Fortnite, there's no building mechanic that takes countless hours to master. Meanwhile, there's no advanced bullet trajectory you have to learn like you did in PUBG. Apex Legends is simple, and the only thing that separates a good player from a bad one is proficiency in shooting and understanding strategic nuances that you'll quickly pick up on.

Now, usually the word "teammate" is enough for me to say hasta la vista in a battle royale game. I want to play solo. However, one of things that made Apex Legends so special is its advanced pinging system, which allows teammates to communicate effectively without the need of a mic. It was a game-changer, which is why everyone quickly copied it.

I could gush about Apex Legends for a long time. Again, there's a reason I obsessively played it everyday, on my lunch breaks, and into the early morning as far as my body would take me. That said, there were shortcomings that did start to wear at me towards the end of my fixation with it. Lack of content, a meta that dissolved into third-partying, and considerable server issues really did weigh down the experience at time. Yet, I kept playing. With nothing to work towards and with lag sometimes ruining matches, I kept playing and playing and playing, because the feeling of winning, the feeling of mowing a team down with a peacekeeper, was as good as anything this year. In fact, if it wasn't for Mortal Kombat 11, I'd say not only is Apex Legends the best multiplayer game of the year, but it wins by a landslide.