I’ve only played a few rounds of new free-to-play battle royale Apex Legends, but in every match I’ve been amazed at how closely my team of perfect strangers worked together. Not a single word shared in text or voice chat, but between automated character chatter, a helpful UI and liberal use of the ping tool kept it together until late into the game. To achieve this, Respawn Entertainment have said via Twitter that they spent a month testing the Smart Comms system as more casual players would – with fake names and no voice chat. I reckon that it worked a charm.
While there’s a bit Titanfall still in spinoff Apex Legends – especially in its special powers – what makes the game work is its focus on working as a team. There is no option to just play solo, and by default, one member of your squad is chosen as leader to guide the rest of you to your starting point. Once you’re on the ground, all it takes is a single click to tell your team where a useful item is, where you’d like to move or where you saw an enemy. Even without using the ping tool, your character informs the squad of important actions, like when you’re stopping to top up your shields.
Fun fact: We playtested for a month with voice comms off and fake names to simulate playing with random people, and that allowed us to feel things out in an authentic way. Awesome to see folks using and enjoying Smart Comms! https://t.co/biRUBQ1l3o
— Apex Legends (@PlayApex) February 6, 2019
Apex Legends isn’t the first game to have a quick ‘look here’ button (the Battlefield series has a rather good one) or passive character chatter (Left 4 Dead was the first to master it), but it combines them seamlessly. I’m still not sure whether I’m just shy or antisocial, but I hate being the first one to have to talk in a game, either in text or voice. In testing to enable quiet-but-capable people like me, and giving me communication options that are as simple as pointing and shooting my gun, Apex Legends has set an example I feel should be followed.
Apex Legends is out now, free-to-play, and has my full recommendation if you’re a shy or otherwise quiet player who still appreciates teamwork. Grab it here on Origin – maybe we’ll meet as teammates on the battlefield, but you probably wouldn’t know either way. You should check out Ollie Toms’s Apex Legends beginners guide either way.