Apex Legends Mobile review: The best mobile BR can still get better
Apex Legends is finally dropping onto mobile with a worldwide release, and while there’s a lot still to come, the foundation is here for an excellent translation of the core game.
It’s hard to remember a game launch in recent years as impressive as Apex Legends. Sure, on new season days the servers can chug a bit, and there has been no shortage of bugs and community gripes, but that initial drop onto Kings Canyon, after Respawn’s impressive reveal stream, lives long in the memory.
The good news is that Apex Legends Mobile offers a lot of the same thrills and freneticism as its bigger, older brother. It’s an excellent mobile battle royale that will take some Apex Champions a bit of time to get used to, but could be huge for the franchise, and mobile gaming, going forward.
Apex Legends Mobile – Key details
- Price: Free-to-play
- Developer: Respawn Entertainment / Lightspeed & Quantum Studios
- Release date: May 17, 2022
- Platforms: iOS, Android
Apex Legends Mobile trailer
If looks could kill
While it’d be fair to say that much of Apex Legends has been shrunk down to fit in your pocket, that’s not to say the game isn’t still an impressive visual feat. While we were testing it on the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max, we noticed very little slowdown and responsive controls throughout.
Your mileage may vary based on your device, but we were impressed by how much of World’s Edge’s detail survived the transition from console and PC to mobile. Early signs are mixed, though — while the Legend selection screen is just how you’d expect, there’s plenty of texture and object pop-in when dropping onto the map.
And yet, once you hit the surface, everything works just as you’d expect it to. The ring will close, you’ll loot weapons, and if you’re anything like this writer you’ll get ambushed more than once. The difference with Apex Legends Mobile, though is in its difficulty.
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While we suspect our high kill counts are likely the result of bots, there’s definitely a more forgiving side to be found here — and that could be down to the transition to touch controls (something we’ll get to shortly). In any case, it pays to keep moving, and smart tweaks like an indicator on areas that can be mantled is a godsend in the middle of a firefight.
Apex Legends is known for its fluid movement and shooting, and you’d be right to consider that’s a tough target to hit when using a mobile phone’s touchscreen for input. While there are some idiosyncrasies, there’s also a lot to like.
As is the norm for many mobile shooters, Apex Legends Mobile lets players use a virtual analog stick on the left side of the screen, while actions, and aiming, are found on the right. You can sprint by holding your left stick forward, while crouching and jumping are both on the bottom right. In our experience, it wasn’t long until we were sliding down slopes and leaping over fences as we would on PC, but there is a definite learning curve that will undoubtedly deter some longstanding Apex fans.
Stick with it, though, and you’ll find you’ll be the kill leader in no time — although, again, we suspect that’s because bots are being used to make up the numbers in our playtests. In any case, a truncated tutorial helps cover ability usage, revives, and combat, and while you may be familiar already 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 plenty more, it’s worth noting that things can get a little finicky when it comes to picking up loot. An automatic pickup option is great for handling ammo, but trying to spot which attachments are in a death box while scrolling through is less than ideal. There’s also a strange inconsistency whereby death boxes have a very specific button that needs to be pressed, but supply bins can be opened by tapping them.
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Still, the naturally looser controls don’t feel so much of a hindrance so much as a different kind of Apex Legends match; Aiming is snappy, and weapon recoil feels dialed in to be a little bit more forgiving. There are also a lot less of players hugging cover, although we suspect that’s because many are still figuring out how best to do that with the controls.
All in all, though, if the thought of playing Apex Legends on a mobile device had you screwing your face up when it was announced, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. There’s a firing range and team deathmatch mode, too, meaning there are plenty of chances to practice your aim. Arenas is also back, giving you the perfect opportunity to test out all manner of weapons.
One of the things we can’t speak about at this point is how the in-game economy will work, but we did get a glimpse at the battle pass in our pre-release build. As you can imagine, there are unlockables to earn, but you’ll also need to unlock your core Legend roster.
Players will only have Octane and Bloodhound to begin with, although in our experience we were able to unlock each subsequent Legend within another match or two. While the whole gang isn’t here just yet, there is a new addition in Fade.
Fade is fun to play as, and while he’s not reason enough to install Apex Legends Mobile, we are hoping he’ll make the jump to the console and PC versions. He gets a speed boost when sliding, meaning he’s ideal for closing the gap on enemies when heading downhill, and can bounce back in time by a few seconds to get out of danger, making him a great pick for newcomers.
Sadly, though, Fade’s addition doesn’t make up for a lack of BR maps in Apex Legends Mobile at launch — we’re itching 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 is primed to grow over the coming months.
Apex Legends Mobile may be lacking maps and Legends, but it does an excellent job of translating the squad-based battle royale formula to mobile devices. It’s fun and frantic, and is a great way for newcomers to jump into the franchise while offering a unique appeal for veterans, too.
Reviewed on iOS (iPhone 13 Pro Max)
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