Apex Legends Mobile Review: The Resemblance Is Uncanny
Apex Legends Mobile — available on iOS and Android — is finally out Tuesday after months of rumours, leaks, and soft launches. EA’s popular free-to-play battle royale game was first launched for PC, PS4, and Xbox One back in 2019, so it’s taken over three years for the mobile port to land. Meanwhile, the likes of Fortnite, PUBG/ BGMI, and Call of Duty: Mobile have carved up the territory for themselves. On top of that, Apex Legends is a complicated game with multiple controls, combinations, and well, chaos. The natural way to play the game is on a keyboard and mouse, or a gaming controller. Porting those controls to a device with just six or seven inches of real estate seems like a tough job. So, has EA pulled it off?
When EA launched a soft version of Apex Legends Mobile quite frequently, it felt incomplete. There were some hollow portions that needed to be filled before the full version could be launched. Respawn — best known for the Titanfall universe that Apex Legends is also part of — has finally come up with a global variant of the game. Having tested it for over a week, here is my full review. (My time with Apex Legends Mobile was spent on an iPhone 12 over Wi-Fi connectivity.)
Apex Legends Mobile review: size and loadout
The Apex Legends Mobile app on iOS clocked in at 5.02GB download size, post installing all the in-game content that included themes and additional maps. Surprisingly, I had to download Kings Canyon — the first map to be introduced in the game when it was launched a couple of years ago — separately. World’s Edge, along with a couple of Team Deathmatch (TDM) and Arenas maps, were pre-installed.
The lobby in Apex Legends Mobile is completely different compared to the soft launch version. It still displays your favourite Legend up front in the centre, but there are a lot of other elements too that can feel a bit overwhelming. The lobby structure of Apex Legends Mobile reminds me of PUBG Mobile, though it does offer a few more elements and options that you can play around with.
In terms of game modes, you can pick from Battle Royale, Ranked Match, and Free Practice among others. A tab lets you browse through the Legends that you have unlocked. Initially, you’ll only be able to play with a couple, but as you progress, the game rewards you by unlocking more Legends. Apex Legends Mobile currently only has Bloodhound, Gibraltar, Lifeline, Wraith, Octane, Bangalore, Caustic, Mirage, Pathfinder, and a new legend. But more on that later. Legends such as Loba, Horizon, Fuse, and others are missing right now, but I reckon they’ll be added in future updates as the season moves along.
At first launch, Apex Legends Mobile runs you through a quick tutorial, so that you get accustomed to the controls. It also gives you a quick rundown of the Legends and their abilities. At first, you’ll be introduced to Bloodhound and the game makes you run through a quick obstacle course, led by Mirage, the most fun character in the game.
Apex Legends Mobile also has a ‘loadout’ option that gives you a quick look at all the guns in the game. This way, you can familiarise yourself with each gun and choose the one that you would be comfortable with. Ideally, you should enter the firing range, and try them out before sticking to one combination. You are allowed to carry two guns, just as on Apex Legends.
Apex Legends Mobile review: gameplay and controls
As of now, Apex Legends Mobile consists of two maps: Kings Canyon and World’s Edge. I’m guessing Olympus and Storm Point will make their way into the game in future updates. Ranked Season 1 starts in World’s Edge, while you can only enter King’s Canyon in TDM and Arenas, as of now. The most iconic and fan-favourite map won’t make its way into the Battle Royale queue at launch, which is something regular players would’ve looked forward to.
The maps follow the same storyline as the original port, and hence it is up to date with the new buildings and locations. Maps in the mobile version of Apex Legends have name tags of all the locations, with a subtle outline indicating if it’s a high-tier place or a mid-tier place. This will be very useful for new players trying out the game for the first time.
Apex Legends Mobile lets you choose from two control layouts. You can then adjust the settings as per your preference. It also lets you choose a layout depending on your play style — 3 fingers or 4 fingers. I struggled with placing the abilities button since I always kept missing it in squad fights. There is an ample amount of controls, and with bullets flying around, sometimes your mind just gets confused. Eventually, I found a layout that worked best for me, and I was able to use abilities, and switch between weapons and health items, more swiftly.
One of my favourite things to do in Apex Legends Mobile — besides double bouncing on the jump pad — is sliding downhill and jumping to get that extra push. Especially when getting “third-partied”. (In Apex Legends, third-partied means getting attacked by different teams while you are already fighting with one. This is quite common in the PC/ console versions.) The control mechanism for that is very well-executed here, and I was able to perform it every time. You get a ton of other options in settings, ranging from riding the zipline to climbing walls. If it is your first time booting into the game, I’d suggest sorting out the controls, entering the firing range to try them out, and only then getting into competitive matches.
Communication is key in the game, especially in a chaotic title such as Apex Legends. Hence, Respawn has introduced a new ping system to all the ports, and thankfully, it has been added to Apex Legends Mobile as well. With this, you can mark enemies, weapons, health items, and ammo among other things. The ping system uses your selected Legends’ voice to mark the items, similar to the original. This comes in handy, whenever you don’t have a microphone at your disposal. Talking about microphones, Apex Legends Mobile introduces global chat along with squad chat — this is something that was missing in the PC and console versions.
Gamers accustomed to the Apex Legends gameplay mechanism will be happy to know that the mobile version sticks true to its source. Of course, there are some revisions and additions done to the game to suit mobile devices, but that does not hinder your gaming experience. Jumping into a game gives you the same feeling as on PC. I enjoyed my time running around popular locations in Kings Canyon and World’s Edge. Gunplay in Apex Legends is also quite good and with the help of aim assist — which I feel is a bit too aggressive — wiping squads feels within reach. The game also shows you footsteps and bullet icons when an enemy is closer to you — similar to what we have already seen on Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. The graphics are also polished and the game gives you a couple of presets to choose from depending on your device.
Apex Legends Mobile also brings along the Battle Pass — from the original game — with cosmetic rewards up to Level 50. You can also unlock skydiving emotes, emoji packs, and skydive trails. Though I noticed that skydive emotes do not have any audio cues to them, like the ones on the original. I hope it’s just a bug, one that will be fixed in an update.
The game has also switched crafting metals with Flux, but both have the same use. In Apex Legends Mobile, you can use Flux to craft new skins for your Legend, weapons and also to unlock new banners, trackers, and emotes.
Apex Legends Mobile also follows the same ranking system as the PC/ console version with your rank starting from Iron and going all the way to Predator. However, the season will only last for two months which is a month short in comparison with the original.
Apex Legends Mobile review: maps and game modes
There are a lot of ways to spend your time in the game, be it solo or with a friend. You can hop into a Battle Royale game or a Ranked Match. Apex Legends Mobile also has other multiplayer modes such as TDM and Arenas. It also offers Free Practice and Battle Royale Event that consists of Armed and Dangerous, Quick Battle, and Flashpoint modes.
Apex Legends Mobile offers two perspective modes: first-person perspective (FPP) and third-person perspective (TPP) — the latter was introduced in the PC/console version as a one-time mode, and it felt awkward playing that. However, this is not the case with the mobile version. This might go back to my days of playing PUBG Mobile in TPP mode, but I feel it looks comical seeing Octane run for his life in TPP. The game allows you to switch between FPP and TPP, but only if you have entered the game in the latter mode.
And since Apex Legends Mobile is not only targeting players who are already part of this universe, but also trying to attract a fresh crowd, Respawn has laid out a few training and tutorial modes that are quite useful for first-timers. The “Advanced” training level consists of Climbing Exercise, Obstacle Chase, and Weapons 101. It also offers Weekly challenges just for completing training. The game also has a reward system for daily logins, and for finishing menial tasks in-game.
Apex Legends Mobile review: new additions
While the game is quite similar to the original, Apex Legends Mobile has tried its best to bring in something unique for smartphone gamers. This starts with the mobile-first Legend, Fade — Phasing Punisher — who is close friends with the Void, somewhat similar to Wraith. Fade’s passive ability gives you a speed boost, thanks to the thrusters on his back, at the end of a slide. This power comes with a 10-second cooldown.
As for the tactical ability — Flashback — Fade can go back to where he was a while ago. I found this useful, whenever I was stuck between multiple squad fights. This has a 20-second cooldown. The final nail in the coffin is Fade’s ultimate ability — it’s called Phase Chamber, and it drops a cage, with all trapped players being thrown into the Void. It has a 90-second cooldown on Apex Legends Mobile. Playing with Fade was fun, and you can use the ultimate to run from a fight or take an aggressive angle against your enemy. But choose wisely.
Besides that, Apex Legends Mobile has also introduced Legend progression. With this, you can set up loadouts for each Legend. The setup consists of three slots — Perks, Finishers, and Ability. Each slot can have one extra superpower. For example, Octane can use his finisher on an opponent to add 100 damage to his EVO Shield’s level. To unlock these superpowers, you’ll need Legend tokens that can be earned by playing and winning games. These abilities can only be used in casual Battle Royale mode, and are not available in Ranked matches.
Apex Legends Mobile looks and feels a lot like the PC/ console version, with a lot of similarities and a few differentiating factors. New introductions such as Legend progression and the introduction of Fade show that Respawn is keen on bringing something unique to the table. But the main question still looms, how will it fare against the masters of mobile battle royale games, BGMI, New State Mobile, PUBG Mobile, and Call of Duty: Mobile?
- Similar to Apex Legends
- Mobile-first Legend is a good initiative
- Unique additions set game apart
- Good graphics and control layouts
- Reward system keeps you coming for more
- Not all Legends have been ported yet
- Couple of maps are still missing at launch
- Can be a bit overwhelming for new players
- Eats up a lot of phone storage
Rating (out of 10): 8
Apex Legends Mobile releases Tuesday, May 17 on Android and iOS.