With so many games aiming to dislodge Fortnite from its Battle Royale perch, few have the feeling of being closer than Apex Legends. Respawn's reputation for superb shooting and player movement, a nice class-based twist and free play ensured that the game reached a million unique players within eight hours of the start.
There's a saying, "You do not know what you have until it's gone," and Fortnite has lost it where it matters – at least from Epic's point of view. Revenues for the second quarter of 2018 compared to 2019 declined significantly year-on-year by 52 percent, while the peak of the game in 2018 was almost 75 percent higher than in the last quarter. Was the king beaten off the pedestal by this young upstart?
It's hard to see an EA-backed game as David fighting Goliath, but given the meteoric rise of Fortnite and the full penetration of mainstream culture, it seems the Juggernaut publishing house is still aiming with its slingshot.
However, it could get worse before it gets better as Apex Legends makes the one move Fortnite has apparently been tiptoeing for an eternity – the introduction of a new card.
Battle Royale is a strange genre. It is based on high-player matches designed exclusively for multiplayer competition. This means that you theoretically play the same matches over and over again – but always with new rulesets or slightly modified weapons.
All this means that it can be understandably boring if you find yourself on the same map dozens of times each day (and watch your favorite streamer do the same). There's only so much enthusiasm for Tilted Towers, whether it's the neo version or not.
Fortnite has reinvented its map almost constantly from the beginning of each new season, but many changes are small. Since anything with a pickaxe is reasonably destructible (or at least recoverable), it seems like these little changes lack any consistency or strategic reinforcement – they almost feel like a box.
There were also more impressive changes. Fortnite's addition of Creative Mode was a stroke of genius – a set of tools that allowed an enthusiastic community to bow to their will, redesign games, and create entirely new game modes, It's fun to see fan products on the Battle Royale map as The Block is fun, but it's a small piece of a very large map that lacks significant innovation.
Standing on the edge of the world
On the other hand, Apex Legends may lack the visual identity of Fortnite's almost toy-like villages and structures – Kings Canyon is sandy, dry and downright brown The color palette certainly does not feel very inspired – but the buildings can not be converted into materials that can be used to build new ones. Instead, every combat diorama feels intentionally. The entire map feels like a patchwork of deathmatch cards sewn together by line of sight and kill boxes.
Of course, the focus of Apex Legends on verticality should not be underestimated either. The game feels built with player movement in mind, and slipping down is not just an option, it's actively promoted – right out of the game's tutorial. There are ziplines, no crash damage, and even stations where teams can relocate relatively easily on the map. With Kings Canyon leaving the rotation at the beginning of season three, all of these abilities and entertaining travel opportunities are expected to play an important role in the new World Edge map, especially given the location of the site on a cliff.
This adds extra depth, takes into account environmental hazards like molten lava and rejuvenates the aforementioned matte aesthetics. There is even a traditional reason for the change, as the syndicate managing the Apex Legends tournament will change country settings after the schedule for building Kings Canyon has not been met. It's minor and does not affect the gameplay in the least, but it's a nice little thing that feels elaborate.
Of course, there are rumors that Epic is preparing its own card exchange. It even looks like the Battle Bus, the former way to jump into a match, is retiring at the end of the current tenth season. Fortnite was never afraid to mess things up in other areas, and notoriously added planes and 'Mechs in Squadrons 7 and 10, but both were beaten by the game's most competitive players.
It's clear that Fortnite's next step could be huge. A false tweak or lack of significant variations on its battlefield, and it could potentially lose more than just revenue – and a Battle Royale player with bleeding is never a good thing.
The price written on this page is true as the time it is written. It may change at any moment.