Apex Legends vs. Fortnite
Since I am still basking in the glow of my PS4 Pro honeymoon phase, I thought I might throw out my thoughts on a slowly brewing competition between two popular player-versus-player games: Fortnite and Apex Legends.
There are only two reasons you haven’t heard of these games. One, you don’t own a console or PC equipped for gaming, or two, you’re sleeping on ‘em. Get in the loop and have a great time bonding with friends or honing your first-person shooter skills with millions of players around the world.
Before we delve into a direct comparison, here’s a little background on Apex Legends and Fortnite. Both games are exploration-based first-person shooters with the same basic formula: customize, battle, rank up, repeat. Each game revolves around battle seasons, rankings, and rewards. You select a character to play as, ready up to enter the online battlefield, and parachute out over hand-crafted maps to explore the regions below while battling your enemies. Your primary goal is to be the last person (or team) standing at the end of the match, but each game offers secondary goals for players of all skill levels to increase their ranking.
Although Fortnite and Apex Legends have the same basic set-up and match goals, there are quite a few differences between them that affect game play and determine which game you’ll end up playing in the moment. Despite such similar set-ups and goals, the elements that make you love one game represent the downfalls of the other.
The Freedom of Choice
Since Fortnite has swept the world (old and young) with its catchy dance moves, quirky characters, and plethora of challenges, map updates, and whimsical weapons, I’ll start with its top highlights. Number one on the list has got to be the variety of gameplay options. You can play team-based versions of capture the flag (Food Fight mode) with 100 people, battle with 3 of your besties against 24 other squads, or go it alone for the glory of a 99-player take down. These are only a few of the standard gameplay options available to players. New gameplay options come out regularly to peak interest and encourage gamers to hone a specific skill, be it sniping or close range combat. The most recent addition has been the launch of the “Creative Mode” which allows players to host an island where they and their friends can build structures and cities to battle on. This new mode gives me serious Halo forge flashbacks, but for the low, low price of $0 as compared to $60.
Apex Legends offers variety of opportunities for players to level up and receive Apex packs, even though it doesn’t offer the full gamut of game modes available in Fortnite. You are still able to test your survival skills by outrunning the circle/storm and making use of existing bunkers and buildings while proving your offensive prowess with total kills and damage dealt, but you’re not able to shake things up in terms of missions or gameplay. You are either learning each character’s specialty abilities in training or playing on a three-person squad in a giant elimination battle.
Apex Legends tries to make up for lack of gameplay variety by incorporating choice in the form of characters. You can switch up play by choosing from a lineup of characters with three-tier special abilities, including thermal enemy sensing, medical regeneration, hologram traps, and more. Each character automatically begins with a passive ability that is ready to use, a tactical ability that charges up every 20-30 seconds, and an ultimate ability that can really make or break team success.
There are currently nine characters (with the introduction of Octane this month) to choose from. You only have access to six until you have enough points to unlock the last three. Since you are on a team of three, which takes turns selecting your characters, you have a multitude of team combinations that can spice up gameplay. Personally, I prefer to play as Lifeline or Pathfinder since my offensive game isn’t always as strong as my survival or team skills are. That said, Gibraltar has the amazing “Defensive Bombardment” ultimate ability that can be a real team-saver in the midst of an all-out brawl. His powers are reminiscent of rewards you’d get after a kill streak in Call of Duty.
Overall, I am impressed with the range of characters and abilities offered in Apex Legends, especially after comparing them to the purely superficial characters in Fortnite that are mostly used for entertainment and status purposes.
Friends and Foes
Fortnite’s second strong suit has got to be its appeal to such a diverse crowd of gamers. Sure you have older gamers and younger gamers, but you also have players with a wide range of skills playing together and having comparable success. The scaffolded success is thanks to the multi-layered ranking system that considers your offensive skills (i.e. eliminations), your defensive skills (i.e. building and surviving), and your commitment to completing weekly and daily challenges (i.e. scavenger hunts, riddles, number of matches completed, etc.).
Fortnite offers weekly challenges throughout the 10-week battle pass season (available to players who buy in for $9.99), daily challenges, and themed seasonal challenges, which offer players a chance to unlock different characters, outfits, dance moves, and XP (experience points) bonus boosts. I am confident that even the most novice player will find success within at least one niche of the game or another. You may be the quickest builder on your team — saving your teammates from heavy fire at the drop of the hat — or you may be the stealthiest player — capable of outlasting all enemy teams and raising your squad’s ranking — or you may be the best shot — taking out enemies and raising your skill level and battle tier in the process.
A more mature set of gamers seems to be attracted to Apex Legends. I think this is partially due to the fact that the game is more technical in terms of controls and action commands. Players must negotiate between verbalizing pre-set cues to teammates, organizing a smaller and less intuitive backpack system (you don’t want to be caught in a shootout with a carbine rifle and only energy ammo), “pinging” nearby enemies and supplies, performing melee commands, and utilizing specialty commands. This game feels more similar to Call of Duty than to Fortnite, and its audience reflects that.
Without a crowd of team-oriented, skilled players you aren’t likely to make it to the end of a match. Even if you aren’t all offensive all-stars, you can still benefit from a teammate’s penchant for group revival and commitment respawning fallen comrades at obliging beacons. Fortnite promotes teamwork by nature of the game mode while Apex Legends demands teamwork through urgency, increased difficulty, a united mission, and the ability to revive eliminated teammates. This creates more loyal players who don’t quit matches at the drop of a hat because they’re tired of spectating a match they’re no longer invested in.
Gaming ability aside, your choice between Fortnite and Apex Legends is dependent on your mood and capacity for bullshit during your gaming session. You may seek to either embrace the entertainment factor of Fortnite with its goofy, upbeat players, or you may wish to completely avoid the annoying onslaught of children in favor of the more elite gamers found playing Apex Legends. Players are far more annoying on Fortnite. You run into unsupervised children going out of their way to sabotage play, blast shitty music into their mics, or spend the entire match following you around and giving away your position and destroying your barricades. Apex Legends has much less of that, which may be due to the fact that it is less appealing in terms of funny characters, dancing, music, and overall popularity, or because of the increased difficulty that requires a fair bit more skill.
Environment and Maps
Completing my list of Fortnite favorites are the seasonal changes to the map. With each new battle-pass season, the editors and creators strive to add something new and of interest for their players. Because every match of Fortnite, regardless of gameplay mode, is played on the same famous island, it is imperative that improvements and concept changes happen every season. 10 weeks is a long time to be hunting for golden chests and ammo in the same old corners of Wailing Woods or Retail Row! Luckily the past two seasons have really delivered with changes. Gamers got the addition of a winter biome complete with four new destinations in the last season and now have the option to play in a jungle biome complete with a new pirate lagoon to top off the “X marks the spot” theme. It is great to explore the new edges of the world and find out the best sniper spots or where all the loot tends to be hidden. Offering new additions and interactive components keeps everyone interested and coming back to the island for more.
With the dawn of Apex Legend’s own battle pass season, it is hard to predict whether players can expect the same level of novelty and innovation as found with Fortnite designers. So far the Legends map has not changed, and for now that’s okay. Players still have a medium-large map full of buildings, alcoves, and drop pods to become familiar with as they grapple with new controls and weapons. That said, if season two rolls around and players don’t see any additions or changes, gameplay may get stale and push players to seek entertainment elsewhere.
If you’re asking for a cut-and-dry recommendation on which game to invest in, you’ll be hard-pressed to sort concrete facts from personal preferences. More importantly, you’ll miss out on the experiences of two distinct worlds full of entertainment, challenge, creative talent, and generally good communities. With the ability to download both games — for free — from the comfort of your home while simultaneously watching Netflix, why choose one over the other? Have your cake and eat it too. Happy gaming, xo S