by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist
Published in Gaming on 18th February, 2019
Everything you need to know about each playable character available in the latest Battle Royale hit, Apex Legends.
Apex legends came out just last week and the game already amassed crazy numbers. It managed to achieve 1 million players in just 24 hours, then it had 10 million players and 1 million concurrent players after just a couple of days and its Twitch numbers are still through the roof.
At the moment of this writing (its noon in Europe) the game has 185 thousand viewers, which is insane for this time of day! Anyway, the game is another huge Battle Royale hit, mostly because it comes superbly polished and maximally optimized.
The game just works and that's something we have yet to see on a regular basis when it comes to AAA multiplayer titles. Another reason for Apex Legends' huge popularity is the fact that the game is a blast to play and watch. Each match is filled with shootouts, idle time is reduced to the minimum and the action looks superb. And the final reason for the massive following Apex Legends achieved in little more than a week is the fact that the game introduces a bit of fresh air in tried and true Battle Royale formula.
The biggest novelty seen in Apex Legends is probably the game's cast of unique characters, each with their own special skills and abilities. This hero shooter feature gives the game something unique that makes it a tad bit different from other Battle Royale titles. And since Apex Legends can only be played in teams of three, the hero shooter formula makes each team unique and with its own strengths and weaknesses.
There are eight heroes in total, and today we will cover each one, their active and passive skills, their usability, and the overall power of each character. And these skills and abilities are all that separate different characters. Their HP is the same and they all move at the same speed, even though some characters' animations look slower than others. Nevertheless, active and passive skills make a noticeable difference and each character comes with their own unique play style.
But even though there are some abilities and ultimates that are noticeably stronger than others there's simply no characters that can be called overpowered. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and their abilities can be powerful if used in combination with other abilities or during specific situations.
While Apex Legends doesn't have a single OP character it is noticeable that some of them are less popular than others. But overall, I've seen teams with all kinds of character combinations and sometimes you can be surprised how potent some character combinations are. The good thing is that Respawn created a rooster that's excellently balanced from day one, something we don't see very often (or at all) in multiplayer games.
I just hope that future characters won't be OP and that Respawn will continue to have this perfect balance that's present in Apex Legends at the moment. Anyway, let's talk a bit about every playable character found in Apex Legends.
Tactical Ability: Smoke Launcher - Fire a high-velocity smoke canister that explodes into a smoke wall on impact.
Passive Ability: Double Time - Taking fire while sprinting makes you move faster for a brief time.
Ultimate Ability: Rolling Thunder - Call in an artillery strike that slowly creeps across the landscape.
Bangalore is a classic soldier archetype. Her passive ability can be a godsend when your team has to move over open space and combined with the sliding mechanic, Double Time can make you practically invulnerable for a couple of seconds. Next, we have Bangalore's tactical ability that doesn't look as super powerful but being able to launch a smoke grenade a couple of times each minute can be really useful.
You can cloak yourself and your teammates while reviving a downed member of your team, or when using health packs or shield recharges. Bangalore can make herself invisible when shot at, or create a wall between her team and enemies.
There are huge number of possibilities when Smoke Launcher can be useful, making Bangalore a worthy member of every team. Finally, the ultimate ability (Rolling Thunder) is useful when you want to direct enemies on a specific path, a path booby-trapped by Caustic's toxic grenades or further down a bottleneck where they can become easy pretty to Gibraltar's mortar shot.
Rolling Thunder is also great for keeping your distance from enemies, or creating a loud and shiny ruse so you and your team can escape from a fight you cannot win. While Bangalore isn't a must have character, her abilities are great when combined with other characters' specials.
Tactical Ability: Eye of the Allfather - Briefly reveal hidden enemies, traps, and clues throughout structures in front of you.
Passive Ability: Tracker - See tracks left behind by your foes.
Ultimate Ability: Beast of the Hunt - Enhances your senses, allowing you move faster and highlighting your prey.
Bloodhound is a master hunter and their abilities reflect that fact. Bloodhound's passive ability allows them to find tracks left by enemies, alerting teammates that someone already visited their loot location, making them aware that an enemy can start shooting any time, and simply letting them know to be aware that there could be some action ahead.
Then we have the Tracker ability that is basically a radar pulse that paints any enemy caught inside its radius. The ping simply marks an enemy's location, it doesn't track enemies. But even a stationary ping gives you and your team an edge over opponents.
Tracker is extra useful because it can be used multiple times per minute, which is great for a game where movement is everything and where knowledge about the enemy location can mean the difference between a victory and a defeat. And Beast of the Hunt, Bloodhound's ultimate, is amazing to use when advancing on enemy team's position or when trying to defend inside a building.
The ultimate turns Bloodhound into an instant spotter, marking enemies red and tracking their movement. It also removes colors from the game and marks all tracks bright white allowing your team to track enemy movement for almost a minute. Both passive and active abilities make Bloodhound one of the most useful characters found in Apex Legends. You can be sure that you'll see teams with Bloodhound pretty often because having multiple abilities that track and ping enemies is worth its weight in gold in Apex Legends.
Tactical Ability: Nox Gas Trap - Drop canisters that release deadly Nox gas when shot or triggered by enemies.
Passive Ability: Nox Vision - Allows you to see enemies through your gas.
Ultimate Ability: Nox Gas Grenade - Blankets a large area in Nox gas.
Caustic is one of the two heroes that are locked, but you can unlock him by playing the game for a couple of hours. Once unlocked Caustic can be a great support hero because his abilities are remarkable when combined with other heroes' powers.
Nox Gas Trap is a great trap that can be devastating when launched along with Bangalore's Rolling Thunder and Nox Gas Grenade combined with Rolling Thunder is a perfect deterrent for any team foolish enough to step into your team territory.
Gas Trap is also great as an alarm that notifies you and other team members when someone enters the building occupied by your team or for arming a bottleneck that has to be used when trying to reach your location. Passive ability isn't really useful on its own but is a nice thing to have when you actually have enemies trapped inside a giant gas cloud, allowing you to pick them one by one while they are searching for a breath of fresh air.
Tactical Ability: Dome of Protection - Throw down a dome-shield that blocks attacks for 15 seconds.
Passive Ability: Gun Shield - Aiming down sights deploys a gun shield that blocks incoming fire.
Ultimate Ability: Defensive Bombardment - Call in a concentrated mortar strike on a marked position.
Gibraltar is a classic tank character. He's filled with defensive abilities that make him great for breaches and as the first team member to get inside every building. His passive skill makes him virtually invulnerable while aiming down sights, at least for a couple of seconds before enemies figure out they shouldn't aim for his head.
The Gun Shield makes Gibraltar as powerful as the old version of Blackbeard from Rainbow Six Siege (before his shield got nerfed multiple times) and the best character for entering buildings. The gun shield is also great for shooting at enemies while behind cover, making you extremely hard to hit and forcing enemies to flank your position, leading them right into Caustic's Gas Trap or into your teammates' barrels filled with lead.
Next, we have Dome of Protection which blocks both incoming and outgoing projectiles. Logical because otherwise, this ability would definitely become super OP.
But even with blocking shots fired by the person inside the shield it can be used for reviving teammates, for keeping you safe while you heal or recharge your shield, and as an instant shielding in situations when you don't know the source of incoming fire.
And finally, we have the potent Defensive Bombardment that can be used both as a defensive (especially when combined with Rolling Thunder) and attacking ability when you need to clear a particular are from enemies or when you want to make the enemy team spread across a larger area. With skills so potent Gibraltar is another Apex Legend that can find his place in lots of fire teams.
Tactical Ability: D.O.C. Heal Drone - Call your Drone of Compassion to automatically heal nearby teammates over time.
Passive Ability: Combat Medic - Revive knocked down teammates faster while protected by a shield wall. Healing items are used 25% faster.
Ultimate Ability: Care Package - Call in a drop pod full of high-quality defensive gear.
Lifeline is the only healer found in Apex Legends which makes her extremely popular. Lifeline is, along with Bloodhound, the character I met the most; virtually every team I fought against had her as a healer.
That's understandable because she packs an extremely useful set of skills. Her passive ability is useful to every team. The automatic shield deployed when reviving a teammate along with faster revival is invaluable when you need to revive someone in the heat of battle. Next, we have the healing drone that's incredible to have during every shootout. The drone heals pretty quickly and he represents another potential target for enemies to shoot at, making the ability superb addition to every team.
And the ultimate ability can give your teammates the best shields and helmets (which are immensely powerful since they can be recharged) along with some health packs and other defensive items that can be potential game winners. And the best thing is that the Care Package can be used multiple times per match, potentially equipping the whole team with the most powerful shields and helmets and lots of healing items.
If you don't know which character to pick and Lifeline is available pick her because she is a character that simply works in every single team.
Tactical Ability: Psyche Out - Send out a holographic decoy to confuse the enemy.
Passive Ability: Encore! - Automatically drop a decoy and cloak for five seconds when knocked down.
Ultimate Ability: Vanishing Act - Deploy a team of Decoys to distract enemies while you cloak.
Mirage is the second locked character in Apex Legends and he carries some interesting abilities that are great for creating ruses and for escaping from dangerous moments unharmed.
His tactical ability is great for checking out whether or not someone will start shooting inside the building in front of you or after the next corner. Combined with Bloodhound's Eye of the Allfather, it can be used for confusing and luring enemies, giving your teammates a couple of seconds to shoot and kill the scanned enemy while they are shooting at your decoy. Solid ability with lots of potential uses.
Passive skill isn't really helpful but can be valuable when your teammates eliminate enemies, or simply to confuse them. And the ultimate is amazing when combined with Bangalore's smoke grenade for confusing enemies, allowing your team to flank them or for situations where you need to disappear fast. Just go around the corner and activate Vanishing Act and the enemy that's shooting at you wouldn't have a clue about your escape route.
Mirage isn't a character for newcomers and is best when combined with other characters that have skills that can be combined with his own. The best place for Mirage is in a team made of friends who always communicate and know how to cooperate efficiently.
Tactical Ability: Grappling Hook - Grapple to get to out-of-reach places quickly.
Passive Ability: Insider Knowledge - Scan a survey beacon to reveal the ring's next location.
Ultimate Ability: Zipline Gun - Create a zipline for everyone to use.
He looks cool, he's a robot and his voice lines can be hilarious. Aside from being funny and witty Pathfinder can expand your team's mobility and allow you to escape from any situation. But unfortunately, his passive ability is practically useless.
The thing is, Apex Legends allow players to move at a stunning pace and ring is pretty wide during the first couple of phases thus making knowledge about its next location not really useful.
It can only be helpful during later stages when it can be nice to know where the small ring will be located after it shrinks. On the other side, Grappling Hook is an amazing ability to have. You can escape any firefight, grapple to enemies and kill them with a shotgun while flying towards them; you can use the grappling hook to reach gear canisters and care packages instantaneously, and more.
Overall, the Grappling Hook is extremely enjoyable to use and one of the best tactical abilities in Apex Legends.
The Zipline Gun is great because it allows every team member to use a zipline that can help them to cross wide coverless areas or to reach locations that are too above to be reached by wall climbing. Zipline is a great tool for improving your team' mobility and as the match progresses it becomes more and more useful. But ultimately Pathfinder isn't really a popular character.
His passive ability is useless in most situations and his ultimate is great for when you need an air bridge but lousy when you need something to keep enemies away or to find them when they start shooting at you.
Tactical Ability: Into the Void - Reposition quickly through the safety of void space, avoiding all damage.
Passive Ability: Voices from the Void - A voice warns you when danger approaches. As far as you can tell, it's on your side.
Ultimate Ability: Dimensional Rift - Link two locations with portals for 60 seconds, allowing your entire team to use them.
Wraith is an interesting character that uses the void to help her move while being practically invincible and to create portals that can be extremely helpful to the whole team.
But first, let's talk about Voices from the Void. In theory, this is a perfect passive ability. You actually start hearing voices the moment an enemy is in your vicinity. In reality, the passive ability is extremely subtle and for using it you simply have to wear headphones. I couldn't hear the voice while playing the game with speakers turned on but with headphones, you are able to hear this (extremely) silent voice that can warn you about any incoming danger.
She also can walk through the void, which is a great tool for escaping firefights. But it can also be used for scouting buildings because you know, enemies can't hurt you while you are walking the Void.
And the ultimate is great for creating portals that lead to enemies' flank (you simply use Into the Void to go behind enemies and then you place the second portal) or be used to ruse enemies into thinking that you'll attack them from the portal while in reality, you come at them from a different angle. An interesting character that is used pretty frequently, Wraith has abilities that, when used properly, can be of invaluable help to every team.