Apex Legends Mobile Review – Pocket-Sized Royale

Apex Legends has gone pocket-sized with Apex Legends Mobile, an entirely separate version of the battle royale game for Android and iOS devices. Apex Legends Mobile is quite different from its older sibling, featuring a unique roster, maps, modes, and progression track–some of which unfortunately detract from the overall experience. However, Apex Legends Mobile streamlines the process of playing a battle royale to create a fairly rewarding experience that’s fun to play.

Apex Legends Mobile is a battle royale game first and foremost. You and your squadmates pick from a roster of hero characters called “legends,” before then dropping onto a map. To win, you need to loot supplies and weapons, escape the encroaching energy wall that slowly corrals squads into an ever-dwindling space, and be the last team standing. When you fall in battle, your allies can grab your banner from the deathbox you leave behind and respawn you, keeping the whole team in the fight.

There’s a satisfying heft to shooting and smoothness to movement, and the unique strengths and weaknesses of each playable legend encourage teams to stay and work together. Color-coded attachments and ammo types ensure the momentum of the match is constantly moving forward–at a glance, you know whether a pile of loot contains anything you might want or need–so you aren’t wasting time navigating menus and can get back to the action.

All of this, of course, is directly pulled from the already superb Apex Legends. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it.

The game features two other modes beyond battle royale: Arenas and Team Deathmatch. Arenas is a 3v3 mode in which teams compete in a collection of rounds where items, legend abilities, and weapons need to be purchased with currency at the start of every match. Arenas offers a much higher skill threshold than the standard battle royale mode, as there are no respawns. TDM, meanwhile, is far more approachable, putting players into 6v6 matches where you can change your weapon or legend whenever, with infinite respawns.

Arenas is great. TDM isn’t. Arenas leans into why the battle royale’s combat is so compelling: Teams have to work together, intelligently using their firearms, abilities, and knowledge of the map to plan an attack, execute, and adapt if necessary. None of that exists in TDM, which is your standard mindless shoot-’em-up game mode seen in practically every shooter–it lacks the same uniqueness and brand of flavor Respawn has captured in Arenas and battle royale. Even as an on-ramp for new players, the mode is not compelling, since TDM has to be unlocked and you’ll likely have a few hours under your belt by the time you do. And with a firing range and non-ranked playlists, TDM isn’t an ideal warm-up mode either.

Apex Legends Mobile offers rewards to players in a number of tracks. Daily and weekly challenges are available to further your progression in both the free and premium tiers of a battle pass, experience points earned by playing the game contribute to your player level, Apex Packs unlock cosmetics for legends and weapons, and there is also the perk system.

All those different types of progression are a lot to keep track of, but it ensures that you’re often earning something or working towards unlocking some sort of reward with every match you play. Most of it is your typical live-service game fare and provides a compelling enough reason to turn on the game every day and play a quick match or two, though the perk system, in particular, presents an interesting twist.

In Apex Legends Mobile, playing as a certain legend nets you points towards unlocking unique perks for them, allowing you to further customize a character to fit your ideal playstyle. You can make the speed demon Octane even more difficult to catch by equipping the ¡Vámanos! perk, for example, which gives him a speed boost if his armor is ever shattered, or dabble in a riskier playstyle with his Stunt Mode perk, which changes his Stim so it can be toggled on and off–allowing you to maintain your enhanced speed at the cost of constantly losing health.

Each character can only be equipped with three of these perks at a time, and they’re divided into categories to prevent any unfair combinations from forming (at least, from what I’ve seen). The system adds a welcome complexity to every character in Apex Legends Mobile–none of these perks can fundamentally alter a legend’s place in the meta, but they do add fun considerations in every match. Plus, perks ensure you’re still feeling a sense of progression and variety even if you’re only playing with the same two or three characters.

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