Steam’s New Sale Has A Rewards Booth That Can Save You More Money

Valve has announced that the annual Steam Lunar New Year Sale is once again live. This year, there’s also a Rewards Booth, where you can redeem tokens to unlock limited-time awards.

You’ll get a certain amount of tokens based on previous Steam purchases you’ve made, which can be unlocked by logging into your account and opening your red envelope. In order to unlock more tokens, you’ll need to shop for games during the Lunar New Year Sale. Every $1 USD you spend for yourself nets you 100 tokens, while every $1 USD you spend on games that you gift to a friend gets you 111 tokens. These tokens disappear at the end of the Lunar New Year Sale, so any that you haven’t spent by February 12 at 10AM PT / 1PM ET / 6PM UK are gone for good.

There are three different types of rewards you can trade in tokens for, with the Premium rewards being the most pricey. The cheapest Premium reward is 2,000 tokens, and it’s a limited-time badge for your Steam profile. You can also spend 4,000 tokens and cause your profile to “go gold” for the rest of the Lunar New Year Sale, which can be extended to next month for another 12,000 tokens. For 15,000 tokens, you can unlock a $5 discount on your next Steam purchase–whether it’s during the sale or later.

During the Lunar New Year Sale, you can unlock several smaller rewards as well. In the Rewards Booth, you can unlock three different profile backgrounds–Courtyard, Market, and Firecrackers–each for 1,000 tokens. In honor of it being the Year of the Pig, you can also unlock 12 different chat emoticons that are all pig themed–each for 100 tokens.

During the Lunar New Year Sale, Steam is offering a $5 discount on your first purchase of $30 or more–which is different from the Rewards Booth discount mentioned earlier. As is usual for a Steam sale, you can find some pretty substantial deals on dozens of games, both indie and triple-A. Far Cry 5 has been discounted to $15 for example, with Nioh: Complete Edition going down to $25, Life is Strange 2 to $4, and Overcooked 2 to $19.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends Battle Royale Gameplay Live

The creators of Titanfall have made a new battle royale called Apex Legends which is now available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Source: GameSpot.com

Respawn’s Apex Legends Has Loot Boxes — How Monetization Works

Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment’s entry into the battle royale genre, Apex Legends, is taking a page from the massive success of Fortnite: make your game free. The new title launched as a free-to-play game on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and looks to make its money by selling in-game items to players. It’s a model similar to the one that has made huge amounts of cash for Fortnite developer Epic Games, but which is also fraught with the peril. Free-to-play can make all kinds of cash–but it can also alienate players and kill games altogether.

Free-to-play games often carry a stigma because many fall into the trap of providing the paying customers with legs up over those who don’t choose to buy in or can’t afford to pay as much. At a recent preview event in Los Angeles at which Respawn showed off Apex Legends ahead of its launch, project lead Drew McCoy said the developer has been very cautious about its monetization choices, using lessons learned from its last game, Titanfall 2. You can spend money in Apex Legends, but like in Fortnite and similar titles, you can only ever buy cosmetic items and skins that change how your characters and weapons look–McCoy said you’ll be able to pay to look good, but never pay to win.

“A lot of the team was really skeptical early on that we were going to be doing dirty things or stuff that felt scummy,” McCoy said. “It was important to us that we did things that felt fair, that felt like Respawn. …We looked at other games, we did research with the first parties [developers] across other EA games, for what really drives people from a fun perspective without hurting the game from feeling like you’re being nickel-and-dimed.”

No Caption Provided

While Respawn experimented with some monetization efforts like cosmetic items during the post-launch period of Titanfall 2, the team also hired a product manager who previously worked on Riot Games’ free-to-play powerhouse League of Legends to make sure they were getting it right.

But McCoy also noted that Apex Legends includes a particular free-to-play element that has generated a lot of ire: loot boxes. McCoy said the developers have taken steps to make loot boxes fair to the players who choose to buy them. Respawn publishes the drop rates for its loot boxes both in the in-game store and on its website, so players know what the chances are of getting the best stuff. You’re guaranteed at least a mid-tier “rare” item or better in each pack, and they don’t dish out duplicates of items you already have. There’s also “bad luck protection,” McCoy said, to keep you from buying lots of loot boxes and never getting lucky enough to acquire some of the game’s best stuff. During the preview, the store said that players are guaranteed at least one legendary item, Apex Legends’ rarest, for every 30 loot boxes they open.

Apex Legends also includes other ways to spend money outside of loot boxes. There’s an in-game store with a rotating inventory where you can purchase some items directly, and like Fortnite, Apex Legends will offer a “battle pass,” a flat fee that lets you unlock more cosmetic items as you play. Finally, you’ll be able to buy Legends, the game’s playable characters. Six of the game’s eight characters are available off the bat, and two more can be unlocked either with premium currency you pay for, or by earning in-game currency by playing.

“We have been very diligent about making sure that the characters, the Legends, play differently–not better,” McCoy said. “So the more cautious among the community would probably say, ‘Oh, you’re going to make the new ones more powerful for a little while if people buy them.’ That’s absolutely not our intention.”

McCoy said one of the ways Respawn hopes to stand apart from other battle royale games is in its dedication to care and balancing when introducing new elements to the game, to preserve its integrity as a competition. It doesn’t want to add a new gun or character to Apex Legends, only to have to immediately roll it back because of unforeseen consequences. A big part of that approach is gathering and analyzing data to see how people are playing the game and using its elements to make sure they’re balanced. While the characters in Apex Legends offer different abilities, McCoy said it’s essential that none are more or less powerful than the others, and Respawn is putting a lot of its efforts into making sure that’s true.

Respawn’s publisher, Electronic Arts, has run afoul of scummy-feeling monetization schemes in that department before. It was the trouble in Star Wars: Battlefront II, developed by DICE and published by EA. Before a last-minute change, the game was set to use loot boxes to hand out strong, useful weapons and items, and offered players powerful new characters they could purchase with real money. You could earn loot boxes and in-game currency to buy characters just by playing, but people willing to pay more into the game would obtain the better stuff faster and get ahead of the competition.

No Caption Provided

“We’ve seen from games like Battlefront II, how much paying for any kind of advantage is so bad,” McCoy said. “I actually think that Battlefront is a really good game mechanically, and they did a lot of great things and it got overshadowed by some of those choices, but it’s a really good spotlight to shine on why those kind of systems are so problematic.”

You can’t buy everything with in-game currency you’ll earn for free, McCoy admitted, and he expects some people still will be turned off by the game’s loot boxes. But Respawn is trying to make players feel like they get a lot for their money if they do pay, and like they’re rewarded for their time even if they don’t, he said.

“We just hope that you find a large-enough player base that likes what we’ve built and wants to show off and decides to spend some money in the game,” he said. “But if not, free players who spend their time are just as important to us. We take that very seriously. Time and money are the two most precious things in any humans life. And in fact, they’re choosing to spend either of them with us is incredibly important to us.”

Check out our early impressions of Apex Legends from its preview event, and stay tuned for our full review in the next few days.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends First Gameplay Impressions: Respawn’s Biggest Innovation Is Making Teamwork Easier

First, the pertinent information: Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment’s newest game is Apex Legends, a free-to-play first-person battle royale shooter set to take on the likes of Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode. It’s also already available–you can download it on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 right now.

So no, it’s not a new Titanfall game, although Apex Legends shares some DNA with Titanfall 2, Respawn’s excellent 2017 shooter, and is set in the same universe, 30 years after that game. And yes, it’s an entry into the battle royale genre, one that is both dominated by its own titans–specifically Fortnite–and getting crowded with small-scale spins on the formula and trend-chasing also-rans. Apex Legends has a lot in common with the looming figures in the battle royale landscape but with some key differences and improvements, like the addition of specific characters and roles and an emphasis on team play, that Respawn hopes will make the game stand out. Respawn gave GameSpot an early look at Apex Legends at a preview event in Los Angeles, where we played about seven hours of the game and got a feel for what Respawn’s battle royale has to offer.

Apex Legends stands apart by putting all its focus on perfecting the team version of battle royale. It eschews the single-player 1-versus-100 style that Fortnite, Call of Duty, and PUBG all support, instead pitting 20 three-player squads against each other in every match. This is a battle royale game in which just about everything is built around getting you to think about and work together with your squad.

No Caption ProvidedGallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Defining Your Legend

It starts with what is Apex Legends’ biggest change to the formula: the inclusion of a set of characters you choose from at the outset of each match. As in Overwatch or Rainbow Six Siege, each of the game’s eight “Legends” has their own unique abilities (with several borrowed from Titanfall 2), and only one can be in a squad at a time.

Each of the characters you can choose from at the start of a match has one passive ability, a “tactical” ability you can activate with a button press and which runs on a cooldown, and an ultimate ability that charges up much more slowly. Passives include increased run speed when under fire or a shield that protects you while you’re reviving a teammate, while tacticals are things like deploying a smoke grenade for cover, dropping a dome shield, or the ability to become briefly invisible and invulnerable.

The same is true with ultimates–one character, Gibraltar, can call in an air strike on a position, while Wraith opens up portals between two locations that teammates can use, and the medic Lifeline can call down a care package to a specific location. The core of battle royale–dropping into a huge space with nothing and quickly trying to find guns, ammo, and items that will help you survive and take down other squads–remains, but each of the character’s capabilities, when combined with that of their teammates, lead to variable strategies.

Nonverbal Communication

Abilities are important at key points, but moment-to-moment teamwork is defined by the ping system, a robust way for you to communicate with your teammates even without talking to them. Apex Legends has a dedicated button that lets you call out points of interest to your squad, creating indicators that appear on their screens and messages from your character they can hear. Pings are contextual, so what you’re aiming at when you use it dictates what’s communicated. Point at a spot in the distance to suggest heading in that direction; point at a piece of loot, and you’ll call out what it is and mark its location for your teammates who might need it. The ping system also has another button dedicated to marking enemy locations–which is amazingly useful, both in the heat of battle and as you move around the map. You can even bring up a wheel of messages to send, like suggesting a location to loot, or pointing out that an area shows signs of activity from another team.

The ping system makes working together easier, while an enhanced revival system means that death is not always the end for teams who play smart. Like in other battle royale games, taking a certain amount of damage knocks you down in Apex Legends, which means you’re out of the fight until a teammate revives you. Enemy players can finish you off to take you out of the match before your revive timers runs out, but it’s still possible for your teammates to bring you back.

The box of your loot that remains when you die contains a special item called a banner card that a teammate can retrieve within a certain amount of time. If they do, they can take the card to one of several special respawn points and call a dropship to bring you back into the match. Returning from the dead means you’re stuck looking for brand-new gear, but it’s better than being out of the game entirely. Respawning teammates adds a whole other strategic layer to matches by making respawn points potential centers for battles, while creating situations where it’s possible for a team to recover from bad luck or a tough fight.

Accessibility Royale

All that emphasis on working together and fulfilling specific roles helps give Apex Legends a different feel from similar games, but a lot of what Respawn brings to the table is quality-of-life improvements to systems that are already pretty ubiquitous to the battle royale genre. Drawing from Titanfall 2, movement in the game is quick and fluid; running and sliding make you nimble, and climbing and mantling just about anything adds a level of verticality. There’s no wall-running, unfortunately–Respawn told us it compromised team dynamics because players would end up too spread apart as they went parkouring around the environment–but Apex Legends still maintains a Titanfall-like degree of fluidity and freedom in its movement that’s refreshing.

It might also be the easiest BR game to understand in terms of how loot functions. A hallmark of the genre, Apex Legends’ map is littered with stuff to pick up, and that means plenty of options of guns, each requiring certain types of ammo and supporting different attachments that can improve their performance. Learning to manage all those items is a big part of battle royale, but Respawn’s interface and mechanics for dealing with all your gear is highly intuitive. Weapons are color-coded to their ammo types, so you know instantly when you see a box of light ammo whether it fits that pistol you just grabbed or the rifle you’re using. Gear rarity is also dictated by color, as in other BR games, but Apex Legends explicitly tells you whether the thing you’re about to pick up is better or worse than what you’re already carrying, and in many cases doesn’t even allow you to pick up gear that would replace stronger items you already have.

The interface also takes the guesswork out of dealing with all the various weapon attachments you can find in the game. When you find a scope or stock that fits your gun, it attaches automatically. Find a better one and the old one is replaced. If you decide to swap one shotgun for another, for example, all the appropriate attachments on the gun you’re discarding are automatically flipped to the new gun. Apex Legends functions so you almost never have to open its inventory screen. If you do pop open your inventory, the game marks items you are carrying but can’t use, like ammo or attachments for guns you don’t have, so they’re easy to toss to make room. It all makes dealing with the stuff you find extremely easy and minimizes the time you have to spend organizing your junk, which can be one of the genre’s weakest elements.

No Caption Provided

The lingering question, though, is whether the world needs another battle royale shooter. Coming off Titanfall 2, a great realization of a bunch of fresh ideas Respawn brought to the shooter genre, Apex Legends can often feel like it’s mixing and matching the best elements of other games. Like all battle royale titles, there’s an extreme familiarity in Apex Legends–if you’ve played Fortnite or PUBG, you’ve experienced a lot of what Apex Legends has to offer already, even though there’s some new spin. And while the character system adds a lot of new tactical possibilities to battle royale, the mind immediately jumps to Overwatch, the king of the hero shooter. Many of these ideas are well-established in games shooter fans are probably already playing.

All that said, Respawn has proven itself in terms of shooter design with the Titanfall games, and a lot of the same tight shooting controls make their way into Apex Legends. It’s not a stretch to say this feels like one of the best put-together of the battle royale games from a mechanics standpoint. A strong focus on teamwork helps Apex Legends to carve out a specific spot in the battle royale field, and with the super-low barrier of entry from its free price point (we’ve got more info on its monetization and a look at the game’s best skins), it may well have a chance of contending with the monumental success of its competitors. Since Apex Legends is available right now, we’ll have a full review coming over the next few days.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends Gameplay Impressions: Respawn’s Biggest Innovation Is Making Teamwork Easier

First, the pertinent information: Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment’s newest game is Apex Legends, a free-to-play first-person battle royale shooter that looks to take on the likes of Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode. And it’s out right now, on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

So no, it’s not a new Titanfall game, although Apex Legends shares some DNA with Titanfall 2, Respawn’s excellent 2017 shooter. And yes, it’s an entry into the battle royale genre, one that is both dominated by its own titans–specifically Fortnite–and getting crowded with small-scale spins on the formula and trend-chasing also-rans. Apex Legends has a lot in common with the looming figures in the battle royale landscape but with some key differences and improvements, like the addition of specific characters and roles and an emphasis on team play, that Respawn hopes will make the game stand out. Respawn gave GameSpot an early look at Apex Legends at a preview event in Los Angeles, where we played about seven hours of the game and got a feel for what Respawn’s battle royale has to offer.

Apex Legends stands apart by putting all its focus on perfecting the team version of battle royale. It eschews the single-player 1-versus-100 style that Fortnite, Call of Duty, and PUBG all support, instead pitting 20 three-player squads against each other in every match. This is a battle royale game in which just about everything is built around getting you to think about and work together with your squad.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Defining Your Legend

It starts with what is Apex Legends’ biggest change to the formula: the inclusion of a set of characters you choose from at the outset of each match. As in Overwatch or Rainbow Six Siege, each of the game’s eight “Legends” has their own unique abilities (with several borrowed from Titanfall 2), and only one can be in a squad at a time.

Each of the characters you can choose from at the start of a match has one passive ability, a “tactical” ability you can activate with a button press and which runs on a cooldown, and an ultimate ability that charges up much more slowly. Passives include increased run speed when under fire or a shield that protects you while you’re reviving a teammate, while tacticals are things like deploying a smoke grenade for cover, dropping a dome shield, or the ability to become briefly invisible and invulnerable.

The same is true with ultimates–one character, Gibraltar, can call in an air strike on a position, while Wraith opens up portals between two locations that teammates can use, and the medic Lifeline can call down a care package to a specific location. The core of battle royale–dropping into a huge space with nothing and quickly trying to find guns, ammo, and items that will help you survive and take down other squads–remains, but each of the character’s capabilities, when combined with that of their teammates, lead to variable strategies.

Nonverbal Communication

Abilities are important at key points, but moment-to-moment teamwork is defined by the ping system, a robust way for you to communicate with your teammates even without talking to them. Apex Legends has a dedicated button that lets you call out points of interest to your squad, creating indicators that appear on their screens and messages from your character they can hear. Pings are contextual, so what you’re aiming at when you use it dictates what’s communicated. Point at a spot in the distance to suggest heading in that direction; point at a piece of loot, and you’ll call out what it is and mark its location for your teammates who might need it. The ping system also has another button dedicated to marking enemy locations–which is amazingly useful, both in the heat of battle and as you move around the map. You can even bring up a wheel of messages to send, like suggesting a location to loot, or pointing out that an area shows signs of activity from another team.

The ping system makes working together easier, while an enhanced revival system means that death is not always the end for teams who play smart. Like in other battle royale games, taking a certain amount of damage knocks you down in Apex Legends, which means you’re out of the fight until a teammate revives you. Enemy players can finish you off to take you out of the match before your revive timers runs out, but it’s still possible for your teammates to bring you back.

The box of your loot that remains when you die contains a special item called a banner card that a teammate can retrieve within a certain amount of time. If they do, they can take the card to one of several special respawn points and call a dropship to bring you back into the match. Returning from the dead means you’re stuck looking for brand-new gear, but it’s better than being out of the game entirely. Respawning teammates adds a whole other strategic layer to matches by making respawn points potential centers for battles, while creating situations where it’s possible for a team to recover from bad luck or a tough fight.

Accessibility Royale

All that emphasis on working together and fulfilling specific roles helps give Apex Legends a different feel from similar games, but a lot of what Respawn brings to the table is quality-of-life improvements to systems that are already pretty ubiquitous to the battle royale genre. Drawing from Titanfall 2, movement in the game is quick and fluid; running and sliding make you nimble, and climbing and mantling just about anything adds a level of verticality. There’s no wall-running, unfortunately–Respawn told us it compromised team dynamics because players would end up too spread apart as they went parkouring around the environment–but Apex Legends still maintains a Titanfall-like degree of fluidity and freedom in its movement that’s refreshing.

It might also be the easiest BR game to understand in terms of how loot functions. A hallmark of the genre, Apex Legends’ map is littered with stuff to pick up, and that means plenty of options of guns, each requiring certain types of ammo and supporting different attachments that can improve their performance. Learning to manage all those items is a big part of battle royale, but Respawn’s interface and mechanics for dealing with all your gear is highly intuitive. Weapons are color-coded to their ammo types, so you know instantly when you see a box of light ammo whether it fits that pistol you just grabbed or the rifle you’re using. Gear rarity is also dictated by color, as in other BR games, but Apex Legends explicitly tells you whether the thing you’re about to pick up is better or worse than what you’re already carrying, and in many cases doesn’t even allow you to pick up gear that would replace stronger items you already have.

The interface also takes the guesswork out of dealing with all the various weapon attachments you can find in the game. When you find a scope or stock that fits your gun, it attaches automatically. Find a better one and the old one is replaced. If you decide to swap one shotgun for another, for example, all the appropriate attachments on the gun you’re discarding are automatically flipped to the new gun. Apex Legends functions so you almost never have to open its inventory screen. If you do pop open your inventory, the game marks items you are carrying but can’t use, like ammo or attachments for guns you don’t have, so they’re easy to toss to make room. It all makes dealing with the stuff you find extremely easy and minimizes the time you have to spend organizing your junk, which can be one of the genre’s weakest elements.

No Caption Provided

The lingering question, though, is whether the world needs another battle royale shooter. Coming off Titanfall 2, a great realization of a bunch of fresh ideas Respawn brought to the shooter genre, Apex Legends can often feel like it’s mixing and matching the best elements of other games. Like all battle royale titles, there’s an extreme familiarity in Apex Legends–if you’ve played Fortnite or PUBG, you’ve experienced a lot of what Apex Legends has to offer already, even though there’s some new spin. And while the character system adds a lot of new tactical possibilities to battle royale, the mind immediately jumps to Overwatch, the king of the hero shooter. Many of these ideas are well-established in games shooter fans are probably already playing.

All that said, Respawn has proven itself in terms of shooter design with the Titanfall games, and a lot of the same tight shooting controls make their way into Apex Legends. It’s not a stretch to say this feels like one of the best put-together of the battle royale games from a mechanics standpoint. A strong focus on teamwork helps Apex Legends to carve out a specific spot in the battle royale field, and with the super-low barrier of entry from its free price point (we’ve got more info on its monetization and a look at the game’s best skins), it may well have a chance of contending with the monumental success of its competitors. Since Apex Legends is available right now, we’ll have a full review coming over the next few days.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends Impressions: Respawn’s Biggest Innovation Is Making Teamwork Easier

First, the pertinent information: Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment’s newest game is Apex Legends, a free-to-play first-person battle royale shooter that looks to take on the likes of Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode. And it’s out right now, on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

So no, it’s not a new Titanfall game, although Apex Legends shares some DNA with Titanfall 2, Respawn’s excellent 2017 shooter. And yes, it’s an entry into the battle royale genre, one that is both dominated by its own titans–specifically Fortnite–and getting crowded with small-scale spins on the formula and trend-chasing also-rans. Apex Legends has a lot in common with the looming figures in the battle royale landscape but with some key differences and improvements, like the addition of specific characters and roles and an emphasis on team play, that Respawn hopes will make the game stand out. Respawn gave GameSpot an early look at Apex Legends at a preview event in Los Angeles, where we played about seven hours of the game and got a feel for what Respawn’s battle royale has to offer.

Apex Legends stands apart by putting all its focus on perfecting the team version of battle royale. It eschews the single-player 1-versus-100 style that Fortnite, Call of Duty, and PUBG all support, instead pitting 20 three-player squads against each other in every match. This is a battle royale game in which just about everything is built around getting you to think about and work together with your squad.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Defining Your Legend

It starts with what is Apex Legends’ biggest change to the formula: the inclusion of a set of characters you choose from at the outset of each match. As in Overwatch or Rainbow Six Siege, each of the game’s eight “Legends” has their own unique abilities (with several borrowed from Titanfall 2), and only one can be in a squad at a time.

Each of the characters you can choose from at the start of a match has one passive ability, a “tactical” ability you can activate with a button press and which runs on a cooldown, and an ultimate ability that charges up much more slowly. Passives include increased run speed when under fire or a shield that protects you while you’re reviving a teammate, while tacticals are things like deploying a smoke grenade for cover, dropping a dome shield, or the ability to become briefly invisible and invulnerable.

The same is true with ultimates–one character, Gibraltar, can call in an air strike on a position, while Wraith opens up portals between two locations that teammates can use, and the medic Lifeline can call down a care package to a specific location. The core of battle royale–dropping into a huge space with nothing and quickly trying to find guns, ammo, and items that will help you survive and take down other squads–remains, but each of the character’s capabilities, when combined with that of their teammates, lead to variable strategies.

Nonverbal Communication

Abilities are important at key points, but moment-to-moment teamwork is defined by the ping system, a robust way for you to communicate with your teammates even without talking to them. Apex Legends has a dedicated button that lets you call out points of interest to your squad, creating indicators that appear on their screens and messages from your character they can hear. Pings are contextual, so what you’re aiming at when you use it dictates what’s communicated. Point at a spot in the distance to suggest heading in that direction; point at a piece of loot, and you’ll call out what it is and mark its location for your teammates who might need it. The ping system also has another button dedicated to marking enemy locations–which is amazingly useful, both in the heat of battle and as you move around the map. You can even bring up a wheel of messages to send, like suggesting a location to loot, or pointing out that an area shows signs of activity from another team.

The ping system makes working together easier, while an enhanced revival system means that death is not always the end for teams who play smart. Like in other battle royale games, taking a certain amount of damage knocks you down in Apex Legends, which means you’re out of the fight until a teammate revives you. Enemy players can finish you off to take you out of the match before your revive timers runs out, but it’s still possible for your teammates to bring you back.

The box of your loot that remains when you die contains a special item called a banner card that a teammate can retrieve within a certain amount of time. If they do, they can take the card to one of several special respawn points and call a dropship to bring you back into the match. Returning from the dead means you’re stuck looking for brand-new gear, but it’s better than being out of the game entirely. Respawning teammates adds a whole other strategic layer to matches by making respawn points potential centers for battles, while creating situations where it’s possible for a team to recover from bad luck or a tough fight.

Accessibility Royale

All that emphasis on working together and fulfilling specific roles helps give Apex Legends a different feel from similar games, but a lot of what Respawn brings to the table is quality-of-life improvements to systems that are already pretty ubiquitous to the battle royale genre. Drawing from Titanfall 2, movement in the game is quick and fluid; running and sliding make you nimble, and climbing and mantling just about anything adds a level of verticality. There’s no wall-running, unfortunately–Respawn told us it compromised team dynamics because players would end up too spread apart as they went parkouring around the environment–but Apex Legends still maintains a Titanfall-like degree of fluidity and freedom in its movement that’s refreshing.

It might also be the easiest BR game to understand in terms of how loot functions. A hallmark of the genre, Apex Legends’ map is littered with stuff to pick up, and that means plenty of options of guns, each requiring certain types of ammo and supporting different attachments that can improve their performance. Learning to manage all those items is a big part of battle royale, but Respawn’s interface and mechanics for dealing with all your gear is highly intuitive. Weapons are color-coded to their ammo types, so you know instantly when you see a box of light ammo whether it fits that pistol you just grabbed or the rifle you’re using. Gear rarity is also dictated by color, as in other BR games, but Apex Legends explicitly tells you whether the thing you’re about to pick up is better or worse than what you’re already carrying, and in many cases doesn’t even allow you to pick up gear that would replace stronger items you already have.

The interface also takes the guesswork out of dealing with all the various weapon attachments you can find in the game. When you find a scope or stock that fits your gun, it attaches automatically. Find a better one and the old one is replaced. If you decide to swap one shotgun for another, for example, all the appropriate attachments on the gun you’re discarding are automatically flipped to the new gun. Apex Legends functions so you almost never have to open its inventory screen. If you do pop open your inventory, the game marks items you are carrying but can’t use, like ammo or attachments for guns you don’t have, so they’re easy to toss to make room. It all makes dealing with the stuff you find extremely easy and minimizes the time you have to spend organizing your junk, which can be one of the genre’s weakest elements.

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The lingering question, though, is whether the world needs another battle royale shooter. Coming off Titanfall 2, a great realization of a bunch of fresh ideas Respawn brought to the shooter genre, Apex Legends can often feel like it’s mixing and matching the best elements of other games. Like all battle royale titles, there’s an extreme familiarity in Apex Legends–if you’ve played Fortnite or PUBG, you’ve experienced a lot of what Apex Legends has to offer already, even though there’s some new spin. And while the character system adds a lot of new tactical possibilities to battle royale, the mind immediately jumps to Overwatch, the king of the hero shooter. Many of these ideas are well-established in games shooter fans are probably already playing.

All that said, Respawn has proven itself in terms of shooter design with the Titanfall games, and a lot of the same tight shooting controls make their way into Apex Legends. It’s not a stretch to say this feels like one of the best put-together of the battle royale games from a mechanics standpoint. A strong focus on teamwork helps Apex Legends to carve out a specific spot in the battle royale field, and with the super-low barrier of entry from its free price point (we’ve got more info on its monetization right here), it may well have a chance of contending with the monumental success of its competitors. Since Apex Legends is available right now, we’ll have a full review coming over the next few days.

Source: GameSpot.com

Yes, Respawn’s Apex Legends Has Loot Boxes — How Monetization Works

Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment’s entry into the battle royale genre, Apex Legends, is taking a page from the massive success of Fortnite: make your game free. The new title has launched as a free-to-play game on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and looks to make its money by selling in-game items to players. It’s a model similar to the one that has made huge amounts of cash for Fortnite developer Epic Games, but one that’s also fraught with the peril of alienating players.

Free-to-play games often carry a stigma because many fall into the trap of providing the paying customers with legs up over those who don’t choose to buy in or can’t afford to pay as much. At a recent preview event in Los Angeles at which Respawn showed off Apex Legends ahead of its launch, project lead Drew McCoy said the developer has been very cautious about its monetization choices, using lessons learned from its last game, Titanfall 2. You can spend money in Apex Legends, but like in Fortnite and similar titles, you can only ever buy cosmetic items and skins that change how your characters and weapons look–McCoy said you’ll be able to pay to look good, but never pay to win.

“A lot of the team was really skeptical early on that we were going to be doing dirty things or stuff that felt scummy,” McCoy said. “It was important to us that we did things that felt fair, that felt like Respawn. …We looked at other games, we did research with the first parties [developers] across other EA games, for what really drives people from a fun perspective without hurting the game from feeling like you’re being nickel-and-dimed.”

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While Respawn experimented with some monetization efforts like cosmetic items during the post-launch period of Titanfall 2, the team also hired a product manager who previously worked on Riot Games’ free-to-play powerhouse League of Legends to make sure they were getting it right.

But McCoy also noted that Apex Legends includes a particular free-to-play element that has generated a lot of ire: loot boxes. McCoy said the developers have taken steps to make loot boxes fair to the players who choose to buy them. Respawn publishes the drop rates for its loot boxes both in the in-game store and on its website, so players know what the chances are of getting the best stuff. You’re guaranteed at least a mid-tier “rare” item or better in each pack, and they don’t dish out duplicates of items you already have. There’s also “bad luck protection,” McCoy said, to keep you from buying lots of loot boxes and never getting lucky enough to acquire some of the game’s best stuff. During the preview, the store said that players are guaranteed at least one legendary item, Apex Legends’ rarest, for every 30 loot boxes they open.

Apex Legends also includes other ways to spend money outside of loot boxes. There’s an in-game store with a rotating inventory where you can purchase some items directly, and like Fortnite, Apex Legends will offer a “battle pass,” a flat fee that lets you unlock more cosmetic items as you play. Finally, you’ll be able to buy Legends, the game’s playable characters. Six of the game’s eight characters are available off the bat, and two more can be unlocked either with premium currency you pay for, or by earning in-game currency by playing.

“We have been very diligent about making sure that the characters, the Legends, play differently–not better,” McCoy said. “So the more cautious among the community would probably say, ‘Oh, you’re going to make the new ones more powerful for a little while if people buy them.’ That’s absolutely not our intention.”

McCoy said one of the ways Respawn hopes to stand apart from other battle royale games is in its dedication to care and balancing when introducing new elements to the game, to preserve its integrity as a competition. It doesn’t want to add a new gun or character to Apex Legends, only to have to immediately roll it back because of unforeseen consequences. A big part of that approach is gathering and analyzing data to see how people are playing the game and using its elements to make sure they’re balanced. While the characters in Apex Legends offer different abilities, McCoy said it’s essential that none are more or less powerful than the others, and Respawn is putting a lot of its efforts into making sure that’s true.

Respawn’s publisher, Electronic Arts, has run afoul of scummy-feeling monetization schemes in that department before. It was the trouble in Star Wars: Battlefront II, developed by DICE and published by EA. Before a last-minute change, the game was set to use loot boxes to hand out strong, useful weapons and items, and offered players powerful new characters they could purchase with real money. You could earn loot boxes and in-game currency to buy characters just by playing, but people willing to pay more into the game would obtain the better stuff faster and get ahead of the competition.

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“We’ve seen from games like Battlefront II, how much paying for any kind of advantage is so bad,” McCoy said. “I actually think that Battlefront is a really good game mechanically, and they did a lot of great things and it got overshadowed by some of those choices, but it’s a really good spotlight to shine on why those kind of systems are so problematic.”

You can’t buy everything with in-game currency you’ll earn for free, McCoy admitted, and he expects some people still will be turned off by the game’s loot boxes. But Respawn is trying to make players feel like they get a lot for their money if they do pay, and like they’re rewarded for their time even if they don’t, he said.

“We just hope that you find a large-enough player base that likes what we’ve built and wants to show off and decides to spend some money in the game,” he said. “But if not, free players who spend their time are just as important to us. We take that very seriously. Time and money are the two most precious things in any humans life. And in fact, they’re choosing to spend either of them with us is incredibly important to us.”

Check out our early impressions of Apex Legends from its preview event, and stay tuned for our full review in the next few days.

Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends – 4 Minutes Of Mirage Gameplay

Respawn’s surprise release of a brand new battle royale is here. Apex Legends offers several different “Legends”, and one of these is the Mirage. Here’s what his gameplay looks like. Captured on PC.
Source: GameSpot.com

Apex Legends – Winning In Respawn’s New Battle Royale Mode

Apex Legends, the brand new free to play Battle Royale mode from Respawn pits you in squads of three with brand new skills and characters. Here’s a gameplay clip of us beating the rest and emerging on top with a victory royale. Captured on PC.
Source: GameSpot.com

What Respawn’s Battle Royale Game Does Right

After getting hands on with Apex Legends, Rob drops his thoughts on Respawn’s take on the Battle Royale genre. Apex Legends is free-to-play, and available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Source: GameSpot.com

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