Apex Legends Mobile for Android review: The game you love with a few concessions
Respawn first launched Apex Legends in 2019 as what seemed to be a direct competitor to Fortnite, which had already taken over much of pop culture at the time. In the years since its release, Apex Legends received several seasons of content along with confirmation that it takes place in the Titanfall universe, growing a successful shared universe for Respawn. Still, in all that time the game had never made its way to mobile like many of its competitors. That's changed with Apex Legends Mobile.
Instead of being a simple port, Respawn built Apex Legends Mobile from the ground up for mobile devices. The developer stresses that Apex Legends Mobile will have its own update cadence and seasons of events not tied to Apex Legends on console and PC. Though it has a fraction of the content that Apex Legends does — at least at launch — there's plenty to be excited for.
I've been able to play the game on early test servers for several days now and I've been having a lot of fun. For a mobile game to convert me so fast isn't an easy feat, and while I reckon I'd prefer the console version as opposed to the mobile, that sparked interest for the Apex universe only bodes well for Respawn.
Apex Legends Mobile: What's great
Most of the core Apex gameplay that players know and love remains the same. Sixty competitors drop into one of its battle royale locations — World's Edge will be the only one available at launch, although King's Canyon is on the way — either solo, in duos, or in teams of three, and from there it's all about collecting the right weapons and gear to stay alive.
The maps themselves translate nicely to mobile. While visual fidelity takes a hit compared to its counterpart on console and PC, the level design itself and the ever-shrinking playable area force players into combat zones to keep matches interesting. They're not exactly dense, but each map has a nice balance between close quarters and long-range combat, along with zones clearly meant for players to get from point A to point B. The maps aren't too different from the main game, but there have been a few tweaks to make it more streamlined and to open up some areas.
One of the issues with long-range combat here is that aiming is much less precise, and given the size of most phone screens, it can be difficult to see an enemy at a distance unless you've equipped a better scope.
|Category||Apex Legends Mobile|
|Minimum requirements||Android 6.0 or later, 2GB RAM, Snapdragon 435 (or equivalent), 4GB of storage space|
|Device used||Pixel 4a|
|Players||Up to 60|
|Launch price||Free w/IAPs|
What's new in Apex Legends Mobile is its perk system. Each Legend has a skill tree that can unlock passive buffs and improve their finisher and abilities. One of Bangalore's passive perks that can be unlocked, for instance, automatically triggers Double Time when entering smoke. One of her other ability buffs lets her use Smoke Launcher while knocked down.
In order to unlock these perks, you'll need to gain more experience with each Legend to unlock character-specific Tokens, which can then be redeemed for perks down their skill trees. Select their character loadout and you can equip a passive perk, finisher buff, and ability buff for each character.
These may seem like small tweaks, but they make a world of difference in actual gameplay, encouraging players to try out new things. I never used my finisher until I unlocked a perk that granted me an immediate shield recharge upon using it. The amount of times that this ended up saving me during a match is a bit embarrassing.
You can mix and match these skills and save up to three of your preferred setups for each hero if you ever want to quickly swap between them.
Team Deathmatch is another excellent addition, ensuring that players can still get that fast-paced gameplay that may have been lost in the battle royale's transition to mobile. Players can choose between Deathmatch (random respawns) or Clash (base respawns) in a 6v6 match that sees the first team to 30 kills win. Each map is fairly small, so players generally funnel toward the middle where firefights take place.
No matter which game mode or map players hop into, there are only 10 playable Legends at launch: Bangalore, Bloodhound, Caustic, Gibraltar, Lifeline, Mirage, Octane, Pathfinder, Wraith, and the newest mobile exclusive Legend, Fade.
It's clear from the beginning that Fade is built for mobile because his skills focus on maneuverability above all else — an issue that a lot of mobile shooters seem to grapple with. His passive, Surge, gives him a burst of speed after knee sliding, making it the perfect tool to outrun any enemies. His tactical, Flash Back, sends him back to his previous location about 60 meters, serving as another way to effectively get out of a deadly situation.
As far as performance goes, it ran exceptionally well on my Pixel 4a. There's some texture pop-in on the home screen when loading a new Legend or during matches, but it never gets in the way of actual gameplay. It ran surprisingly smooth in my time with it. We'll just need to see it the servers can hold up once it launches worldwide.
Lastly, it has a deep settings menu to fine-tune the experience exactly how you want it. Given that not everyone will be as comfortable with touch controls as other players might be, this is a huge benefit. Most of the buttons and layouts can be remapped along with camera and movement sensitivity. You can even adjust minor features like the minimap rotating or low ammo-notification can be adjusted or turned off entirely.
This amount of control should be in all games to make the experience more accessible.
Speaking of making the game more approachable, Respawn added a third-person mode in Apex Legends Mobile in addition to the first-person that players are familiar with. Players can switch between modes at any point during a match by tapping TPP or FPP near the bottom of the screen. Though the field of view can be adjusted for both, third-person still gives players a wider camera angle in the end.
It also didn't eat my phone battery like I had expected it to. I could get upwards of an hour of play and only lose between 15% to 20%, meaning I could comfortably play for a few hours at a time if I really wanted to. I don't think Apex Legends Mobile is necessarily meant to be played that way, but it's still nice to see that it doesn't immediately drain the battery.
Apex Legends Mobile: What could use work
This will certainly change as time goes on, but Respawn wasn't quite able to squeeze in optimized controller support for launch. That's not to say it doesn't work — a majority of my time in Apex Legends Mobile was actually spent playing with an Xbox controller — but the team definitely needs to adjust it better. There were settings for controllers in my review build, so hopefully it'll be added soon.
Movement and aiming feel just fine, but interacting with items and the environment isn't always as smooth. Wonky button prompts sometimes led me to drop or pick up items I hadn't meant to (auto-pickup can be enabled or disabled in the settings), and it was difficult to swap between shield recharges and med packs on the fly with a controller. As it stands, it works best to use a controller in tandem with its touch screen controls.
Despite its touch controls not being as precise as other methods of input, they strangely make the game easier to an extent. Because maneuvering can be an issue and people are still learning how to effectively strafe, it can be easier to gun them down quickly. Aim assist and auto-firing also play tremendous help.
It's a double-edged sword in that regard, because while mobile game controls shouldn't be as complex as a PC game, those looking for a more competitive experience may find it too easy — though those in the latter group always have the option of playing Ranked.
It's difficult to tell how pervasive any microtransactions will be as EA provided early access players with the Battle Pass and a significant level boost along with in-game currency. That said, the store seems to mostly sell cosmetic items like Legend skins, banners, and emotes. There doesn't appear to be any pay-to-win mechanics at the moment.
Then, there's the matter of visual fidelity, which will really vary depending on your device. On my Pixel 4a with the graphics set to Normal (recommended), textures were muddy and less detailed. The graphics quality can be changed in its settings between Smooth, Normal, HD, Ultra HD, and Original.
Apex Legends Mobile: Should you play it?
For anyone already entrenched in Apex Legends on console and PC, I don't think Apex Legends Mobile will win them over to become their main game. It lacks a lot of the same content and fast-paced battle royale gameplay. That said, it serves as a wonderful addition to complement the PC game for players who want to take their Apex Legends experience on the go wherever they are. The introduction of 6v6 Team Deathmatch along with Fade makes it even more interesting.
Because it's free-to-play, I'd definitely say that people should download it and try it out for themselves. I can see myself going back to it intermittently, especially when a new season drops. As it stands, it just makes me want to play Apex on my PlayStation or Xbox.
Apex Legends Mobile
Apex Legends Mobile makes a big splash onto Android devices. There may be some growing pains as Respawn balances the game and tweaks it even further for touch screen controls, but between its Battle Royale and Team Deathmatch modes, it'll keep players entertained for quite some time.
Download from: Google Play Store