190221_START02

In 'Apex Legends,' the lovable robot Pathfinder has fun traversal abilities, but they don't provide much of an advantage in gameplay, writes Gazette gaming columnist Jake Magee.

I’m still faithfully putting hours each day into “Apex Legends,” Respawn’s first-person shooter battle royale. As I noted in my review last week, it is the best battle royale game I’ve played. I believe its outstanding mechanics will become the gold standard for future games in the genre.

One part of what makes “Apex Legends” so much fun is the eight different playable characters. Each has a variety of abilities that gives him or her different strengths and weaknesses. I’ve given each of them plenty of playtime, so if you’re new to the game, here is my ranking of each legend.

Keep in mind each hero has value, and the right player can make a seemingly useless character excel. Also, rumor has it two new heroes—Wattson and Octane—are on their way to the game, so soon there will be even more options for players.

1. LIFELINE

As the only medic in the game, Lifeline is often the difference between defeat and victory. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever won a match without a Lifeline on our squad.

Her passive ability allows her to heal 25 percent faster than other characters, which has saved my life more than once. Lifeline creates a shield that partially protects her while picking up downed teammates. Most important, her ultimate ability allows her to call down a supply crate of useful defense gear for her entire team.

Overall, Lifeline is excellent at keeping herself and her squad alive. Though she’s not a great offensive fighter, her healing powers are vital to a successful match. Make sure you always have one on your team, and you’ll go far.

2. BLOODHOUND

Lifeline is the most useful character, but Bloodhound is the most fun due to his aggressive offensive capabilities.

Bloodhound has the ability to track enemies, so he’s the first to know if opponents have recently been in an area or if they’re nearby. He can then follow enemies’ footprints and shell casings and usually gets the jump on them, especially considering he has the ability to temporarily see through solid objects. The static, orange silhouette of an enemy behind a wall can be distracting when a gun fight breaks out, but before that happens, it’s useful to know whether you’re alone.

Bloodhound’s ultimate ability gives him nearly a minute of boosted speed and highlights enemies and footprints in red. There have been several times I’ve wiped out an entire enemy squad alone using Bloodhound’s ultimate.

3. GIBRALTAR

Not enough players use Gibraltar, myself included, but there’s no denying his usefulness.

Gibraltar can drop a dome shield (which is useful if you’re pinned down and need to revive a teammate), open a supply crate or make a quick getaway. His ultimate, if used properly, calls down an aggressive airstrike capable of wiping out entire squads.

When aiming down sights, Gibraltar puts up a small shield that can be the difference between life and death in one-on-one shootouts. More often than not, however, it simply calls attention to him. He’s also big and feels slow, which is a hindrance in such a fast-paced game.

4. BANGALORE

Bangalore is great because she has both defensive and offensive capabilities.

Her ability allows her to shoot two smoke bombs that cover a wide area. The smoke allows teams to escape areas, revive teammates, or—if combined with Bloodhound’s ultimate—hunt down disoriented enemies. Bangalore’s smoke has saved my team’s hide on several occasions.

When fired upon, Bangalore’s running speed increases dramatically, allowing her to easily outrun danger. But her ultimate is largely useless. Like Gibraltar, she calls down an airstrike, but the bombs don’t detonate on impact. Instead, they lodge in the ground and blow up a few seconds later, giving enemies plenty of time to escape.

5. WRAITH

The concept of Wraith is super-cool, but it takes a special player to use her properly. She’s not necessarily a friendly pick for beginners.

Wraith’s passive ability lets her know when an enemy is aiming at her, which makes her difficult to ambush. In those rare occasions an enemy does get the jump on her, she has the ability to temporarily vanish for a quick escape--though she leaves a blue streak enemies can easily follow.

Wraith’s ultimate ability is to make two linked portals anyone can step through to nearly instantly teleport from one place to the other. The problem is she can’t place them from a distance, so you can forget about shooting a portal behind a group of enemies and flanking them. The portals have their advantages but, as I said, it takes the right player to use Wraith to her full potential.

6. MIRAGE

Mirage and Caustic are characters you can unlock with real or earned currency. I haven’t unlocked either, mainly because I don’t see much value in them.

Mirage has the ability to send out a decoy, and when used properly, it’s nice to see an enemy start shooting at the illusion to reveal his position for a counterattack.

Mirage’s passive ability allows him to cloak himself and send out a decoy when downed, which is almost completely worthless because, well, you’re already down. His ultimate ability is almost as bad. It cloaks Mirage and simultaneously creates a team of decoys that just stand there. If you ever see a Mirage not moving, you can be almost certain it’s not an actual player and ignore it, making Mirage a pretty underwhelming character in practice.

7. CAUSTIC

Caustic is ranked low because his abilities are useful only in confined spaces, and fighting in close quarters doesn’t usually happen until 20 minutes into a match ... if you make it that far.

Caustic can drop noxious gas traps that activate when enemies get near them. If used properly, the traps can warn you of enemies that are flanking you. The actual gas just blinds and slows your opponents, but it’s pretty weak, and it blinds and slows your teammates, too. Caustic’s passive allows him to see enemies through the gas, but again, he doesn’t have enough opportunities to use it in the first place.

Caustic’s ultimate ability is basically the same thing and blankets a large area in gas. Enemies in the gas take only one damage per second, so late in the game, when Caustic’s gas can actually be put to use, enemies are usually suited up with 200 health.

8. PATHFINDER

Many people love playing as Pathfinder, which is great, but his abilities are completely underwhelming. They offer no offensive advantages and rarely help his team, though they are fun to use.

First up is Pathfinder’s grapple which, if used properly, allows him to swing like Spider-Man over open spaces. Skilled players can use it to zip out of the line of fire or swing around enemies and attack them from another angle, but opportunities for this are few and far between.

Pathfinder’s ultimate allows him to set up a zipline to reach high spots or quickly cross gaps. But the map is already littered with these, and there are already multiple paths to any area worth reaching. In a pinch, the zipline might help a team escape, but there’s nothing stopping opponents from using to follow behind and finish the fight.

Pathfinder’s passive is terrible. It allows him to hack into any of the few survey beacons on the map and find out where the encroaching ring is going to be. However, any team paying attention won’t need this info because the game warns you in several ways when the ring is closing in.

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jakemmagee@gmail.com or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.

0
0
0
0
0