I have bounced off of almost every battle royale game there is. Conceptually, I like the format of a multiplayer shooter that relies on teamwork, exploration, and survival beyond quick and precise aiming, but most of them are bogged down with features I'm not interested in engaging with or don't strike the right balance between depth and approachability. Since firing up Apex Legends Mobile for the first time last week, though, I've found myself struggling to put it down. It may not tout the same fidelity of its PC and console counterpart, but makes for a streamlined battle royale experience that maintains a satisfying match pace and depth that many mobilized versions of battle royales fail to do.
Same but different
Apex Legends Mobile is mostly the same game as the original Apex Legends, which is to say it's a multiplayer shooter where teams of three combatants drop onto a massive map with the goal of eliminating all other teams using weapons found scattered across the environment. It also features all of the signature touches specific to the original Apex, like additional mobility options, characters with special powers, a ping system, and more.
Functionally, it feels like a port of Apex Legends. Even the match length is about the same. They key difference though is that this game has no cross-play with the original Apex and has some different tuning and control options for movement and shooting that make it manageable to play on a touch screen and allow for players to develop a sense of precision despite the less-than-precise control method.
Slide, scavenge, shoot
The secret to Apex Legends Mobile's success for me is just how easy it is to dive into a match and instantly be a competent teammate. By default, this game does things like auto-ping enemies and items so you're constantly being useful to your team even if your aim isn't on point. You can also auto-loot gear so you don't have to develop any sort of specialized knowledge about what weapons, attachments, or items you should or shouldn't be picking up.
It also helps that Apex Legends Mobile feels about as great as you can make a mobile shooter feel right out of the box, and if that doesn't work there is a staggering amount of customization options you can dial to your exact preferences. Given all of the options at your disposal (including competent controller support), there's a way to make just about anyone feel comfortable controlling it.
The apex of unweildy menus
It's astounding how Respawn Entertainment has managed to simplify its battle royale while still cramming in all of the depth of the original game, but it comes at a cost. When you aren't actively in a round of Apex Legends Mobile, the game is a nightmare of menus and splash screens that are both hard to look at and unintuitive to navigate.
Everything from choosing the kind of match you want to play to redeeming battle pass rewards just feels a lot harder to do than it should, and every moment the game uses to try and show off animations or cinematics, the whole thing ends up feeling really slapped together. Out of all the things to drop the ball on, I guess it's fortunate that the sloppiest parts of Apex Legends Mobile don't affect how matches play, but that doesn't mean that these aren't problems that need to be fixed. I'm not sure the menus will get too slimmed down over time due to the game's free-to-play nature (which, by the way, seems very focused on keeping gameplay balanced and promoting/selling cosmetic items), but I'm hoping the nested maze of menus at least gets a more coherent flow and better navigation buttons down the line.
The bottom line
Apex Legends Mobile is the most fun I have had with a battle royale game, on mobile or otherwise. It makes all of the nitty gritty aspects of playing such a multi-faceted experience easy without stripping out depth, and offers such a multitude of options to get yourself feeling like a precision player even if the overall experience isn't as sharp and honed as PC and console battle royales.