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Expert tips Apex Legends doesn't tell you

To the surprise of the gaming public, Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment recently announced, and then a day later released, a brand-new battle royale known as Apex Legends. In a brief Twitch stream, studio head Vince Zampella introduced this innovative entry in the BR genre, showing off gameplay and a breakdown of the game's ins and outs. Afterwards, everyone had the chance to start playing immediately … and play they did. In the first three days available, Apex Legends saw more than 10 million unique players drop into the Outlands and battle it out.

If you're just starting out or are looking for a bit of a competitive advantage, there are plenty of advanced techniques and tricks you can use. However, the development team clearly wants you to figure them out for yourself, as you won't find them in the tutorial. The game introduces you to the core concepts, but omits much of the information you'll need to become a champion. Never fear, you've come to the right place. Here are the expert tips Apex Legends doesn't tell you.

By the numbers

Like many battle royale games, Apex Legends affords you the opportunity to see how much damage you're doing when your attacks connect with an opposing player. The game goes more in-depth than others in the genre, however, as it offers a great deal of damage information based on a color-coded system. At first, it may seem daunting to pay close attention to the colors of the damage numbers, but it'll likely save your life a time or two. 

Damage number colors help you quickly assess how armored up an opponent is. First off, if you see red numbers, that indicates your enemy has no armor, ensuring an easy kill. White numbers show that the enemy has level one armor. Blue equals level two armor. Purple equals level three armor. Finally, you'll see yellow numbers on occasion, meaning you've connected with a headshot. It's a simple system, but one that gives you a plethora of information if you're paying close attention.

ABC: always be climbing

Apex Legends is set in the same world as the Titanfall series, taking place after the events of Titanfall 2. While the game's traversal and combat clearly take a lot from the Titanfall DNA, there's one glaring omission that veteran players have likely noticed: wall-running is no longer an option when navigating your environment. Truly one of the coolest aspects of Titanfall multiplayer was the ability to utilize your Pilot's double-jump and wall-running abilities to escape combat or cleverly ambush enemies.

While Apex Legends doesn't have those abilities, it does offer a very forgiving climbing mechanic. Throughout your explorations of the game's setting, the Outlands, you'll happen upon tall buildings, mountains, and cliffs. Some may look entirely too high to climb, but you're more likely to make it up a surface than you think. If you simply move forward toward a surface while holding the "jump" button or key, your character will scramble up, often finding a way to reach the top of an obstacle. Sometimes, areas are too high to reach. But, more often than not, you'll reach interesting vantage points that can serve as fantastic sniper perches, or simply help you to navigate the world.

No lack of communication

Playing with strangers is often the worst part of a multiplayer game, especially a game where you're forced into a squad. While Apex Legends currently has just one mode, which splits you into teams of three, it doesn't force you to voice chat with people you don't know. Respawn designed a clever, easy-to-use "ping" system, which helps players communicate, plan, and win without utilizing microphones.

The ping system allows you to point out all pertinent information on the battlefield, including where enemies are, suggestions for exploration spots, and gear locations. The system is especially helpful when searching for loot, as you can ping an item and it will show your teammates its location, type, and gear level. A teammate can then use the same system to call "dibs" on a particular piece of gear. You can even use the system when searching for the ideal drop location. You can call out a location to your jumpmaster and the rest of your squad can ping to agree on it or suggest a different landing point. Via some simple button presses, Respawn created the perfect system for a battle royale game, one that lets you strategize in silence.

Check this ship out

If you've already started playing Apex Legends, you may have noticed a ship flying around as you begin your descent into the Outlands. Those are not for ambiance or decoration. You and your team can actually drop from the main ship and, if you time it correctly, land on that supply ship. If you do, you're often rewarded with high-level — sometimes elite (yellow) — gear.

While you can find your ideal early game setup on a supply ship, you can also find your early exit. You're often not the only squad with the bright idea of reaching a ship at a game's beginning. If two or more teams land on the same ship, it usually leads to a mad dash for any and all guns and gear. It almost always ends with someone's death, as players immediately adopt the kill-or-be-killed mentality. Keep a close eye when you're nearing a supply ship and, if necessary, veer off in a different direction. You don't want your game to end before it really begins.

Show me the money

Respawn did fans a service by creating a polished, unique battle royale and offering it for free upon release. However, this game — like most in its genre — is a true free-to-play experience. That means, of course, it has microtransactions and loot boxes. Don't worry, there's no pay-to-win Battlefront II situation going on here. All loot boxes feature purely cosmetic additions to the game including weapon skins, legend skins, quips, and finishers.

That's all well and good, but the currency involved is confusing upon first glance. You'll see on your main screen UI that there are three different types of currency. The first, represented by a blue icon, are your crafting materials, which you'll find in Apex Packs and utilize to craft weapon skins. The second, represented by a red icon, are your legend tokens, obtained by leveling up and used for character unlocks. Finally, the yellow icon represents your Apex Coins, the game's premium currency — bought with real money — used to buy Apex Packs or available items from the in-game store.

Get knocked down, use a knockdown shield

You will get shot up and knocked down at some point — no legend is perfect. However, your chances of survival and revival increase greatly if you have a knockdown shield in your inventory. Throughout your scavenger hunts for gear, you'll come across knockdown shields, which allow you to protect yourself for a limited time when your health reaches zero during a firefight. This protection helps when you're trying to crawl away from gunfire and reach a teammate for revival. But a shield can only provide protection if the bullets are in front of you, so just make sure you stay facing an enemy. 

During your various adventures in Apex Legends, you'll likely find the four gear levels of knockdown shields. The white is your basic shield, which absorbs 100 points of damage. Blue absorbs 250 damage, purple absorbs 750, and if you're lucky enough to find a gold knockdown shield, it absorbs 750 damage and gives you a single-use self-resurrection ability.

Slide to the left, slide to the right, boost jump!

The Apex Legends tutorial quickly makes you aware of the sliding mechanic and then leaves you to your own devices. At first glance, the mechanic may seem similar to most first-person shooters. It's useful when moving from cover to cover and that's about it. Well, your legend's sliding ability offers so much more than that in the Outlands.

On its surface level, your slide ability is a good way to move in and out of cover to avoid fire. However, when not on level terrain, you can use that slide as a way to cover large amounts of ground in seconds. On a downward slope — be it a hill or mountain —  a running jump into a slide makes you look like you're skating on a perfect patch of ice. You can move at lightning speeds effortlessly.

However, there's an even cooler maneuver that involves your slide: your legend can boost jump! While sprinting into a slide, there's a small window at the beginning of your slide animation where, if you press the jump button, you'll get a strong, forward jump that will carry you much farther than your normal one. You may have to practice the timing for a while, but the boost jump is a good move to have in your bag of tricks.

Free fallin'

When playing battle royale games, you've probably found yourself on high ground, neck deep in gunfire. Maybe, during that firefight, you and your squad ran out of ammo and had to make a mad dash for safety. And maybe, on an occasion or two, you weren't paying attention and fell off that high ground, plummeting to your unfortunate demise.

If this sounds like you, you're in for a pleasant surprise with Apex Legends. Guess what? There's no fall damage! It simply doesn't exist. Once again, a Respawn design choice makes up for the lack of double-jumping and wall-running. Frankly, the lack of fall damage might be more important than either of those Titanfall abilities. You can leap from tall buildings or fall from mountain tops and live to tell the glorious tales. There's no shame in bailing from a fight, and you have more ways to do so without worrying about landing spots or terrain traversal. Just make sure there's actually something below you. There are a few points on the map where, if you fall, you simply won't land.

Bigger isn't always better

Like any battle royale game, winning a match of Apex Legends isn't exactly easy. You'll likely run into times where you drop in an overpopulated area or encounter a player with much better gear, and your time in Kings Canyon will end sooner than hoped. However, there may be times where you feel like your death is unwarranted or comes more quickly than it should. There are many factors that could lead to that result, but there's one you may not realize: you're using a character with a larger hitbox.

While developer Respawn Entertainment did a phenomenal job outlining each hero's abilities, the team didn't exactly clarify that the characters have different-sized hitboxes. For the uninitiated, "hitbox" is a term that describes the invisible shape used for real-time collision detection. In Apex Legends, it refers to the area where a character is able to take damage. As it turns out, while traits like movement speed and melee damage are the same legend-to-legend, hitboxes aren't. For example, the larger characters like Bloodhound and Gibraltar have bigger damage areas, which makes sense from a visual standpoint. However, research revealed that Pathfinder, a particularly thin legend, actually has the largest hitbox, meaning players who play with the lovable robot will be bigger targets.

Respawn recently stated that it was "definitely aware of" the variances and would look into adjusting them, but for now, just understand that you'll have a tougher time becoming champion if you use certain characters.

Gauge your landing

If there's one constant between most battle royale games, it's the jump from a flying vehicle to the ground. Apex Legends is no different, except for the fact that the game designates a jumpmaster for each three-player squad. Unless one teammate decides to go it alone, the jumpmaster controls where and when a squad lands, and that can be a lot of pressure — especially if that person miscalculates a jump and misses a high-tier loot area. Luckily, this tip can ensure that, when you're the jumpmaster, you never miss your ideal landing spot again.

Have you noticed those gauges on the left and right sides of your screen? They're the ones that appear when you exit the airship. The left gauge measures your airspeed, while the right measures your squad's altitude. If you pay close attention to those gauges, you can maximize your drop distance. While flying straight, keep an eye on your airspeed (left) gauge. When it dips below 130, make sure you dive to help increase your acceleration. Then, once your speed gets back up over 140, return to flying straight and you'll enjoy some extra distance before it dips back below 130. If you're doing it correctly, your squad will look dolphin-like in its diving movement.

Destruction derby

In Apex Legends, you won't find destruction anywhere near the level of something like Crackdown 3's "cloud-powered" Wrecking Zone. However, that doesn't mean that the multiplayer shooter doesn't let you participate in some explosive behavior every now and then. In fact, the destruction it does offer can actually be strategic. In the game, you can destroy doors — something that the game's tutorial never tells you. When you're breaching an area, or trying to escape from one, you can knock any doors (except for sliding ones) off their hinges. On offense, this can help catch opposing squads off-guard. On defense, kicking down doors can help you escape firefights or outrun that ever-present ring. Use your frag grenades and you'll take those pesky doors down in an instant. If you have more time and fewer grenades, you could melee attack twice for the same effect.

Doors aren't the only things players can destroy. If you happen to see Caustic's Nox Traps from a far enough distance, you can shoot their distinct, red sections and destroy them without setting them off. In late-game situations, getting rid of Caustic's traps can be a key to victory.

Put your gun away

In a battle royale, wins and losses are often determined by split-second decisions and perfect timing of gunshots. The instinct is to always keep your weapon locked, loaded, and in your hand in case you happen upon an opposing player. However, in Apex Legends, keeping a gun in your hand isn't always beneficial. Why? Because you won't always have to fight to succeed, at least in the early stages of a game. Sometimes, you'll have to run, and you'll do that faster when you holster your weapons. Of course, the game's tutorial lets you know that, albeit very briefly. But it doesn't tell you why or how it benefits you to do so.

Movement tests by savvy Apex players have determined just how much speed you gain by holstering your weapons. Each legend sprints at around 7.4 meters per second when unarmed. However, when holding a weapon, a legend's speed dips to around 6.5 meter per second. Basically, when you're sprinting with a weapon, your character slows down about 12 percent. This is true for every character, no matter if they're holding the P2020 pistol or the Kraber sniper rifle. So, when you want an extra boost of speed, put those weapons away. You'll notice that you're covering more ground in less time. Remember that the next time you need to flee from an ambush or avoid the ring.

The Mozambique

Speaking of guns, Apex features one particular weapon that players don't just want to put away, but throw away into the virtual garbage. The Mozambique, a shotgun-pistol, is found all throughout Kings Canyon and has become the butt of many jokes. From a numbers standpoint, the three-round gun is extremely weak when compared to essentially any other weapon in the game, and some of the developers at Respawn have said as much.

However, recently, Respawn's senior designer Sean Slayback actually offered some useful information about the gun. The Mozambique fires rounds in a three-bullet triangle pattern. If all three bullets connect, the gun does 45 damage per round to the body or 66 to the head. If you can hit an opponent with all three rounds, you have a shot at doing a decent chunk of damage. What's even more interesting is the fact that the Mozambique is named after a slang term for a two-to-the-chest, one-to-the-head execution. For Apex, the gun was designed to hit characters in that pattern. Slayback went on to say that aiming down the shotgun's sights helps choke down the bullet spread, making it easier to hit that execution-style pattern. While there's nothing you can do about the annoyingly small magazine size or 2.6-second reload speed, this info might just help you get a kill or two the next time you open a supply pod and see nothing but a Mozambique.