Advanced Tips for Apex Legends
From a player with more than 100 wins
With the recent launch of Apex Legends, it seems like just about everyone is looking to become the champion of Kings Canyon. But battle royale games are complex, and the competition can be fierce. With this article, I’ve compiled a list of strategies that should help you both win more often, and techniques that can help you become a better player.
In general, the aims of the drop are two-fold. You want to drop into an area where you can gear up quickly, while also not putting yourself at too much risk. Immediately dropping down to a nearby location is often a poor choice, as it leads to an encounter that you can’t predict. If multiple squads drop at the exact same time, it can be very difficult to see who else is dropping with you.
One of the safest means to drop into a high loot area is to delay the drop a few seconds from the start, and then navigate towards a location where multiple teams dropped in. At first, this might seem counter-intuitive, but it often provides you the opportunity to loot unopposed, because you’ll be able to sweep up the loot left behind by squads that are taken out early on.
While dropping as soon as possible may seem as though it’s the best way to ensure you snag the best loot, delaying the drop allows you to see where other players go and take the nearest high-loot area that’s uncontested. Another, viable alternative that I find effective is to drop into low-key loot areas nearby the hotzones, and then quickly push in after you have guns and shields. Both of these strategies help avoid the variable (and often negative) outcomes associated with rushing guns at the same time as your opponents, and the risk that you get killed while unarmed.
As an example, instead of dropping into Artillery, a drop into Watch Tower North can be effective, so that you can grab a smaller pool of high-tier loot quickly, and then push on the enemies that dropped into Artillery.
When considering where to drop it’s also important to understand the loot quality of each area. There’s an interactive map available at Apexmap.io that leverages crowd sourced data to estimate loot probabilities at each location. Remember that the loot zones aren’t randomised, so you’ll have the same odds every single time you drop.
Apex Legends allows players to climb the environment by holding the jump button and running up a wall. Understanding this system really opens up a number of unexpected routes and angles that enable you to get the drop on your enemies. Figuring out how to climb onto the rooftop of every building possible can be a life saver, as it provides an effective defensive manoeuvre if you need to escape and heal (in most cases, enemies won’t know where you are unless they saw you climb). Here are a few more universal tricks; though it’s critical that you experiment and figure all of the options to navigate around the map.
- If you open doors, you can climb onto the edge of the door and from there, you can jump onto many buildings
- You can climb up blast doors if they are closed, and onto the rooftops of the respective building (example locations: Market, Artillery, Repulsor)
- If you stand on top of a door, enemies inside the room can’t see you until they step outside, this can be an effective way to get the drop on someone
- Many of the rooftops of the wooden buildings also feature gaps with which you can peek inside and get the drop on your enemies
Side to side
Because Apex Legends features lengthy kill times across most weapons, gunfights last a bit longer than they do in games like Call of Duty or Rainbow Six Siege. As a result, you need to do more than just aim at your target and pull the trigger before they do the same to you. Gunfights are often a back-and-forth exchange of bullets, where movement and moment to moment decision making matters. For this reason — and like games such as Halo — strafing can be critical in determining the outcome of a gunfight.
For those unaware, strafing is the act of moving in a gunfight to evade the opponents bullets. Players often follow a left / right, alternating pattern, but the focus is on making yourself both harder hit, and producing movements that are difficult to predict.
Critically however, weapons have different handling statistics which affect how quickly you can move while aiming. SMGs and pistols provide little to no movement speed reduction when aiming down sights (compared to hip fire movement), while LMGs and assault rifles significantly limit your ability to move around.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that you adapt your playstyle based on the weapons you have available. With weapons that restrict your movement speed, like the G7, Hemlock, and Spitfire, you should always be looking to get good angles that minimise your visible hit box, enabling you to take shots without over exposing yourself. These weapons are best uses from places like rooftops, peeking windows and other partially-concealed areas. Whereas weapons like the Wingman or R99 (which offer much more ADS mobility) can be much more forgiving if you end up caught in the open. Use these high-mobility weapons to push flanks and place pressure on your opponents; it’s always bad news if you’re caught out in the open, but your chances of survival are much better if you can employ some effective strafing.
Communication beyond the ping system
The ping system is an incredibly helpful tool as it allows you to quickly and efficiently communicate locational information, and also, facilitates non-verbal communication with players who you are not directly speaking to. Despite this, it does not outright replace verbal communication. There are a number of critical bits of information that you can communicate that will give you the edge on opponents that don’t communicate, or rely on the ping system exclusively. Here are some good examples:
- Enemy health: At present, Apex Legends offers no means in which you can easily track an enemies health. Communicating how much damage you’ve dealt to each character in the battle can help your team understand when to go on the offence and close the kill (example: “Hit Bloodhound for 80, shields gone”).
- Fuzzy positioning: Sometimes you have only a vague idea where the enemy is, and need a way to communicate that lack of certainty. The ping system only pings a single location, so this can a false impression that the enemy is in that exact position (example: “Bangalore’s somewhere on this rooftop”).
- When enemies are knocked: It’s important to let your team know when enemies are knocked down and/or, reviving. Your teammates can see this in the kill feed, but it’s not always clear if this is being flooded with other information, and also takes more time, as they have to read a small portion of text and take their attention away from the centre of the screen. Similar to communicating the damage you’re dealing, this lets your teammates know when to advance, and when to hold their ground (example: “Two knocked inside, push”).
- What you’re looking for: Pinging items you find that might be useful to your teammates is incredibly helpful in ensuring that everyone is able to gear up, but sometimes, there’s just so much stuff on the ground that you don’t know what to ping. Communicating what you’re looking for (example: “Looking for a precision choke and heavy extended mag”) can help ensure your teammates keep an eye out.
- Positioning without line of sight: Oftentimes, you’ll be put in scenarios where you know where the enemy is, but you don’t have line of sight. Perhaps you’re looking through the glass in Watch Tower (pinging here pings the glass rather than the environment beyond it), or perhaps you’re running away from someone that’s shooting at you. In these instances, it can be helpful to communicate information using the compass system, or relative to your own location (example: “Enemy on me, chasing” or ‘2 enemies north east, 245”).
There are a number of others scenarios that can be communicated much more quickly and efficiently through verbal interaction, too, such as the number of enemies, the number of teams involved in a fight, and calling out when you’re about to use your ability. The ping system is a convenient feature for locational information, but it’s not an effective substitute for verbal communication in general.
Something final to note, is that effective, efficient communication is a skill. You don’t want to flood your communications with senseless information about what’s happening to you, moment to moment, and you need to communicate high priority information, quickly, and clearly. This is something that takes practice.
Getting the right angle
It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how poor the positioning of most players is. Having a good angle on your opponents has several objectives:
- Minimise your visible hitbox, in an ideal scenario so that your opponent can only hit part of you. Often this means getting the high ground.
- Pick angles that expose your opponents, so that you can hit them more easily. When starting a fight, don’t take the shot as they go through a doorway, wait until they’ve fully exposed.
- Restrict their options by getting a crossfire going with your teammates, coordinate so that your opponents have no good options. Their current position exposes them to you, and your teammate covers their retreat. This could be as simple as sitting on the rooftop of two buildings, or ambushing them from two sides.
High ground is unbelievably powerful in Apex Legends for a number of reasons; not least because the healing items require players to commit an animation where they can no longer fire. High ground almost always offers an opportunity to retreat and recoup your health, whereas if you’re attacking from a low position the opponents above can push on you at any time with rapid momentum (sliding).
It’s important that you know when you need to push, and when you need to play more defensively. In order to do this, you need to know both how much health/shield you and your allies have, and how much health your enemies have. By understanding this, you can identify moments of vulnerability and capitalise on these by rushing the enemy down to close the fight. Failure to do this will either lead to you over-extending or simply missing the opportunity to close the fight, and going round in circles until you all get killed by a third party.
- Keep track of the damage you deal. Remember that the damage dealt with fully automatics is the total attributed over a succession of fire, get used reading these numbers and remembering who has which health.
- Communicate the damage you deal to your allies quickly and accurately. Calls like “120 on Wraith, 50 on Bangalore” can be effective. “No shields on Bangalore” has similar value if you don’t want to use the explicit numbers. It’s important that you never miscommunicate these details, claiming an enemy is ‘one shot’ when they’re not may get your allies killed.
Remember, it’s not necessarily important or easy to keep track of the exact amount of HP an enemy has left, but a simple way to condense this information is does the guy have shields, or not? If not, communicate that to your team, if they do, let your team know when you take them down.
Experiment, but be aware that the meta is meaningful
The most popular guns in the game are that way for a reason. They put people down quickly and consistently. The Wingman and the Peacekeeper are some of the most popular weapons right now, largely because they dish out a lot of damage very quickly.
It’s important to be aware of these weapons; even if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to them yourself, being aware of their strengths and weaknesses can provide a substantial advantage.
By all means, experiment with other guns. Weapons like the Triple Take and Longbow aren’t as popular as others, but this is often simply because they’re uses are more circumscribed and specific, rather than that they’re straight up inferior. Maybe one of these guns fits your play style nicely; personally, I prefer the Wingman + R99 combo over the Wingman + Peacekeeper, just because I find the R99 does more work when you need sustained damage.
As for the Legends themselves, smaller Legends tend to be on top of the meta right now and with that in mind, I personally feel that Wraith, Lifeline, and Bangalore are the strongest team to take into a match. But characters aren’t quite as one-dimensional as weapons (which can be condensed down to charts, spread patterns, and DPS).
Furthermore, pushing people towards those characters can create a self-fulfilling prophecy — wherein the best characters are the characters that see the most experimentation and technique development, therefore they stay on top of the meta. Experiment with your characters, find out what works best for you and try to consider ways that less played characters might subvert the gameplans of the more popular characters.
Most importantly, be aware that the meta is ever changing, and you can even contribute to changing it yourself if you help spread knowledge about successful playstyles and strategies.
Keeping your options open
Sometimes, you can get a sense that you’re not going to win a fight. This might be because your enemy has dealt more damage to you than you have to them, or their positioning is better than yours. It’s okay to say “I don’t like this position” and relocate. With this in mind, have an escape plan. Don’t over commit to a gunfight that you aren’t confident you can win, and be prepared to exit that gunfight when things go south.
Area of effect damage is incredibly effective in buying your team the opportunity to retreat and heal. Bangalore and Gibraltar’s airstrikes create an effective diversion and prevent enemies from pushing onto you as they cover the space between you and them, while thermite grenades and Caustic’s gas traps can cover narrow pathways and buy your team the time they need to recover and or reposition. Wraith’s portal can provide an exit but it’s crucial that you set this up ahead of time (the same is true of Caustic’s traps). Consider the angle of attack and where you might want to retreat to, and conceal the portal entrance and exit.
You don’t get better by hiding
You can come second in any game of battle royale by hiding in a bush and waiting until there’s just one other team alive. That’s the reality of how these games play. Passive and slow-paced styles of play can go far, but they don’t help you get the experience required to ensure you win your fights. Actively seeking to get into gunfights helps you become better as a player. By getting into more fights, you can focus on improving your accuracy, figure out the recoil patterns with each weapon, and which works best for you in each scenario, and learn the various spots in the map that can make a difference in a gunfight.
You’ll often fight your toughest battles at the middle of the game, and find that the team alive at the end aren’t necessarily the strongest; this is often because they’ve spent the whole match skulking around, avoiding confrontation.
In free-to-play battle royale games, the community gets better quickly, and if you want to do well, and stay competitive, staying ahead of that curve is crucial. More aggressive playstyles that lead to more gunfights give you more experience in the right areas, that ultimately helps you develop into a better player. So stop hiding behind that rock and take the fight to them, especially in the early game where you have very little to lose.
It’s easy to draw the conclusion that the most effective way to win a game is to simply let everyone else fight it out, and clean up at the end, and while this can be an effective strategy, it’s not the best way to improve as a player. Make smart, aggressive plays (hitting people while they’re fighting, learning the map and using angles that minimise risk to your advantage), and you’ll find yourself coming out on top more consistently.
Ultimately, it’s important to experiment, have fun, and don’t be afraid to put yourself into situations where you’re not 100% comfortable. That’s the path to both becoming a better player, and seeing that champion screen more frequently.