Popping Smoke Like a Pro
A weirdly specific guide to Bangalore’s Smoke Launcher ability in Apex Legends
You may already know that I adore Apex Legends. In fact, it was easily my most-played game in 2019 and also my overall favourite game of the year as well. I’m certainly not a pro player or anything like that, but I have racked up a couple of hundred hours in the game so far. And although I’ve tried out all of the characters in the roster, like many folks, I tend to gravitate to a select few more often than not. My overall favourite character is, without doubt, Bangalore.
There are many reasons to love Bangalore as a character (I’m a big fan of her military-speak quips, especially the fact that her “encouragement” quips seem to always celebrate the entire team’s performance, rather than just referring to herself). Leaving her character aside though, it’s her abilities that really appeal to me. Bangalore has three abilities, which include:
This is a passive ability with no cooldown timer. It activates either when you’re hit, or when a bullet nearly hits you. Once engaged, it grants you a 30% increase in running speed for two seconds. This is definitely a useful passive, especially in circumstances where you haven’t yet laid eyes on your attacker and your primary goal is to break their line of sight as quickly as possible.
This is Bangalore’s Ultimate ability. Essentially, you throw a flare at a location and a series of missiles land (in rows) at that location. The missiles then explode in a kind of “wave” — both damaging enemies and causing them to slow. It’s useful, but with a cooldown time of 270 seconds, you’ll really want one or two Ultimate Accelerants handy if you want to lean into this ability during a match.
Aha! So, this is possibly my favourite ability across all characters in Apex Legends. It has a cooldown of 33 seconds, and you’re given two canisters to fire (so you can fire one and then another in quick succession). Once the canister lands, it splits off into three separate pieces, each one throwing up a cloud of smoke in the immediate area. Interestingly, the distance the canister will travel is further than your standard grenade.
Over time, as I’ve played more and more matches with Bangalore, I’ve come across numerous interesting ways to use the Smoke Launcher. In my mind, it’s one of the most versatile abilities in Apex Legends, and can be used in both offensive and defensive contexts. If you’re a fairly advanced player — especially if you play as Bangalore regularly — I’m sure nothing I say here will be new to you. But if you are new to this character or you’re simply open to some simple ideas that you may not have considered before, read on.
Now, with some trepidation (given that I’m writing the most niche article I’ve ever written for Super Jump), here are a few ways to pop smoke like a pro.
Distract an enemy squad
I’m starting with a slightly unusual tip here. Most tips, as you’d expect, riff on the concept of concealing yourself or your squad mates. But I’ve found the Smoke Launcher to be a useful tool for distraction, too. It’s worth noting that this tactic will only work if the enemy squad hasn’t spotted you yet. You can create a cloud of smoke nearby — or perhaps in a spot nowhere near your current location — and trick the enemy squad into focusing their attention on that spot. Remember, the Smoke Launcher is mostly used as a tool for concealment, so other players will often naturally assume that something’s going on in or behind a smoke cloud. You can use this to your advantage.
Shield vulnerable squad mates
Even if you stick with squad mates, you’ll often find yourself in situations where you are all separated by at least a few dozen metres. Maybe you’re all in a particular zone, but you’re looting in slightly different spots. On some occasions — especially if my squad mates are particularly exposed in an open area — it’ll be the case that an enemy squad will spot them but not spot me. This happened recently, where my two squad mates were being fired upon by enemies who were in an elevated position. I had crouched down behind a large rock, so the enemies hadn’t spotted me. Due to their advantageous position, they were able to easily track my squad mates’ movements, making it difficult for them to run and hide without being gunned down (and they weren’t really in a position to approach the enemy squad directly — it’s tricky to explain without video, unfortunately).
In this case, I fired a couple of Smoke Launcher rounds. I put one round right on my squad mates’ position so that our enemies could no longer easily target them. I then fired another adjacent to that (in open territory) for them to use as an escape route. The lesson? You can use the Smoke Launcher as an assist for your squad mates, providing them a vital path for escape from a situation that would otherwise likely lead to them both dying.
Protecting yourself while respawning your squad
This is, perhaps, a more traditional use of the Smoke Launcher. But I have found it to be invaluable. If one or more of your squad dies (and you’ve retrieved their banner), you’ll obviously want to make your way to a respawn beacon to bring them back into the match. But of course, it takes several seconds to respawn from the beacon — during this precious time, you’re highly vulnerable to attack. I find it’s always useful to cover the beacon in smoke before I activate it. Yes, you could argue that the smoke itself draws attention, but at least it obscures your exact position — if nothing else, it may give you a precious moment to respawn-and-escape (or simply flee if necessary) when enemies arrive.
Confuse your enemies in tight spaces
One of the awesome things about World’s Edge is that there are now a ton of indoor spaces, including many multi-storey buildings. These spaces offer a wide range of threats and opportunities for players, and I think they inherently lead to a much more strategically rich experience. These spaces also lend increased utility to a number of character abilities, and Bangalore’s Smoke Launcher is no different.
Of course, if you’re being pursued inside a building and you’re in a tight spot, you can pop some smoke to provide cover for an escape. But I find that I use smoke in a far more devious way; especially when I’m inside a building with multiple enemies and I happen to be equipped with a weapon that operates well at close range (like any shotgun, for example). Rather than using the Smoke Launcher for cover per se, I’ll fire it into the middle of a room full of enemies. The chaos this can cause is actually pretty funny; it’s not just that their view of you is obscured, it’s that their view of everything is obscured. In these circumstances, some enemies will panic and try to escape themselves. This is a perfect opportunity to race into the room and claim some kills — especially if you’ve made a mental note of everyone’s rough position just prior to firing off a canister.
Nullify positional disadvantage
Setting aside the slightly Kevin Rudd-esque tip name, I think this is one of the most important uses for the Smoke Launcher. In this case I’m not just referring to popping smoke right in front of you so that enemies can’t see you. What I’m talking about here is considering the relative positions of yourself, your squad, and your enemies and then using the Smoke Launcher to nullify any positional advantage your enemies have.
Remember: Apex Legends is all about positional advantage. Being a great shot is pretty important at times, sure. But so much of your success is about understanding your position in the world, especially contextually, in relation to your enemies. If you are in one of the city areas of World’s Edge, for example, you’ll notice right away that the buildings confer a great deal of protection — even if an enemy squad spots you from another building a few blocks away (as is often the case), their chances of hitting you while you’re inside your current building is often pretty low. This can lead to a brief stalemate where two squads are trading shots from opposing balconies or windows. Of course, this could go on forever, if it weren’t for the fact that the ring will close and for this reason, you must remain mobile and must continue to move to new positions on the map.
Of course, the moment you decide to move from one building to another, you’re vulnerable. Maybe you need to cross a square, or maybe you simply need to scamper along an alleyway. This is where you can use the Smoke Launcher effectively — if you have plotted out the next location for the squad (hello, ping system), you can pop some smoke across the pathway you intend to take, thus providing ample cover and nullifying any positional advantage your enemies have.
Looting in the open
One thing to remember about the Smoke Launcher is that you don’t always need to use it when you’re under fire, or when you know enemies have already spotted you. Case in point: maybe you’ve just emerged from a fierce battle and there are death boxes everywhere. And maybe some of these are tantalisingly gold or purple, indicating high-level items held within. Of course, your squad will want to loot these before you move on. But because death boxes appear at the spot where enemies died, it’s often the case that they’ll appear right out in the open where they can easily be seen by others. And — a bit like beacons — while you’re looting them, you’re extremely vulnerable (I’ve killed numerous enemies while they’re happily looting a death box, blissfully unaware of the approaching danger).
Well, a bit like beacons, I tend to pop smoke over these death boxes prior to looting them. Yes, it’s a double-edged sword as I mentioned earlier…but on balance, I’ve found that it makes me slightly less vulnerable to unexpected attack (especially from a distance).
Confusing your enemy, part two
So, I talked about confusing enemies in tight spaces — especially indoors. But when you’re in more open spaces, the Smoke Launcher can still be a valuable tool for confusing enemies.
Of course, you can pop smoke right in front of you to make it more difficult for distant enemies to target you. You can also pop a couple of canisters to create a specific escape path. But if your enemy is far away, there’s some risk associated with this tactic. Why? Well, remember, you can only pop two canisters at once. And if you’re in a very open area, two may not be enough to totally cover your tracks until you reach some other form of cover. So, clever enemies — especially those with long-distance scopes — will watch for activity at the edges of the smoke, to anticipate your direction of movement. The moment you emerge, bang, you’re gone.
One way around this is actually to fire smoke right in front of — or on top of — your enemy position (providing that they are close enough for this to be possible). This can be handy because it not only obscures your enemy’s view, it also forces them to move position in order to see you for another shot. In some cases, it might also cause your enemy to panic and shift focus from you, as they might be thinking there are other enemies near their location, ready to strike. The advantage here is that your enemy doesn’t get to stay in a safe, comfortable, stationary position — you’re forcing them to react on your terms, and this often makes them more vulnerable.
Fearsome smoke clouds
It’s probably true that the Smoke Launcher will mostly be used as a defensive tool. But it’s definitely possible to use it for more aggressive styles of play. A few of the examples I’ve gone through so far refer to the idea of confusing your enemies, or wrong-footing them in other ways.
For example, I was recently in an encounter where my enemy and I were directly facing each other. There were maybe a couple of dozen metres between us — we were both at The Epicenter, which is ringed by a relatively steep hill. I was at a clear disadvantage for two reasons. For one thing, I only had a close-range weapon in-hand (a shotgun). For another, my enemy was on the high-side of the hill (as a general rule, you want to be positioned above your enemy in Apex Legends — height typically confers positional advantage). I can’t remember what weapon they had, but I do remember that they had me on the defensive. I assumed I was going to die, and at any rate, I felt I only had two choices: one was to try to flee and get a better position (but my chance of doing this at the time seemed very limited). Another option was to go all-out and attempt an aggressive play.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I popped two smoke clouds — one right in front of me, and one right in front of my enemy. This gave me a brief moment to quickly close the gap between us. And once I was close-up, my shotgun suddenly came in a whole lot more handy. The lesson here is that you can use the Smoke Launcher to quickly close the gap on an enemy — sometimes running away is a far more dangerous option than going toe-to-toe up close.
I hope you found this article useful. If you’d like some more general tips for Apex Legends beginners, I recommend checking out my earlier piece entitled How to Not Completely Suck at Apex Legends. And if you’re interested in any further tips articles on the game, please feel free to comment below.