As time goes on and the market shifts more and more towards live-service games, I decided it was finally time for me to tackle a game I’ve been avoiding for years: Apex Legends. Of all the battle royales on the market, Apex scares me the most, mainly because it’s team-based and fast paced. Not only would I have to struggle with the learning curve against people who have played for years, losing means letting my team down, and I’d hate to ruin someone’s evening with my incompetence. Still, I had to start somewhere, and I was curious: how friendly is Apex Legends to a total beginner in 2022?
For starters, I have almost zero experience with this game. I don’t watch streamers play it, I don’t keep up with the community, and I’ve only actually played it one time back at launch. I died very quickly. However, I do have a moderate amount of experience with the Titanfall series, so the basic movement and feel was at least somewhat familiar.
When a beginner boots up Apex Legends for the first time, they get a cutscene explaining the basics. Nothing can compete with the experience you get from actually playing a match, but I was surprised by how useful it was to have the rules explained verbally. Oftentimes, game tutorials are just big blocks of tiny text full of jargon that’s hard to wrap your head around. Having the basics explained conversationally worked wonders for me.
After you pass the intro sequence, you can’t actually play your first match without doing the tutorial first. If tutorials bore you, don’t worry; this one is over quickly, but it’s still comprehensive and informative enough that you can still speed through it and have a pretty good idea of how a match will work. I’m the type of nerd that always plays the optional tutorials, so I didn’t mind it one bit. If you want to spend even more time getting comfortable, you can always head back into the Firing Range and test out all the different guns and Legends’ abilities.
At this point, I felt ready. I had a good grasp of the mechanics and the controls, so now I just had to pick a character. I was honestly pretty surprised that only six were available to start with, but having more options would have probably given me choice paralysis, so I didn’t really mind. I consulted Fanbyte’s character tier list and decided to play as Bloodhound, since they seemed good (and also free). Their abilities allow you to see through walls and detect enemies, and I figured it would be hard to mess up my team if I misused them.
Finally, I jumped into a lobby and actually played the dang game. I was certainly overwhelmed, but the first match went much better than I anticipated. I didn’t really have a grasp of where to go or what items to grab, but my teammates did, so I just followed them around and grabbed the guns they didn’t. Luckily, Apex tethers you to your teammates far more closely than I expected, so I didn’t have to worry about dropping near them or keeping track of their location — they were always just right there. The ping system took me a second to get used to, but I was pleasantly surprised by how often my teammates pinged things as well. I was worried it would be a mechanic players would ignore in favor of voice chat.
We lost that first match, but I got four kills, which would end up being four more kills than I would get in the next five games combined. In retrospect, I did three key things this first match that I would neglect to do in the following matches. It wasn’t until I did so poorly in the following rounds that I realized how good I’d had it from the start.
The first thing I did right was choosing Bloodhound. As a beginner, the most immediate thing holding me back is a lack of information. Other players know the guns, the maps, and where they’re likely to run into enemies, but I had none of that. Learning the proper reflexes and getting a good grasp on the mechanics will take time, but by playing as Bloodhound and using their scanning abilities, I could close the information gap very quickly.
The following matches, based purely off of vibes, I played as Wraith. Of all the characters to try as a beginner in Apex Legends, she’s probably not the best. Her abilities were way less intuitive than Bloodhound’s, and I often found myself dying because I tried to use them and did it wrong. Wraith’s abilities (portals and a pseudo-teleport move) allow you to outsmart your opponents, but it’s hard to actually pull that off as a beginner. The timing to do so is also very important. Too late and you’ll die trying to get away; too early and you’ll have to wait for the cooldown to use it again. I might eventually learn how to time it all properly, but as a total beginner, I’ll choose Bloodhound the next time I play.
The second big help was that my first team landed closer to the edge of the map, far away from everyone else. I underestimated the impact it would have at the time, figuring it just might be where we could find cool loot, but it kept us away from other teams until everyone was geared up. We ended up coming in fourth, which I think is pretty good for a first match. The next few times, I didn’t keep track of what place we came in, but we died very quickly because we landed right by other players that grabbed guns before us.
One thing that didn’t make a huge difference was the loot itself. I obviously wanted the rarer guns and armor, but as long as I knew whether the gun was an assault rifle or a pistol, I didn’t really care which model it was. As I play more, I’m sure I’ll have my likes and dislikes, but I never found myself in a scenario where a better gun would have saved me — I usually died because I was outnumbered, or because someone snuck up on me.
My third and final piece of advice is the simplest: stay with your teammates. Personally, I was too scared to wander off on my own, but many losses were because one of the other two players would run off on their own and get killed, leaving the rest of my team to pick up the pieces as a duo against a sea of trios. Pinging is easy, and your teammates are usually cooperative if you make the effort to communicate with them. I was worried I would drag my team down by failing to pull my weight in a firefight, but lackluster shooting is always better than outright desertion.
Overall, I was startled by how easy it was for a beginner to jump into Apex Legends. The opening tutorials and the team-based gameplay did a lot to ease my fears about getting situated while others have been playing for years. If you want to make your own attempt with a little more information than I did, check out our Apex Legends hub for news about the new season and guides from people that know far more about the game than I ever will.