Skip to main content

Control solidifies Apex Legends as a top-tier shooter

Apex Legends may have started as a battle royale game, but it’s breaking out of that circle. Last year, we saw the shooter expand with Arenas, a small-team elimination mode that took cues from Counter Strike: Global Offensive. And with the game’s latest season, Defiance, it’s putting its own spin on another traditional shooter staple.

Apex Legends: Defiance Gameplay Trailer

Control is the next limited-time event coming to Apex Legends that will run for three weeks when Defiance begins. If the game mode sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a common objective-based mode in shooters like Destiny 2. Players will capture and hold zones to rack up points rather than try to accumulate the most kills.

I went hands-on with the mode before the new season began. Based on my few rounds with it, developer Respawn is making it clear that Apex Legends is flexible enough to outlive the fad that spawned it, which could help secure its place as one of gaming’s best shooters.

Control those zones

Control pits two teams of nine (comprised of three squads of three) against one another. Players spawn in at their respective bases and then run to the nearest zone. Similar to other games, there are three zones labeled A, B, and C. Teams start accruing points the longer they hold onto zones. If one team has two zones, it’ll get even more points. It’s a traditional game of tug of war where precise kills are secondary to sneaky captures.

Characters defend a control zone in Apex Legends.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Due to Apex Legends’ unique position as a character-based battle royale game, many elements of the core experience have been tweaked to fit the format. For one, players aren’t locked to one character. When they die, they’ll be able to switch to any character. When I wasn’t really getting anywhere with Loba, I quickly flipped to Pathfinder so I could zip around the map.

Weapons and gear have gotten the biggest overhaul here. In a regular round of Apex Legends, players have to scrounge around to find guns and armor. In Control, they pick a loadout that includes two preset weapons. There’s a close-range build that features a shotgun, a sniper package for long-range, and more. Like characters, those can also be swapped on the fly between deaths.

Characters defend a control zone in Apex Legends.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What’s most intriguing is how players upgrade their gear. Control makes points matter beyond bragging rights. Players accrue points for controlling zones or killing players as they would in any shooter. Those points add up –- literally. When players get enough points, they’ll move up a tier, which upgrades the rarity of their gear. Players will start with blue-tier guns, which will swap to purple once they rank up. The tier system is also how players can gain their ultimate ability.

It’s a smart way to keep Apex Legendssignature features intact while experimenting with something new. I still had the usual fun sliding around the map and tactfully deploying my special abilities.

The only thing that doesn’t quite translate is the maps. Like Arenas, Control matches are set on contained chunks of the game’s standard maps. That tends to mean a lot of open space, which can be frustrating. In Destiny 2, you can snake through corridors to sneak onto an enemy zone unbeknownst to them. Here, I could barely sniff a capture point before I was sniped from afar. Short-range weapons feel woefully unbalanced here, as even control points tend to be in large open spaces.

Two Apex Legends teams face off in front of a control zone.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

An all-in-one shooter?

It all makes me wonder how Apex Legends’ general design philosophy could change in the next few years. It’s convincingly turning into an all-in-one shooter that can fit the current genre landscape like a gun-toting chameleon. But it’s still very much a product of battle royale design at the moment. Modes like Control are excellent remixes of the core game, but I’m curious to see if Respawn retools its approach to maps to better flex around any given mode.

That gripe aside, Control is an excellent addition to Apex Legends, even if it won’t be around for long. It feels like a low-pressure experiment to get a pulse check on longtime fans and see if they’re ready to move on from battle royale. I wouldn’t be surprised if Control becomes a regular mode down the line or if other staple shooter modes like Capture the Flag are close behind. No matter what Respawn decides to do, it’s clear that it has built a game fast enough to keep up with players’ evolving tastes (the same can’t be said for games like Ubisoft’s recently canceled Hyper Scape).

If it keeps up the momentum, Apex Legends will be the one shooter left standing at the end of the battle royale craze.

Apex Legends: Defiance begins on February 8, which is when Control will be available to play.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Apex Legends’ newest character is a deadly sniper with an adorable bat pal
Vantage stands with her sniper rifle in Apex Legends.

Ahead of the start of Apex Legends Season 14: Hunted on August 9, EA and Respawn Entertainment went into more detail about the new Legend coming to the game at the start of the season. Her name is Vantage, and she's shaping up to be a deadly sniper with an adorable bat companion.
Vantage's backstory, which we got to see a bit of in July, consists of her growing up alone with her mother on the ice planet of Pagos. Her mother is secretly an escaped prisoner, and when Vantage almost dies exploring an abandoned ship, her mother has to turn herself in so she can get medical help for her daughter. Following this, Vantage enters the Apex Games in order to spread awareness about her mother's capture and eventually free her one day. 
Vantage's passive ability is called Spotter's Lens. With that, she can scan an enemy's Legend name, team size, range, and shield rarity from a distance. Her Tactical Ability is called Echo Relocation, and she can use it to send Echo to a spot on the map before jetpacking to it. Thankfully, Respawn developers confirmed that players can't kill Echo, so players don't have to worry about putting this cute companion in danger.Her Ultimate ability is called Sniper's Mark, and it's one of the most unique ones in the game. Vantage summons her custom sniper rifle with Sniper's Mark. It has five bullets, and if she hits an enemy with it, Vantage will highlight their squad for ten seconds. Damage from her sniper rifle and allies scales up with consecutive hits, and all the shots don't need to be made at once, so Vantage can be quite deadly if a player knows how to use her properly. Apex Legends is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch. Season 14: Hunted begins August 9. 

Read more
Apex Legends’ next season increases the level cap and removes self-revive
Relic is a new part of Kings Canyon's rework in Apex Legends Season 14.

Season 14 of Apex Legends is almost upon us, so Respawn Entertainment and EA revealed some of the major reworks coming to the game with when the Hunted season begins. Namely, the developers highlighted the redesigned Kings Canyon, increased level cap, and balance updates like the removal of self-revive.
In 2020, Loba blew up Skull Town in Kings Canyon. Now, the entire map is seeing a rework as part of Season 14 to improve the pacing and balance of matches on the map. Skull Town is now called Relic and is a bit bigger, the Cage was reworked to be a little lower and more vulnerable, Hillside's interiors were removed, and Broken Relay is now called Basin and got new buildings. Those, along with the other visual update Kings Canyon got, should make this old Apex Legends map feel brand new again.

Another big change is coming to account levels. Previously, there were 500 levels for players to work their way through. Starting with Season 14, players can work their way to level 500 three more times, technically increasing the level cap to 2000. This means that players will now be able to earn 544 Apex Packs and an Heirloom by leveling up. The start of Season 14 will also introduce some notable balance changes to Apex Legends, as is to be expected.
Some notable changes are that SMGs and pistols have a new laser sight attachment, the Wingman will now use sniper ammo, the Spitfire will now light ammo, the EVA-8 will see an increased fire rate, handling, and reload speed, and more. Most notably though, self-revive is getting removed. This is complicated by a change to Gold Equipment perks, including a new one for the Backpack called Deep Pockets that increases the number of medical supplies players can carry.Apex Legends is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch. Season 14 begins on August 9. 

Read more
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor comes to current consoles in 2023
Cal Kestis stares at a person in a tank in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

EA has finally revealed the title and set a release year for the sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. According to a new teaser trailer, the game's name is Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and it will release in 2023.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - Official Teaser
In addition to the trailer, EA shared a synopsis for the game's story in a press release, revealing that Survivor takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order. "Cal must stay one step ahead of the Empire's constant pursuit as he begins to feel the weight of being one of the last remaining Jedi in the galaxy," the press release says. "Accompanied by his trusty companion BD-1, Cal will meet and ally himself with an array of unique and interesting characters on his journey."
The teaser trailer doesn't feature any gameplay. However, the press release confirms that Survivor will be a single-player action-adventure title like its predecessor and that Cal will have some new abilities at his disposal. Fallen Order director Stig Asmussen returned to direct this new game, saying that "we're leveraging advanced technology to create more dynamic Jedi combat and cinematic storytelling to expand on Cal's story as he matures and survives during the dark times." He also promised to show more of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor later this year. 
This announcement comes during a jam-packed Star Wars Celebration where we've also received trailers for shows like Andor and Willow. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor appears to be the big video game announcement of the event, although EA has previously stated that Respawn Entertainment was developing a sequel to Fallen Order.
In a press release, EA confirms that Survivor will be current-gen only "to create a deeper and more expansive Star Wars experience," so don't expect it to come out for PS4 or Xbox One. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be available for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S when it releases in 2023. 

Read more