However, there is a stumbling block.
I’m loving my time with Apex Legends Mobile, which is partially due to my passion for large online mobile games like this, and partly due to the fact that I spent a year obsessing over the console version.
But I enjoy it even more because it’s learnt one important lesson from mobile gaming behemoth Call of Duty Mobile, which has a feature that’s so handy that it’s now the standard by which I measure other similar mobile games.
I’m referring to one little part of the control scheme, and while Apex Legends Mobile’s controls aren’t the most straightforward of any of its competitors, there is one small thing it accomplishes quite well.
The one-button solution
Because the controls are all on the screen, you really have to rely on your thumbs to conduct most of the action (unless you have very quick fingers), mobile phones are a little more fiddly to use to control games than a conventional console controller.
Because shooter games such as Apex and Call of Duty have similar key functionalities, all mobile shooters utilise a nearly same control layout. You could gaze around on the right half of the screen and move about on the left half; you could aim your gun on the left side and shoot on the right side.
This strategy succeeds, with PUBG Mobile as a shining example, but it makes the numerous other operations a little more difficult. You had to shift your hands whenever you wanted to duck or stand up, lay down, use a healing item, change weapons, equip a grenade, or do anything else, which meant you couldn’t do anything while pointing and firing. Furthermore, if you wanted to move or look around while aiming, you faced a difficult task.
In Call of Duty, this was simplified in a modest but important way: when you push the shot button, you also aim. This saves the time it would take to push the two distinct buttons, which can be the difference between winning and losing in a fast shooter game.
CoD became my go-to mobile game for this kind of gaming after this minor feature – the entire gameplay felt just a little bit smoother and more natural, and it was difficult to play PUBG after that.
Apex Legends Mobile, thankfully, incorporates this feature, making the game feel just as furious and fast-paced as the non-mobile edition.
While Apex is a lot of fun, thanks in part to this feature, it falls short on another issue that plagues mobile shooters and one Call of Duty excelled at: the rest of the controls.
Too many switches
While Call of Duty Mobile was inspired by the main-line Call of Duty games, Apex Legends Mobile is a straight port of the console and PC game, thus it must adhere to the current controls and features more closely. The main game includes a number of complex techniques, such as sliding and activating Ultimate abilities, that don’t work well on a small smartphone screen.
The touch controls part of the screen is cluttered, with numerous icons for various functions, making it difficult to recall what does what. To slide down a hill, which button do I press? Is it possible for me to remember to hit the ‘duck’ button instead of the’reload’ button? I frequently wind up hammering the keys.
A good example is the Ping system. This is an excellent way to quickly point out features to a teammate on console and PC – you can ping distant foes, useful loot items in boxes, and assault or defend places. However, with mobile’s clumsy touch controls, I’m never sure what the ping button will accomplish – and sometimes items get pinged when I don’t mean to.
Picking up objects is the same way – sometimes you’ll pick them up automatically, sometimes you won’t, and sometimes you can’t pick them up at all, even if you need them and have storage space, for no apparent reason.
The boxes that drop when players are killed are an excellent example; these allow you to take any items they were carrying, which is typically the greatest method to enhance your own weapons and refill on ammo. In Apex Mobile, you can occasionally collect everything in the box that applies to you just by moving closer, but sometimes you have to push a tiny button on the display to start the process – and sometimes you have to pick out each item manually, which is a highly time-consuming choice.
Keep in mind that I’m not some rookie playing their first mobile game; I’ve played a lot of them because it’s almost my work. Apex Mobile, then, can be a little confusing.
Apex Legends is far from the first mobile game to suffer from the ‘too-many-controls’ issue; I just encountered it in PUBG: New State, which turned me off to the game. Thankfully, the simple shooting controls compensate for the uncertainty, but I believe a few minor modifications would make the game far more enjoyable to play.
That’s not to say it’s a poor game; in fact, it’s one of the better mobile shooters I’ve played (and I’ve played a lot). But, because I’m going to be playing the game for hours, I’d like it to make a little more sense.
I’m not sure why this new phone is more powerful than my gaming PC.