Sunday, February 2, 2020

Key Teamwork Tips for Apex Legends

I’ve been playing Apex Legends regularly since it was released early last year, and while I fall more on the casual side of the player spectrum, I play enough to feel like I have some teamwork tips that are worth sharing.

Before we go any further, this advice is for people that a) aren’t playing with friends and b) aren’t using voice chat. This is primarily how I play (via matchmaking, no voice) and I’ve definitely found that it’s very possible - and a lot of fun - to leverage the in-game systems to greatly aid both communication and strategy. So if that’s how you play, read on.

Pay attention to squad requests

This one tip can be divided into two sides. As much as you should pay attention to incoming requests from your squad, you should also become familiar with making your own requests. On the off chance you are unfamiliar with this system, it’s very simple: in addition to pinging things in the world, you can also ping from your inventory.

Let’s say you have just picked up the Peacekeeper shotgun. If you’re familiar with this weapon, you’ll know that you can fit various attachments to it (including a shotgun bolt, a hop up, and a scope). You can ask your teammates to keep a look out for these attachments by hovering your cursor over their placeholder icons in the inventory and pressing the ping button. Your character will then verbally ask for that item, and the specific request will pop up in the chat/event log on the top-right of the screen. This is just one example, of course - by placing your cursor over various parts of the inventory you can request different things, like a body shield, helmet, backpack, health, shields… and so on.

The big advantage, of course, is that if you request something, your squad is more likely to keep an eye out for that item. They can then ping the item if they find it for you. And vice versa - you should always pay close attention to squad requests and take extra care when you’re item-hunting to alert squad mates to items they’re specifically looking for.

At a high level, the strategic benefits are obvious. For one thing, different players may prefer - and be extra skilled with - various weapon/attachment combinations. The faster a team can establish the load out they prefer, the more effective they’re likely to be in the match.

I’d argue that there’s also a kind of “soft benefit” here: if you are genuinely helpful to your squad (by demonstrating that you’re paying attention to their needs), then you’re more likely to be trusted, and more likely to be assisted in return. In my view, this makes the overall match a whole lot more fun. When I am in a squad that is effectively requesting-and-responding through a match, it feels more satisfying, constructive, and enjoyable.

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Guide squad mates toward generic upgrades

The previous tip is based around making and responding to specific requests. But this isn’t the only way in which you should be thinking about your squad and how you can support them through a match, especially in terms of equipment.

When you start every match, you all start with nothing - this is a Battle Royale game, after all. And - depending where you land on the map - your chances of immediately coming across high-tier gear is pretty low. Of course, you can improve your chances by landing in a known high-tier area or you can land in one of the spots designated on the map with a blue shaft of light (which indicates high-gear loot placement; these locations can change dynamically with each new match). But regardless, chances are that your squad is going to be looking to acquire improved gear throughout the game.

There are some obvious things you can do here. For one thing, pay attention to the little squad tags on the bottom left of the screen. There, you’ll see each squad member’s health and shield bars (more on that in a moment). Make sure to pay attention to the shield bars, especially the colour - if there are no shield bars, it means that squad member doesn’t have a body shield. So, in that scenario, you’ll want to ping any body shields you come across to help rectify that situation. But even when everyone in the squad has shields, they might all be level 1 (indicated by two white bars). If you come across anything higher-level than this (blue = level 2, purple = level 3, and gold = level 4) then you’ll want to ping these to help your squad mates find them.

Although you can apply this principle to almost any kind of equipment, it’s always useful to help your squad improve their armour as quickly as possible. But this concept also dovetails with the idea of paying attention to squad requests: if someone is requesting a shotgun bolt (so you know they’re using a shotgun), you’ll always want to alert them to higher-level shotgun bolts where possible. The same rule applies to any item that you know is important to your squad mates (everything from scopes to stocks, for instance).

Keep an eye (and ear) on your squad’s status

This is so easy to do, but so powerful. Don’t ignore your squad, even if they aren’t specifically requesting something. You’ll always see their status tags on the bottom left of the screen. No matter where your attention is at a given time, it’s easy to keep your squad mates’ status in mind because those tags are always in your peripheral vision.

As mentioned above, the status tags show player health and shields status. If you see that a squad member’s health is low for a while - and they aren’t healing - then they might require a healing item like a syringe or med kit. Make sure to offer it to them (either ping one you find, or if you have spares, drop it on the ground and ping it for them). This doesn’t take much effort, but it’s a kind gesture that demonstrates care for your team, and that is just strategically smart anyway.

The status tags are also useful because you’ll be able to see when squad mates are firing their weapon and when they are actually taking fire themselves. If you see that a squad member is taking fire (indicated by their tag flashing), you’ll want to immediately look for them either in the world or on the mini-map. Your immediate priority in this scenario is to understand where the attacking squad is located, so that you can respond appropriately.

So, the status tags tell you a lot about what’s going on at a glance. I think they’re such a great example of clever UI design - these tiny tags communicate so much within such a small space. They’re incredibly convenient. But remember, too, that the characters in the game often communicate verbally even when you aren’t pinging stuff - they’ll often yell out when they’re under fire, or they’ll call out when they shoot down an item bot, or when they use their special ability. All of these cues are vitally important to pay attention to as a way of giving you real-time information about what’s happening on the battlefield.

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Let your squad know what you’re doing

Almost everything I’m recommending here involves the use of the ping system. So, it’s probably worth mentioning at this point that you don’t want to abuse that system - don’t randomly ping stuff that isn’t useful, and don’t repeatedly ping the same thing over and over again. It’s annoying, and it communicates to your team that you’re impatient, impertinent and potentially untrustworthy. Don’t do it.

With that public service announcement out of the way, you might be wondering what I mean by “let your squad know what you’re doing”. Well, bear in mind that there are plenty of cases where you aren’t always in close proximity to your squad. There are a million reasons why this might happen - maybe you split from the squad after leaving the jump ship because you want to land in a different (but hopefully relatively close) location. Or maybe you’re exploring and you want to make a dash towards some storage containers away from your squad to hunt for equipment.

Splitting up from your squad is fine, and it’s sometimes actually desirable for tactical reasons. But - and we’ve all been here - you’ll sometimes play a match with a total hero who won’t pay any attention to the other two squad members, who won’t suggest (or respond to) waypoints, and who will somehow end up on the other side of the map pursuing their own agenda. Hopefully these folks will disappear from the multiplayer if a single player mode is permanently introduced, but I digress.

The bottom line is (aside from not behaving like a lone wolf in a game that relies on multiplayer cooperation), it’s always courteous - and sometimes strategically helpful - to let your squad know when you’re taking a little detour. When you bring up the ping wheel, you can suggest waypoints for the whole squad to follow. But you can also indicate a “solo” waypoint: it’s the equivalent of calling out “Hey everyone, I’m not leaving you, I’m just checking out this area over here.” You can ping a location-based waypoint, but you can also ping a loot-based waypoint (the equivalent of “Hey everyone, I’m checking for loot in this location.”) Helpfully, your character will verbally call out a version of each of these phrases where relevant.

Let fallen squad members know you haven’t forgotten them

No matter how great you are at Apex Legends, it’s more likely than not that you and members of your squad will succumb to death at some stage. One of the great design elements in Apex Legends is that death is a multi-stage process; and it’s possible to come back from the brink, even when the odds seem hopeless. Apex Legends provides unprecedented space for epic comebacks, which is a huge part of the fun.

When you’re downed by an enemy, you essentially bleed out for a short period of time. During this period you can slowly crawl around, but you can’t attack or really do much of anything (although you can ping, which is awesome, because you can at least communicate enemy locations to the living members of the squad). The other people on your squad can heal you during this period, too. But if help doesn’t arrive before you’ve bled out, you’ll die, and you’ll leave a death box in place of your corpse (containing all of the items you had on you when you died). What’s awesome here, though, is that death will trigger another timer - your squad will have a period of time to pick up your banner from your death box, and take it to a respawn beacon to bring you back into the action (if they fail to do this in time, you’ll be permanently dead, as the respawn window will have timed out).[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=If%20a%20squad%20member%20dies...%20you%20should%20ping%20their%20death%20box.%20This%20will%20let%20everyone%20know%20that%20you%E2%80%99ve%20acknowledged%20their%20death%2C%20and%20that%20you%20plan%20to%20retrieve%20their%20banner."]

I’ve noticed an increasing trend (which I’m going to specifically touch on in a moment), and it’s worrying: more and more players who die will disconnect from the game well before their respawn timer is up. Aside from this likely being due to sheer impatience in some cases, I think it’s also at least possible that players may sometimes think their squad is ignoring their death box - therefore, they don’t see a reason to stick around and wait.

So, my advice here is really simple, but important: if a squad member dies and their respawn timer starts up, you should ping their death box. This will let everyone know that you’ve acknowledged their death, and that you plan to retrieve their banner. It’s often really not advisable to pick up a banner immediately upon death unless it’s convenient - this is because one or more enemy squads are likely nearby, and the death box itself can become a trap if you aren’t careful (as a clever squad will keep it in their crosshairs, ready to take out helpful folks trying to resurrect squad mates).

It’s also advisable - once you’ve picked up the banner - to ping the respawn beacon that you plan to use. Again, it’s sometimes not practical to use the nearest beacon (maybe it’s about to be outside the circle, or there are enemies nearby, etc…). But it does indicate to your fallen comrade (who is likely spectating the match at this point) that you do plan to respawn them, and they just need to wait a little longer for that.

Don’t you dare disconnect early

Okay, I have to admit it, this is my single biggest pet peeve with Apex Legends. It’s also a trend that I’m noticing more and more recently - again, it’s just anecdotal, but I’m personally seeing more and more cases of folks disconnecting from the game early.

What I’ve noticed is that players mostly disconnect after they’ve died and are waiting for other players to pick up their banner. It’s worth pointing out that the two relevant timers (bleeding out/knocked down and respawn) are each 90 seconds. So once you’ve actually died, your team has 90 seconds to pick up your banner.

By disconnecting before the respawn timer is up, you’re essentially throwing your hands up in the air and storming out of the room. You are prioritising your own impatience over and above your team. And it also eliminates the possibility of a last-minute comeback for the team, which can be incredibly exciting!

I don’t have much more to say about this one. In my mind, you should never deliberately disconnect from a match early (the only exception, perhaps, is if you end up in a squad that is verbally abusing you over voice - I’ve experienced that very rarely, but it can happen, and in those cases it’s reasonable to pull the plug). But in general, don’t do this.

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As always, there are a million more tips for Apex Legends. Although there are numerous specifics in this piece, I think the overall message is clear: Apex Legends is a team-based experience. And thanks to the wonderful tools Respawn have included in the game, you don’t need to use a mic to communicate effectively with your team. In fact, the in-game tools provide valuable audiovisual indicators that can provide very specific information to everyone.

No matter what, I think it’s always important to be courteous and helpful to your squad mates. This isn’t just for the sake of being nice, either (although that’s never a bad thing); on a practical level, your squad will always have a better chance of success if it is working together. And I believe the game itself really shines when a squad is communicating and operating as a team.

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James Burns is a former contributor to numerous Australian gaming magazines. He is now Editor in Chief of Super Jump, and you can find him on Twitter here.


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