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Apex Legends: Characters, weapons and everything you need to win

Respawn's new free-to-play battle royale has taken the world by storm, and these tips can help ensure you're not wiped out when your squad first drops.

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Living the dream.

Jason Parker/CNET

In a surprise announcement from Respawn Entertainment and EAApex Legends launched last week for Xbox One, PS4 and PC (find out here which laptops run it best). It's getting such a positive reaction, that it's already exceeded 25 million players. Plus, there's already talk of bringing the game to mobile. A number of those players are undoubtedly taking advantage of its nonexistent price tag to try it out (though there are definitely loot boxes to entice you), but they're quickly figuring out that it's not the same as Fortnite or PUBG.

Since Apex Legends has only just finished its first weekend in action, those player counts are bound to grow, and you shouldn't be left in the dust as other more-experienced squads take all the good loot and hog all the glory. But with these tips, some good aim and a bit of luck, you too can enter the winner's circle.

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Only squads are allowed

For starters, in Apex Legends, your only option is to play as part of a three-person squad. You can play in squads in Fortnite, PUBG and other battle royales, but they also have other game types to play with one friend or by yourself. There's a very good reason why there's only a single three-person squad gametype -- that's because of Apex Legends other main difference: It allows you to pick your class. And those classes are what separates Apex Legends from its peers.

Maybe you're saying, "But I want to play solo!" Since the game's launch, there have been rumors from data miners (people who comb through the game code in search of possible future updates) that Apex Legends will be getting solo and two-person squad modes. So far Respawn has remained silent so there has been no official confirmation, but it's something that players have been clamoring for on both Twitter and Reddit and it still remains a possibility.

Pick a class that matches the way you play

There are eight different "Legends" (character classes) to choose from in the game. Two of them are behind a paywall, so unless you pay $20 for enough of the game's premium currency: Apex Coins, your starting roster is comprised of six choices. 

As far as classes are concerned, your squad's choices and how you work together will be the difference between victory and defeat. Having a healer is always a good idea, and Lifeline is perfect for the job. Her healing drone can bring players back up to peak health quicker than anyone, and her ultimate ability can give you top-tier defensive loot. But if you choose not to have a healer, you need at least one player that has a way to escape.

Bangalore's abilities let her run into the fray, then fire off a few smoke canisters to make her exit or hide her squad's movements. She also has a passive ability that makes her run faster when she's under fire. That smoke screen makes it possible for the whole squad to get out of a sticky situation, and once she knows where the enemy is, she can use her ultimate ability to call in an artillery strike to do some real damage (or block of a portion of the map).

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Jason Parker/CNET

You also have the adorable robot Pathfinder, which has a slightly different escape strategy. It has a grappling hook to immediately get out of reach of enemies. But it also has a passive ability that can tell you where the next circle is going to be, helping your team stay ahead of the competition. Its ultimate is a placeable zipline, so it can hang back, put out a zip line, and then let teammates know there's another quick escape route. 

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Jason Parker/CNET

When you start to think of each of the class abilities and how they can work together, you can develop a strategy for nearly any situation. Knowing how your abilities can help your team will be crucial to getting into the later parts of the game and could be the difference between winning and losing. But of course, that's predicated on good communication, which is where Apex Legends really excels.

Get your kill in style with a finishing move

In a move that's closely associated to classic fighting game Mortal Kombat, Apex Legends lets you put the exclamation point on a kill by giving each character a unique finishing move. Though they're not as bloody or downright scary as Mortal Kombat finishing moves, they do let you press a button to show a brief animation of your character sending your opponent from simply "down" to totally out of commission. Teammates will still be able to come in and retrieve a characters banner for a later respawn at a revive station, but it's still a nice touch that's totally satisfying. Be aware that there is risk involved though, because you can still be killed while you're completing the move, and even a punch from an opponent can interrupt it. It's also important to note that aside from the "gloat" factor of completing the move, it doesn't really give you any advantage in the game.

Your weapon choices matter

There's a wide variety of weapons in Apex Legends, from simple pistols all the way up to rare sniper rifles, and you'll want to pick the optimal ones to keep you prepared for the most common situations. A good rule of thumb is to have one gun you can use in close-quarters combat and another that will keep you competitive in longer-range firefights. I personally feel most versatile when I'm holding a Peacekeeper as my short-range shotgun, since its powerful-but-slow shots can take down nearby enemies quickly. For range, I'm not much of a sniper, so I go after the R-301 Carbine because it has more control than a submachine gun, but still can reach enemies at range. 

There's been a lot of trash talk already on Twitter and Reddit about the Mozambique, the weapon that's categorized as a pistol but is actually a triple-shot handheld shotgun. While it sounds great in theory, it just doesn't have the power you expect to have, and barely holds any bullets.

Obviously, you may have better luck with sniper rifles or another loadout that suits you better, but just make sure you have all your bases covered (short and long-range) to have the most success. And remember, just because you're switching between one gun of a certain category doesn't mean you can always use the same ammo. Heavy ammo, light ammo and energy aren't tied to specific weapon types, so if you're picking up a Hemlock assault rifle with nothing but light ammo, you're going to be out of luck.

You're in a squad. Play as a squad.

Even though going off on your own and staying silent for a match might work in Fortnite or PUBG, going solo in Apex Legends isn't helping anyone. Your team gets less insights about what's around the map, and when you inevitably run into a squad of three, they'll overpower you easily. If you're far away from your squad when you die, you also can't be revived as easily, putting your teammates at further risk if they choose to try and save you. 

It's extremely important to communicate, and that's where Apex Legends' ping system comes in. You press a single button (R1 on the PS4, right shoulder on the Xbox One, or the middle mouse button on PC) to show where enemies are, where prime loot is or where you think you should move next. For example, you might come upon a Level 2 blue helmet, but you're already wearing one. You can ping the helmet and let your squad know what loot's available and where it is, giving them a chance to upgrade when they probably would have otherwise missed it. 

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Hold down the ping button to see all of your communication options.

Jason Parker/CNET

Pinging where enemies are is another huge help to your teammates. If everyone is on the ball, you have three sets of eyes on your surroundings, and you'll always know when you'll need to attack, hide or escape.

Whether you're using the ping system or speaking over headsets, if each squad mate understands they need to watch the others' backs, it greatly increases the chance of survival for the entire squad. Once you get used to them, the single-button pings to your squad become second nature and are still helpful when headsets are involved.

Know your surroundings

Obviously, you're not going to know the map right away, but as you play you'll want to remember the best locations for loot, good alternate routes and the fastest ways to get from one location to another.

Each location has a different rating for the quality of loot you can find there (it shows up onscreen, beneath the area name, when you enter a new part of the map). The problem is, people will slowly catch on that landing in one zone will net better loot than others. Knowing where you're landing early in the game will tell you what type of loot you might find there as well as whether it will be crowded and dangerous. 

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Jason Parker/CNET

You could also land in what is called the Hot Zone to get excellent loot. Every time you start a game, there is a light blue circular area on the map at a random location. You can also see it by a blue beam of light over the area as you're dropping in. The area is guaranteed to have great loot, but the problem is, everyone knows where it is, so it's also often crowded.

The best loot of all is in the drop ships that are spawned at various areas of the map. You can land on them directly, but they also drop zip lines so you can travel up to them from the ground level. The only problem is, your squad will have to weigh whether it's worth it to go for that high-tier loot while two or three other squads are probably doing the same.

Finally, you'll want to be aware of jump towers. These are the red balloons with zip lines extending high into the sky. They can launch you and your squad high into the air, enabling you to skydive to a better location. They're great both for a quick escape and if you need a fast way to get to the circle late in the game. They'll make you highly visible to other squads, but it can be well worth the risk.

Apex Legends' Battle Pass and seasons

It should come as no surprise after all of Fortnite's success with the Battle Pass that Apex Legends would have something similar and it's sounding like that is the case. We don't yet know exactly how the Apex Legends Battle Pass will work or how much it will cost, but it appears to follow the same tiered system we see in Fortnite. Though there is no exact date, the first Battle Pass will become available in March, coinciding with the first three-month season of Apex Legends.

Season one begins in March and EA says it will include the Battle Pass, along with new Legends (character classes), weapons, loot and other items. Each season is planned to last three months, with season 2 coming in June, season 3 in September and season 4 in December. Part of Fortnite's continuing success has been the frequent updates with new items and challenges that keep you coming back, so it's nice to see that Apex Legends is going to follow a similar model. 

Stay tuned for more tips

Since Apex Legends isn't even a week old yet, there's still plenty more to learn about the nuances of its movement, gunplay and upcoming tweaks. We'll keep this updated to reflect those changes, but in the meantime, good luck out there.

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