Control is the cold, low-stakes shootout that Apex Legends needs

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Apex Legends has a problem. As far as I I absolutely love the gameits high-octane world and characters and brawls, Apex is a gory, tough game to introduce to your friends – forcing you to keep track of dense maps, loot locations, character abilities, ammo , hop-ups, weapon recoil, bullet drop and a rising movement ceiling.

Even in an unranked battle royale, those first twelve hours can be a brutal affair, and many friends have dropped out of the game as they struggle to nab even a single kill over the course of an evening. What Apex needs is a cold, low-pressure alternative that lets you get a feel for the game’s cast and arsenal without worrying too much about dying.

What Apex needs is control.

Captured area

arrive with Season 12: Challenge next week, Control isn’t the first time Respawn has experimented with new game modes. But even including a Valorant-inspired Arenas mode being introduced permanently in early 2021, Control might be Apex’s most ambitious combination ever. Legends to this day.

Here’s how it works. Two teams of 9 (made up of three squads of three people each) fight over three control points spread over part of a BR map – currently the Hammond Labs field in Revamped Olympus from Season 12, or Storm Point Barometer. Stand near a point and you’ll capture it, increasing the rate at which your team’s score accumulates. The first team has 1250 kills, although a team wins immediately if they manage to “block” their enemies by capturing all 3 and holding them for 90 seconds.

It will look instantly familiar to anyone who played Call of Duty, Battlefield, Team Fortress 2, or any team-based shooter before the battle royale craze. But Control has a few Apex-specific quirks to spice things up. Sometimes flash events will throw a wrench into the mix by offering double capture points for a specific objective or raining care packages down the map.

Welcome to Battlefield: Olympus. (Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

But Control also smooths out the tougher parts of cleaning Apex to throw you straight into combat, without worrying about things like ammo or shields. Like previous Limited Time Modes (LTMs), there’s a rotating loadout system that lets you choose from set starter weapons, all of which have unlimited ammo. You have unlimited medkits to heal yourself, but the shields will only auto-recharge if you stay out of the fire for a few seconds (longer if fully broken).

A scoring system also accumulates as you stay alive, play with your team, capture points and kill opponents. More than your score, each ranking level you climb increases your weapon attachments by one level. The biggest change for Apex is that respawns are infinite, and you can re-enter the match from any checkpoint your team currently owns and is connected to your home base (to avoid sneaky respawns back-cap), with a new caption or loadout if you feel like it.

open war

The result is a mode that feels loud, chaotic, and massive in a way that even a 60-player battle royale never quite hits. The fighting is constant, with teams exchanging sniper fire on the fields of Hammond Labs, sneaky players sneaking into trident recovery points, an endless riot of airstrikes in Bangalore and wrecking balls from Maggie. Sure, sometimes you’ll blindly drop six driven flatlines over your head, but with death only costing a few seconds of downtime, I’m more willing to risk insane flanks and cheeky little solo catches.

It’s a mode that feels like both a Halo mode played with Overwatch characters with a hint of Battlefield scale, and I love it.

Listen, I love Apex’s take on battle royale. Roaming an open map like an apex predator, choosing fights carefully, and building my perfect loadout will always be what I’m here for first and foremost. But it’s a mode built on tension, and while that tension makes every victory feel like the most desperate and hard-fought victory of your life, it can feel exhausting.

Not a game journalist casually killing a former Overwatch League player, is it? (Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

That doesn’t mean Control can’t bite his nails, mind you. Some of our preview matches went to the wire, fierce fights over capture points as both teams’ scores rose agonizingly in final percentages. But it’s a different kind of tension, one where I don’t feel like my individual performance is as decisive for the team, giving me space to experiment.

Control offers an alternative where I can just relax and engage in some of those great Apex fights, without worrying that every death will bring me back to the main menu. It’s the kind of mode I imagine is great for trying out new Legends (not that I’ll ever try new Legends), getting a feel for different weapons, practicing my wall bounces or one-on-one strikes. head ones, or just build confidence in battling other real human players.

I feel bad asking friends to come play Apex with me right now, knowing they’ll be dragged into the kind of matches you’ll end up with after 850+ hours of battle royale. But Control is a great way to share with them what I love about Apex in a laid-back, carefree brawl. It’s just a shame that it only lasts three weeks.

Locking

Look, I get why there’s apprehension on Respawn’s part. In a press panel earlier this week, the developer explained that Control is deviating so much from the established Apex form it’s using this season to test the waters, see how the community reacts to it. If this answer is good, then hey, maybe it’ll come back – or better yet, find a permanent place on the list.

Horizon looks a bit anxious in such a large team. (Image credit: Respawn Entertainment)

I really hope that’s the case, because right now Control is the perfect complement to battle royale in a way that last year’s Arenas never were. It’s not even like I don’t like Arenas either – it’s a great way to learn guns and jump straight into 3v3 combat, and there’s nothing better than to claim a victory after 9 rounds of tense back-and-forth.

But Arenas are still high stakes, bittersweet affairs, and while they offer a vastly different gameplay experience from BR, they still play in the same emotional space. Control feels like a significantly different addition to the Apex catalog, something I can tap into when I want to warm up my aim, cool off after a ranked session, or just have fun when I don’t really feel like committing to a full-throttle battle royale.

More than that, however, Control is a perfect on-ramp to show people why Apex is so good. I’m not going to pretend that Apex isn’t outrageously popular (EA’s quarterly results showed over 28 million new players joined last year). But since its announcement, I’ve seen so much excitement from friends bouncing around the game’s harrowing learning curve that it’s ultimately what could bring them back to Apex.

I’m excited to be back in Control with these folks on February 8, and I think we’re going to have a blast in those three brief weeks. But Control is what Battle Royale Apex needs, and hopefully we’ll see its eventual (and permanent) return soon.

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