I’ve been playing a lot of Apex Legends over the last few days and it certainly lives up to the hype. The setting’s interesting, the characters are cool, the weapons have some wallop behind them and the movement (especially sliding down hills) is precisely as fun as you’d expect from the developers who made the Titanfall games. But there’s one innovative feature that’s become a little overlooked in the hype and I reckon it’s what’s going to ensure that this title has legs: the Smart Comms system.
Anyone who’s played a multiplayer shooter in the last ten years will know that the most annoying thing you can encounter isn’t a camping sniper, but a furious ten-year-old screeching racist and sexist abuse down voice chat at the slightest provocation. Simply having to interact with these players at all makes the experience pretty damn draining (and no doubt does a great deal to turn off anyone new to online shooters).
This is why Apex Legends’ Smart Comms is so great, as it’s a context-sensitive button that allows players to communicate without speech. For example, if you look at an enemy and press the Smart Comms button, you’ll send a message to your teammates alerting them to their position (you can do the same with pretty much any other object in Apex).
It is, to excuse the pun, a bit of a game-changer and now, the official Twitter account for the title has hinted at the lengths the developers went to to get this working, explaining the following:
“We playtested for a month with voice comms off and fake names to simulate playing with random people, and that allowed us to feel things out in an authentic way. Awesome to see folks using and enjoying Smart Comms!”
Getting strangers to cooperate effectively in an online shooter is something of a holy grail for games and it seems like Apex Legends has nailed it out of the gate. Plus, the lines they use deliver characterization as to who’s who. And if for whatever reason you’re not on board with Smart Comms, then there’s still the option for regular voice chat.
Here’s hoping for more great features coming down the pipeline very soon.