How to Play Apex Legends on Your PC
Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game that’s available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Learn the basics of how to play Apex Legends on your PC including where to download, how to play with friends, and everything else that you need to know to become a champion.
What is Apex Legends all about?
There’s something exciting when games and genres truly evolve and grow. The rise of online gaming saw, at first, the almost accidental success of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games. At first, these were simply add-on modes or mods for games developed as single player campaigns.
Those modes and mods proved so popular that they became stand-alone games of their own, then MOBA became a genre unto itself.
The template was established and proven with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), but the genre-defining moment for MOBA games was the breakaway cultural success of Fortnite Battle Royale.
It was (and still is) played by all ages of gamers, across all manner of platforms. And its style and refinement of “free to play/microtransactions-for-add-ons” profit model spawned a lot of copycats, clones, and alternatives.
Now that the genre of MOBA is no longer a novelty but an established pillar of gaming, what is happening with new games can be described as a thoughtful evolution.
Enter Apex Legends, developed by the Respawn Entertainment studio, and published by Electronic Arts. Respawn’s claim to fame is the Titanfall series, and Apex Legends is a melding of Titanfall gameplay concepts and elements with the now-conventional MOBA genre.
Is Apex Legends a MOBA?
Apex Legends can be more accurately described as a “team-based Battle Royale” rather than a MOBA; it’s also been called a “MOBA for people who dislike MOBAs.” With Apex Legends, the Battle Royale idea of last-man standing gets shifted to last 3-man squad standing. While other Battle Royales have team/squad play as optional modes, in Apex Legends the squad play is the game and what the game dynamics are build around. In effect, it’s like a Battle Royale with a MOBA spirit.
Do you need to have played Titanfall to know how to play Apex Legends or understand what’s going on? No, not at all. Apex Legends is its own unique and new game; you can jump right in and figure it all out. But a familiarity with the world and the conventions might help at first.
Apex Legends reimagines the Battle Arena concept not as a last-man-standing, survival of the most ruthless and fittest loner affair, but as a field full of small teams of three, competing against the others, but cooperating among themselves.
Apex Legends gameplay
Gameplay wise, if you have played Fortnite (and who, at this point, hasn’t?) a lot of what you will do in Apex Legends will seem familiar.
Your character will drop into a large map empty-handed and begin a frenzied search for weapons and resources, all while the circle of safe territory shrinks and shrinks. And while others have been dropped into the same space, and will be gunning for you.
What makes Apex Legends truly a new wrinkle and an evolution of the idea is two-fold. For one, being a loner is not an option. You will be a member of a three-person squad, so cooperation, sharing, and reviving your squad-mates are integral to success.
It’s not just about taking out every other player; it’s also about keeping your teammates alive and able to support you, so they can keep you alive and, together, you can win the day - and the match.
Also, instead of a straight health-meter where zero equals dead, Apex Legends features the addition of a bleed-out-wounded state that sees players vulnerable and crawling. At this point, they can either be eliminated by opponents using a finisher move, or they can be revived by squad-mates if they can get to them in time.
This changes the dynamics of battle, as well as the kind of fun and emotion, in a profound way. Being revived from the brink of defeat and springing into newly vital action is a different kind of rush than just the kill-or-be-killed adrenaline of what are now standard MOBAs.
Additionally, saving a teammate and feeling helpful creates a different emotional response than blowing away a competitor. There’s still that task to do, but the addition of instant camaraderie on the battlefield changes not only the style of gameplay but also the emotional investment in each match.
Communicating with your squad (either by typing, hotkey-"ping” communicating different messages, or via voice over a microphone) makes each match a shared victory or defeat, and the strategies and gameplay elements it introduces into the genre truly expand the scope (and thrill) of play.
In Apex Legends, all is not lost even if you are finished by another player on an opposing squad. When you are killed, you drop all your loot… and a banner. If your teammates recover the banner and get it to a special re-spawn spot in time, then you’re back in the action to take revenge or return the favor for the squad.
All this, while the map circle shrinks and weapons and gear are collected.
Building new elements into the MOBA experience
The second way in which Apex Legends builds new elements into the MOBA experience is by bringing the Titanfall “hero-shooter” genre into the mix. In Fortnite or PUBG, while players’ models differ cosmetically, all players are created equal in terms of mobility and abilities.
In Apex Legends, you choose a “Legend” character-type, or class, to play, whose abilities are different than the other Legend types.
Currently, there are eight different Legend types that you can choose from. Six are available immediately. The last two must be unlocked either by earning experience points (XP) over time or by purchasing with game credits that you buy with real money.
The six standard Legend characters are:
- Wraith: interdimensional skirmish fighter
- Bangalore: professional soldier
- Pathfinder: scout and forward combat specialist
- Lifeline: medic and healer
- Gibraltar: a "tank" style shielded protector
- Bloodhound: tech-heavy tracker
The two unlockable/purchasable characters are:
- Caustic: poison-using trapper
- Mirage: holographic trap/trickster
Each of the character types has unique abilities and powers. Coordinating these into a cohesive squad adds a layer of strategy and tactics that elevates the experience of the battle arena into something that feels at once familiar and brand new.
The unique abilities of each character are broken up into three types: passive, tactical, and ultimate abilities.
- Passive abilities are things that are always active when you play as that Legend type; they are not triggered by any button or keystroke. Think of them as “perks” of each type.
- Tactical abilities are attack/defense/buffs/debuffs, tailored to each character’s flavor and gameplay style.
- Ultimate abilities are limited use “super moves.”
Apex Legends passive, tactical, and ultimate abilities by character
- Passive - Voices from the Void: Think of this as a kind of "Spidey sense." You hear voices speaking as enemies draw near. Communicate with your teammates quickly to tell them to get ready for action.
- Tactical - Into the Void: Phase through the "void" and in the process, avoid all damage.
- Ultimate - Dimensional Rift: Create a portal between two locations; your squad can travel instantly through them. Portals remain active for 60 seconds.
- Passive - Doubletime: If you take damage while sprinting you move faster for a brief time, allowing you to get out of harm's way quickly.
- Tactical - Smoke Launcher: Shoot a smoke canister that creates an obscuring smoke wall that your enemies can't see through.
- Ultimate - Artillery Strike: Call in an airstrike that rains down destruction across the immediate landscape.
- Passive - Insider Knowledge: Reveal the shrinking safe-zone ring's next location.
- Tactical - Grappling Hook: Shoot a grapple-line to zip your way to out-of-reach places or to get out of danger quickly.
- Ultimate - Zipline Gun: Create a zip line between two points that your whole squad can use to quickly go from one spot to the next, across different elevations.
- Passive - Combat Medic: Revive knocked down teammates faster than other Legend types. While reviving, a small, protective shield wall is spawned. Healing items use happens 25% faster.
- Tactical - Drone of Compassion (DOC): Healing Drone. Slowly heal squad members who stand in proximity to it over time.
- Ultimate - Care Package: Call in an airdrop of tactical defensive gear.
- Passive - Gun Shield: Moving your sight-aim down deploys a shield that blocks out incoming enemy fire from the front.
- Tactical - Dome of Protection: Spawn a 360 dome-shield that blocks all attacks. The dome lasts 15 seconds.
- Ultimate - Defensive Bombardment: Call in a mortar strike on a position you mark on the battlefield with a thrown smoke bomb.
- Passive - Tracker: Enemies leave behind temporary tracks that only you can see.
- Tactical - Eye of the Allfather: Briefly see through all structures to reveal enemies, traps, and clues.
- Ultimate - Beast of the Hunt: Transform Bloodhound temporarily into an evolved form; movement rate is sped up and tracks of enemies are visible, even if they are long “cold,” and would have ordinarily been gone using the passive tracker ability.
How to download Apex Legends
Apex Legends is completely free to download and play on PC. Here’s how to do it:
- Download and install the latest version of the Origin Client software.
- Launch Origin and create an account profile.
- Find the search box and type “Apex Legends.”
- Select the “Apex Legends” listing from the search results (This will bring up the game’s “Store Page”).
- Select Download or Install.
- Alternately, you can download a specific Apex Legends executable file at Origin’s Apex Legend’s direct download page.
Squad goals: How to add friends to your squad in Apex Legends
Apex Legends is about teamwork in battle. If you want to squad up with friends then:
- They will have to install the Origin Launcher and game.
- They will need to create an account.
- If you’ve got a Steam account and an active friends list on there, find the “Link Steam Account” button.
- Activate it to import your friends list.
Once friends are added, you will be able to see if they are online at the same time that you are and send invites to join a squad. Doing so will create an interim lobby area where you can see who has joined in and who you are still waiting on.
Launching the game from the lobby when your squad’s all present will put you into a match with your friends.
How to control your character in Apex Legends with your mouse and keyboard
The default control mapping for Apex Legends for PC:
- Forward - W
- Back - S
- Left - A
- Right - D
- Sprint - LSHIFT
- Jump - SPACE
- Crouch (Toggle) - C
- Crouch (Hold) - LCTRL
- Tactical Ability - Q
- Ultimate Ability - Z
- Interact - E
- Alternate Interact - X
- Inventory (Toggle) - TAB/I
- Map (Toggle) - M
- Attack - Left Mouse
- Toggle Fire Mode - B
- Aim Down Sight (Toggle) - Right Mouse
- Melee - V
- Reload - R
- Cycle Weapon - Scroll Wheel
- Equip Weapon 1 - 1
- Equip Weapon 2 - 2
- Holster Weapons - 3
- Equip Grenade - G
- Use Health Item - 4
- Gibraltar (Legend Specific) Shield Toggle - H
- Inspect Weapon - N
- Ping - Mouse Wheel Click
- Ping (Enemy Here) - F
- Push to Talk (Hold) - T
- Message Team - ENTER
High-intensity action games are the most demanding of applications. If you’re going to be playing Apex Legends, here are both the minimum and suggested system setups:
- OS: 64-bit Windows 7
- CPU: Intel® Core™ i3-6300 3.8 GHz/AMD FX-4350 4.2 GHz quad-core
- RAM: 6GB
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GT 640/Radeon HD 7730
- GPU RAM: 1GB
- Hard drive: Minimum of 22GB free
The minimum system requirements will deliver the game to you, but if you want to play with the full 60 frames per second (fps) motion and crispest, most detailed models, then your system needs to be sporting at least:
- OS: 64-bit Windows 7
- CPU: Intel i5 3570K (or equiv.)
- RAM: 8GB
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290
- GPU RAM: 8GB
- Hard drive: Minimum 22GB of free space