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Apex Legends Mobile kicks off with an exclusive new hero

Fade joins a limited roster highlighting the best tactics in a mobile battle royale

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Apex Legends Mobile is a completely separate game, its designers say. That does not mean it’s a completely different game.

Respawn Entertainment hopes players will find enough familiarity in the action on smaller Android and iOS screens, but Apex Legends Mobile will not share the progression, seasons, inventory, or anything else with the flagship console version.

The studio already announced, back in April, that there would be no cross-play among Apex Legends’ mobile and console/PC populations. But in a preview showcase two weeks ago, Myke Hoff, senior product director for Apex Legends Mobile, emphasized this version has been built specifically for smaller-screen devices, which if nothing else gives experienced players a chance to start all over in the Apex Games.

“This means we’ll have a different patch cadence, different themes and events, changes to ranked [play] and a myriad of new features,” Hoff said.

Importantly, controller support on mobile devices is “something that’s super important for us,” Hoff said, but it’s still not complete as of Apex Legends Mobile’s launch on May 17. “While we are actively exploring it, it is one [feature] that we haven’t quite got right just yet,” Hoff said. “We are continuing to develop against it, and players can expect to see it in the very near future. We were really hoping to get it in there right away, but [we] aren’t quite happy with the level of polish and testing that we’ve knocked out on it.”

The biggest feature exclusive to Apex Legends Mobile is what fans had sussed out ever since the game’s limited regional launch kicked off in early March: There’s a new legend, Fade, and you’ll play them only in Apex Legends Mobile.

key art for Fade describing the new legend’s abilities Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Fade was purpose-built for mobile gameplay, said Jordan Patz, the game’s design director. “We took the learnings that we built from bringing PC Legends to mobile and we used them to create a Legend that leans into what we see as being the best parts of mobile gameplay,” Patz said.

Fade is a variation on Wraith, one of the game’s most popular Legends since its launch in 2019 (and also available in Apex Legends Mobile). “He’s an extremely aggressive mobility fighter that wields a suit based on the same technology as Wraith,” Patz said.

Fade’s passive, tactical, and ultimate skills lean into a fast-paced playing style that Respawn thinks will suit the mobile version of their game. The passive ability Slipstream allows Fade to move more quickly for a brief period after he performs a slide. “It gives players a way to experiment with the advanced movement of Apex slide-jumping, and that’s a key skill we want to teach in all Mobile players,” Patz said.

The tactical ability, called Flashback, lets Fade “reset himself back to a point some number of steps earlier in the encounter,” Patz said. “This ability is created to give lower-skilled players an emergency ripcord out of bad situations, and to be more forgiving of risky play.” Higher skilled players, Patz said, will likely use Flashback to contrive ways to “bamboozle enemies, disorienting them, and even setting up an ambush.”

The Ultimate ability, Phase Chamber, can be both an offensive and defensive tactic, Patz said. Fade tosses a throwable, it explodes, and anyone in the blast radius is pushed into a phase space, where they are unable to deal — or receive — damage. “This ability is designed to help protect against bad situations by allowing Fade to avoid third-party [PvP] scenarios, or to isolate a single squad member temporarily, to pick apart teams,” Patz said. Fade “can also use it on his own team to drop them out of danger for a moment.” Fade gains a movement speed bonus while he is affected by the bomb’s phase-space burst.

Apex Legends Mobile players have nine other Legends (out of 21 total) from the main game’s roster to play at launch: Bangalore, Bloodhound, Caustic, Gibraltar, Lifeline, Mirage, Octane, Pathfinder, and Wraith. Newcastle, the newest legend who arrived with Season 13’s launch on May 10, is not among them.

In the preview event, Respawn’s designers referred to Fade as a “mobile-first legend” — with the implication there would be others — which means the character may show up in the console and PC game later. “Playing on our phones is a little bit different than playing on a console or a PC,” Hoff said. “Having mobile Legends is important for us, because it allows us to create stuff that’s unique to our players, and really highlights how they engage with the game that might be different.”

Patz said the new mobile-vs-HD Legend delineation allows Respawn to “surprise and delight players coming into our game. If we are just continuously bringing in HD legends, then it becomes which one we’re gonna do next,” he reasoned. “We want to get players excited about what new content is coming around the horizon, not just which [existing] thing are we going to choose to bring in.”

Apex Legends Mobile will feature the standard Battle Royale mode, involving squads of three and player counts of up to 60; and Arenas, the smaller, round-based 3-on-3 games introduced one year ago with season 9 in the main game. It will also feature a mobile exclusive, 6v6 Team Deathmatch mode with two variants, Clash and Deathmatch, which determine where downed players respawn. In Deathmatch, killed players respawn at random points near their teammates. In Clash, they spawn at their home base.

Battle Royale is playable on the World’s Edge map; Arenas are playable on Thermal Station, Artillery, and Overflow. Team Deathmatch is playable on Thermal Station, Artillery, and Skull Town (which was destroyed in season 5 of the main game), with Clash playable on Artillery, Overflow, and Market.

Apex Legends Mobile season 1 begins Tuesday, May 17, for Android and iOS devices and is available through the Google Play and iOS App Store marketplaces.