Apex Legends is currently the hottest game on the planet, and because it’s so new — it hasn’t even been out for three weeks yet — people are still figuring out Respawn Entertainment’s first entry in the crowded battle royale genre. The game’s built-in tutorial is only useful for grasping the basics; the best way to learn how to play Apex Legends is to, well, play it.
But even if you’ve played dozens of hours of Apex Legends already, and checked out a beginner’s guide or two, there are plenty of deeper mechanics and design elements that you may not have discovered yet. We’re here to help!
First, we’d strongly recommend that you watch the Apex Legends beginner’s tips video that we published on the Polygon YouTube channel. It’s full of important things to know that’ll help you succeed when you start playing the game. Once you’ve seen that, you can dive deeper into Kings Canyon with the next-level hints and tips below.
How to move faster in Apex Legends
As in other battle royale games, speed is crucial in Apex Legends. When you’re sprinting to catch up with a ring that has already closed on you, you’re literally running for your life.
Respawn has confirmed that every character in the game — yes, even Gibraltar — walks and runs at the same speeds (aside from certain Legends’ movement-altering abilities, of course). Generally, the key is to be moving as fast as possible, but how do you get an edge?
First things first: If you’re armed, you’re not moving as fast as possible.
According to a video of Apex Legends movement tests from YouTuber T_status, every Legend sprints at approximately 7.4 meters per second when unarmed. But when holding a weapon — any weapon — the sprint speed drops to about 6.5 m/s, which is more than 12 percent slower. To be clear, it doesn’t matter which gun you’re using: Packing a pistol reduces your sprint speed just as much as carrying a sniper rifle, as long as you aren’t aiming down the sights. There’s a similar speed penalty when you’re walking without aiming. (When you are aiming, each type of weapon has a different impact on your speed, according to this follow-up video from T_status.)
If you’re exploring Kings Canyon in search of loot, then sure, you probably want to stay armed. But if you’re in a hurry — trying to, say, reach squadmates in need, escape a sticky situation, or outrun the ring — you’ll want to holster your weapons. The default command to do this is to hold the swap weapons button (triangle on PS4, Y on Xbox One) or press 3 on PC.
It’s worth noting, however, that sprinting isn’t the absolute fastest way to move in Apex Legends — sliding is the name of the game there. To slide, start running and then press the crouch button (O on PS4, B on Xbox One, Ctrl on PC).
Sprinting into a slide along level ground provides a modest bump to speed, especially if you jump out of the slide at the end. But if you’re heading to a lower elevation, there’s no reason not to slide. In the aforementioned follow-up video, an unarmed player slid downhill at a blistering 11.9 m/s — nearly 61 percent faster than the top running speed. Even with a weapon drawn or being aimed, the sliding speed was 11.3 m/s, which translates to a speed boost of approximately 53 percent over sprinting.
Here’s a protip to put it all together. In Apex Legends, your character’s health and shields don’t recharge on their own; you have to restore them with consumable items such as Syringes and Shield Cells, respectively. Each healing item takes a few seconds to use, and you’re vulnerable during that span — attempting to sprint while you’re healing will cancel the process. However, you can totally heal while you’re sliding, with no movement speed penalty. So why not kill two birds (and perhaps a Bloodhound) with one stone?
How to drop in Apex Legends
Learning to move while you’re in the air is just as important as the ground game, since your prospects in a match of Apex Legends will often hinge on where you decide to land. Of course, the random generation of gear plays a large role, even in areas that are supposed to have high-tier loot, but there’s definitely some skill involved in answering the age-old question of “where we droppin’, gang?”
It’s easy enough to aim for a zone of Kings Canyon that’s along or near the path of the dropship. But if you’re looking to reach a far-flung area of the map, getting there will require some deft handling — and a basic understanding of physics.
It may seem like the best way to maximize your range (i.e., horizontal distance) as the Jumpmaster — which, by the way, is always the third person to pick their character (unless they don’t actually select one) — is to fly straight ahead, or as close as possible to it. But if you take stock of the gauges that appear on the right and left sides of the screen while you’re dropping in, you’ll quickly realize that that’s not the case.
The left gauge measures your squad’s airspeed, while the right gauge marks your altitude. Unlike in Respawn’s Titanfall series, the characters in Apex Legends don’t have jump jets for double jumping — but they are equipped with jetpacks for the drop. As the Jumpmaster, you should always be propelling yourself forward (left stick up on PS4/Xbox One, W on PC) to maximize your speed; if not, you’ll just be lazily dropping to the ground in free fall.
But if you merely soar straight ahead, you will soon lose steam, and will fall short of any spot that’s farther than about 750 meters from your launch point. How, then, do you maintain your speed over longer distances? Well, use gravity to your advantage! Here’s a drop guide:
- Fly straight, but keep a watchful eye on your airspeed gauge. When the number drops below 130 or so, dive for a bit to accelerate. (Your squad moves in the direction in which your camera is facing; to dive, tilt the camera toward the ground.) Note that you only need to dive for a second or two to regain your airspeed, and that you don’t need to — and shouldn’t, if you want to maximize your distance — dive straight downward.
- Once your speed gets back up above 140, you can flatten out and return to flying straight. You’ll be able to coast for a few seconds before you slow down below 130 again. From there, simply repeat these two steps until you reach your desired landing zone. It’ll look as if your squad is moving through the air like porpoising dolphins.
- Avoid flying too close to natural or manmade structures like rock formations — this can trigger the landing animation, because the game assumes you’re near solid ground.
- In flight, use the free-look function, or ask your squadmates to do it (hold L2/LT on PS4/Xbox One, right-click on PC), so you can watch for other groups flying toward the same landing area. If you’re spoiling for a fight, that’s fine. But if you’d rather avoid combat right off the bat, change course and head somewhere that looks to be less popular.
- Either way, once you’re in the vicinity of your final destination, the three of you should split up just before you land (square on PS4, X on Xbox One, Ctrl on PC). Sticking together is smart once you’ve all acquired some weapons, but there’s no point in competing with each other during the frantic early-game hunt for gear.
Because good loot can be hard to find, and because your survival in a crowded area depends on picking up guns before your enemies do, speed is of paramount importance during the drop. Decide on a landing zone as soon as possible, and launch. While it might seem to make sense to wait until the dropship is closer to your target, you’ll usually get there first if you launch earlier — as long as you keep your speed in that 130-140 range. (The caveat is that the maximum range with the bobbing technique is 1,300-1,400 meters. Ping your intended target, and aim at the ping to see how far away it is.)
Apex Legends gameplay, character, and item tips and tricks
There’s plenty of smaller stuff that didn’t fit above, so let’s get into a grab bag of tips and tricks that we’ve picked up from our own experience with Apex Legends as well as places like Twitter and Reddit.
- Doors can be blocked by other players, deathboxes, and Caustic’s gas traps. But you have some recourse if you’re stuck behind a door that won’t open (as long as it’s on hinges, not a sliding door): You can destroy doors with grenades and melee attacks.
- Speaking of which, it’s possible to destroy Caustic’s gas traps without setting them off: Shoot the base of the trap (the red part below the inflated black gas tank).
- You’ve probably figured out that Legends can mantle up and over low obstacles like railings by pressing the jump button (X on PS4, A on Xbox One, space on PC). But it’s also possible to jump up to higher places that look like they should be out of reach, and even to scale some walls and cliff faces. Try holding the jump button — as long as you have some ledges or something to grab onto, you should be able to keep climbing (it helps to keep your weapons holstered). Oh, and if you’ve reached the top of a wall, you can hang there and peek over it without vaulting over.
- How to use sniper scopes: Apex Legends is a game with bullet drop, so if you want to hit faraway targets, you’ll need to compensate with your aim. The numbers next to the hash marks on a ranged scope correspond directly to distance (in hundreds of meters). When looking through a scope, you’ll also see a real-time measurement of the exact distance between you and whatever’s in your sights. You can put these two elements together to accurately snipe at long range: If an enemy is, say, 190 meters away, aim above it so that the “2” line on the scope — not the crosshairs — rests on its head. (Watch YouTuber jackfrags explain the system here.)
- There are two types of resupply pods that come out of the sky in Apex Legends. You can use Lifeline’s ultimate ability to call down a Care Package, which speeds to the ground and always contains three defense-oriented items (e.g., armor, Shield Batteries). A few times during each match, the game will spawn a Supply Drop. These vessels take a much slower path to the ground, and they have a chance to contain powerful gear. The game currently offers two Legendary weapons — the Kraber .50-caliber sniper rifle and the Mastiff shotgun — and you can find them only in Supply Drops. (You won’t find any ammo for them in the world; what you get when you pick them up is it.) Note that the two kinds of pods look identical except for an accent color along the top edge: blue for Care Packages and red for Supply Drops.
- While we’re talking about Lifeline, here’s a suggestion: If anybody in your squad finds an Ultimate Accelerant, let her pick it up. There’s definitely some risk to calling a Care Package in — it’s visible and audible from afar — but it’s worth giving Lifeline the chance to use her ult as much as possible, since defensive gear is almost always useful. (Note that the Ultimate Accelerant is a consumable item: You have to open up your inventory and use it.)
- In addition to weapons and attachments, there are Legendary (gold) variants of four types of player gear in Apex Legends. They’re not any stronger than the Epic (purple) versions, but each one has a unique passive perk. The Legendary Helmet reduces the cooldown time for your tactical and ultimate abilities. The Legendary Body Shield has a less useful bonus: Pulling off a finisher fully regenerates your armor. On the other hand, the Legendary Knockdown Shield gives you one self-revive (when you’re downed, not dead). And the Legendary Backpack cuts in half the time required to use healing items.
- Apex Legends communicates a lot of information through audio and visual cues in combat. For instance, the damage numbers that rise above enemies are color-coded. Hitting someone in the head will result in a yellow number. Damage figures for body shots can come in four colors, depending on the type of armor an enemy is wearing: purple for Legendary or Epic shields (up to 100 extra HP), blue for Rare shields (up to 75 extra HP), white for Common shields (up to 50 extra HP), and red for no shields. You’ll know when you’ve taken down an enemy’s armor by the shattering sound you hear — take that as a signal to rush their area and finish them off.
- The downed state in Apex Legends is quite forgiving. Really, the only major things you can’t do while you’re bleeding out are attack, revive teammates, and sprint. You still have the ability to crawl around — at a decent clip, no less — and you can also use doors and even move through Wraith’s portals. Of course, holding up a Knockdown Shield can keep you alive for a bit if you’re under fire. Most importantly, though, you can continue to use pings in this state. If you’re down but not out, keep pinging enemy locations to give your squadmates a better chance of surviving!