Apex Legends

Apex Legends: the Titanfall 2 engine evolved?

Digital FoundryApex Legends: the Titanfall 2 engine evolved?

PC and console versions under the microscope.

Just over 11 years ago, Infinity Ward revolutionised online multiplayer gaming with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. This past week, Respawn Entertainment, featuring many of the core team responsible for 2007's game-changing title released its take on the battle royale shooter: Apex Legends. Set in the same world as Titanfall 2, it lacks the technological edge that Modern Warfare had in its day, but the quality of the action shines through in ways that its competitors struggle to match.

Commonalities with Titanfall 2 extend beyond the setting - the highly modified Source engine used in Respawn's last title is rolled out once more for Apex Legends, with a number of tweaks - essentially, the inclusion of necessary modifications required in order to deliver a large, expansive map with extensive draw distances. The same visual feature set we saw in Titanfall 2 remains in place then, but Respawn is perhaps a little less extravagant in how it is deployed, presumably in the interests of clarity and readability - essential elements in a multiplayer shooter.

However, the PC version in particular demonstrates how closely Apex Legends is built on Titanfall's tech: system requirements are very similar and the options menu is mostly the same. Curiously though, Apex Legends' tweakables are a sub-set of Titanfall 2's: HBAO+ ambient occlusion is replaced with an SSAO variant, while multi-sampling anti-aliasing (MSAA) is gone. Temporal super-sampling AA was Respawn's 'go to' choice for Titanfall 2 on console, and so it is on PC, where this technology in combination with dynamic resolution scaling is key to getting as close as possible to a 60fps lock. This is Respawn's signature - a dedication to the fastest possible visual feedback and lower input latency. It's all part of getting the 'feel' of the game right. Again, Apex Legends does feel very much like Titanfall 2, and this is no bad thing.

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Another Titanfall game will launch this year

Another Titanfall game will launch this year

...But it's still not Titanfall 3.

Cheer up Titanfall fans - it's not all gloom and doom. Despite Respawn producer Drew McCoy telling Eurogamer Titanfall 3 was not currently in development, this isn't the end for the Titanfall franchise, as a new game is set to release by the end of 2019.

Just what this will be, however, remains something of a mystery.

The news was initially teased by Respawn CEO Vince Zampella, who last night dropped the "T word" on Twitter to promise more Titanfall content this year. It's worth noting his phrasing here, which hints this will be another "experiment" in the Titanfall universe.

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What a funny little maelstrom of emotions last night's surprise release of Apex Legends kicked off. Elation! There's a new Respawn game, and it's playable right now! Dejection! It's a free-to-play battle royale hero shooter? Now there's a messy melange of concepts, as if someone in some boardroom somewhere spewed up buzzwords and handed them over as a design doc.