Is Apex Legends the next Fortnite? You'd be forgiven for asking it. Apex Legends is a hit, Apex Legends is a battle royale, Fortnite has been on top of the world for more than year and people are getting antsy: people are eager to ask the question for a few reasons, whether it's the totally normal impulse to watch for the next trend or the fact that Apex Legends is published by a publicly traded company, unlike Fortnite. There's a problem here, however, and it may have caused EA's stock price to go way higher than it should have. The problem is that this question is just sort of flawed at its core, and the eagerness to ask it ignores the fact that these games are just very different, appeal to different players. is not the next Fortnite, and that should be obvious to anyone who has played both games.
Fortnite captured the gaming and broader worlds on two ends: it was intensely competitive with a very high skill cap, which made it the perfect vehicle for streamers showing off their superhuman skills. At the same time it was broadly accessible, as easy to download and play a few rounds as it was to lose an entire afternoon. Fortnite is perfectly legible even if you've barely played any games of its kind before, and that's a huge part of why it was able to pick up the sort of broad player base not seen in games since the early days of Pokemon GO. It was silly, kid-friendly and still intense: it touched every base at once.
Respawn's game is good on the first count: it's a tough battle royale with intricate squad and weapon mechanics, both of which reward skill and mastery. That's why it's big on Twitch right now and that's why it's been so popular with a core gamer set. But it's nowhere near as approachable as Fortnite, and that means its unlikely to make the same impact even if it does get the mobile version that EA has hinted at. You see this from the moment you start a match: a character select screen is right there to add a layer of complexity between the player and the match. Once you're in the game, an involved inventory system has you not only collecting weapons but also customizing them with attachments like new optics systems or extended magazines, and each character comes not only with the weapons and items that they pick up but with two abilities that recharge at different rates. Where Fortnite's map is made of rolling hills punctuated by little settlements and other "points of interest", the map in Apex Legends is a winding maze of smaller arenas that look a lot more like a traditional shooter map on a larger scale.
These things are great for core players that might have been getting tired of Fortnite's straightforward systems, but they're going to prove off-putting for the lion's share of Fortnite's 200 million players. And that's why Apex Legends isn't "the next Fortnite": it's trying to do a very different thing than Fortnite within battle royale, even if it borrows the broad strokes of the genre. Apex Legends is likely to continue to be successful, but it will be successful at something that will conflict with Fortnite less and less as time goes on.
Fortnite has moved way past its battle royale roots and into some seriously esoteric territory: the other week, it held a one-time-only DJ Marshmello concert with no guns at all. This is unlikely to happen in Apex Legends. A central piece of Fortnite's cultural moment has been all the dances that go along with it, even leading to some lawsuits from their original creators. There is no dancing in Apex Legends. Etc.
Apex Legends will likely eat into Fortnite's user base on a certain level. There's no way around that: it's the first new entrant into the genre that's made a big splash, and you only need to look at Twitch to see that it holds a ton of appeal for a certain type of high-skill, competitive player that until recently was mostly occupied with Fortnite, as well as fans of traditional first-person-shooters that are happy to see vastly improved gun mechanics and shooter fundamentals. This is a very different thing than being "the next Fortnite." Fortnite became a unique cultural phenomenon as a result of all sorts of things that Apex Legends simply does not do and is not trying to do. Apex Legends seems likely to become a successful first-person battle royale title, and probably even one of the most successful games of the year. That's not the same as being the next Fortnite.
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