Apex Legends Control will feel familiar if you’ve played multiplayer shooters before – but it’ll feel a helluva lot different if you’re expecting a traditional Apex Legends experience. It’s a Call of Duty multiplayer match meets a competitive Control match in Overwatch. It’s frenetic, chaotic, and somehow still well-balanced.
Apex Legends Control mode is Respawn taking another step towards affirming itself as the FPS developer at EA. Control pushes past the battle royale boundaries (just like the Arenas mode did last year), making Apex Legends a much more attractive sell for gamers who love arena shooters but avoid big battle royales. It’s currently set to only run for three weeks, but don’t be surprised if Respawn quickly brings it back – especially if it’s as popular as I think it’ll be.
Take over control
Apex Legends Control is fairly straightforward: 9v9 (three squads of three) face off in a fight to control three zones spread out across one of two maps excised from sections of the battle royale maps. Controlling zones earns you points, and the first team to 1,250 points wins. Like more traditional multiplayer PvP modes, you have endless respawns, and your shields regenerate after a fairly brief period of time. You can swap out your Legends and loadouts during each respawn, and choose where you’re dropping in based on what zones your team currently controls.
The loadouts you choose from are your prototypical matchmaking options: close-range, heavy, assault, marksman, and sniper. You can swap up your scope for your preferred playstyle, and improve your loadout by earning points for your Rating. Add to your Rating score by helping your squadmates and capturing zones. The higher the rating, the better your equipment will be – and the faster your ultimate wil charge. You can also hunt for care package drops to secure an even more powerful weapon, but care package weapons have a finite amount of ammo while your loadout weapons are infinite.
Here’s where Control shows off Respawn’s brilliant understanding of balance: better-performing players will get ultimates and upgrades faster thanks to the Rating system, but others can snag OP weapons from care package drops to help level the playing field. And since those weapons have a finite amount of ammo, those who grab the care package weapons (which are often gold Alternators, Krabers, and G7s) won’t dominate the entire match with them.
Control will also have timed events like capture bonuses, which offer squads a chance to gain extra points by capping a specific point highlighted on the map. These timed events up the chaos level even more, as 18 players converge on one point, throwing ultimates and grenades with reckless abandon. If your team manages to cap all three points, the game enters a lockout mode – if the enemy squad can’t regain control before the time runs out, the team holding all three points automatically wins. Again, this timed event is like a shot of adrenaline, with players rushing to beat the clock so as not to lose the entire match.
Everything about Control is fast-paced, like Respawn took the essence of a late-game fight in a traditional Apex Legends match, bottled it, and lit it on fire. This Molotov Cocktail of Legend abilities, explosions, gunfire, and rapid movement makes for a mode that will put a smile on your face – even when your character is getting shot in theirs.
Control is absolute chaos from the moment a match starts. Not only can there be multiples of the same Legends on a team (but not on a squad, so only three of the same Legend max), but ultimates charge up swiftly. In every match I play, there’s an almost constant barrage of Gibraltar explosions and Horizon black holes. New Legend Maggie’s wrecking ball comes bouncing through the point on a semi-regular schedule. I frequently lose sight of enemies, accidentally firing rounds off at a friendly player in a red-hued skin more often than I’d like to admit. There are several times where I’m chased by two of the same Legend in a bizarre hunt that feels nothing like any Apex Legends match I’ve ever played.
It’s especially apt that Apex Legends would introduce Maggie and the new Control mode at the same time, because the Māori muscle is built for this mode. Maggie’s kit is incredibly aggressive, from her passive which allows her to see the outline of enemies after injuring them to her active which can drill through enemy cover, Maggie is the kind of Legend that aggressive, confident players will flock to. There’s an army of Maggies in every Control match I play during my hands-on, her blue speed boosts that drop behind her wrecking ball littering the playing field. Maggie and Control go hand-in-hand, and you won’t find a better way to get used to the new Legend than in this mode.
Despite the chaos and frequent deaths, Control isn’t frustrating – in fact, it’s the opposite. With so little down time between deaths and such a rapid-fire pace when you’re alive, it’s like doing a full-out sprint for 10 minutes without getting winded. I can easily see this mode becoming a fan-favorite for Apex players who are looking to test out weapons and Legends in a mode that better recreates end-game BR battles. But Control should also be very popular for new players, as it can introduce them to the game’s movement mechanics, gunfeel, and Legends without forcing them to drop into the punishing ruleset that governs battle royale. Respawn has said they want to create a space for casual Apex players, and Control is precisely that.
Apex Legends Control has the potential to change the game forever. While Arenas will let you play around with weapons, there’s still far too much downtime between rounds, and very few opportunities to work on your movement because of how small the maps are. The size of the Control maps and the tactics required to secure points create opportunities for clever flanks and well-placed ultimates, mimicking the final round of a battle royale match in a way no other alternative Apex mode could accomplish.
This new mode has widespread appeal and the potential to further grow Apex Legends’ player base, reinvigorate the mood of lapsed players, and hone the skills of seasoned veterans. Control is like nothing we’ve seen yet in Apex Legends – keep an eye on it, because it’ll most certainly come back as a permanent mode. It’s too good not to.
Apex Legends Control mode drops with Season 12 Defiance this February 8 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.