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Gaming: Apex Legends lands; new Division 2 details; Kingdom Hearts a hit

By Benjamin Bullard
Apex Legends via official website 2019

In something of a rarity for major games, an all-new title has arrived almost in the blink of an eye. Shaking up fan expectations for a new mainline installment in the Titanfall franchise, EA Games developer Respawn has instead dropped Apex Legends, a free-to-play twist on the Fortnite-style formula that may be set in the Titanfall universe, but cuts its own multiplayer path.

While players are still coming to grips with what Apex Legends is all about after the game debuted Monday, Respawn made the key points clear in a livestream just in time for its arrival. Three-member teams will compete in battle royale matches that pit as many as 20 teams (with 60 players in total) against one another, with each team member drawn from one of eight predefined character types, or “legends.” 

Solo play isn’t an option for Apex Legends, and each member of the team must strategically complement the others in order to prevail. To drive home the importance of the three-player team dynamic, Respawn accompanied its reveal with a mouthy launch trailer that packs in some subtle stylistic Titanfall cues, while showing off the immersive quality of the game’s made-for-battle island map:

When you drop out of your ship and arrive at your starting point, you’ll do it as a blank slate, hunting down weapons and loot as you go. One team member takes point as the designated “jumpmaster,” but each member can charge up special class-specific abilities as the battle rages, eventually unleashing special individual attacks or joining forces for team-based combos. 

Respawn already has said there’re more characters classes coming, and, because it’s free to play, there’ll be plenty of available purchases via the in-game currency system that allow you to customize your characters, unlock new classes, and, of course, score additional gear.  

While it looks and feels like a well-defined and distinct map-based shooter even at launch, anyone who knows their way around other battle royale games like Fortnite shouldn’t have much trouble picking up on the basics — and that, of course, is the idea. Apex Legends is available now for free on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is taking its action-RPG fight from New York to Washington, D.C. for the second installment, and anyone who’s preordered the game can preview a piece of the action when the otherwise-closed beta goes live later this week. 

The second installment is expected to arrive with endgame and late-game replayability in mind, to address a chief fan gripe with the original game, according to Entertainment Weekly. While it’s not known whether they’ll appear anywhere in the beta, The Division 2’s new postgame wrinkle is a mysterious group called the Black Tusks, a paramilitary faction that arrives amid the aftermath of the main campaign to “challenge players to rethink all the tactics and habits that they’ve learned up to that point,” as creative director Terry Spier told EW.

The Division 2 also introduces gameplay based around one of three character classes (survivalist, sharpshooter, and demolitionist), and reportedly serves up a meaty 40-hour campaign, set seven months after the smallpox outbreak of the first game, in addition to raids that can accommodate up to eight players. 

Check out the beta trailer below and then gear up: beta access for early adopters begins Feb. 7 and runs through Feb. 10, with The Division 2 full game parachuting onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15.

In a gaming world where sales figures are hard to pin down or compare, reports of how many copies a game has shipped might not paint a complete picture — but in the case of Kingdom Hearts III, it definitely gives you a good idea of the size of the canvas. 

Square Enix released a statement this week reporting that its newest Disney-Final Fantasy mashup shipped 5 million digital and physical copies during its first week of release, doing in only seven days what it took each of the game’s PlayStation 2 predecessors years to accomplish. 

Not only is KHIII the fastest-selling game in the franchise’s 17-year history; it’s poised to shatter the sales totals of the PS2 games that made so many fans in the first place. When Kingdom Hearts II released in late 2005, it took half a year to sell 1 million copies globally — and Square Enix considered that a major success.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out how Sora, Donald, and Goofy settle their dimension-hopping score with Xehanort once and for all, Square Enix will be happy to take your munny: Kingdom Hearts III is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.