Perhaps you were looting a building when a surprise trap went off with toxic smoke. Or maybe you chased after a character running in a random direction, unaware that it was just a decoy spawned from another player. If you noticed these things, these are the players who have either played way too much Apex Legends in the past few days, or they don't blink at the idea of dropping $20 on two characters in a free-to-play video game.
Apex Legends is the newest game from Respawn, published by EA. It's a free-to-play battle royale game with—yup—microtransactions, and it's already amassed 10 million players since its launch on Monday. But honestly, in my opinion the microtransactions are not that bad, at least considering the steep cost of Fortnite's skins. More so than other free-to-play shooters, Apex Legends' strategy for doling out its "Legends" reminds me the most of MOBAs.
So, are they worth the cost?
Caustic and Mirage: How Much Do They Cost?
Caustic and Mirage, the two Legends locked behind some sort of purchase, are the same price: 12,000 Legend Tokens, or 750 Apex Coins. That means you can either buy them outright, or slowly work your way up to unlocking them by playing.
Apex Legends may have loot boxes in the form of Apex Packs, but it's impossible to get a Legend in them. (In an unrelated perk: Apex Packs guarantee no duplicate cosmetics. No more dupes!) Legends instead are tied to separate in-game currencies: Legend Tokens and Apex Coins. Legend Tokens are earnable in-game, and earning 12,000 will unlock either Caustic or Mirage, the two characters gated behind the transaction. In a few hours of play at level 12, I'm resting at 5400 Legend Tokens.
Apex Coins are where your actual wallet comes in. (Time to despair!) You can buy Apex Coins in increments of $10. For just $10, you can get 1,000 coins—enough to unlock one Legend at 750 Apex Coins. To unlock both though, you'll need to pay $20 for 2150 Apex Coins. The plus side, at least, is that you'll have a surplus of 650 Apex Coins to spend in the separate store, or save until the next Legends roll out in the unspecified future.
Caustic and Mirage: Are They Good?
I do have some news for those who are curious to play as the other characters. Caustic and Mirage are, dare I say it, each pretty cool in their own right.
The wise-cracking Mirage, who sounds a lot like Troy Baker (I don't think he's actually Troy Baker), is an offense-driven Legend. He has an excellent Decoy ability, where you can send a fake version of yourself in a direction to distract foes. In a battle last night, my two team members were killed, so I sent my decoy to run on one side of the enemies while I snuck around, blasting them all away with my shotgun. Also when I myself have been downed, my passive ability makes Mirage invisible as he crawls away for a moment, as his Decoy pretend-dies in his place. This is very useful in big firefights, making for a clean getaway to hopefully be revived.
Caustic, meanwhile, is also useful, but maybe not in the way he's intended. As a defensive character, Caustic is all about setting a lot of traps and making nihilistic quips that are a tad grating (which makes sense, given his name). With the fast pace of Apex Legends, I rarely find my team staying in one place for too long; the camping strategy of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is barely present here. For Caustic's active ability of dropping traps, I find that he's actually the most useful when used offensively; tossing in traps during firefights when he gets the chance, or using his ultimate toxic smoke ability to disorient foes. While throwing his traps by building doors if you drop on a hot spot might be useful, I never really found myself using his traps that much otherwise.
Of the two unlockable Legends, I've found myself playing Mirage the most; but maybe that's because I'm a run-and-gun or snipe-from-far-away sort of battle royale player, and Mirage's decoy abilities are great for both instances to draw people out. However, I wouldn't leverage either of them as being any "better" than the other available Legends, as they each offer something unique to your individual playstyle.
So Are Caustic and Mirage Worth Buying?
Much like League of Legends' character offerings, the base six characters in Apex Legends are free. The MOBA League of Legends, meanwhile, has a weekly rotation of 14 free different Champions that people can play as, with the option of buying characters as well. Apex Legends essentially adopts a similar practice: you can work your way to earning new characters through just playing, or you can buy them outright if you have cash to burn. For a free-to-play game, it's not a horrible practice. It's less pay-to-win, and more pay-if-you-just-want-more.
My gut instinct is to say that if you're on the fence, to maybe just keep playing to unlock the Legends naturally. In my time so far, I've bounced between all the characters, and I haven't gotten bored with any of them yet. (In fact, I only made the plunge with Caustic and Mirage because of this very article!) If you're already tired of the available six characters and are itching to try out Mirage and Caustic, then by all means, fork over those $20 buckaroos.
Like Fortnite, Apex Legends doesn't feel like a hindrance if you never spend a dime on its microtransactions. There's plenty in store to work towards, even without the upcoming battle pass (which kicks off in March). Each time you level up, you get an Apex Pack (or, loot box) filled with cosmetic goodies like weapon skins or banners. In Apex Packs, you potentially earn crafting materials to construct cosmetic goods too, though the costs for crafting anything above Rare is ridiculously high. Each time you level up too you get 600 Legend Tokens, inching you closer to the high cost of unlocking a Legend.
So, unless you're really bored with the base six Legends, you're probably a-okay just playing, enjoying your time, and eventually unlocking the other two characters. For my recommendation: I say unlock Mirage first, because his decoy always fools other players in my experience. And there's no better feeling than getting the drop on a whole squad in a battle royale.
If you enjoy reading about great video games, you'll find a neat collection of more in our ever-growing list of the best games of 2019. It's easy to lose track of new releases, so use this list to make sure you don't miss the games we think are essential.