Apex Legends: the Titanfall 2 engine evolved?

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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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