Apex Legends’ Hardcore Mode Showed Me I’m Not As Bad As I Think

When Apex Legends announced its Hardcore Royale mode, I was scared. I love trying out new LTMs, but I’m the first to admit I’m not very good at the game. I’ve got some movement tricks up my sleeve and my game knowledge is above average, but to be completely honest, I’m not that good at shooting. I can one-clip a few opponents in ranked, but that’s not a common occurrence – I just didn’t grow up on shooters like everyone else. Challenge me to a Pokemon battle and we’ll have a different result, but that’s another story.

When Hardcore Royale was announced, my mind was entirely preoccupied with working out how I was going to survive the inevitable hot drop, let alone win a match. I’m not sure how it happened, but it turns out I might be better at Apex Legends than I thought.

For those of you not in the know, Hardcore Royale removes almost all of the HUD from Apex. It looks good. I never thought the UI was cluttered in Apex (abilities and muzzle flashes are another question for another day), but having the extra vision on your peripherals helps you fully appreciate the game. After I’d spent a few moments ogling Broken Moon with uninterrupted vision, I realised I had no idea where my teammates were.

I rely on the minimap a lot in Apex. It’s good for keeping an eye on where your teammates are and checking that you’re not overextending your pushes and isolating yourself. Having to tab into the full-screen map every time you want to check in, rather than flicking your eyes top left for a fraction of a second, feels unbelievably cumbersome.

I’m comfortable enough with knowing my weapons that not having the ammo on screen wasn’t too much of an issue. Most guns have some kind of diegetic indication anyway. This did make looting slower, though, as I had to double check exactly what attachments I’d equipped at regular intervals.

The final major shakeup in Hardcore Royale is the fact that everyone has white armour, giving you 50 extra health. It’s not an Evo Shield like every other shield in the game, so it doesn’t improve as you do damage, and no better shields spawn on the ground either. It’s One-Clip City. Population: me.

While I opt for a trusty Volt and 30-30 Repeater combo, most people are cheesing. When every opponent has a maximum of 150 HP, sniper rifles are the flavour of the month. Apex has gone some way to fix its sniper problem, but the charged-up Sentinel still hits for 176 damage with a headshot (did I mention there’s no helmets either?), so you can see why players are gravitating towards it. Yes, I could go for Vantage or Rampart to double down on the disgusting meta tactics, but I’m a man of honour. I’m sticking to my beloved FuseHound, and not just because I’ve got an heirloom.

Despite all the snipers, the Vantage shots ringing across the map and the Charge Rifles criss-crossing the skies, it’s not as silly an affair as Armed and Dangerous, which limits players to sniper rifles and shotguns. Charge Rifles may be great for leveling up your Evo Shield, but when that’s not a possibility, a couple of well-thrown grenades and a volley from an R301 can take out even the most entrenched sniper.

After a few matches, I realised that not only was I not dying off drop, I was doing quite well. I’m averaging about three kills per match in the mode, and coming from a guy who once paid a witch to make him better at this game, that’s impressive. Impressive, or the witch’s spellcasting finally coming true, who’s to say?

Hardcore Royale has given me a new lease of confidence in the game. I’m not going to try out for the ALGS any time soon, but I’m holding my head a little higher in ranked and doing my teammates proud. I haven’t worked out exactly what the key is – perhaps the fact that you’re always on a level playing field, HP-wise, with your opponents makes 1v1s that little bit fairer? Perhaps everyone else is just even more scared than I was? – but I’m definitely playing better. That’s your cue to clap or give me a trophy or something. In your own time.

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