Halloween is right around the corner, and with it, games are pushing events to celebrate. Apex Legends is taking its usual Battle Royale mode and adding an Infection spin to it called Shadowfall.
I remember playing Infection all the time back on Halo 3. Basically, the mode uses a zombie mechanic. Once a player dies, they come back as an ‘infected.’ As ‘live’ players die, they become infected, and the winner is the last one standing.
Shadowfall uses Infection as a base and adds a few spins of its own.
Each match kicks off with 35 Legends as you leap from the Jumpship into a spooky version of King’s Canyon. Matches begin like usual with everyone trying their damndest to take out everyone else.
But death is only the start. You come back as a member of the ‘Shadow Squad.’ Your weapons are gone, but you get a powerful melee and increased speed. Respawn balances the increased melee hit and increased speed by giving you a sliver of health.
Each match continues as usual as Legends fight each other and fend off the ‘Shadow Squad.’ The dynamic shifts once there are 10 Legends left. Then, it’s Legends versus Shadow Squad as you wait for a drop-ship to pick up the last group of Legends.
I was already going to try Shadowfall, but after hearing it was designed in large part by the same person who made Titanfall 2’s timeshift level – I was pumped to see how it would play. After playing it for a few hours, I want Respawn to make a permanent Infected mode. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a good time.
Where Shadowfall kicks ass
The presentation is top notch. Apex Legends’ presentation was already excellent, but Shadowfall kicks it up another notch. Hearing Revenant (Shadowfall’s announcer and rumored to be the next Legend) announce the first ring countdown with a throaty, “Round 1. Beginning ring countdown to death” sets the stage for a different kind of heart-pumping match.
Apex Legends’ fast-paced combat already gets the heart pumping, but I was struck by the layer of horror the mode tossed into it. More a sense of dread as you suddenly hear the footsteps of a Shadow closing in. Fights between other Legends play out like they always have, but I started to panic once a trio of Shadows started running my way from different angles.
Shadowfall could have easily felt like a tacked-on event mode, but the presentation helps elevate it to something special. From Revenant’s creepy commentary during the match to the revamped visuals that make King’s Canyon feel different, but still familiar shows that not only is Shadowfall a fun event mode – Battle Royale modes can also be more than survival modes.
The late game. I like how Respawn didn’t just do the whole ‘last person alive wins.’ Instead, they toss in another piece of Titanfall with the evac ship pickup.
Towards the end of a match, a 90-second countdown begins with the evac ship’s landing zone marked on the map. It becomes a mad dash as Shadows and Legends jockey for position around the landing zone. All the usual tension ramps up to 11 as Legends juggle positioning with taking down Shadows. On the other side, Shadows are continually falling from the sky thanks to infinite respawns as they try to overwhelm the last group of Legends.
Wraiths and Lifelines are popping portals and ziplines to make a quick getaway. Bloodhounds are activating their ultimate abilities to negate the Shadows faster movement speed. It all comes together to make for thrilling matches that barely last ten minutes.
Where Shadowfall trips
Shadows are too weak. To balance the faster movement speed and strong melee, Respawn opted for lower health on Shadows. It’s a good way to balance them, but they are a little too weak.
Right now, you come back as a Shadow with about a quarter of your health bar. Half would be better. It’s mainly because of how fast Apex weapons shoot. An R-99 or 301 takes a Shadow down instantly. I’ve seen folks with an M600 Spitfire take out four Shadows before having to reload or switch guns.
Plus, in the late game, it can take more melee hits to kill Legends if they have better shield armor equipped. A slight bump in starting health for Shadows would help them against the quick fire rate of Apex Legends’ weapons.
It’s a limited-time mode. I get that developers want to keep communities together as much as possible these days, but Apex Legends is big enough to have more than one permanent game mode.
We’ll see what Respawn ends up doing. I can harp for this mode being permanent all I want, but it’s up to them and the player base. If enough folks are playing it, I’m sure Respawn would consider it.
I love the Battle Royale genre, but unique event modes like this show how much room there is to evolve the mode in different directions. It doesn’t always have to be the same basic ruleset.
Shadowfall is a thrilling temporary addition to Apex Legends. King’s Canyon gets the spooky visual treatment for Halloween, and the devs go the extra mile adding exciting new mechanics. Now can we get a version of this permanent, please?