Apex Legends incorporates elements of a ‘hero shooter’ (e.g. Overwatch, Team Fortress, etc.) into the traditional battle royale genre. This blending of styles has introduced ‘Ultimate’ abilities into the genre. For the uninitiated, an ‘Ultimate’ ability is a Legend’s signature skill (and strongest), specifically designed to turn the tide of a fight. They typically have long cooldowns – indicated by a charging gauge at the centre bottom of your screen – and serve a very particular purpose, encouraging players to use them in a certain way.
While Ultimate abilities aim to embody the ‘essence’ of each Legend’s kit (e.g. Mirage is all about trickery and his Ultimate is an embodiment of that design goal), they aren’t the sole determining factor when it comes to assessing their strength. Hitbox size, animations, and the passive and tactical ability all come together to form the complete kit. Put differently, I wouldn’t use a Legend’s Ultimate ability as a yardstick to rank the overall effectiveness of the Legends (I’d argue hitbox size is the most influential factor). However, Ultimates are the only way (outside of shooting everyone in the head) that a player can turn the tide of a fight in a short amount of time. For this reason, it is worthwhile to go over all the Ultimates and how they stack up against each other.
This article will then rank all Ultimates against each other in a vacuum (press the button, get the effect), from best to worst. This means a character with the best ultimate may not be the best character overall and vice versa.
10. Bangalore – Rolling Thunder
Bangalore’s Ultimate is very similar to Gibraltar’s, but instead of focused zone denial, it’s more focused on flushing out an area instead. Once charged, Bangalore can throw a signal flare that begins an airstrike at the flare’s location, which then begins to strafe across the landscape. These missiles embed themselves into the ground for a little bit, before detonating in the same wave like pattern they were dropped. Think a bunch of weak grenades thrown down in a cascading wave (it has the same warning indicator as a grenade even).
These explosions only do 20 damage, but they stun anyone hit for a very long time (much longer than Gibraltar’s), clouding their vision and inhibiting their ability to aim or sprint properly. Bangalore can be hurt and stunned by her own Ultimate; her teammates are immune to the damage but not the stun effect. The charge rate is fairly long compared to the rest, meaning you need to be a little bit selective about using it like you would as Gibraltar.
The purpose of this Ultimate is area denial like Gibraltar but it sacrifices raw power and zone control for a much larger area of influence. It will force most people (including your team if you’re in it) from cover and usually pause the fighting as everyone scrambles to reposition. Often you’ll either use this to cover a retreat or to flush enemies from their positions. Being inside a building provides safety from the Ultimate.
In the end, it is less effective at locking down a single area and its uses are a little bit more limited than Gibraltar’s, making it slightly less effective overall. I do think it is the weakest Ultimate in the game however as it requires very specific conditions to really cause mayhem, because it is quite easy to avoid and negatively affects both squads.
Caustic is in possession of another zone denial Ultimate, even closer in function to Gibraltar’s than Bangalore’s. When fully charged, Caustic can throw a gas canister at a location that will explode into a particularly large cloud of Nox Gas. This gas cloud is exactly the same as the gas from Caustic’s traps, just larger. It inhibits people’s move speed and vision while doing small amounts of chip damage directly to their health. This charges much quicker than the above, being one of the faster ones in the game and available for most of your fights.
This is, in my view, an inferior version of Gibraltar’s Ultimate. It is designed to lockdown an area and prevent enemies from moving through or into it, which it does, just with far less punch than Gibraltar. The gas damage is quite low and requires Caustic to find prey inside it for him to leverage it properly. It’s much easier to simply walk out of than Gibraltar’s Ultimate, as the movement impairing effects aren’t as powerful. It is also the only way Caustic can create a cloud at a location that isn’t previously trapped as well, meaning Caustic is reliant on it to fight in an open field.
It is saved by its short charge time (being available for almost every fight) and the fact it’s the only offensive zone denial Ultimate that can be used indoors.
Gibraltar has the best zone denial Ultimate in the game. When charged, you have the option to throw a signal flare at a location, which – after a telegraphed start-up delay – will begin getting shelled by mortar fire. Each shot does 40 damage and shakes you about, which makes fighting inside its area of influence essentially impossible. Be aware that Gibraltar can take damage from his own Ultimate and even die to it (you can deploy your Dome Shield to protect yourself from it). His teammates will not take the damage, but will suffer the stun effects. The charge time is quite lengthy, so it’ll only be up for about half of your fights.
If you could somehow guarantee enemies would stay in this, it would be the best Ultimate in the game without question; the speed at which this Ultimate can kill people is quite frightening. However, the start-up is loud and telegraphed, signifying that this area is about to get decimated. This basically forces everyone from the zone or indoors, which will protect them from the mortar fire. If you need to flush a position or deny a squad the ability to enter a specific area (to protect downed teammates or secure kills), this thing is unmatched for its sheer threat value. However, like all ‘offensive’ zone denial Ultimates, their uses are restricted and often easily dealt with by simply not standing in them.
Watton’s Ultimate really entrenches her as the ‘static defender’. Wattson is a defensive hero and like the rest of her brethren is best suited towards holding a location and inhibiting enemy advances. Unlike her defensive brethren though, her Ultimate is entirely defensive in nature, locking down an area for your team, rather than denying space to the enemy like Caustic and Gibraltar’s Ultimates do.
Watton’s Ultimate ‘Interception Pylon’ places down a, well, Pylon on the floor that does the following: Slowly restore shields, destroy all ordnance (grenades and ‘air strike Ultimates’) in range and recharges tactical abilities faster. This makes it very good at bunkering down in a specific location as you’re now slowly regenerating shields and immune to grenade spam. The slow healing of shields and increased tactical usage is nice as it slightly increases your staying power, but the real boon is the ordnance removal. It’s important to note that all its effects also benefit any enemies inside its radius as well (they will be healed, have faster tactical recharges and not be affected by grenades either).
Grenade hoarding is a very effective and common tactic in Apex Legends currently. Having 10+ grenades (often more) between your entire squad and then just raining them on a squad to flush them out (if not outright kill them) is at times often difficult to deal with. It often results in a ‘no win situation’ in which to not die to the grenade, you need to expose yourself to fire and move out of position. Wattson’s Ultimate, theoretically, makes you immune to one of the best tactics in the game.
The Pylon itself can be destroyed by being shot, however, clever placement can alleviate this. Additionally, Wattson can place up to a maximum of three on the field at any one time, allowing her to either create redundancies or influence a massive area for her squad. To make things even better, her passive ensures that an Ultimate Accelerant will charge her Ultimate to full no matter what percent you’re at. So if you’re carrying a few Accelerants, you can throw down these Pylons quite frequently, making you even more difficult to dislodge from your hidey-hole.
When Wattson combines all this with her tactical, she becomes the best point defender in the game, immune to most strategies besides ‘getting shot and dying’. The Interception Pylon is the cornerstone of her kit and gives her an entirely unique ‘static defense’ play and with it, access to options no other Legend can emulate. It does need to be played around to be effective though, if you try to play Wattson in any other way to which she and her Ultimate is suited, you’re going to have a bad time.
However, as this list is based on ranking Ultimates against each other without the support of their other abilities, it loses significant value as Watton’s kit is very ‘holistic’. Wattson’s kit is greater than the sum of her parts, her Ultimate is no exception so it gets ranked a bit lower than its actual value (a victim of this list’s criteria). But when you do use her Ultimate in conjunction with the rest of her kit, it’s one of the better Ultimates in the game.
When fully charged, Wraith can link two locations together to form a ‘wormhole’. Upon activation, she’ll begin running faster than usual, tethering the spot she activated her Ultimate at to the location she ended her Ultimate at. A portal will appear at both locations and stepping into them will transport the player at high speeds to the other portal (they are invulnerable during transit) following the exact path Wraith took (make one and run in a circle heaps, hilarious results). Wraith is limited by a ‘portal charge’ counter, which lasts for about 150-200 meters and when it expires, forcibly finishes the Ultimate. Enemies can take this portal and the portal lasts quite a long time, about a minute. The Ultimate itself charges very fast, one of the fastest in the game, gaining about 40% of its charge before the previous portal even expires.
This Ultimate can be useful for creating an escape route, or to get your squad around a heavily entrenched position, but not much else. Like Pathfinder’s Ultimate, it is heavily reliant on the judgement of the Wraith player to utilise fully. What holds it back is the lack of verticality and the way in which Wraith places the portals. Pathfinder’s Ultimate is much more flexible because he can get his squad into unique and interesting positions. Wraith is still bound to the floor so it just ends up being used a way to regroup the squad quickly or build an escape route. Additionally, Wraith must manually travel the distance to create the portals (though she can pair it with her tactical for a momentary respite) whereas Pathfinder can fire his at the targeted destination, making his Ultimate much more flexible at providing the team with mobility overall.
Octane’s Ultimate is very similar to Pathfinder’s in theory. Once charged, Octane will throw a pad at the targeted location, which will launch anybody who comes into contact with it a decent distance into the air. Just like Pathfinder’s Ultimate, it has a very quick charge time of 90 seconds.
However, now that Octane has been out for a long while, his Ultimate in a practical setting doesn’t really hold a candle to Pathfinder’s. Octane is restricted by the fact he needs to get close to his desired destination before deploying the pad (a risk Pathfinder doesn’t have to take) and doesn’t grant the incredible vertical mobility Pathfinder’s does.
The speed at which is flings you into the air can make you a difficult target to hit and good at ‘ambushing’ from above, it just doesn’t accomplish the goal of quickly repositioning a squad like the gold standard of Zipline does. That being said, the option for quick vertical mobility does bring make it slightly better than Wraith’s in my view.
Following the support trend, Pathfinder holds a very stellar Ultimate when it comes to potential. Once charged, Pathfinder can shoot a relatively long zipline from his current location to his target, allowing anyone (not just his team) to traverse across it. It has the fastest charge time of any ultimate at roughly 90 seconds, giving Pathfinder the ability to transport his team frequently.
Like Lifeline, on the surface this doesn’t seem overly powerful, but in the hands of a creative player, this thing can win engagements. Firstly, it can increase the whole squad’s mobility significantly, being able to reposition lightning fast. The second – and more important – point is it allows the squad to reach and set-up in positions people wouldn’t usually check, which can result in a huge advantage for an up and coming firefight.
This sets up Pathfinder as the master of ambush, allowing him to not only place himself in the perfect spot, but the entire squad. The issue with this ultimate is the dependency on the Pathfinder player to be good with the zipline, as best use is extremely contextual, requiring good judgement and planning. This is the primary reason I’d rank it below Lifeline’s in overall effectiveness.
As the game has aged, players have become more aware of looking above them and checking the ‘unique’ locations Pathfinder and his squad can access, this has dropped its effectiveness as the player base has improved. Which is why its been bumped down on the list coming into Season 2.
On initial release, this very article lambasted Mirage’s Ultimate as the worst Ultimate in the game. Since Apex Legend’s release, it has seen a significant buff. Essentially, the invisibility component has been buffed to the point of it being very, very, difficult to spot. It is now reliable enough to run into the line-of-sight of enemies and expect to not be seen most of the time. You even have the ability to cancel the cloak now (by pressing your Ultimate key again), giving Mirage flexibility in application, which he never even dreamed of having before.
It is now a viable option for flanking an enemy team by simply ulting, running past them and then getting the drop on them from behind while they’re busy. It’s also a viable option for escaping when caught out of position. These were the intended purposes of the Ultimate and now that they can be realised through this buff, it’s actually one of the stronger Ultimates in the game, giving Mirage a lot of offensive and defensive options completely unique to him.
The Ultimate takes 150 seconds to passively charge, which puts it in the middle of the pack as far as Ultimate charge times go (meaning you’ll get a few decent uses out of it). It stills summons clones, which still don’t move and behave very obviously like decoys. Regardless, these changes make Mirage’s Ultimate go from one of the worst to one of the best, capable of pulling off plays no other hero can dream of, giving entire teams the slip. This is now one of the best combat Ultimates, contesting even Bloodhound’s.
Bloodhound can lay claim to the fact they have the best combat centric Ultimate in Apex Legends. Once used, Bloodhound’s vision will turn grey, while highlighting all enemies in red, all tracks will also glow red and cold (expired) tracks will be revealed. On top of this, Bloodhound moves considerably faster, both in and out of sprint. It lasts a full 40 seconds, but has a substantial activation time (that you can skip if you’re on a zipline), which is very, very loud and Bloodhound’s eyes glow red, alerting everyone that you’re ready to fight. It sports a respectable charge-time, being one of the shorter ones. You’d expect to have this up for about half of your fights (more if you’re not fighting much).
There is very little nuance to this Ultimate. Pop it and enjoy 40 seconds as the most powerful duelist in the game. It synergises very well with a Bangalore and is a very good counter to Bangalore and Caustic (as long as you don’t step into the poison cloud). An enemy Bangalore actually becomes a liability to her team if you have a Bloodhound under the effect of their Ultimate. Just remember how loud and long the activation time is before you engage someone, because once you press it, everyone will know you’re around.
For some, this may come as a surprise when I say this is the best Ultimate in the game. At first glance it doesn’t really appear to turn the tide of any fight and directly this is true. But indirectly, this Ultimate is an absolute powerhouse. When fully charged, Lifeline can summon down a supply drop (similar to the one the map drops) which has two pieces of high quality loot and meds in them. It is quickly worth noting that these supply drops have a cross on them (and are blue instead of red) to distinguish them from the map drops. Additionally, they do not have a chance to spawn a ‘power weapon’ (i.e. Kraber and Mastiff).
It has the longest charge rate of all the Ultimates (roughly six minutes) by a considerable margin, but this is somewhat mitigated by the fact Accelerants always give 20% of your charge, regardless of how that varies in actual seconds granted. Additionally, her Ultimate is not situational in nature, being able to summon it down whenever it’s available. Therefore, the long charge time is actually a bit misleading, because a lot of the time Lifelines will cast their Ultimate more than most other Legends on the roster, as they don’t need to hold it for a specific situation. This is the reason why you feed Lifeline Accelerants non-stop.
This Ultimate gives Lifeline’s squad access to higher quality equipment more quickly than is typical. For example, the difference between a grey Body Shield and a purple Body Shield is enormous. On top of that, there is the potential for extra meds for improved endurance and attachments for improved offence.
Essentially, this Ultimate speeds up the growth rate of a squad’s fighting strength. A squad with a Lifeline will scale quicker than one without by having more meds, more effective weapons and sturdier armour, reaching peak fighting strength sooner. This does mean that a squad that is already fully decked has very little use for it (besides as bait or as a ‘stepping stool’ to get to a higher place), so it loses steam into the late game, but on that note, it ups your chances of even making it to late game.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Ultimate ability isn’t the be all and end all of a Legend’s effectiveness. A lot of factors go into the overall strength of a Legend. For example, Mirage’s Ultimate is a joke, but as an entire package he’s a lot better than you’d initially think due to other factors (hitbox size and tactical ability mostly). However, each press of that Ultimate button definitely carries a different amount of weight depending on the character who presses it. It’s always good to know just how much weight a Legend can throw around at any one time.
“Even the most jaded of battle royale fans will find their interest rejuvenated by Apex Legends thanks to Respawn’s attention to detail, superior gunplay, and fantastic innovations, though the loot boxes and progression system certainly need addressing.”