Like all battle royale games, it can be quite tempting to play overly cautious and passive in Apex Legends, after all it can be very rewarding and safe as far as survival is concerned. However, this approach certainly isn’t for everyone, as survival isn’t what they enjoy. Playing aggressive is always a risk-reward scenario, you put your current match on the line in hopes of getting superior loot (or for funsies). If you’re the type that enjoys being sneaky and avoiding gunfights, then more power to you, but for those of us who like to fight, these are the ten things that I think contribute to high kill games.
This list is ranked in order of effectiveness. Put differently, the first tip (which is why it is also such an obvious tip) will help you secure more kills than tips 2 through X.
1. Aim is still king This seems like a bit of a no brainer and it totally is. But I wanted to keep the list organised by effectiveness and as such, being more accurate will help you far more than anything else. There is a bit of a stereotype in the shooting community called ‘all aim no brain’. This is the kind of player who can’t do much else but click on heads good, but they still win a larger portion of their games than they should. There is just no substitute for ‘outmuscling’ people in the aiming department.
Take, for example, the extreme case of an aimbot. You could sneak up on one all you like, but if you can’t kill it before the player turns around and ‘engages’ the aimbot (I’ve had a run in with a few so far), you lose, despite you having a significant advantage. While no player is quite so extreme, there are people who you may have dead-to-rights, but because you’ve missed one or two crucial shots, they nail you to the wall for it.
Improving aim is a lot of work, more than most people would put concentrated effort into. There is quite a lot of musings/guides from professionals and highly skilled players out there that you can leverage to improve your aim over a shorter amount of time than it otherwise would. There is no shortage of programs (this has been going on since the days of Counter Strike/Quake, probably earlier) of ‘training schedules’ that specifically try to improve your aim. Kovaak’s FPS Aim Trainer is a relatively modern take on the ‘business’, boasting very positive appraisal. That being said, it will improve naturally the more you play shooters in general as you build up a rhythm and improve your technique (e.g. not panic spraying the first guy you see). The more you fight (which this guide will hopefully help with), the quicker you’ll get better at fighting.
2. Pick characters that are stacked towards winning gunfights This is a diplomatic way of saying, pick a good character. This will certainly rustle some jimmies, but not all characters were created equal, nor are they equally good at gun fights in the same way. From best to worst, in my view:
Wraith: Wraith is probably the queen of duels. She has the smallest hitbox of all characters and utterly ridiculous animations that alter her profile making her harder to hit than necessary. She also has a great escape tool for when she’s caught in a disadvantageous position and a great passive warning her she’s about to be in said disadvantageous position.
Lifeline: Lifeline has the third smallest hitbox, with the smallest upper body hitbox (chest, arms, head), which is what most people tend to aim for. She can always make sure your squad is in fighting shape (heal drone) and better equipped on average. This ups your total fighting strength, both as a squad and as a duelist.
Bangalore: Bangalore is similar in size to Lifeline, being slightly smaller on average, but her centre mass is more top heavy. This makes her a bit easier to hit in a practical setting as people don’t really aim for an opponent’s legs by choice. Her passive is incredible for retreat or repositioning, allowing her to move at warp speed (while sprinting) when shot at. Her smoke is also extremely useful for the same purpose and very strong at sowing confusion with both enemies and allies. With a Digital Threat, Bangalore is the strongest duelist in the game (sans Ulti’d Bloodhound) unless an enemy has one as well.
Bloodhound: Bloodhound has the fourth largest hitbox, but is very top heavy, which holds Bloodhound back a fair bit. Granted, their Ultimate is insane for fighting and when it’s up, they’re one the strongest fighters in the game. However, it’s not up for every engagement, combined with the large chest profile, keeps them shy of the other three.
Mirage: Mirage is better than most people would initially think. The smallest of the male hitboxes (fifth overall, but he isn’t top heavy), with decent animations, which makes him harder to hit than most people would initially think. Decoy is quite good at baiting opponents or getting them to reveal their positions. Mirage isn’t the king of gunfights, but with good Decoy usage and a bit of luck, he can do better than any character with a borderline useless passive and Ultimate should have the right to.
Pathfinder: This is the one that will probably rustle some jimmies, but Pathfinder is a big fella. His default skin is misleading, the Legendary skins that make him appear ‘thicker’ is a more accurate representation of his size, which is hefty. His mobility (especially vertical mobility) is very, very strong, but this shifts his strengths from a direct firefight situation to an ambush one, which is what Pathfinder is geared towards. If you can leverage his manoeuvrability and attack from odd angles, then he gains significant value. Just recognise you’re at a disadvantage in a face-to-face duel against the smaller characters.
Caustic: He’s close to twice the size of Wraith and sports the same HP. Being twice the size means twice the chance to collect stray bullets that would’ve missed a smaller target, which translates into more time healing or dead. Caustic is utterly reliant on fighting in his gas to obtain any kind of advantage, which most players won’t step into given the choice. If you can coax people into it for whatever ungodly reason, then you’re a murder machine, at the expense of your teammate’s assistance of course (they can’t see through the gas either).
Gibraltar: He’s a tank alright, an outright bullet magnet. Roughly 2.5x the size of Wraith and is top heavy to boot. The Gunshield is fairly weak, only absorbing a small amount of damage before giving out (only 50 damage). He has decent support tools in the form of his Dome Shield and Ultimate. For outright gunfights, being Gibraltar is a handicap, one I’d personally avoid.
With all this in mind, it’s not my goal to discourage people from playing the characters they enjoy playing. However, the truth is that some Legends are just superior at directly fighting than others and if you want more kills, being harder to hit in a gunfight is a large part of that process. Ultimately, being 2.5x the size of someone else with the exact same defensive stats (i.e. 100 HP) and offensive stats (damage being based on your weapon) is just an outright disadvantage.
3. Surviving is still important, retreat when you need to We definitely want to rack up those kills, but sometimes you need to know when to cut your losses because losing means no more kills at all. If you’re fighting from a disadvantage (e.g. you’ve been ambushed), sometimes it’s best to just escape and aim for a reset. This does boil down to a judgment call, but if you feel like you’ve lost control of the situation, that’s a good indicator to just hoof it and fight on better terms.
A good example of this is you’ve ambushed someone, but completely whiffed your opening salvo on a player. While you may have done some damage, you are now at a disadvantage. Stubborn players (I fall for this a lot), will sit there, reload and try to keep going, only to end up dead because either my opponent has killed me straight-up or their squad has rocketed over to help. Even though I started with the advantage, leaving and going for a reset is the better option as I’ve failed to properly capitalise on it.
Other examples can include: being sandwiched by another squad, both teammates are dead (retreat and collect their banners later), bad initial positioning, equipment disparity (they have purple armour and you’re buck naked) and so on.
4. Run towards the gunshots Somewhat contrary to point three, but you do need to ‘risk it for the biscuit’ so to speak. You’ll make some bad choices in service to getting more kills, but ultimately you do need to get involved if you want more kills on average. Timing is crucial, but if you want kills, you can’t sit around for too long and will have to expose yourself sooner or later.
5. Leave the ship early, land early The early game is a smorgasbord of kills. If you’re looking for a high kill game, you need to land in locations with other squads present (preferably more than one). Generally speaking, a large amount of players will exit the ship as soon as they are able (leading to the very annoying ‘body pile’ situation) and try to land at a ‘high-tier’ loot location. If the Hot Zone is nearby, you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll find a few squads there, but generally speaking any named location close to when the ship lets you out will often net you a squad or two.
The issue with landing earlier, however, is it swings a fight’s outcome further from skill and more into the luck department. Yes there is always that element in a battle royale where your opponent just has superior equipment, but the gap between having an R-301 with a blue barrel stabilizer and your opponent having one with a legendary stabilizer isn’t insurmountable. The difference between your opponent having an R-301 and you having your fists often is. If you’re not keen on rolling the dice for extra kills, landing somewhere less trafficked is better for the total kill count.
6. Keep your eyes open, remember that enemies come in groups of threes In service to obtaining more kills, it can be often very tempting to bee-line straight for the first target you see. It’s very difficult to do in practise, but you should always have a look around before engaging. Squads come in groups of three in this game and unlike other battle royales, you can respawn eliminated teammates. It’s always best to assume that if you can see an enemy, they’ve got two mates lurking around ready to light you up the moment you begin shooting.
Depending on situation, you should also try to factor in where you think other squads might be (based on earlier gunshots, map size, location on the map, remaining squads, etc.). A lot of good matches are lost based on engaging a squad, then getting sandwiched because of impatience and an unwillingness to consider other squad locations. So always have a look and listen before engaging, especially if you think there is somewhere nearby.
7. Close range is king for securing kills Close range brawls are definitely higher risk, but they’re also higher reward when it comes to securing kills. Longer ranged fights/sniping can be quite effective at laying down damage and pressure, but even if you do knock an enemy down, it can be quite hard to finish the job (unless they’re down in the open). There is usually a place nearby that is safe from your line-of-sight and, therefore, your pressure. On top of that, most decent players will usually react quite quickly to being shot out in the open, making it to cover and healing up. Long range combat is usually a means for which to put the enemy at the disadvantage before you close in for the finish. This is why an overwhelming majority of squad wipes occur face-to-face.
8. Be swift at looting You don’t need to comb every nook and cranny. Time spent looting is time not spent fighting and if you want kills, you need to maximise your time spent fighting or repositioning. Slow looting is one of the leading causes of games just ‘passing you by’. What I mean by that is: You land, you check every single location and every single item and by the time you’re done looting your location, half the squads are eliminated and you’re still walking around aimlessly at your landing location.
Don’t go to every single place that has loot; decide where you want to go and then get moving, looting everything directly in your way. Make detours for particularly loot rich locations (like three supply bins next to each other) and try to spend more time in ‘high-tier’ loot zones to maximise your loot per time spent so that you’re still a threat when you find those fights.
9. Avoid holding the circle This is a common trap I see a lot of players fall into. They think holding the circle is the ‘positional advantage’ (the Legends say this themselves quite often). In certain circumstances this is true, but the majority of the time it’s a trap.
The circle is where everyone has to eventually go and it is where everyone is looking when they go there. The likelihood of you being embroiled in a fight with more than one squad skyrockets as you’re now eligible to be attacked (and easily spotted) from multiple angles at once. If you want to hold the circle, considering holding or rotating around the edge (depending on terrain and cover) as this is usually a better option. If you do intend to hold the centre you need to avoid fighting in general, but this is counterproductive to ‘more kills’.
In a three squad situation, the group that holds centre usually ends up dead as both squads will converge to that point and sandwich you. If it’s down to the final two squads, then holding the centre is the best move, as they’re now forced to move into you, exposing themselves. But it is because of the forced movement that it backfires when three or more squads are present.
10. Bait other groups into fights This is an amalgam of tips 3, 4 and 5. If you know more than one other squad is around, but you’re not sure where one of them is, you can bait them by beginning an engagement with another squad (or sometimes just randomly firing at nothing can work, but it is less effective), then pulling out. This is quite a situational tactic, but can be surprisingly effective, especially towards the end of the game where there is only a handful of squads left.
A fine example of this is when you’re down the final three squads. Most people know by now, you don’t want to be one of the two squads to start fighting. It’s the squad that shows up late that has the best chance of winning. This means the last three squads tend to avoid conflict where possible until they know the other squads are fighting. A good way to speed this process up, is to pick a fight with one squad at a safe enough distance, trade some shots, then retreat (preferably the way you came). You’ll often see the other squad come charging in looking to clean up, only to attract the attention of the squad you were just fighting. Circle back in and voila, you’re now the janitors, looking at easier kills.
Bonus Tip: Look up and don’t forget you can climb People tend to forget about this a fair bit, because a lot of shooters don’t really include quick options for verticality. Basically, don’t forget to look up when looking for threats and don’t forget that you can climb structures to get the high-ground in a pinch.
Of course all these tips look good on paper, but nothing ultimately substitutes experience. This includes experience with how to fight in a battle royale setting. This means many deaths and defeats as you become more familiar with the game. Tempered aggression is the end goal if you want high kill games.
“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.”