By Matthew Gault
April 3, 2019

Apex Legends is the most fun I’ve had playing a battle royale game. But the simple truth is that I’m never going to be as good as the pros. Between work and other commitments, I just don’t have the time. That doesn’t mean I don’t have fun playing, of course. But we could all use some pointers.

With that in mind, we went out to two of the world’s best Apex Legends players — Jordan “HusKers” Thomas and Coby “Dizzy” Meadows — for their advice on how to become the last squad standing. HusKers is a Twitch streamer, esports professional, and Apex Legends expert who helped his teams take second and third place in the recent Code Red Tournament and Twitch Rivals: ALC North Tournament. Dizzy is a record-setting Apex Legends player who won the first tournament ever held for the game.

Each round of Apex Legends starts with a skydive onto the map, and the first few seconds can make or break you and your squad. When it comes to picking a spot to land, location is everything. “If you’re looking to be in the middle of a war zone, Skull Town and Artillery are probably the hottest drops,” says HusKers. “Bunker usually has a team or two land on either side, but beware, fighting inside Bunker comes with the possibility of easily being flanked by another team. If your mission is to loot up as much as possible without the high risk of fighting teams off the spawn, then try going Swamps or Repulsor.”

As far as which Apex Legends guns to look for when you land, HusKers has some favorites. “For medium-long range, I highly recommend using the Wingman, Spitfire, R-301, and Kraber,” HusKers said. “For short range, try the R-99, Peacekeeper, Prowler, and Mastiff. The absolute worst weapons in the game that you should avoid at all costs are the P2020 and the Mozambique.”

Once a round gets underway, it’s important to be smart about your positioning. “One of the most common mistakes I see people make is over-peeking when fighting a team,” says HusKers. “I will see a teammate push out and put [themselves] in a position where [they] can be shot at by two or three enemies at once instead of a position where only one enemy has a line of sight.”

Instead, give yourself an escape plan in case a firefight goes pear-shaped. “You have to put yourself in a position where … you’re able to fall back, heal back up and get back in the fight,” says Dizzy. If you’re in trouble, it’s always best to fall back and restore your health and ammo. “90% of the time you should play for yourself since there is a respawn system in this game, you can clutch the fight and bring your teammates back into the game after.”

Next, be aware of where you’re aiming, and make sure it’s in the direction of potential threats. It’s natural to point your weapon in the direction you want to go, putting your focus on the horizon or that tasty loot up ahead. But that could leave you blind to sudden threats. And speaking of aiming, don’t be afraid to shoot from the hip. “Another common mistake is when people aim down their sights instead of hip firing up close,” says HuSkers. “The hip fire in Apex Legends is especially accurate compared to other games, so if you have a close-range weapon like an R-99 or Prowler, don’t be afraid to hip fire someone 0-10 meters away.”

Apex Legends is a team-oriented game, and strong communication with your squad can lead to victory, even if you’re playing with randomly-selected strangers.

“Being the best teammate you can be is crucial to achieving victory,” says HusKers. “One basic [rule] is to share your loot with your teammates. If you happen to have a bunch of ammo or healing/shield supplies and your teammates don’t, drop some for them. Another important tip is to always utilize the ping system,” he adds, referring to the game’s built-in mechanic that lets players tap a button to highlight weapons, ammo and other points of interest for teammates. Once something is pinged, teammates can add a ping of their own to confirm a suggestion, all without exchanging any words.

That said, if you’ve got a mic, make sure to use it. Says Dizzy: “Call out people you see and use the numbers on the compass on the top of your screen to say the direction they are in … call out the damage you deal to your opponents when you can so you and your teammates know how low they are on HP.”

That’s good advice most of the time, but the online gaming world unfortunately has its share of verbally abusive players. If you find yourself paired up with one, it’s better to mute them, use the non-verbal ping system, and hope they cooperate. Sometimes, silence is golden.

Two last tips may sound basic, but they’re the best on the list: Breathe and embrace failure.

Competitive online shooters can get your heart racing, and the adrenaline rush from a close firefight or a hard-earned victory is a big part of the fun. But I too often catch myself holding my breath when playing. Deep diaphragm breaths help calm the body, steady your hands, and make you a better player.

And finally, you’re going to die in Apex Legends — a lot. Each game starts with up to 60 players, and only three of them can win. Unless you’re a pro like Dizzy or HusKers, you’re going to spend a lot of time dying and failing. But each death can offer a lesson. Maybe you picked the wrong weapon, dropped into the wrong area, forgot to keep your gun pointed at the door, or forgot to breathe. Learn what you can and jump right back in. There’s always more to learn and always another game to play.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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