Apex Legends Limited Time Modes can be hit and miss. I’m a big fan of the spooky vibes of the Halloween modes, which drop you into the battle royale maps at night and often see you wallrunning as undead Revenant creations or having a faithful hound at your side. Christmas brings good news too, as Winter Express’ frenetic action occurs on World’s Edge’s iconic, but sadly defunct, train. On the other hand, there’s War Games, during which half the modes were scrapped due to unforeseen technical difficulties, or Armed and Dangerous, which just ends up as a snipe-fest filled with Charge Rifles, one of the worst weapons in the game. Deja Loot might have been the worst of them all, encouraging the hottest drops and, therefore, the worst games.
The best LTM, in many peoples’ eyes, is Control. I was in this boat for a long time, as the capture-the-flag gameplay between two nine-person teams was something really different for Apex. The selection of great POIs to host the matches only heightened the experience, creating far more balanced and exciting matches than permanent game mode and constant comparison bait, Arenas. Arenas’ bespoke maps are brilliantly designed, but the 3v3 action has nothing on Control.
You might notice that I said I was in this boat. Yes, I’ve since jumped overboard the good ship Control, and paddled my way over to its sister vessel, Gun Run. You might think I’m just swimming to the newest, shiniest ship in Apex’s fleet, but I’ve got good reason.
The first reason is the POI selection. In battle royale matches, I don’t like to drop hot (I don’t drop completely cold either, I like a mild temperature in close proximity to the popular POIs). Battle Royale matches are supposed to last 15 or 20 minutes, and when solo queueing, I don’t trust my random teammates to not rage quit as soon as they inevitably get downed, rather than waiting for me to revive them. With unlimited respawns in Gun Run, however, that’s not a problem. I’ve spent more time in Skull Town and Fragment in the past week than the rest of my Apex playtime put together, and that’s made me really appreciate the micro design choices in every building.
12 players is the perfect number to inhabit these POIs, making every match busy enough but not too frantic. Third and fourth parties are inevitable but avoidable if you’ve got clever movement or good knowledge of your surroundings. Down this zipwire, out of this door, around the back, and back up to flank your pursuer. Perfect.
The Legends themselves also add to this playground. I’m an Octane main in Gun Run, despite barely touching the speedster before. By the end of the match, I’ll have placed numerous jump pads around the area, other Octanes will have planted more, and Pathfinders will have set up criss-crossing zip-wires, too. In Gun Run, you have to adapt to the ever-changing environments, and use both your own abilities and your opponents’ to your advantage. Sure, there’s not much point to playing Loba or Mirage (is there ever much point playing Mirage?), but movement characters are worlds of fun.
For those who haven’t indulged in the pleasures of Gun Run, every time you get a kill, you get a new weapon. There are no secondaries, no looting, you get one gun, and you’re stuck with it until you get a kill. Sometimes that means you find yourself struggling with a weapon that you’re not very good with. For me, that’s the Havoc. Trying to contain its wild recoil pattern is like trying to tame one of the wild beasts that roams Storm Point. Usually, the Havoc holds my attachments until I find a Volt, but that’s not an option in Gun Run. So I use the Havoc. Initially, I just tried to take the last few shots at someone who’d escaped another fight, but then I gained a bit of confidence and took proper 1v1s. And, after a week, I feel like I’m better with it than I was.
In one match, I was stuck with a Mozambique after hitting about 11 kills to take our team to the 24-kill mark. One more to get the throwing knife. One more again to end the game. But I couldn’t do it. It was kitted out, but my shots just weren’t hitting. I don’t pick up a Mozambique in Battle Royale matches, so I’m not used to using it. In the time it took me to get that one kill, the second-placed team harvested eight to take the lead and, ultimately, the win. It was immensely frustrating, but forced me to practise with the Mozambique. Besides, I blame my teammates for not getting that final kill with far superior weapons.
Luckily, I’ve mostly avoided the Charge Rifle. The one time I ended up with the annoying sniper, I managed to instantly get a close-range kill in Fragment’s ‘streamer building’. I got lucky, but you might not. Somehow, though, all these instances were still fun. Trying to work out how to get a sniper kill in a frenetic corridor is surprisingly enjoyable, likely due to the low stakes that respawning provides. This, in turn, leads to trick shots and no-scopes, and the feeling when you finally hit that headshot and advance to a shotgun is unparalleled in Apex. Hitting a few kills in quick succession just compounds this feeling.
Once you get towards the end of the game, as teams are reaching 22 or 23 kills, the music ramps up. It gets louder and louder, pumping in your ears and urging you on. This ramps up the tension for the whole lobby, not least if you’re the one with the throwing knife desperately trying to end it all. This is an inspired addition to the game mode, giving an intense sense of peril to the endgame in a way that no other LTM gets close to. Control matches usually end up as runaway victories, as the losing team starts quitting out and amplifying the divide. That’s not the case in Gun Run, and even if it were, the final moments would still feel powerful and cinematic, thanks to the heartbeat-mimicking score.
The throwing knife itself is also great. Difficult to hit but devastating when you land it. Not Kraber devastating – you usually need to hit twice – but powerful enough to feel worthy of closing out the match. When multiple teams are on match point, when five or six players are throwing their knives, the air is alight. Swish, swish, swish. It’s a scary prospect, especially if you haven’t got your hands on the knife yet. Then, finally, someone hits the knife kill, and it’s all over. They scored the Golden Goal, caught the Golden Snitch. They won the game. Nothing feels better than when you clutched that moment.
Gun Run is perfect. It’s short enough to be fun even if you lose badly, and it’s frenetic without being too chaotic. It evokes that ‘one more game’ feeling better than any other mode in Apex, and the ever changing weapons and shifting environments keep every match fresh. The pumping music and finely balanced throwing knife make for some of the best endgames in the first-person shooter genre. But, as with all LTMs, it will soon be gone. I’ll miss you, Gun Run. Come back soon.
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