Apex Legends: A month playtesting with no voice chat helped to develop the Smart Comms system

By Shabana Arif, Thursday, 7 February 2019 16:07 GMT

Apex Legends was designed to solve the potential problem of playing with strangers on the internet.

Respawn Entertainment playtested Apex Legends for a month without the use of voice comms, and used fake names to recreate the experience of playing with internet strangers. The process lead to the devs perfecting the game’s Smart Comms – a context sensitive shoutout button that allows players to effectively communicate without having to jump onto voice chat.

“Fun fact: We playtested for a month with voice comms off and fake names to simulate playing with random people, and that allowed us to feel things out in an authentic way,” tweeted the game’s official account. “Awesome to see folks using and enjoying Smart Comms!”

Design director Mackey McCandlish elaborated on this when we spoke to him for our Apex Legends preview.

“We were looking for social opportunities. That’s manifested in this game’s three-man squads, pinging a smart comms system that helps squads coordinate, and respawn chambers keep squads playing. In the same way that we didn’t consider any of the conventions of battle royale to be sacred, we didn’t consider any one part of the Titanfall universe to be sacred. We are using the parts that work to achieve our goals.”

During the preview event, voice comms weren’t made available. While some matches featured members of the dev team who would speak to journalists, the majority of gameplay was chat-free.

Apex Legends released this week on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. If you’re looking to get started, we’ve covered everything you need to know right here.

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