There’s copying a good video game idea, and then there’s trying to clone it. And if the trailer released today for a seemingly new take on an Apex Legends mobile game is anything to go by, the cloning is always going to feel weird.
But is it a clone? That’s the question that seems to be tripping everyone up—including us, because hell if we know. It looks like Apex, sure. It seems to be a mobile version of a team-based hero shooter with very familiar-looking maps, assets, and character abilities. But Respawn shut down Apex Mobile in May. And there are just too many things about this game that are… off.
The maps look like World’s Edge and Broken Moon if you had to describe them from memory to a person who had never seen them, and then that person had to put those maps into a game. The loot bins are triangles. The guns look tweaked here and there. And that’s before you even look at the characters.
This is the biggest clue that this game is not, in fact, an officially-licensed version of Apex Mobile for China but a clone. Pretty much all of the characters have been redesigned into a decidedly anime-esque aesthetic. Notably, the skin tones of all the characters have also been balanced into a much more uniform range, with the game’s approximation of two of Apex’s black characters—Lifeline and Seer—looking very fair in complexion.
Apparently, this game has been a thing for a while now, with Esports.net reporting that the Chinese name of the game translates to “High Energy Heroes.” It’s rumored to be a Tencent production and the whitewashing going on with a bunch of the traditional Apex characters has potentially been around for much of the game’s development, as the original version of the game’s healer character appeared to be even closer to Lifeline’s design. It went about as poorly as you’d expect.
There are also a couple of other key differences here, like teams being made of four players, that indicate this isn’t a licensed product. And the Apex devs themselves seem to be having some fun joking about the new game.
But the best hint we’ve gathered while trying to figure out if this is a clone or a real Apex game? They gave the healer character Lifeline’s old shield.
Knowing Respawn would never give Lifeline players a buff of that magnitude ever again, our best guess is that this is a clone and follows a long and storied tradition of clones with eery similarities to their source material.
But if you take another look at those Mastiff and R-301 models? Well, you might find yourself getting confused again.