Apex Legends has always been an ambitious game.
From the get-go, the team set a long-term goal to go beyond the battle royale genre, and we have seen glimpses of this in the form of various limited time events (LTM’s). Now, that goal is becoming far more permanent, with the launch of Apex’s Legacy season and the introduction of Arenas. I was able to preview the new season, which launches on May 4th and try out the new legend, Valkyrie, the revamped version of Olympus, along with the previously mentioned Arenas mode.
Starting from the top, Arenas are here, and they are quite different from the standard Apex fare. The mode pits two teams of three against one another in a round-based gladiatorial arena, with a brisk, first to three, win-by-two setup. The mode will be somewhat familiar to any CSGO or Valorant player as there is a buy phase at the start of every round in which you purchase weapons, heals and even ultimate abilities. Each Legend has all their abilities intact but is individually limited based on their strength. Bloodhound, for example, only gets one use of his scan, while Octane can hit his stim three times. You can purchase additional uses each round using your resources, and ultimates are available as well during this phase.
One of the main differences with Arenas, compared to CSGO or Valorant, is that you don’t keep any guns between rounds. Even if you play the same Spitfire every round, you need to buy it anew every time, although as you get more currency you gain access to higher tier attachments. Instead of focusing on keeping guns, Arenas urge you to capture material canisters and get kills to increase your starting budget every round and give you the equipment edge. Your currency is shared by your team, with every teammate getting the same starting material each roun. This means that even if you don’t get any kills, or capture any canisters, you’ll still get rewarded.
All that said, kills and material do not give you much of an edge. The standard version of the best guns cost 550 material and your team gets only 75 bonus for each kill they get, and 200 for each material canister. Both teams get more free currency with each passing round, so you’re never really outclassed on the equipment side, even if you’re down 2-0. On one hand, it makes sense not to give a team a significant edge, given the short number of rounds needed to win. On the other hand, it makes the overall buy system less impactful and feels more like a background feature.
The maps are bigger than I expected, but Arenas does a well funneling players together through the placement of loot pills and supply drops. In my four hours of Arena time, I didn’t experience a single game where my team was wandering, or unaware of the enemy team for more than 30 seconds. This lack of downtime and omission of potential third parties make it a more engaged mode than the standard battle royale. Even in matches when we got 3-0’d I felt like we were always one pop-off moment away from getting back into the game, and that is very different from the unforgiving, lose one fight and it’s over, reality of battle royale games overall. Also, Mirage Voyage is back in Arenas and it brings me nothing but joy.
The weapon that I used the most in Arenas is the hotly anticipated Bocek. The new bow class weapon is a joy to use as it has a near-silent, mid-range prowess that feels incredibly satisfying when dealing damage. The weapon has two hop-up slots on it, Deadeye’s Tempo that allows for faster firing, and Shatter Caps, which turn the arrows into a shotgun-like burst. As someone who struggles with hitting consistent Wingman shots, the Bocek is a godsend. Its tempo and hitbox are easier to read and feel deadlier at mid-range. The Shatter Caps also make it usable at close range, although mid-range fights are more in its wheelhouse. The Bocek has a faster rate of fire than any sniper weapon and feels similar to the Wingman. That being said, it has a lower sound profile and produces a slight ‘whir’ when used. It is audible but far quieter than every other weapon currently in Apex Legends. It will be interesting to see if the Bocek gets tuned going forward, but for now, it feels powerful and satisfying to use.
Speaking of powerful, the new Legend, Valkyrie has quite the hero kit. Her passive is a jetpack flight ability that you activate by double-tapping the spacebar. It allows her to reposition and use height better than any hero in Apex Legends. She can go higher with her passive than Horizon can with her ‘Q’, but unlike Horizon she can’t fire her guns or use grenades while flying. Her jetpacks do make a ton of noise, and she is rather vulnerable while flying. Regardless, given how important high ground and positioning are in Apex Legends, I can see her quickly becoming a must pick. Valkyrie’s ‘Q’ ability is the only weapon she can use while flying and it unleashes a volley of missiles that deal around 30-40 damage to enemies if they hit.
Valkyrie’s most powerful ability is easily her ultimate, which turns her into a jump tower for both her and her teammates to use. It works similarly to Revenant’s ultimate in that Valkyrie pops it and her teammates must opt in to be launched with her. Apex Legends is a game built on positioning and having a living jump tower is incredibly powerful and dare I say, OP.
She is fun to use and being able to quickly reposition helped me escape from a couple of near-death experiences. She seems to be another addition to the ‘feels good to use, feels bad to lose to’ pool of Apex heroes and it will be interesting to see if her kit remains the same.
The other major change that I got to check out is the revamped version of Olympus. I consider Olympus to be a solid map that has a few too many dead spots. A place where no one really wants to go but where you sometimes have to pass through to get to more interesting parts of the map. The revamp introduces a massive ship called the Icarus which takes the place of a boring field and is definitely an upgrade. Icarus features a vault at the front of the ship that can only be unlocked by finding a keycard on one of the many corpses strewn across the ship. Dropping into Icarus is enjoyable, and its massive 4-room design features enough loot for a dozen or so squads to fight over. On the more minor side, a couple of redeployment balloons have been taken out due to third-partying concerns and there are a few new locations for world drops. Overall, the map change is the least exciting new addition to the Legacy season, although given that Olympus was already a solid map, it’s not all that disappointing.
Thankfully, the maps are looking good this season with World’s Edge finally making its way back in the pool. For ranked it will serve as the first split of the season, with the revamped version of Olympus being the second split. As someone who has spent the last couple of months yearning for Worlds Edge’s return, this is exciting news and giving players time to check out the Olympus changes in casual mode before bringing it to ranked makes sense. Also, the Peacekeeper is back in the loot pool, trading places with the Triple Take, which is now a drop only gun. It’s good to have you back, Peacekeeper.
Overall, the Legacy season promises to be an exciting one thanks to the inclusion of Arenas, the high-flying Valkyrie, and some added map diversity. It remains to be seen how the balance changes and new Legend affects the game but for now, Apex Legends is in an exciting place and I for one am thrilled to dive back in on May 4th.