Apex Legends: Legacy is nearly upon us, with the ninth season of Apex launching on 4th May and bringing some big new changes to the game. There’s the whole new 3v3 Arenas mode, there’s the new character Valkyrie, the Bocek bow and the first overhaul for the recent Olympus map in the battle royale.
Let’s start with Valkyrie, who is simultaneously one of the most exciting and terrifying new characters to be introduced in the game. Tying back into the lore of the wider Titanfall universe, she is the daughter of Viper from Titanfall 2, turning up with a flight-capable suit that lets her fly around the arena and drop rockets on enemies.
Further Reading: Apex Legends proves it’s more than just a battle royale with its new 3v3 Arenas mode
Her passive abilities include highlighting enemies with a fighter jet-style HUD when she is in flight, being able to use the Recon Class sensors to sniff out the next location for the ring, and a tap of the jump button when in the air activating her VTOL jets to take flight… until she runs out of fuel. Her tactical ability is a rocket swarm that lays down a rectangular grid of rockets, while her ultimate is able to life herself and two teammates up into the air for an impromptu relocation.
An absolute nightmare for balance, right? Well, thankfully Respawn have reigned her potential power in using a little bit of common sense. For one, her VTOL is loud, clearly signalling where she is on the map to anyone with a decent pair of cans. For another, she can’t fire until a second or two after disengaging her jets, and her flight path is meant to be quite steady, making her fodder for accurate gunfire. Her jet fuel is also relatively limited (and more limited in Arenas mode) and will take a while to recharge after she’s landed, her rockets are largely a tool to stun enemies instead of take them out, and you’re going to need to corral your teammates if you want to use that ultimate effectively.
Still, she’s quite fun to use, adding new possibilities for players. The rockets are effective, if you aim them right (and you can fire them while you’re on the ground as well), and it feels like there’s enough disadvantages to her abilities to keep her balanced. It’s still interesting to see Respawn adding more verticality through their Legend design.
Next up is the bow, which is fascinating. It’s a quiet, but not totally silent, weapon designed for mid-range precision, and it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a video game bow. It brings with it a new ammo type – arrows, obviously – and they promise to be relatively sparse, but then again, you can simply walk over to retrieve the arrows you’ve shot. Well… if you land your shot, you’ll need to make sure you actually kill the enemy and can then grab them from their death box. Enemies will be able to figure out where you’re shooting from by looking at the angle the arrows that miss are sticking into things.
Two hop up slots are built in, and both can be used together, with one giving you a shotgun-like burst of arrows, making it more effective at close range, and Deadeye’s Tempo rewarding meticulous timing. If you release on the “beat” of a drawback, the next drawback will be faster, letting you fire much faster.
And finally, for this post, we come to the map changes on Olympus. The Icarus has crash-landed on the map, unleashing a virulent new plant onto the map that doesn’t just transform certain areas, but is kicking off a new story arc for the game.
The changes are rooted in the feedback that Respawn received about the map since its launch. Originally Olympus had fewer points of interest, so they’ve smashed the Icarus ship into what was a large open area between Bonsai Plaza, Orbital Cannon and Solar Array. The new ship has four large rooms, not too dissimilar from the Arcadia Supercarrier, but torn up by thick vines. The reason to go there, outside of it being somewhere funky and new to visit, is the promise of loot. A bunch of scientists died onboard, and one of their corpses has a keycard that can unlock a cache of high-end loot on the Bridge. Which one is it? Well, it’s randomised, so it’ll be different each time you play.
Another change comes to the redeploy balloons around the map. Having originally added these after initial feedback that the new vehicles weren’t doing enough to help relocation around Olympus, Respawn is now removing two of them. The Golden Gardens balloon is gone to cut down on a spree of third partying in the area, and so is another nearby Orbital Cannon, because the new Icarus and sight-blocking geometry and chokepoints are now too close.
All told, with an intriguing new character, a brand new class of weapon and some significant changes to one of the maps, it’s a pretty hefty game update. That’s even before we talk about the permanent ned 3v3 Arenas mode, which steps out of the realms of the battle royale for the first time…