A new Legend, Titanfall crossovers, and an entirely new game mode headline this ground-breaking season for Apex.
The next season of Apex Legends, Legacy is coming very soon, May 4 to be exact. And, while the battle royale fans will be excited to know about the new Legend, Valkyrie, the updates to Olympus, and how the world of Titanfall is being ever intertwined with Apex, I'm here to tell you that the highlight for Legacy is actually a new game mode that offers a new experience quite unlike anything we've seen before in Apex Legends.
Known as Arenas, this mode is a 3v3 elimination match that works more like a small game of Rogue Company than it does a match of Apex Legends. The game mode sees you pick your Legend as normal, before being thrust into a buy phase where you use a limited amount of a currency known as Materials to outfit yourself with guns, ordnance, healing, or ability charges before heading out into specially designed smaller maps to fight in 3v3 combat.
The idea is simple: eliminate your opponents to win the round. Do this three times, with a two-point lead and you'll take home the victory, but if after six rounds you reach 3-3, it will fall to sudden death where teams have more Materials to equip themselves to win this do-or-die round.
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Arenas by design is faster-paced and actually seems to be a little easier to adapt to compared to the battle royale mode, thanks to the objectives of the game being much more straightforward. You can't be third-partied since there are only two squads on the map, and considering everyone is pretty much on the same playing field when it comes to loot, thanks to the buy phase, the combat is often more balanced.
The best part of Arenas is how it acts as a great way to learn how to play Apex Legends' characters without needing to head into the battle royale first. Sure, to maintain a sense of balance you don't have the option to use abilities repeatedly, you have to purchase charges of them during the buy phase, but you can get into frequent combat scenarios without the worry of the game being over entirely should you die.
At launch, there will be three Arenas maps, Party Crasher, Phaserunner, and Artillery, but a couple more are planned to be added as the season progresses. In my experience, these maps are actually often a little too large for their own good, at least for a game mode like this. Compared to the BR map, they are tiny, but for a 3v3 mode, they might benefit from being a little smaller to promote close quarters combat over long distance sniping, which seems to be the meat of the combat right now. Granted, teams tend to put a little distance between themselves because there's no way to run away and recoup, if you get caught out or knocked down, that's pretty much the round over, you can't abuse Jump Towers to escape, for example.
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Personally, I find BR a difficult genre to get into. It can feel incredibly challenging to keep up with the community who are dedicated to the games that fall under its banner, Apex being one, which is precisely what makes Arenas so much fun. Without needing to have an expert level of knowledge of the BR maps and metas, you can jump into Arenas for some quick rounds of engaging FPS action with Apex's characters and gameplay. It's fresh, exciting and unique, and for those who have been watching Apex grow from the sidelines, Arenas coming in Legacy makes for a great chance to get into the game.
But, what about the other content coming in this new season? Well unfortunately, that massively teased Titanfall-heavy season is pretty much exclusively tied to the lore around Valkyrie, the latest Legend. We did see a quick teaser of the Titanfall C.A.R. SMG during the briefing, but it wasn't present in the gameplay, and also wasn't mentioned by any of the Respawn team. Don't get me wrong, it opens the door for future involvements quite considerably, and there are a few other areas to be excited about as well if you look close enough, but if you are expecting to see more Titanfall weapons or perhaps even Titans at a stretch in Apex, you'll be disappointed.
On the topic of Valkyrie, she does seem to be a pretty well-balanced and interesting looking character. She is the daughter of the Titanfall antagonist Viper, but is not a mech pilot herself. Instead, she uses a custom built jetpack made from Titan parts that allows her to really abuse verticality, for evasive and reconnaissance purposes, which is especially handy since she falls under the Recon class type.
Valkyrie's kit allows her to use VTOL Jets to fly a limited distance until she runs out of fuel. This ability uses a similar fuelling system to Overwatch's Pharah, meaning you have to remain grounded for a specific amount of time to replenish fuel to be able to fly away again. On the more offensive side of things, she can use Missile Swarm to fire 12 rockets at a specific location (which is ironically also like a miniature version of Pharah's Missile Barrage ability now that I think about it). Last of all, her Ultimate, Skyward Dive is essentially the pinnacle of movement in the game, it allows Valkyrie and her squad mates to blast off into the sky to be able to fly to another part of the map - which is pretty handy when repositioning in the BR or when trying to escape the threat of multiple teams. As I mentioned above, Valkyrie feels pretty great to play, but not overwhelming at all. She can be easily hit during her jetpack abilities, but they're also great for spotting purposes.
As a final note about content, Legacy is also bringing a few changes to Olympus (the third map to be added to the BR). There are now vines covering portions of the map, alongside there being a new crashed ship location to explore, and to be honest, compared to the other additions, this isn't all that exciting. Then there's the new weapon, the Bocek Bow, the first bow of its kind. As it is the quietest (not quite silent) weapon in the game, it can be difficult to face, especially since the arrows travel fast and far, and deal a lot of damage if you get hit. I will say that with the right balancing, this will make a fine addition to the weapon pool.
In the grand scheme of things, Apex Legends Legacy marks one of the most exciting updates to ever grace this beloved battle royale. The changes and additions, headlined by Arenas is a serious reason to be excited for the future of this Respawn-developed title, especially since game director Chad Grenier mentioned during a press briefing that the team has other new game modes in playtest, even going as far as saying, "we do hope that Apex can be more than just a battle royale mode." With innovation and growth planned for the future, Legacy is looking to be the first step towards a new era of Apex Legends, and for that reason, May 4 can't come any sooner in my eyes.