Apex Legends season 3 brings a new map, a new character, and a lot of small changes. Trying out a new map and a new character alongside everyone else harkens back to the game’s earliest days, when the spirit of exploration felt stronger than the thirst for victory.
Currently, new map World’s Edge has completely replaced the prior death arena of Kings Canyon, though developer Respawn writes in the patch notes that “as the season progresses we’ll be looking at data, sentiment, and feedback to help us determine the best way to bring Kings Canyon back into the mix.” As seen in last week’s trailers, World’s Edge has icy areas as well as ones roiling with lava. In my dives, I ended up in high rises, fields of purple heather, and on the map’s coolest element: a moving train. Players on the train have the ability to start it up or stop it, allowing them to zoom around the map in a new way. The train is a lot of fun; in one match, my team and I leapt off it to surprise an enemy squad. The best and worst spots to land haven’t been decided yet, making for a lot of mystery when picking where to hop off the dropship. There’s a lot more color on this map than in Kings Canyon, and areas feel distinct from each other. We’ll all be used to it soon enough, but for now, it’s exciting to jump into the unknown.
Then there’s new hero Crypto. His tactical ability is a drone he can pilot to spot and indicate supply bins, enemies, and other points of interest, which teammates can then see highlighted. His ultimate lets him use his drone as an EMP, dealing shield damage and deploying traps. There wasn’t much arguing over who got to be Crypto in my matches, which felt unusual for a new character. I had a little trouble figuring out the best way to use Crypto’s powers given the game’s pressure on players to constantly be moving. Once, I was killed while piloting my drone because some enemies came upon me using it. I didn’t get a chance to use the EMP ability, nor did I see anyone else use it as Crypto in my matches. In my time with him, Crypto’s powers felt slower and less useful in the heat of the moment than other legends’ abilities. The presence of his drone drastically changes your situational awareness, for both the better and worse; it lets you safely scout ahead, but it can’t respond as flexibly as an eagle-eyed player can. In the right hands and in the right moment, Crypto can certainly get the drop on enemies, but his powers never turned the tide of a battle for me.
There are a host of other changes as well. There’s a new weapon, the Charge Rifle, which lets you constantly damage enemies with a beam. There are tweaks to multiple weapons, including reduced rate of fire to the Hemlok and Longbow and a “decreased spread pattern” to the Mozambique. The Skullpiercer Rifling and Disruptor Rounds have been swapped out in favor of two new hop-ups, the Anvil Receiver and the Double Tap Trigger. Respawn explains, “Going forward, we intend to rotate hop-ups each season — some may be removed from the loot pool to make room for new or returning ones.”
The Gold backpack and Gold armor now work differently as well. Previously, Gold armor fully recharged your shield if you executed someone with a finishing move. Now, all legends get a full shield recharge for a finisher, regardless of whether they have Gold armor or not. Gold armor now instead lets you use consumables faster, while the Gold backpack lets you “revive downed teammates with bonus health and shields (if they have armor).”
Of course, a new season means a new battle pass, which includes charms you can hang from your guns. The charms are subtle but cute, which feels like a weird thing to say about the way a gun looks. There are some other rewards available in the battle pass, too, like new icy skins for Pathfinder, Octane, and Bloodhound (Correction 8:40pm—I originally wrote “Bastion” instead of Pathfinder, which is probably deeply telling.). The battle pass still feels weak overall to me, though this season’s offerings seem to involve a lot of currency and XP rewards. There are also lots of changes to ranked mode, including all players’ ranks being reset one and a half tiers down for the start of season 3.
The most exciting part of season 3 is still the new map. Apex Legends hasn’t even been out for a year, but the visual reset feels most welcome out of all the latest changes. Apex doesn’t change as frequently as similar games like Fortnite, and while that kept me from feeling overwhelmed whenever I’d jump in after a long time away, it was definitely time for something new. I’m excited to to get the lay of the new landscape and see what tricks players come up with.