While I appreciate what Respawn has created with Apex Legends, I personally have not been a regular customer of the game for a few years. In that time, a whole series of changes have changed and mostly improved the whole experience, but with this unbridled forward motion comes the complications that come with FOMO (fear of missing out). This is not an Apex -specific problem, as it affects all long-running live video games, but regardless of the broader problem FOMO presents, Respawn is looking at addressing it as part of Battle Royale’s fifth anniversary.
As part of an event behind closed doors involving many of the Apex development team, I got a deep look at what Year 5 of Battle Royale will look like, and how Respawn is also making a variety of changes seemingly intended to make the game fundamentally less complicated to play. I’ve collected and summarized each of these new additions to show what fans can look forward to when the Apex Legends: Breakout -season arrives on Feb. 13.
Yes, the new season is called Breakout. It will be the 20th season and marks the beginning of Apex Legend s fifth year, a year in which Battle Royale also celebrates its fifth anniversary. If you’ve been following the game, it won’t surprise you that this season will bring the regular doodads: a new map, new game modes, balance changes, gameplay changes, a new storyline, and so on. Much of this will probably only excite longtime Apex -fans, so if you want to know more about which weapons are being nerfed or which map POIs are being tweaked, just wait for the actual patch notes. Here I’m going to focus on the changes in the bigger picture.
Legends Upgrade System
A while ago, Fortnite introduced a new mechanism that allowed players to level up in the game to unlock new useful advantages and skills (i.e. higher sprint speed, for example). Apex is introducing something similar with its Legends upgrade system.
The idea here is that if you play and generally do the things expected in a game (kill enemies, loot crates, play your class role), you get Evo. Evo is basically experience, and if you get enough of it, you move up in level and can select an upgrade that affects how your Legends work. This may mean that a skill does something fundamentally different, or is more tailored to how your weapons work. For example, if you revive an ally, they gain 40 hp instead, or your shotguns can automatically reload. You can level four times in each game, and each level will contain increasingly powerful and better upgrades, with the main decision points taking place at levels two and four.
As for Evo, Respawn has stated that there will be additional ways to obtain it, including activating Evo Harvesters or finding Evo caches in loot boxes.
This is linked to upgrading Legends, as Respawn has removed lootable armor from Apex altogether. Instead, as you level up, you also get a better shield to go with it. Level one is the common level and level four is the legendary level. The goal here is to make it clearer what armor an opponent is wearing before going into battle with him, and also to reduce some of the random nature of gameplay.
Respawn has confirmed that shield swapping will still be available in some form, as a new Shield Core item is being introduced, which acts as an armor charge and will allow allies to provide each other with temporary over shields.
This is a very quick but important change: crafting is essentially removed. If you now visit a Replicator, you will find that it can only produce medkits, shield batteries, ammo and squadmate banners, and although you can now use these Replicators completely for free, you can only visit each Replicator once per game.
Ranked returns to a format that once worked. First, Ladder Points are dismissed and Ranked Points return in their place. Why? Because it just makes more sense. Second, the ranked scoring model is being modified to be more rewarding for kills, with a bonus placed on eliminating higher-ranked players (with this known as the Challenger bonus). Placement is still important, but if you hit, you will be rewarded more than the lucky camper who squats in a bush to achieve a top five finish. Speaking of top five finishes, if you collect a series of them, you get extra RP for your efforts. Finally, the rewards screen for leaderboards will be updated to make it clearer and much easier to understand where your RP comes from. Yay!
Straight Shot – The new temporary mode
For the more casual audience, Respawn has come up with a new temporary mode that aims to significantly increase the pace of Apex in general. This mode, known as Straight Shot, is all about speed, and to manage this, quite a bit of player choice has been taken away. You no longer choose where you fall, you are instead thrown into a random POI on a map, which you share with another team, and it’s up to you to decide to fight them for control of the POI, or instead run away / live peacefully with each other’s company.
To further increase the pace of this mode, looting has been modified so that you just pick up fully equipped weapons. There will still be rarity systems, but this will instead determine the number and quality of attachments on the weapon, and not relate to specific components. When you stack this with other gameplay changes, and the fact that you can queue up for new matches from the spectator screen (avoiding unnecessary loading screens between games), Straight Shot could be one of Apex’s most exciting modes to date.
This will be a great celebration of all things Apex. Cards will be updated with new visual flairs that reflect the occasion, i.e. banners, flames and confetti scattered throughout. Likewise, Respawn will give away and offer ways to get lots of free content, such as a free Heirloom skin and even permanent access to six Legends (Seer, Fuse, Rampart, Mad Maggie, Loba, and Valkyrie ) if you complete challenges related to each during the duration of the event.
Mixtape, story and consoles
As if all this wasn’t enough, Breakout is bringing a new Mixtape map inspired by each of the other Apex maps and known as Thunderdome. There will even be new story beats to follow, and to help people pick up previous storylines, an Apex Museum is being added that gives a brief glimpse of previous story events. On this topic, to make the story easier to follow, Respawn is returning to the multimedia storytelling approach and now sees only the core story evolving within the Apex game, with only more small lore angles being explored elsewhere. Respawn also promises more game modes for this year, so keep an eye on us in that regard.
Finally, perhaps the biggest and most anticipated news for console fans Apex, the game will finally support 120 FPS action on PS5 and Xbox Series X systems, with PS5 players (and those using DualSense on PC) also getting access to haptics and adaptive features.
That’s pretty much the outline of what’s planned for Breakout and Year 5 of Apex Legends. The season starts on Feb. 13, so you don’t even have to wait too long before you can watch it.