Apex Legends is bringing Kings Canyon back for ranked mode, but it's a poor fit for competitive play

(Image credit: EA/Respawn)

Apex Legends recently brought back the original version of Kings Canyon for one weekend only. The map was available as its own playlist that was completely separate from the World's Edge map and ranked play, and it sucked.

No seriously, it was awful. There was virtually no loot, and large gaps between firefights - sometimes there weren't any firefights all. It was such a nightmare that I was wondering if the return of season 1 Kings Canyon was some kind of twisted Revenant tie-in: "Here's the worst version of the map: now struggle to find loot, skin bags."

But now that we know some iteration of Kings Canyon is coming back for the second half of ranked play, I have to wonder… which one?

Gimme the loot

(Image credit: EA/Respawn)

Season 1 Kings Canyon was considered loot-deprived even before we got a taste of the loot haven that is World's Edge. After two seasons of playing on Apex Legends' newest map, it's almost shocking how empty the original Kings Canyon is; as if the planet was swiftly evacuated just before the dropship flew in, the fleeing denizens leaving behind only a few nuggets of loot. I spent the entire first round of one match running around desperately searching for a level one body shield, nervously wielding a Mozambique before I got into a firefight with a level 3 shielded Bangalore, who swiftly dropped an airstrike on me. Cut to black. Game over.

If you're unlucky enough to find yourself scrambling about aimlessly searching for a spare scrap of anything, the verticality of Kings Canyon will cut you down fast. While many players find that the larger World's Edge is more of a sniper haven (as it requires more travel time between areas and longer sightlines), Kings Canyon's drastic heights often relegate you to the role of sitting duck. I lost three games in a row because my jumpmaster sent us to Bridges, where we were swiftly taken out by a team who had the luxury of having both weapons and the high ground. 

As previously discussed in our Apex Legends timeline, the battle royale shooter has had its fair share of growing pains, including hit box issues, expensive microtransactions, and uninspired skins. Shortly after the title's February 2019 launch, players complained about the lack of loot in Kings Canyon, prompting Respawn to alter it for season 2. Those alterations brought loot-rich areas like The Cage and Containment, not to mention giant creatures called leviathans roaming through the center of the map that reformed the landscape, and flyers carrying loot boxes soaring overhead. These changes meant a handful of squads could land in an area like The Cage, get in some scrappy fights over high-quality loot, and scatter. You'd be hard pressed to stumble into that kind of scenario in the map's first iteration, where one area can be swept clean by a single squad before you can even get your bearings – or a damn Mozambique.

Then Kings Canyon got Legend-themed areas that cropped up during limited-time events: Octane's Gauntlet and a decaying Project: Wraith facility, which added even more spice to the once-bland map. Those changes were meant to be "permanent" so I can't help but wonder why we got the old, unseasoned version of King's Canyon last weekend instead?

Changing spaces

(Image credit: EA/Respawn)

With Respawn set to bring Kings Canyon back for the entire second half of season 4 ranked play, I'm very concerned with what version of the map we'll get. Sure, your rank at the end of season 4 will be determined by the highest level you reach in either of the two "splits", so technically you could bomb the entire second half of the season and still fare well, but why suffer in the old map in the first place?

There's no other way to say it: Kings Canyon season one has no place in Apex Legends. Not now, a year into the game, with players better accustomed to the Legends, weapons, and rhythms of its competitive meta. It may have been a good fit for us as we found our footing in a brand new game that  surprise launched out of nowhere, but now the map just feels empty, unbalanced, and old. 

I reached out to EA and Respawn to get some clarification on what version of the original map we'll be getting for the second half of ranked play, but they couldn't give me an answer just yet. Hopefully that's because they've got some special season 4 reworks in the works for Kings Canyon, and not because they are worried about how the community might react when they find out the season 1 map is back for good.

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Alyssa Mercante

Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters's degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.