Apex Legends Season 13 is focused on improving the core battle royale, specifically, the latest map Storm Point. During the Season 13 preview, the dev team calls the changes "additive" rather than "destructive", with design goals focused on bolstering points of interest and increasing the competitiveness of the map. With Season 13, it's clear that Respawn has a concise understanding of what makes Apex Legends great, and is looking to add even more ways to engage fans of the BR and beyond.
The Apex Kaiju
The Apex Legends Season 13 trailer sees the Legends team up to fight a giant sea monster that emerged from the turquoise waters surrounding Storm Point. That monster's carcass is the new POI on the map, and you can fight within its rotting body and on top of it. Metal. Lead level designer Jeff Shaw says that the decision to add what they refer to as a "kaiju" was simple: the team wondered "what it would be like to fight inside and around a stranded sea monster." Plus, the devs wanted to add another POI with the latest update (there's now 18) in an attempt to make Storm Point "more competitive as a map." Shaw calls the downed beast a "loot piñata," filled with the best loot on the map, so you can expect it to be a hotbed of activity that pulls the heat away from the other high-tier loot spot, Barometer.
Brilliantly, Respawn is also tweaking Storm Point's PvE elements for Season 13, adding and shifting around the existing prowler and spider nests, while also dropping four IMC Armories into the mix. The armories, which emerged from underground due to the seismic activity from the kaiju, are brand new additions to the game that are filled with valuable loot. However, they have on-board defenses, so you'll need to fight your way through them in order to get the goodies that lie within. Senior game designer Samantha Kalman refers to them as "map toy minigames," sort of like the Bloodhound trials on World's Edge, in that you'll trigger a 60-second encounter when entering them and have to survive the countdown.
But unlike the Bloodhound trials, these IMC Armories protect you from being third-partied by enemy squads, and they offer you loot based on your current loadout. New, "smart loot" bins will scan what you already have as a loadout and provide you with loot based on that. "The loot is always valuable," Kalman promises. "Either it's upgrading what you have already or it's supplementing your equipment and weapon attachment that you don't yet have." This means that the IMC Armories could be a good place to initially drop, as you'll get a good starter kit, but may be the place you want to go after you've already looted an area or two.
"We've been excited about PvE features for a long time in battle royale. Storm Point is our PvE-rich map," Kalman explains while pointing out that the team really wanted to add a PvE experience that couldn't get third-partied. The IMC Armories will be a favorite addition to the map, mark my words - and if they are, Respawn is open to adding them to other maps.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the upcoming Apex Legends Season 13 changes is the philosophy the devs have around it: it's all about adding - not removing - content. Considering how major map changes in battle royales (and in previous Apex Legends Seasons) are so often built around destroying existing areas, this Storm Point update calls back to Respawn's previous conversations around creating a map specifically with live service in mind. It is, after all, the biggest of the games' battle royale maps, so there is much more room to slot in a new POI.
"We love updating our maps and looking at them critically, I don't think we're done with Storm Point yet," Shaw says. And that shouldn't be a surprise. "With Storm Point, we really set ourselves up for success. It was built through this lens of looking forward and looking at updates. Building it with this method really allowed us to be additive with new content rather than destructive," he explains. So, when adding a giant decaying sea monster to the game, Respawn's foresight when first designing the map meant that there were no sacrifices necessary to ensure the Kaiju made it to Storm Point's shores.
Respawn has plans to carry this philosophy forward through future Apex Legends updates. "We really hope to continue this trend with the future of Apex maps," Shaw says. Working on Storm Point helped the team find its "Goldilocks zone" when it comes to BR maps' elevation, scale, and size, so don't be surprised if you see the other, smaller maps getting updates in the future. "I don't think our maps are ever really truly finished," Shaw admits.
As far as live service games go, it really feels like Respawn takes in player feedback in droves, and actively applies that feedback wherever possible. Storm Point is the culmination of all of that feedback, iteration, and ideation, and it's great to see the team returning to it so soon after its launch. And as far as Apex Legends' future goes, senior design director Evan Nikolich has promised that Control will return later in the season, and that the team is looking to add even more LTMs that will welcome in new players and give veterans a chance to play with different Legends and loadouts.
How many live service games are too many live service games? We know that live service game fatigue is real - but can it be fixed?
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