Apex Legends season 7 hands-on preview: the most innovative season yet and a great reason to return to the fray

Apex Legends season 7
(Image credit: EA)

Apex Legends season 7 Ascension isn't just introducing a new map, a new legend, and a new mode of transportation – it feels bigger than that. The changes arriving this season are more all-encompassing than just newness, they feel more daring, and more willing to shift the meta or just completely throw it out in favor of a shiny new one. Naturally, these changes are more likely to be polarizing, but that's what you came here for.

Apex Legends has been pushing the battle royale genre forward since its surprise launch date in February of last year, and season 7 plans (including Olympus and the Trident) have been in the works for the better part of a year. "Season 7 is the season we've been working on since – I mean, we're always working on lots of future seasons – we're playtesting season 12 stuff regularly right now – but season 7 is the one we put a big flag in the ground earlier this year," design director Jason McCord tells me. 

So, the boldness of this season shouldn't surprise you. In fact, many of its changes will likely entice both old and new players – myself included, who has fallen off the dropship as of late. I got a chance to see and feel these upcoming changes when I went hands-on with Apex Legends season 7 ahead of its November 4 launch date, and I'm pretty damn excited.

Olympus road trip, anyone?

Apex Legends season 7

(Image credit: EA)

Olympus looks different than anything we've seen before in Apex Legends. This verdant future city floating amongst fluffy white clouds is the crisp, modern foil to the more grounded, industrial maps that are Kings Canyon and World's Edge. There's an A24 film aura around the map, like you'd half expect Ari Aster's next daylight horror to be set on it. Nothing could go wrong here – except your entire squad dying.

Olympus is covered in polygonal terrain that further drives home the notion that it's a dang floating city. There are open pits dotting the map like the lava pits from World's Edge, except clouds greet your descent instead of bubbling magma. The city's skyline features giant, curved monoliths that seem to bend and stretch towards the heavens (you may recognize the crown jewel of Olympus, Bonsai Plaza, as the place where Loba's parents were killed in the Assimilation launch trailer). Olympus has a few industrial areas, but they're heavily contrasted against the clean, modern architecture throughout. It's even so much brighter than the previous maps – you almost need sunglasses to look at it. 

As far as size goes, Olympus falls right in the middle of what the game currently offers. It's bigger than Kings Canyon but slightly smaller than World's Edge, which is where the Trident comes into play. Before Olympus, the Respawn devs didn't see a need for a vehicle; Kings Canyon had ziplines and sliding, and World's Edge had a handy train. Olympus changes that. "Eventually, we kind of came to a reason why it would exist – to pull your squad together and let you attach abilities and pull off really new plays with it," McCord explains. "We looked at Olympus and were like, 'let's kind of take the Kings Canyon supply ships to the next level,' and let players rotate really quickly from one side of the map to the other." 

Adding vehicles to a battle royale is a huge change, and Respawn was aware of the kind of waves that might make. So, the team started prototyping the Trident way back in season 5, toying with its use and how it would work in tandem with the Legends and their abilities. For example, you can attach Rampart's turret to the back of the Trident to make a mobile death machine, or protect your teammates from enemy fire with Gibraltar's dome (any damage the Trident obtains will be distributed equally to teammates on the vehicle). But the main goal of adding a vehicle is to allow for a longer rotation that will allow players to traverse the map faster and with relative ease. "It's a rotation tool, not a weapon," senior level designer Dave Osei insists. "You can't run over other players and kill them."

New Horizons

Apex Legends Horizon

(Image credit: EA)

New Legends are always a welcome addition to gameplay, but Horizon's debut alongside a fairly open map, with quick vehicles dispersed around it, means she's poised to drastically shift the meta. 

Horizon is fast, fun, and aggressive (not to mention adorably Scottish). Her passive ability centers around the spacesuit, giving her increased control in the air and soft landings, as well as letting her maintain momentum when hitting the ground – you might not notice your speed takes a hit when you land from a distance, but trust me, it does. Horizon's tactical ability (Repulsion Star) is a lot like the Gravity Star from Titanfall – throw it down and lift players up who step into its path. It's a great way to give your teammates a boost, and to throw your enemies off (and up). 

Horizon's ultimate ability, however, is her crown jewel, and one that Respawn continues to look at closely as it may need some adjustment once it's on the live servers. Horizon can conjure a mini black hole, powered by her adorable little robot named N.E.W.T. that will drag players into its gravitational pull, allowing you to swoop in and wreak havoc. During my preview, I threw Horizon's ult behind a lone Loba who had just downed my teammate and was going in for the finisher – it dragged her backwards and away from my helpless Wattson, allowing our third teammate to swoop in and revive her while I peppered my foe with Flatline fire. Team wipe, of course.

Horizon "scared Respawn a bit," according to senior software engineer Chris Winder. The team wanted her to be "satisfying and effective, without being too punishing or frustrating. "We feel like we have it in a good spot, but we'll continue to balance and look at it," he promises. Winder believes hyper-mobile Legends like Wraith will act as good counters to Horizon. She's all about controlling other Legend's mobility, and Wraith, Pathfinder, and Octane will be in a better position than most to dart away from an incoming black hole. In short, I'd expect Horizon mains to be as common as Wraiths in this upcoming season, my friends.

Join the club

Apex Legends season 7

(Image credit: EA)

Dramatically shifting meta and anti-gravity Scottish moms aside, Respawn is dedicated to better serving its player base in the upcoming season. For starters, you'll be able to play Apex Legends on Steam, another sign of the company's philosophy about the game's future. It wants as many people playing as possible, and with the common knowledge that Origin can be a thorn in the side of PC players (it barely worked during my preview), adding Steam into the mix is likely to increase the player base. "I'm hoping that Steam brings back people on PC that tried on Origin and fell off and then just never loaded up Origin again," explains McCord. "But there's people who load up Steam every day – it's part of their normal gameplay experience to look through Steam – and so I think it's gonna be a shot in the arm. I'm excited about that."

And while crossplay is currently still in beta, we can confirm that it will exit beta and be a permanent addition to Apex Legends sometime during season 7. That means there'll be a demand for better matchmaking options – which Respawn will provide in the form of Clubs. Clubs is a social feature that will help players get into squads with friends or like-minded individuals quicker and will help build stronger Apex Legends communities. You'll be able to go into a new tab in the lobby and either create or search for a club, which can be found through a series of hashtags including #Casual, #AltGameModes, #LGBTQIA, #RankedOnly, and more. "More people go into Trios solo, but the majority of victories are by partial or fully pre-made squads," game designer Chad Armstrong explains. 

Come season 7, you won't just be able to play across platforms, but you'll be able to play with more like-minded people and foster relationships with fellow players. As someone who has rarely experienced that camaraderie in Apex Legends, this is a welcome change – and one Respawn believed was necessary. "I play solo a lot. It's rough out there," McCord admits. As we chat about random matched players running off to the darkest corners of the map, he assures me: "We're gonna have a Lone Wolf tag. My hope, please, is that all of the lone wolves can just join their one wolf club and they can all just go and do this thing. And that's fine. Everyone's happy with it." 

With Apex Legends coming to Steam next month and Nintendo Switch sometime next year, and with season 7 giving the game a facelift, it's a good time to sort out the Lone Wolves from the Team Players, eh?

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.