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Apex Legends Season 11 Escape Hands-On Preview

Apex Legends Season 11 Escape Hands-On Preview

Apex Legends’ domination of the battle royale genre has been close to unrivaled as of late, and Respawn are tirelessly working to make sure it deserves the recognition it receives. Six months ago I had the privilege of getting an early hands-on experience for the launch of Season 9 which brought us airborne legend Valkyrie and saw the introduction of the 3v3 Arenas mode. It was with great pleasure that I was able to return on the eve of Season 11’s launch to get an early look at a new legend, a new weapon, various balance changes, and the arrival of a brand new map in Apex Legends’ roster.

The show began with an early look at the launch trailer, followed by a welcome by Team Director Steven Ferreira. Ferreira opened the presentation with a short message regarding the current state of the Apex Legends servers, which have been experiencing major performance issues over the past few weeks. With a message of reassurance that they are expanding dedicated servers and implementing new ways to improve the backend, we were led into the rest of the presentation, starting off with a close-up look at the upcoming map.

storm point barometer apex legends gaea

Season 11 takes us to a tropical island found on the planet Gaia, rife with diverse combat opportunities and unique rotations. Sporting beachfronts, dense forest areas, and high mountain tops, the island has a wide range of locations to explore. Named Storm Point, the upcoming map is the largest we’ve seen yet — 15% bigger than previous record holder World’s Edge — and has been specifically designed to evolve with how the live-service game runs. Many complaints about the earlier maps are that they haven’t stood the test of time when it comes to how the game has evolved since its inception, and Respawn hope to avoid this by making Storm Point with adaptability in mind.

Storm Point brings a lot of new gameplay mechanics to the table, and Level Designer Rodney Reece ran through them all for us. As seen in the gameplay trailer, the first of these are the new Gravity Cannons that fully replace the jump towers and allow
cross-map traversal by throwing the player across it at Mach one. Legends maintain full use of their weapons and abilities, and are able to strafe minorly in attempts to avoid ambushes at the other side. The Gravity Cannons offer a new and fun way to rotate around the map, although their visibility and lack of freedom when using them can very easily result in them being used as chokeholds, so their use should be considered before blindly throwing yourself into one.

prowlers

In addition to the Gravity Cannons, Storm Point is also home to some native wildlife that can — and will — attack the player and their squad if they get too close. One such type beasts are Prowlers, quadrupedal lion-esque creatures that we saw as enemies in the PvE quest mode available in Season 5. The other are these giant spider creatures (a poor choice of AI enemies from an accessibility standpoint) that will ignore the players unless their nest is shot at. Both creatures will offer crafting materials and minor supplies upon defeat, and any damage dealt to them will marginally contribute towards your EVO shield, making fighting them a worthwhile endeavour if you think you can pull it off safely.

During the playtest portion of the event, gameplay on Storm Point felt like it was paced pretty damn well. Matches ran with half their usual players for the event, so this may not translate the same way once the map goes live, but I found the size of the map coupled with the amount of routes that were available to get around meant that getting third-partied wasn’t as much of a death sentence as it would be on a map like Kings Canyon.

Apex Legends Screenshot 2021.10.20 18.18.23.29

After we were shown what the map had to offer, Lead Writer Ashley Reed came on to introduce us to the upcoming legend… also called Ashleigh Reid - or Ash for short. Ash offers yet another link to sister franchise Titanfall, and has been teased in the game since Season 5, so her arrival being highly anticipated is an understatement to say the least. Her heavy involvement in both games presented a “unique” challenge when it came to implementing her from a narrative and gameplay perspective, but Respawn were up to the challenge. She has links to Horizon and Pathfinder, as shown in previous comics and story trailers, and now she has her own place among the roster as a simulacrum, wanting to test the limits of her current form.

Legend Designer Devin Weise was brought in to walk us through her abilities before the test servers were opened up and we could try her for ourselves. Ash is an Offensive Legend with a kit that makes hiding and escaping from her very difficult. Starting with her passive ability, Marked for Death, Ash can see the location of nearby death boxes on the minimap, and has a special interaction with death boxes where she can ping the location of the dead players surviving teammates, if they have any. She can use this to quickly see where a fight is happening, and capitalise off of any injured parties in the aftermath. Her tactical, Arc Snare, allows her to throw an Arc Star-like projectile in a straight line. If it lands on or near a Legend it will tether to them, dealing 20 damage and restricting their movement to a small radius around the impact zone. You face no movement restriction if you stay within the radius, but trying to escape the area of effect will slow you to a halt until the effect dissipates. Her ultimate, Phase Breach, allows her and her teammates to very quickly reposition themselves through a one-way portal. The portal has a medium range to it, and can only be opened to somewhere that you have a direct line of sight on. This makes it a more risky and offensive tool than Wraith’s portal, and the loud noise that accompanies it isn’t exactly discreet, but carely planning and execution can result in a well placed ambush and an easy kill for you - or could spell your early demise if you use it recklessly.

Apex Legends Screenshot 2021.10.20 18.48.22.31

Ash and Storm Point are not the only new additions to the game however. Season 11 marks the arrival of the CAR SMG, a popular weapon originating from Titanfall that was teased back in Season 9. The CAR offers a viable alternative for the R-99, Volt, and Prowler, with decent damage and firerate that are countered by a loss of control due to the recoil towards the end of the clip. The crème de la crème of the CAR SMG, however, is its ability to utilise multiple ammo pools. The CAR SMG can fire either Heavy or Light ammo, as well as taking extended mags from either pool. Adding a Light or Heavy mag won’t lock you out of using the other ammo type, and whilst there’s no mechanical differences between using one ammo type over the other, the ability to be less selective in what you can use for the CAR will make it a huge boon in early-game fights where resources are scarce. Additionally when it comes to new weapons, we will also be receiving a new hop-up for the Mastiff and 30-30 Repeater called the Dual Shell, which will allow the loading of two bullets/shells at a time, effectively doubling the reload speed.

Outside of new additions, a variety of balance changes are coming to the current weapons and legends, the most notable of which being a large nerf to the Eva-8 Shotgun and the L-STAR; two guns which had been dominating throughout the current Season. My personal favourite change however is the defensive Legend Wattson finally receiving a buff; almost every part of her kit has been improved in some form, increasing her effectiveness in battle and allowing her to use her fences quicker, more freely, and with more deadly results.

Apex Legends Screenshot 2021.10.20 17.00.47.70

Season 11 of Apex Legends is set to begin on 2nd November 2021 and will bring some of the most anticipated content within the game that we’ve seen so far. Apex Legends has refused to slow down in its growing popularity, and if Respawn Entertainment have anything to say about it, it won’t be slowing down for a very long time.

Luke Greenfield

Luke Greenfield

Staff Writer

Just a guy that loves to write :)

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