Apex Legends Season 9 Preview: ‘A break from battle royale’

Respawn is going bigger than ever with Apex Legends Season 9: Legacy. In addition to the new Legend, weapon, and map changes that traditionally come with a new season, Legacy is also adding an entirely new game mode that breaks away from battle royale entirely. It’s a bold move, but it looks like it’ll pay off!

Introducing Arenas

Apex Legends Season 9 Gameplay Preview

Apex Legends’ Arenas gameplay is wildly different from the battle royale showdown that players have been experiencing over the past two years. Put simply: Arenas is a 3v3 round-based elimination mode. Loadouts are purchased using credits earned during each round, similar to how CS: GO and Valorant work. These 3v3 fights take place on smaller maps, some of which are custom-made especially for this new game type.

Arenas offers players a chance to immediately get into a fight using their chosen weapons. It skips the five or so minutes of looting that battle royale matches often force, focusing solely on a hectic firefight instead. What’s more, as there are only two teams, there’s no risk of being “third-partied.” It’s just two squads going head-to-head with the winner being those who aimed best and made smart use of their utility.

Apex Legends Season 9 Gameplay Preview

While randomness is part of what makes battle royale so addicting and accessible, it has the downside of making gameplay less “fair” and “competitive.” This will be less of an issue in Arenas, with it becoming the home for players keen to show off their raw skills.

This game mode will also be great for warming up. No longer will players have to go into Firing Range to prep their aim. Arenas is now there with some human enemies to immediately fight.

Another potential benefit to this scaled-down game mode could be better performance on Nintendo Switch. Pre-Season 9, performance on the portable is less than stellar. While it’s functional, things could be better. Hopefully Arenas will help to fix that.

Valkyrie soars to new heights

Apex Legends Season 9 Gameplay Preview

Valkyrie is the new character being added in Season 9. She has repurposed parts of a Northstar Titan to give herself the ability to fly and rain down rockets. Her Ultimate allows her to launch high into the air alone or with teammates in order to escape or quickly rotate. I feel that Respawn has balanced Valkyrie well, giving her enough flight time without it becoming an issue.

Whether in the air or on the ground, Valkyrie’s Tactical Ability can be used to rain down rockets. These rockets do a minor amount of damage and also stun enemies. The stun effect is particularly useful when pushing a squad.

Dare to bow

Apex Legends Season 9 Gameplay Preview

The Bocek Bow is Season 9’s new weapon and it’s very satisfying to use. It’s difficult for marksman weapons to be viable in Apex Legends due to the high frequency of close-quarters engagements. There’s also Apex’s longer time-to-kill, which often has players switching to a secondary weapon to finish off an enemy or group of enemies. Thankfully, the Bocek Bow is able to dish out damage at range and up close, providing the user has kitted it out with a Hop-Up attachment or two.

One Hop-Up increases the fire rate of the weapon after well-timed shots, while the other turns the Bocek into a multi-arrow hip-firing machine. It’s like having a semi-auto rifle and a shotgun in one weapon.

It feels great to land headshots and see the big damage numbers appear, but it’s tricky to use against players who are dodging and ducking about the place. The bow will have a steep learning curve for most players, at least on PC with a mouse.

Overgrown Olympus

Apex Legends Season 9 Gameplay Preview

Apex Legends only has three total maps for battle royale. To help freshen things up, the devs often implement changes to existing maps to make them more interesting and better balanced. This time around it’s Olympus which is getting spruced up. How exactly? Well, it’s getting covered in alien plants.

A mysterious ship named “The Icarus” has landed on Olympus, bringing with it a parasitic plant. This has altered many points of interest, changing up lines of sight and routes across the map. What’s more, players will be able to find keycards that permit access to The Icarus and the awesome loot within.

Is it the right direction?

Apex Legends Season 9 Gameplay Preview

For me, the main highlight of Apex Legends Season 9: Legacy is Arenas. With its new game mode, Respawn is pushing Apex Legends in a new direction. By breaking away from battle royale, there’s a larger focus on its characters, their abilities, and the weapons they use. It’s a risky play, but I’m hopeful that it will pay off.

GameRevolution attended a private session hosted by EA and Respawn Entertainment.