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February 5, 2024
2 Min Read
Image via Respawn/EA.
At a Glance
- Respawn celebrates Apex Legends' fifth birthday with a new in-game leveling system for its battle royale modes.
The newest change to Respawn's Apex Legends will see players level up their Legend in the middle of battle royale matches.
Season 20, aka Breakout, introduces "Legends Upgrade" progression. Using experience gained from kills or class-specific duties, players upgrade a Legend to suit their individual playstyle.
It's a big shakeup to the shooter, and similar to the original plan for Overwatch 2. Blizzard scrapped that game's Talent system for its Heroes due to the overwhelming scope, which makes Respawn's follow-through notable.
Apex has 25 characters compared to Overwatch 2's roster of 39. A smaller lineup, and having the Upgrade system reset after each match, likely helped Respawn from a scaling perspective.
According to the studio, this mechanic will be specific to Apex's battle royale modes. It gave no indication whether or not it'll become standard across the larger game in later seasons.
In a breakdown video, designer John Larson briefly touched on its perks from a developer angle. Chiefly, it helps with balance: the Apex team can modify or replace a Legend ability, while also ensuring nothing compromises the core game.
Balance is important to any live-service game. for hero shooters, it can be particularly tricky; Respawn previously had to juggle balancing the Legends with the game's many weapons.
That synergy across different characters and their guns led to easy exploits. While this won't completely halt that, it should at least lead to some easier fixes in later seasons.
That aside, it also helps liven up the five-year-old shooter. Every live-service game needs an eventual refresh, and instead of a throwback event, Respawn has opted to play around with the fundamentals.
Respawn's full list of changes to Apex Legends with Season 20 can be read here.
About the Author(s)
Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com
A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.
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