We got a hands-on look at the changes coming with Apex Legends Season 7: Ascension. These include the new map, Olympus, as well as the new Legend, Horizon. The update also introduces a new vehicle, the Trident, as well as the new social features and updates to the Battle Pass.
With the new season, the team over at Respawn Studios really wanted to shake things up with features new to the Battle Royale game. Here’s some of what you can expect with the new season. Additionally, Season 7 will be launching alongside the game’s Steam release, and players’ Origin progress will carry over.
Horizon is the new champion introduced with the season. An astronaut from the colony of Olympus, she was trapped on the edge of a Black Hole for what was a year in her time, but for the rest of the world was actually closer to 90.
According to the team, Horizon was originally conceptualized as a “Lex Luthor-Type” with more villainous undertones. However, as they developed her backstory, she ended up in a more sympathetic light. In her more recent iteration, she’s simply a mom wanting to get back to see her son.
You can even see some of the remnants of her old backstory with her weirdly sinister voicelines about looking for more test subjects.
Gameplay-wise, she’s another of the more mobility-based characters in the game. Thanks to her spacesuit, her passive gives her improved aerial mobility. She can even do soft landings, which tie into her tactical abilities.
Her tactical ability is a gravity lift, which can be used to launch her as well as other players into the air. This is great for getting the jump on players whose souls are still weighed down by gravity, and not expecting the aerial drop.
Her ult is, of course, a black hole. By deploying her companion N.E.W.T, it opens up a miniature black hole, pulling enemies towards it. This is great for getting people out of cover, or alternatively, buying yourself some time to make a quick escape.
According to the team the black hole was tricky to balance, as they wanted something that both felt rewarding to use but also wasn’t too broken. Unlike shooters with respawning, they couldn’t make Horizon’s black hole be instantly lethal.
Welcome To Olympus
Olympus is the new map, which is a colony in the clouds. According to David Osei, Senior Level Designer on Apex Legends, the map had its roots in an unused concept from Titanfall.
One of the big features they played with was “Negative Space”. According to David, the idea was to design spaces with absolutely no points of interest, to better draw focus to actual points of interest.
As a result, there’s a great contrast with high-action spots all over the map. These include the Reverie lounge, a high-end restaurant that also serves as a place for high-tier loot and vicious head-to-head.
“There’s also a fun story connection up here, where Loba’s parents were killed by Revenant” David says.
Returning to Olympus is the Arcadia Supercarrier. This huge ship was previously seen docked on the map World’s Edge, and has plenty of tricks to give players a reason to check it out.
“[Arcadia Supercarrier] houses close-quarters combat, and the ship is segregated into four distinct areas,” he says. “Defensive Legends are likely to be very, very strong here”.
Of course, David didn’t try to ignore the elephant in the room. In the center of Olympus is a giant vortex, known as the Rift. As one of the most eye-catching points of the new map, he was sure to go into it in great detail.
“This used to be a large bustling research campus before the Phase Runner exploded,” he explains. “So this leaves debris everywhere and a large unstable rift in the center”
It’s connected to two other zones, and David says players are welcome to actually approach the rift. According to him, their curiosity will be rewarded as they get rotated along the spine of the Phase Runner and sent to the center of the map.
So what is a Phase Runner? According to David, it’s another of the map’s unique features. It’s a large portal that connects three of the map’s areas together.
“This always-on static portal will phase players to and from specific locations. But unlike Wraith’s portal, you will take ring damage from within this” he says.
The Trident is an all-new vehicle made for traversing Olympus. The vehicle has three seats, perfect for you and your squad.
“We wanted players to feel safe landing on the edge of the map, and also know that they’d have a chance to even get to the other side of the map safely and fast”
The vehicle is squad-locked, so people from opposite teams can’t hijack the vehicle and drive it off a cliff. This tactic wouldn’t work even on the most traitorous of squadmates, as the Trident will launch you into the air before it dives into the void.
Additionally, David stresses that the Trident is very much a vehicle, and so you won’t be getting any splatters with it.
Similarly, damage to the Trident is distributed among the team, so no one’s walking away unscathed. However, you can still focus down specific passengers and shoot them to have them take the full damage.
“We wanted the Trident to be part of the gameplay loop in Olympus, so we wanted people to steal them, fight over them, use them as cover in these open fields”, he says. “Because Trident was designed specifically for Olympus, we’re not gonna be on other maps at this time”.
If you’re not driving the Trident, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to do. According to David, you can attach certain abilities to the vehicle, such as Gibraltar’s shield.
Never Queue Alone Again With Clubs
Clubs are one of the most innovative features to be introduced in Apex Legends Season 7. No matter what team-based shooter you’re on, you’ve probably got a story about a miserable time teaming up with random players.
Rather than use third-party apps like Discord to find groups to play with, Clubs allows you to create in-game groups.
“Clubs is a social system designed to help friends get into squads quicker, but also designed to build communities” says Chad Armstrong, Level Designer.
According to Chad, the idea was partly inspired by social media posts lamenting poor teammates when doing public queues.
“I found it relatable,” he says. “I don’t know how many of you have gone into Apex without a pre-made squad, but the experience can be quite a mixed bag”.
“I’ve run into situations where teammates have watched me die so they can steal my equipment or teammates that just completely ignored their team so that they could just do whatever and then when they die suddenly they expect your full attention”.
Creating A Club
If you start your own club, you’ll get to decide on a name, clan tag and logo for your Club. While this may seem similar to other clan systems in games, Chad explains the masterstroke: the Search Tag.
These allow you to describe your Club for people looking for it. These can help tell players that you’re only doing ranked matches, for example. Alternatively, you can also use these to tell players that you’re only after casual matches and that more serious players should probably go elsewhere.
These Search Tags are pre-determined by the game, and your Club can have up to five of them. From the example shown, these can be technical tags like “Mic required” to inclusive tags like “LGBTQIA Inclusive”.
“The goal behind Search Tags is that they become an expression of what your Club aspires to be, the characteristics of your club”.
Being in a club will also allow you to communicate with clubmates even when outside of a party, as well as providing a timeline where you can see milestones hit by the Club and its members.
Clubs can hold up to 30 members, and can have ranks so that more senior members can help moderate the Club. According to Chad, 30 members was a great number because it allowed Clubs to grow without getting overwhelming.
BattlePass, Comics And A Sweet Bundle For New Players
Apex Legends Season 7 is also bringing a rework for the game’s battlepass. According to Chad Grenier, Game Director, the new battle pass is going to be much more simple than its predecessors.
Completing challenges earns you stars, and every 10 stars you get a battle pass level. That’s it.
To help this, the game is also getting a Challenge Tracker, which will let you know which challenges you can aim for next or challenges that you’re close to completing.
“A lot of times if you’re like me, you have to write those down or remember what they are and then play those games and try to check off those challenges”, Chad says. ” Now, you’re gonna have a convenient way both in the front page of the lobby and in the match to quickly see what your daily challenges are, what your event challenges are, and also any weekly challenges that you’re close to finishing, you’ll have them right there front and center. So that’s going to be great”.
He also talked about some of the legendaries included in the Apex Legends Season 7 Battle Pass, including a Legendary for Wraith unlocked at level 25. Octane gets a Legendary Skin at level 50, too. Chad was also happy to reveal this season’s Level 100 skin, which is a Reactive R99 skin.
Introduced in Season 6, Quest Comics provided a way for players to learn more about the story of Apex Legends. Chad confirms they’d be returning for Season 7, with players being able to complete quests to get access to the comics.
New to Apex Legends? Though the game is free-to-play, Respawn is offering a bundle to get new players caught up. It includes every previously-released character, as well as new skins. The bundle will go for USD 39.99, or your regional equivalent.
“It’s a great catch-up pack”, Chad says.
With all this, it looks like Apex Legends Season 7 is set to be a huge shake-up to the game as we know it. THat’s far from all the game has planned however, with Cross-Play still in the works. If you like the idea of Squad-based Battle Royales, now looks like a great time to get into it.