From Self Res to Skull Town

“We haven’t brought back Skull Town,” Respawn’s main level designer Jeff Shaw tells me when I mistakenly call the new Relic POI “Skull Town 2.0”. “It’s very Skull Town inspired, but it’s not Skull Town and we want to be clear about that.”

Apex Legends season 14 feels like a blast from the past. We’re back in Kings Canyon, a smaller iteration of Skull Town is back and players who have reached the level cap of 500 can start over to start over with second, third and fourth prestige. Season 14 has a lot of new changes though, so I caught up with Shaw and his colleagues to get detailed information on third-party management, why Skull Town is gone, and whether self-resolution will return in the future.

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Skull Town was removed nine seasons ago because it was “unhealthy” for the game, explains Shaw. Respawn’s data confirmed what we all saw – that virtually the entire lobby was landing on the iconic drop point – meaning something had to change. “The decision has been made to simply say ‘Okay, let’s shrink the map a bit, cancel this POI that’s causing a lot of problems and start rebuilding parts of the map from there,” he says. “And so we found after it was done, that the scattering of where people were landing was much healthier.” When asked if Respawn would remove Fragment in a similar way, Shaw replied “no comment”.

Relic’s small size seems unlikely to repel most players, especially early in the season when excitement is at its peak. So why bring it back? “In addition to bringing it back out of nostalgia, this is the kind of gameplay that people really love and are missing from the map,” says Shaw. “But another important point was to find a creative solution to a problem we saw. One of the problems we ran into was how to go from Octane, to Market, to Caustic Treatment and Salvage and that whole area. We heard it got really fun and you got channeled into commitments, even if you wanted to avoid them. ”

To combat POI density in southern Kings Canyon, Broken Relay also got a flare, adding more buildings and better loot. The revitalized spot, now called Basin, still hosts mid-tier loot, but loot balance has been tweaked across the map to encourage players to reach more varied landing spots.

While Relic expands Kings Canyon to the south and Crash Site previously did the same to the north, the original Apex map remains the smallest. With a small map comes more third parties, which are incredibly annoying to deal with after an intense fight, and probably why many choose to hunker down with the likes of Caustic and Wattson to restore safely. Shaw acknowledges this problem, but is cautious about completely eliminating third parties from the game.

“We see third parties as a healthy part of the game, but when third parties are happening too much in certain areas, we see this as a small problem,” he says. He explains that removing the buildings from Hillside Outpost should prevent squads from crouching and removing the redistribution balloons from the center of the map will eliminate the quickest way to rotate to charge an injured team after the fight. The “choke hub,” as Shaw describes it, between Bunker, The Cage and Hillside Outpost, has also been partially filled, leaving teams with longer routes if they want third parties a brawl they hear on the other side of Kings Canyon’s mountain range. central. Unless they have a Valkyrie, that is.

Hardcore gamers will know that Apex’s tier system is capped at 500, after which you cannot progress further. I asked systems designer Aaron Rutledge why it took so long to increase the level cap, especially since the first increase, from 100 to 500, came so quickly after the game’s launch.

“I think it’s just the percentage of the player base near that limit,” he explains. “500 takes some time. And yes, there are people who play this as a career and they hit 500 very quickly, but that’s not true for the entire player base. We want to be a little cautious about when we will expand it. And I think I move 500 essentially to 2,000 [the prestige system sees players regress to a new level 1 after hitting 500] okay around now. That is why we are making this change now.


“Also, by increasing the Apex package release rate, this should be proportional to the amount of content we have. So, in the first nine months, we had a very limited pool of skins that were also available to people – you don’t want everyone. are running out of things to open. So as the content pool grows, we can get more Apex packages out into the economy. ”

Reaching level 2,000 (or more precisely, 500 for the fourth time) will see you earn 544 Apex Packs in total. This is definitely over the threshold for receiving an “Heirloom of Mercy”, ultra rare collectible cosmetics that have an obscenely low release rate, but are guaranteed in your 500th pack if you haven’t already received one. “At launch, memorabilia weren’t even a thing,” Rutledge explains. “And now they are such a sought-after item that we wanted to give everyone a chance to experience that red Apex package opening experience.” It will take a while to get there, though.

The biggest changes in season 14, as in any season, are weapons. The Rampage LMG and the Bocek Bow will enter the Care Package (despite my protests), in place of the G7 Scout and Volt SMG. Game designer Eric Canavese assured me that the Bocek directed at the pack wasn’t a personal grudge and that his buff will be “much more like the arc we released for that first week and then hotfixed”.

He also told me that Rampage won’t be fully charged when you find it in the Service Pack, despite Respawn having tested it as an option. “We actually tried it at the beginning of our experimentation,” he says. “We also tried that it was free, so you still had to go through the window to load, but it wasn’t just constant, but we found that it interrupts things a bit and then you get into this situation where ‘I’ll always load it. been a bit unhealthy, so what we did was spawn it in the crate with a free termite.

The other big news when it comes to weapons is the Wingman taking sniper ammo and the Spitfire switching from Heavy to Light. Both weapons are unchanged apart from ammo, so you’ll still be able to destroy with those Wingman headshots, you just won’t be able to carry all the ammo for this – as Cavanese says, “it was too easy to run with ammo heavy and just like and the ability to stretch with two stacks for the entire game. “

Devotion and RE-45 (complete with Hammerpoints) are in the Replicator for season 14, the latter as “a little experiment” to try and channel players into creating a weapon early in the game. The last big change when it comes to loot is gold gear. Gold Backpacks now allow you to stack three large meds instead of two, and its old mechanic of reviving teammates in half health instead of on a ribbon has been moved to the Gold Knockdown Shield. This means that the self-resurrection is over – something pro gamers have been complaining about for a long time – but is it over forever?


“We listen to our community and it is important to show that we are listening, but we will not do everything the community wants,” says Cavanese. “And this isn’t just something to appease the community, it’s something we believe will benefit the health of the game, classified integrity and professional play across the board. When we see that there is a lot of negative feeling around something, we will go through it and come to our conclusions about health and things like that.

“We did it with self-resolution and came to the conclusion that we can come up with something else and try it out. If it doesn’t work, maybe we’ll go back to self-resolution, who knows? But we’re always ready to try new things and we don’t want to be afraid to respond to that and give new things a chance in the game. ”

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