We sat down with some of the game designers over at Respawn to talk about all things Season 13. What changes are coming to Storm Point? How do they want Newcastle to fit into the meta? And what does the future of Apex look like?
We've been hearing a lot about Apex Legends Season 13 over the last few months, following the breadcrumb trail from leak to leak. And sure, we got a few details about the new Legend, and some info on the weapon changes coming in Season 13, but it wasn't enough. So rather than following some spurious leak account on Twitter with an anime profile picture, we thought we'd just go straight to the source. We got in touch with the talented and lovely folks over at Respawn, and we got together to have a chat about Season 13. Here's what they had to say.
Season 13 Interview With Respawn
The following interview was conducted by EarlyGame's Jon Ramuz, and features the following game designers from Respawn:
- Steve Ferreira (Lead Designer)
- Devan McGuire (Newcastle Designer)
- Cristina Ferez (Newcastle Designer)
- Jeff Shaw (Storm Point Designer)
- Samantha Kalman (Storm Point Designer)
We spoke about Storm Point, Newcastle, and the future of Apex Legends.
1. The Season 13 reveal trailer just dropped, and we saw the Leviathan that’s going to become the new POI on Storm Point. The map is beautiful, and atmospheric, and as someone who mainly plays ranked, it has a great flow to it. But in casual, it feels like the map can support greater lobby sizes. Is this something you would ever like to experiment with? Or do you think new POIs can encourage players to spread out more?
That’s definitely one of the goals of the location. When we started, Storm Point had less POIs, and we did see that behaviour in public lobbies. But the new Leviathan is a very high value POI, there’s a ton of good loot inside the beast, so when players catch on that should help spread people around a bit more.
2. Storm Point is sunny and vibrant, but the name suggests something more intense. Would you ever want to experiment with weather cycles?
Making maps sunny and vibrant is something we try to do because it’s a psychological thing. If you’re always playing on a map that’s dark and dreary, it’s not somewhere you want to go. But if it’s a bright vibrant, tropical paradise, it’s somewhere you want to be.
3. Speaking of the new trailer, we also saw the “weapons bunker” system in play. What advice will you give players jumping in to Season 13, are these must-visit loot rooms for everyone? Should we all land there on launch day? Or, is it for the higher-skilled players who are going to reliably take down the Spectres?
The feature is called IMC armouries, there’s four of them around the map, and they serve a lot of purpose. We were talking further back in the conversation about rotations, and while the armouries are viable drop points, they’re maybe better as rotation points.
But they play a little differently to how they do in the reveal trailer. They’re something that you have to specifically activate, and then the more Spectre waves you clear within 60 seconds, the more smart loot you get. The smart loot will be tailored to your teams current loadout. The ICM bunkers are single use, but the way it works is that you’ll upgrade the kit you have. So the role of the bunkers changes if you hot-drop their or if you rotate their mid-game.
They’re also a great feature for new players because you get you used to combat. They will help new players get comfortable with the combat, and get comfortable with being the hunter rather than the hunted. By providing an enclosed space for squads to practise communication and combat, the bunkers should act a little like trainers that get you used to the anxiety and pressure of a Battle Royale.
4. In these bunkers, will there be outward alerts that let other players know they have a good third-party opportunity ahead?
There’s not a blinking red sign or anything, but observant players will be able to tell the state of the armouries from a distance. But a third-party cannot happen while a squad is in the armoury. However, once the armoury is done, the players obviously have to exit, so there’s an opportunity there.
5. And of course, perhaps most excitingly in each new Season, we’re getting a new Legend. Newcastle is very exciting, especially since he seems to be a true support like Lifeline. But is there a worry that these legends encroach on each other's design space? Do you expect to see them paired up together? Or is there a fear that one will replace the other?
He’s defensive but he does play that support role via his passive, and this is to give players another option for how to play as a person who’s focused on your team. So in that aspect, yes he does cross into her play space, and you probably will choose between Newcastle and Lifeline when thinking about your squad dynamic. But the important thing about their design is that they’re playing on very different axis, so Lifeline revives in a very different way to Newcastle, and one of those will be more optimal depending on the situation you’re in.
Lifeline can use her skill to revive while also protecting the downed players and being that combat medic, so if your ally gets into a good position to revive you can defend them while they pop up. Whereas Newcastle get’s no combat advantage, he has to put himself on the line and take himself out of the fight to get someone back up, but he does get the Shield. Both can be very effective, but it will be up to you and your choice of playstyle.
6. Newcastle is looking like a pretty huge dude in the trailer, will he be Caustic and Gibraltar’s size, and therefore benefit from the damage reduction buff they get?
He is a large character like those two, he has much larger hitboxes, and he will be fortified when he comes out. We made a statement that we didn’t want any more of these characters, but certain aspects around the character forced us to make him bigger, and so we wandered into that space, but it’s not a bad thing. He was originally on a medium rig, but looked tiny compared to other characters, so we had to size him up.
7. We see Warzone increasingly borrow ideas from Apex, most recently in the form of redeployment balloons and their version of heat sinks (the PDS), but is there anything you admire in their design? Any elements you might like to experiment with in Apex Legends?
Everyone is influenced by the games, the shows, and the movies we see, and we bring that to our universe. But at the same time, and while it’s flattering a lot of games have leaned into innovations that we’ve brought to the BR genre, it’s not helpful for us to be looking at what other people are doing. We’re looking at what we want to do, and where we want to go with Apex. And we also take into consideration so much of what our own community have asked for, so it’s not our style of development to look at competition and get into an arms race or follow their trends, and at the end of the day we’re making something that we think is really fun and that leans into our strengths. Could there be crossovers? Sometimes there is, we’re all playing the same genre. But as an intentional thing, no we do not do this. We need to justify why new ideas would make our game better, not simply copy it because it worked for someone else.
We're sure every Apex Legends fan will be happy with those answer, especially the last one concerning our rival...
Thank you again to the wonderful devs for sitting down with us!