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Apex Legends' new map is shaking up the meta

After a surprise launch that took even Respawn developers by surprise, and two seasons of competition between the wants of players and Respawn’s attempts to play catch-up, Apex Legends season three arrives tomorrow. It’s bringing with it perhaps the biggest addition to Apex so far, a brand new map dubbed “World’s Edge.”

Last week at a preview event held by Respawn I got to play this new map and walked away with a sense of how it will change the meta. I also got to check out Crypto, the new recon-focused legend, who you can read about in greater detail in this story.

VIDEO: Some of my hands-on time with Crypto and other characters on the new map.

World's Edge is a breath of fresh air

World’s Edge carries forward season two’s theme of nature running rampant over the Apex arena. No, there aren’t any dinosaurs lumbering or flying around (not that I saw anyway), but elemental devastation plays a much bigger role. Skyscrapers and drilling machinery are plastered with ice, steam vents surround a research station, and magma veins singe anything dumb enough to stumble into them.

During our preview, Respawn explicitly stated that the map is designed to encourage more long range fights, and it shows through the increased scope and sightlines. Respawn confirmed it is definitely bigger than King’s Canyon, but not exactly so big that it dwarfs it.

(Image credit: Respawn)

Biomes aplenty

I spent six hours with it, and I still don’t feel like I got to see everything in the new map. Dotted across World's Edge are some massive landmarks that draw your focus to new biomes. Maybe the single biggest object is a tall drilling machine frozen in a burst of jagged ice, dipping down into the earth. There’s an equally tall, strange alien plant stretching out of the earth in one corner of the map, shading some pleasant greenery and research buildings beneath it.

And there are multiple urban areas that sprawl in various directions, each with multiple towers stacked with multiple floors stuffed with weapons and gear to scrounge through. Those areas still aren’t quite as masterfully designed as Titanfall’s Angel City, but it is more visually interesting than a copy-pasted slum or military base from King’s Canyon. A lot of these areas still use a familiar, pre-made boxy architecture (nature is still the only thing here that doesn’t look like it was built in a factory), but the wide-open flow of urban areas or large hills lend themselves more to something like Battlefield 4’s Shanghai city map (or perhaps Titanfall’s larger Titan-friendly maps) than anything classically Apex. While listening for the sounds of firefights has always helped in battle royale games, it really does feel like a bigger battlefield.

Lower to the ground, I saw a pretty wide variety of ground to pound, including grassy knolls, barren sand, and even what I’ll call a “blooming crater” full of magma veins (and yes, it hurts when you walk on them).

There's a damn train

While King’s Canyon had its airships chock full of loot, the train driving around World’s Edge replaces them as the “screw it, let’s go for it” drop point. The train passes between biomes on a fixed track. I wasn’t able to tell if it ever shifted tracks or reversed course, but with the random trajectory of the initial drop ship you’re leaping out of, catching a ride on the Apex Express feels great.

The combat on top of it isn't too different from the dropships, except you really don't want to be stuck in the middle. A glob of players are all trying to grab from the same crates and wildly firing into one another. The train is long enough that you can have some ranged fights on top of cars (or if you can finesse a shot between doors), but those first few minutes are going to be a mess. One also has to imagine it will become less effective as the circle tightens, perhaps working better as moving cover or an effective way to hide your gunfire.

The train itself is six cars long, with three interior cars and three open-air cars, alternating one after the other from front to back. So if you are fighting someone on it, you’re likely fighting someone who either has a fair amount of cover or very little.

One other important detail: you can stop the train if you hit a button located in the frontmost car.

Apex Legends new map World's Edge

(Image credit: Respawn)

Long sightlines invite sniping

The first thing you'll notice about World’s Edge is that it’s much more open than most of King’s Canyon. While King’s Canyon had plenty of areas to snipe from, World’s Edge is (almost) all about them. Remember the open slopes near the southern river in King’s Canyon and how vulnerable those felt? There’s a lot of that here, in almost every biome.

At one point, upon exiting one of the major urban areas, my team came upon one of these large slopes, making our way toward a narrow chokepoint. As you might expect, an enemy team was laying in wait, but Crypto’s recon abilities allowed us to drag that fight out longer than our foes would have liked, all because we had bigger lines of sight and an eye in the sky. We were able to play more angles than the comparatively tight lanes of King’s Canyon.

And for a game already so hyper-focused on verticality, it really feels like a number of biomes were designed to make legends like Pathfinder more viable. Height is everything in certain areas, like a shipping yard with multiple crates suspended high up in the air. Hunkering down up there allowed me to recon as Crypto without fear of getting gunned down, but it could just as easily be the perfect sniper perch for a mile out.

Apex Legends new map World's Edge

(Image credit: Respawn)

The new map might leave Wattson players in a tough spot

I loved roping idiots into a corner as Wattson in season two, but I feel like she and her electric fences are going to be left in the dust with World’s Edge. She was already more of a late-game character in King’s Canyon, but those extra large sightlines and wide open areas are going to make it really difficult to effectively use her at any point in the game. She absolutely excels at cutting off chokepoints, but in my time with World’s Edge, I struggled to find more than a few that couldn’t simply be walked around. 

Apex Legends new map World's Edge

(Image credit: Respawn)

The Charge Rifle is basically Halo 3’s Spartan Laser 

One of my favorite new additions, the Charge Rifle feels immediately more fun and accessible than the Havoc Rifle, which I never pick up. The Charge Rifle, much like Halo 3’s Spartan Laser, takes a second to wind up, and then shoots out an armor-piercing heat laser. The interesting thing is that while it’s charging up, it’s actually still doing a little bit of damage to its target. In theory, this acts as a sort of heads-up to the target that they’re about to be cooked like my microwave dinner. 

(Image credit: Respawn)

More stuff you should know about Season 3

  • Respawn will finally start penalizing leavers, starting with five-minute bans, and gradually increasing upwards from there. Respawn unfortunately didn’t give us more specifics on that.
  • We didn’t hear anything about the cosmetics or structure of the Season 3 battle pass.
  • There’s going to be a new leaderboard system, split by platform.
  • Ranked series 2 will reset all players back to Tier 1.5.
  • There’s going to be some rewards at the end of Ranked Series 1 for high-ranking players, including badges and gun charms, not unlike Rainbow Six Siege.
  • Wraith’s Dimensional Rift ability will no longer work if she’s dead, which seems fair.
  • Pathfinder’s Grapple and Zipline ability are also getting minor nerfs.
  • Other weapon buffs and nerfs are coming as well.