Apex Legends season six – will new character Rampart change everything?

Guardian Technology 19 Aug 2020 01:42
Ready to blast ... Apex Legends season six. Photograph: Electronic Arts

Eighteen months after its surprise launch, Apex Legends remains a swaggering contender in the densely crowded battle royale market, its fifth season attracting the most daily users since its debut month. The game started its sixth season a little late thanks to Covid-19, with most of the team working from home. According to developer Respawn, one of the game’s animators had to set up a motion capture studio in his back garden. Considering the development environment, then, it’s impressive how much is packed into the latest update.

The main addition is, of course, a new legend, Rampart, a British-Indian gun store owner and entrepreneur who’s big on self-deprecating quips and regularly refers to enemies as “plonkers”. Her tactical ability is a defensive wall, which she can slam down anywhere, giving her and her teammates handy, portable cover. Shooting through its upper energy shield area amps up bullets, giving them extra damage. Meanwhile, her ultimate ability is a mini-gun emplacement which, like Bastion in Overwatch, provides absolutely monstrous firepower. Unlike Bastion, however, anyone can use it, including enemies if they get close enough.

Similarly to fellow legend Wattson, then, Rampart is a defensive character, perfect for securing and guarding positions and laying down suppressive fire. She’s also very effective in those little choke point valleys and passages littered around the map, especially with the storm coming in: just set up the mini-gun (or Sheila, as she calls it) at the mouth of a narrow exit route and clear up incoming enemies. What I’ve most enjoyed, however, is clambering on to any high point, putting down a shield, then placing the mini-gun behind it and crazily firing at anything that moves.

The other big gameplay change is the new crafting system, which Respawn says is primarily for players who like to sneak around the map gathering resources, rather than constantly looking for fights. Players pick up materials from posts littered about the map, then take them to a replicator, which offers an array of items to craft. On Tuesday, this included an Eva-8 shotgun with double tap trigger hop-up, a mobile respawn point, an epic knockdown shield and lots of ammo, although items go through daily and weekly rotations, so the menu is always changing. Interestingly, any item in the replicator that day will not be available anywhere else on the map, so if your favourite gun is in rotation, you’re going to have to scavenge for it.

How much effect crafting will have on the game is unclear. Based on the first day, it’s really useful for topping up on ammo, and the respawn point is handy when a teammate dies near a replicator. Also, as the game goes on and all the key areas get stripped of loot, it’s a way of getting new stuff without having to engage in firefights. But it doesn’t seem like something people will build their whole gameplay approach around. When crafting was first mentioned, I half expected a system like Borderlands, where you can patch up and combine different weapon elements to create new gear – although this would present something of a balancing nightmare in a battle royale game.

As for the World’s Edge map, the major change is a huge new rocket launch site to the south. It’s a circular mega-structure, with large bunker-like chambers and long external platforms arranged around a central area beneath the rocket itself – and there is loot everywhere. So far it’s been a huge magnet for players right from the drop-off, and it’s a very fast way to get well equipped before rotating to nearby sites such as the Tree and the Dome. Sadly, the rocket doesn’t take off, as it did in Call of Duty Black Ops’s Launch map, but there are large blast doors that you can shut, blocking off the route to other teams. These barriers are the most interesting interactive element of the refreshed environment and could be decisive if the ring closes in around them.

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RampartApex Legendslegend WattsonElectronic ArtsSheila
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