In Season 5, Apex Legends is clearer than it has ever been, and Respawn desires to keep up with the new things
Having taken a few risks with the storytelling of Apex Legends in Season 4, Respawn wants to continue experimenting further with the narrative structure of the battle Royale game in Season 5.
Respawn’s developer identity has been known for how good the studio is at innovating and taking risks. We’ve seen the studio dealing with Apex Legends on a live service battle royal game – a field previously not touched by Respawn. Instead of emulating what had functioned for other developers before, Respawn developed its own battle Royale style with a story point, which started to create a truly episodic game in the process.
The creators lean deeper into this categorization with the start of Season 5: Fortune’s Favor and the introduction of Quest mode, seeking to be more adventurous as a whole. The creators removed an iconic part of the game’s map for the first time and introduced character balance improvements that were not pure buffs, neither nerfs. And so far, it has turned out very well, according to Respawn.
It has been granted that these were unlocked or just released at irregular rates, and that does not pair with the nature of the common TV series. Despite that, Respawn has altered the pace of the story of Apex Legends with Season 5 and the Quest mode implementation. Every Tuesday from 10 AM PT until 1 PM ET the players can complete the new PvE missions from the new mode. It’s possible to unlock new game chapters when completing them. With Season 5 of the game, Respawn started coming closer to the production of genuinely good, television-like episodes of a video game. Each week, all the big fans get together at the same time and come away to perhaps spark a verbal exchange around the water cooler.
The design director Jason McCord said that they were truly excited to try modes such as ‘Quest’, which is something that has not been done before in the culture of binge. He also mentioned that it should be interesting as well as understandable that they are not releasing them all at once, simply because the players will be done with them on the first day and would want to get the next ones.
There are lots of stories being written, most of them are small stories, but the main one might take a long time to twist and go someplace. We can see the start of the smaller stories in Quest. We have plenty of iconic, individual stories and those will be passing before we can even tell them. Same as in a comic book – you have got distinctive stories you can tell in exceptional issues whenever you reach that part.
Skull Town Destruction
The episodic storytelling has been a good chance for Respawn’s to gain some experience in that area, McCord said, although, the members would like to try other new things and break their comfort zone. In Season 5, the developer of Apex Legends devotes the storytelling into episodic character. Because of the first year being so transformative, Respawn managed to bring Apex Legends to a good place, wanting to utilize Year 2 for experimenting on iteration for the battle royale. For example, using the story of the game to cut out one of the players' favorite places: Skull Town.
The director Chad Greiner once said, he remembered how shocked he was when they were thinking of erasing Skull Town and that it was one of those unforgettable moments in life. He remembered the excitement of this huge change being great and meaningful for the game. His excitement for those powerful changes grew while he was reminding himself about having played King Canyon for some time, and how players have had thousands of matches, thousands of meaningful moments to remember. As a Skull Town fan, he wasn’t very worried about the players that love it because he thinks what’s best for the game is to keep it fresh.
Greiner also thought that they as developers should show the players that those big changes won't will only make the game better. That they value the changes which surprise people, instead of content with the mediocre like ‘just a town that people like’. In the early Apex, Skull Town was too iconic, and that is why exactly our scopes probably have zoomed in on it.
A Legend Transformation
While being a Battle Royale game, Apex Legends still has some core hero shooter elements. Like with other hero-based shooters, Respawn continues to buff and nerf the usable characters to ensure balance in the game. In Season 5 one of the Apex Legend’s characters – Mirage has been seriously reworked by having her abilities drastically altered.
Greiner said that it was funny while they were thinking how they have considered reworking a character to such an extent like Mirage, which was taken upon from one of the lead designers - Carlos Pineda. The feedback they see on which character has been played the least or has the least power, they decide how and what to change to make them better and shake the game up. And of course, other characters are clearly better than some, that’s why even after digging into Wraith and Pathfinder, they do not seem any worse.
While working on Mirage, which is a bit tricky, he says they wanted to be sure not to lose any of the identity of that character, such as decoys, and getting out of different situations because after all people are attached to it. Greiner confirms that Carlos did a great job reworking its abilities - getting it to upgrade his technology. For them the way of how one character is buffed is important and that it has to make sense.
Respawn wasn’t really sure of Mirage’s rework until Season 5, according to Greiner: Fortune’s Favor patch went up. However, because of the fan’s feedback, being mainly positive, Respawn got inspired by changing his mind on how to readjust legends for the future. Now the team knows that the game’s fans are as open as those who are okay with the clear buffs and excitement to the prospect of legends having brand new skills.
Questions about Octane and Lifeline, came up after Mirage went off the table, Greiner said. There won’t be any changes for the moment, but there are definitely options and things they will look into. They are not going to announce what they will do, but assure us they are trying many new things.
With having to make balanced decisions, Greiner and McCord mentioned that Respawn is gathering and considering the feedback from the fan community. McCord also asked fans how Octane is perceived by the players after his tragic past in Apex Legends, where he was presented as the adrenaline junkie.
Looking Ahead: Seasons 6-11
Respawn already considers Season 5 as a big success for Apex Legends. The first week of this season, according to Greiner, saw the highest amount of regular retention of players that the game has had since its beginning. While monitoring Apex Legends, Respawn will implement balancing changes or bug fixes where necessary (such as the update to fix the hit registration problems of Season 5). The hard work of the team will be noticeable in the legends with the next seasons.
Greiner adds, that they have models that are not completed yet. Models with personalities and backstories which we already know. They are ready to plan and make them a lot better as planned in their preparation. Exciting connections will be coming up.
Despite the fact that the next seasons are not finished, Respawn works on content for the game all up until 2021. Greiner shares that play tests are done internally at work for the 7, 8, 9, and even for Season 11.
Because they have never created a live game in the past, McCord says that it had taken them quite some time to find their rhythm. With time, they have managed to figure out how to build their team and occupancy so the process of creation is not a live struggle.
Season 5 Fortune’s Favor is sure becoming a fan’s favorite. Given the fact that big piece of Kings Canyon is now gone, somehow the latest changes to that old map make it look bigger and different, enough to look unfamiliar. Relearning how to play on the original map of Apex Legends has been a very enjoyable challenge. Thusly, Loba is a wonderful addition to the battle royal. Apex Legends required a different support character for a long time and Loba manages to be a valuable. It definitely looks as if Respawn entered its peak.
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