Apex Legends season 20 is overhauling key features and introducing new ones, such as Legend Upgrades. In essence, players get to choose two modifiers (consisting of buffs, new abilities, and more) out of a total of four in each match, gearing their character to a specific playstyle. This new feature, however, was not cooked up overnight; it can trace its origins back to the new Apex Legends class system introduced in season 16.
As many fans know, Apex Legends‘ classes now consist of Assault (characters like Bangalore), Skirmisher (characters like Octane), Recon (characters like Bloodhound), Controller (characters like Catalyst), and Support (Characters like Catalyst). The vast majority of Apex Legends‘ life had classes, but not ones that were really defined well or significantly contributed to the game. What this change did was introduce universal abilities that each character within a class could do or accomplish, bringing a sense of class identity to the game.
However, this leaves a blind spot – one that Legend Upgrades specifically addresses. Game Rant recently attended the Apex Legends Media Summit where, among others, we spoke with lead game designer Devan McGuire and lead battle royale designer Josh Mohan about this growth.
Apex Legends Season 20 Making Big Change to EVO Armor, Introducing Legend Upgrades
Apex Legends season 20 is overhauling several key systems within the battle royale game, while introducing new ones like Legend Upgrades.
Legend Upgrades Add More Player Identity to Apex Legends
The class system brought in a sense of class identity to Apex Legends, while the game has always had unique character identities thanks to their abilities. Prior to Season 20, however, the game did not have any sense of player expression and personal experience. That’s to say that the class system only really impacted veterans who knew the ins and outs of the Apex Legends meta, not something that universally impacted every single player regardless of skill level. Now, the Legends Upgrade is filling that hole, providing players with class identity, character identity, and personal identity within any match. As McGuire explained,
However, [the class system] did only affected people who already understood the meta and the larger landscape of the game, right? We knew what these things meant to the overall synergies of the characters on the squad and what that meant to your survivability across the game. It didn’t necessarily impact every player on every skill level or play consistency level to an extent where they felt it had a direct impact on the game. That was something we wanted to do as a part of this evolution; it just wasn’t something that we could get to at the same time.
This now introduces a new consideration for players in a game: what does the class bring to the table, what does the character bring to the table, and what do they, as the player, bring to the table. Personalizing an experience goes far, whether that’s less stim damage from Octane, the ability to see ammo as Ballistic, the ability to self-revive as Lifeline, and many, many more mean strategic choices point player expression at the forefront of the experience. Moreover, this element also “sets the next stage of evolution for BR,” according to McGuire.
Legend Upgrades Give Apex Legends Players Something to Chase
Furthermore, Mohan explained that the new Legend Upgrades ensure players have something to chase. They have to level up throughout the match, and while facing other teams in Apex Legends is one way of doing that, it’s not the only one. Interacting with objectives around the map such as assault bins does as well, while there are also things like EVO Harvesters around the world. As Mohan explained about the XP system beneath Legend Upgrades: “It’s a system we could build on, a currency we could use in almost any mechanic that could be future permanent systems in the game. It’s a huge win for us, I think, in terms of giving the player something that’s always an interesting objective to chase.”
Legend Upgrades Help Evolve Apex Legends
There’s one more huge benefit from this new Legend Upgrade system on top of these. It creates actionable feedback for Respawn to target kits in Apex Legends. For example, if the team sees that certain upgrade paths are dominating the scene, they can immediately see why—the Upgrades influence the character’s tactical, as an example. This will allow them to change the upgrade paths and “push power towards another part of their kits,” as McGuire said. In other words, it seems the days of a character being defined by only one ability could be on its way out. Of course, that doesn’t mean other changes won’t wiggle their way into this new feature for Apex Legends. It is a path of evolution, not an end-all-be-all node of the game. McGuire would explain that,
Moving forward, we want to use both the class system and the perks associated with it, as well as these legend upgrades, to more frequently tune and evolve the characters.
Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game made by Respawn. In this shooter, players take up the mantle of a Legend — one of the playable characters — and form a squad with other players. The game is set in the same universe as the Titanfall series and the two franchises have had many crossovers.
- February 4, 2019
- Electronic Arts
- Battle Royale , First-Person Shooter
- T for Teen: Blood, Violence