Tomorrow, May 9th, 2022, may be the most important day in the history of Apex Legends, the game many consider to be the best battle royale on the market. After months of user complaints and community dissatisfaction, makers Respawn have finally responded to what the players want and the game might never be the same again.
We’ll go into detail below, but the short and sweet version is a new character, a new ranked setup, and maybe a new gun meta too. What’s more, the new character has the potential to be the most impactful addition to the game since…well, Valkyrie a couple of seasons ago. But the point still stands. This could be big for Apex Legends.
Gibby in shambles, Lifeline…gone?
The problem with Gibraltar isn't new.
For those unaware, the problem is….you need Gibraltar to win, at least at the high level. For the last year or two, western Apex Legends has been convinced Gibby is by far the best Legend in the game, has no real counters, and has become totally necessary for any team looking to compete at high levels of play.
While this point has not necessarily been proven, as we’ll explain below, it seems like Respawn are finally aware of the need to provide alternatives and counters to everyone’s favorite boy in a bubble.
Last season’s addition of Mad Maggie gave players a tool to pierce the dome that has become so ubiquitous in the western meta, and this season we’ve been handed what is essentially just a more dynamic alternative to big Gibbs himself.
The first part of his kit is his passive, a knockdown shield he can deploy while dragging downed teammates away from battle. It looks as though he’ll be unable to shoot or use utility while doing so, but this is a new kind of ability for Apex. This could be very useful at the casual level, but pros are likely to be thirsted before any potential Newcastle rescue service gets near them, such is the intensity of play.
His next ability, which is his tactical, is a mobile shield that bears some resemblance to the sort seen on Titans in Destiny 2, but operates very differently. The shield can be deployed in battle, and will move in tandem with the player as they approach or retreat from a fight. The shield appears to have two parts, with the larger ‘top’ section potentially having a health limit to provide some opportunity for it to be countered.
His ultimate is the most interesting part of his kit, a sort of deployable wall that covers the same amount of space as four or more Rampart walls and can be deployed mid-fight. The commentary track on the trailer has Bangalore say the line “walls are like secrets, they can’t stand forever”, implying the wall will have a health limit or ‘bar’ too, but it will be a powerful tool in end game situations for sure.
It will be interesting too to see how his kit interacts with other legends like Rev, or Ash, and also opponents like Crypto. The underplayed recon legend was something of a revelation at the recent ALGS international LAN in Sweden, where NA players discovered that far from being invincible, Gibby can be countered quite easily if you just open your mind to playing different characters, and use a Crypto Ult to pop his bubble.
Lifeline dead but Ranked reborn?
With all of this to his name, Newcastle can certainly be an alternative to Gibby for teams that want a little more dynamism and renders Lifeline basically useless in all but a handful of very specific situations. The combat healer has been falling out of the meta for a while now, and with Newcastle’s addition, she’ll need a rework to regain relevance.
In what may or may not be a connected decision, Respawn has also taken the Mastiff, which was considered the best bubble fighting shotgun, out of the ground loot pool, and removed the damage reduction 'fortified' characters like Gibby get on headshots. Other gun changes include nerfs for some LMGs, a Kraber nerf, and moving the R-301 to the crafter, presumably in an attempt to make the most popular AR in Apex less ubiquitous in-game.
However, it’s time to move onto the thing that has Predator-ranked folk really happy, the ranked changes. For the longest time now, Apex has had rank protection, making it impossible to drop down a rank, which many top players have decried as leading to lobbies clogged with people who aren’t able to operate at that level. Now, though, you can go up as well as down a rank, meaning in theory that the players around you are more likely to be at your level.
Some have even claimed this will lead to a reduction in the greatest of all video game evils, stream sniping, as it will be harder for players to continually throw their stats away in search of some attention by losing games to kill streamers. The new ranked system emphasizes team play more than ever, with kill points now creating RP for all, meaning that all around we should see more rewards for teams playing the game the ‘right way’, and less motivation for players to drop alone.
For more details on what are some fairly complex changes, you can check out EA’s site here, with the full patch notes here. with Season 13 due to drop in around 24 hours from now. Saviors, as it is known, has the potential to change the way Apex is played, with both Newcastle and the ranked revisions huge risks for Respawn. However, it at least looks like it moves in the right direction, toward a more balanced, fair and fun battle royale, which is something everyone can get behind.