Apex Legends Season 13 kicks off May 10, adding Bangalore's brother, Jackson Williams, as the new playable legend--he's masquerading as Newcastle, a man who repeatedly tried and failed to enter the Apex Games. Alongside Newcastle, Season 13 makes some map changes to Storm Point, with developer Respawn seemingly putting a greater emphasis on implementing player-vs-environment (PvE) play with the addition of IMC Armories.
Every battle royale map in Apex Legends has its own flavor, and Storm Point has leaned towards PvE from the very beginning, launching with prowler and spider nests scattered throughout. The wildlife presented a risk-vs-reward system for players; moving through them offered what could potentially be a more direct route to the zone and the chance to earn more loot, but at the risk of having to contend with dangerous beasts.
Fighting off prowlers or spiders also ran the risk of creating enough racket to attract nearby squads, sandwiching you between the wildlife and other players. Few things in Apex Legends are more nerve-wracking than hearing the slow wind-up of an enemy Devotion in one ear and the hungry roar of a prowler in the other.
Frankly, it all isn't very good in its current form. The potential loot that you can earn for killing prowlers or spiders usually isn't worth the risk of getting third-partied by another squad, and Storm Point has enough lanes that you can easily find means of getting around any nests you don't want to contend within the first few rings. It ultimately results in most folks (myself included) wanting to avoid the PvE and getting frustrated if said PvE ever becomes unavoidable late into the match and contributes to a loss.
Respawn has presumably taken fans' complaints with Storm Point's PvE to heart, adding a new source of PvE conflict for players and ensuring they are tucked away from the rest of the PvP action. These new enemies are Spectres, and they're locked away in IMC Armories. Four of these armories are being added to Storm Point in Season 13, each presenting a new way for squads to quickly acquire decent loot. The prowlers and spiders will remain as is, meaning issues with the wildlife will persist into Season 13. But the IMC Armories at least sound like a more enjoyable way to partake in PvE in what is primarily a PvP battle royale.
The IMC Armories were first seen in the launch trailer for Apex Legends Season 13, though they don't quite work as seen in that cinematic. "That's the cinematic version of the armories, let's put it that way," Respawn senior game designer Samantha Kalman told GameSpot. "So the way the armor[ies] work is there [are] four of them around the map. They have six weapons inside, so enough for each squad member to get two, but they're random. There's no other loot inside until you activate combat. There's a central console to activate combat--that closes the front door, preventing any enemies from getting inside to third-party you for the duration of the encounter. If one of your squadmates gets left behind, there's a teleporter that they can use, and only friendlies can use it to get inside."
Because the IMC Armories close back up and no enemy squads can get in once your team has activated them, it prevents the possibility of getting third-partied. Kalman explained that the combat inside the armory is wave-based, with teams having a total of 60 seconds to clear as many enemy Spectres as they can. Each wave cleared unlocks an additional loot bin. These bins utilize the same smart loot feature that spiders and prowlers do, so they always provide an upgrade to your current gear, giving players a means of upgrading their weapon attachments or finding a much-needed hop-up.
"And every time that there [are] enough smart loop bins for each player on the squad to get their own, [each player] then gets a dedicated smart loot bin," Kalman said. So clear at least three waves with a full squad and no one will have to squabble for the rewarded loot--every person will get their own upgraded loot devoted to their current equipped kit.
You don't have to worry about a squad potentially ambushing you on the way out either. Once you've made it through your 60 seconds of combat, the doors will remain closed until you press a button to open the armory back up. Doing so also opens up the roof as well and activates a skydive launcher. So squads can figure out the loot situation, heal up, and then open the doors. And if a team is outside, you can just redeploy to another location.
"The point is that this is a PvE minigame designed to fit inside a battle royale match, which is inherently PvP," Kalman said. "So we want to give players a little break from the PvP if they want it, but we don't want to take all the emphasis away from PvP."
As to the difficulty of the Spectres--they're supposedly comparable to those you'd encounter in Titanfall and Titanfall 2. On their own they don't pose much of a threat, but if you're up against a wave of four Spectres while solo, you may be in trouble. In order to avoid getting wiped by the robot soldiers (or dying to the ring while inside an armory), you can activate the exit on the armory early, ending the 60 seconds of waves. It will prevent you from getting more loot but allow you to make a hot exit if the situation is looking dicey.
Regarding other instances of PvE, Season 13 also adds another prowler nest in the Cenote Cave. Additionally, the prowler nest near The Mill has been updated with the addition of more rocks that present new traversal options for players and hungry prowlers alike, and the individual web sacks that make up the spider nest at Command Center have all been brought closer together.
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In Season 13, Storm Point is also getting a new point-of-interest (POI) landmark: Downed Beast. The carcass of the monstrous crustation that attacked the legends in the Season 13 launch trailer has been hollowed out, creating a massive landmark to explore. The new POI is placed squarely between The Mill, North Pad, and Chokepoint and features many of the structures put up on Kings Canyon during the Season 8 map change, following the intervention of Ecological Cleanup and Hazard Outreach. Two of Storm Point's four IMC Armories are also within the vicinity of Downed Beast--it will likely be quite the spicy hot drop during the first few weeks of Season 13.
There wasn't a chance for me to play on the new Storm Point ahead of Season 13 so I can't yet comment on how the IMC Armories or new Downed Beast POI changes up the experience of playing on the map. If I were to hazard a guess, I assume it isn't drastic. These Storm Point map changes seem to be more like the Harvestor landing on World's Edge in Season 4 or the Icarus coming to Olympus in Season 9--noteworthy additions, but they would ultimately only act as a precursor to far more substantial shifts in the layout of the overall map in subsequent seasons.
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