Season 3: Meltdown marks the biggest content drop that Respawn's Apex Legends has had to date, adding a slew of gameplay changes, recon character Crypto, and even a brand-new map called World's Edge. For now, Kings Canyon has been removed from the battle royale, forcing all current players to land on the new map--which is great, because it makes Apex Legends exciting again.
Despite featuring the same number of major landmarks, World's Edge feels a lot bigger, stretching across three distinct, interconnected areas. Most of the northern part of the map is covered in ice, the result of a factory accident gone horribly wrong, while the south is dominated by volcanoes and lava pits. Both areas include small settlements and leftover dig sites from the miners that once frequented the planet. Snaking between both regions are pockets of civilization--mostly major cities and transport hubs--with a moving train connecting all of them.
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Large, imposing cliffs are also sprinkled throughout the map, many too tall to climb for certain characters. The unfamiliar terrain gives an added utility to new character Crypto, whose drone makes it easier to scout ahead and plan where to go next. To get around these roadblocks without him, you need to scout through tunnels that have been carved into the landscape and take ziplines that criss-cross at numerous points. Jump towers populate the map for easy redeployment, and you can use the environment to your advantage as well--leaping into geyser spouts propel you high enough into the sky to glide to a new location, for example.
At a glance, you can tell that everything's different, presenting a more even playing field for newcomers that join at the start of Season 3, as they don't have to worry about Apex Legends veterans knowing the map's layout like the back of their hand (for now). Granted, there are influences of Kings Canyon throughout World's Edge--the Overlook location, for example, is just a smaller variation of Kings Canyon's cliffside Airbase--but the new map is just too wholly different from Apex Legends' first one to consider them different sides of the same coin. And World's Edge is a good map because it's so different.
World's Edge's greatest strength is that it forces you to adopt new strategies for playing Apex Legends. After a pre-season and two whole seasons on Kings Canyon, I'd grown intimately familiar with every aspect of the map. I had my favorite spots, but I could go anywhere and comfortably know I'd be able to hold my own. No matter the location, I had strategies for looting it, fighting in it, and effectively escaping it. And, as a result, I could feel myself settling into familiar tactics and habits.
The same can't be said for World's Edge. The map seems designed to encourage long-distance duels, not close-quarters firefights like on Kings Canyon--in fact, the sheer distance between locations means you can easily go an entire match without running into another squad until the final circle. Snipers were rarely too big of a threat on Kings Canyon; if someone had a lock on you, a safe hiding place was never too far away. But on World's Edge, getting caught out in the open can easily be a death sentence.
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Which isn't to say World's Edge is unfairly balanced. Quite the opposite actually; the new map is designed with the same careful attention to detail as Kings Canyon. Despite the longer distance between landmarks, World's Edge is almost completely interconnected. As opposed to solely relying on clearly marked paths on the ground, though, World's Edge also puts those aforementioned underground tunnels and ziplines to use. Getting the drop on enemies from above by hopping from one zipline to the next, or coming up behind them from below presents satisfying ways to navigate to the next fight. Multileveled environments, like Capitol City and Sorting Factory, further emphasize verticality.
This added emphasis is certainly different from the horizontally-focused Kings Canyon, which prioritized having good spots to bunker down, so it's a bit understandable as to why many veteran players dislike the new map. But World's Edge encourages you to keep moving even if that's not the strategy most Apex Legends players are used to. Most of the tunnels are wide at the ends but narrow in the middle, for instance, funneling you forward to get past a confined space. There aren't many piles of high-tier loot outside the golden vaults either, so your squad has to stay on the move to gather the weapons, gear, and supplies necessary to survive. You can't expect to land and find everything you need immediately.
Admittedly, there are certain areas I dislike in World's Edge. Anytime a teammate tags The Dome, Skyhook, Refinery, or The Epicenter as a drop spot, I grow apprehensive. But that uncomfortable feeling, one created because I don't know those locations very well, is why having a new map is exciting--it makes Apex Legends feel fresh again. I do want to return to Kings Canyon and meet the twelfth Legend but, for now anyway, World's Edge is what Respawn's battle royale needs.