Apex Legends Mobile Season 3: Champions goes live later today, and the new season is bringing a ton of exciting content to the game: a new legend, a new Town Takeover, the introduction of the Rampage to the weapon pool, a new LTM, and of course, meta changes and balance updates. In fact, there's so much new content heading to the game this season, we wanted to go straight to the source for a behind-the-scenes look at what makes Apex Mobile tick.
Speaking with GameSpot via email, Apex Legends Mobile live ops director Myke Hoff, lead game designer Chad Wilson, creative director Kevin Childress, and senior game designer Jason Shifter answered all our burning questions about Respawn's highly successful mobile game. They also revealed some fascinating information regarding its development, and chatted with us about Season 3's new content, the fate of mobile-first legends, and their plans for the game's future. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on everything you've been dying to know about Apex Legends Mobile.
Season 2 was the first season of Apex Mobile to launch three separate battle passes. How many passes should players be expecting this season?
"Battle Passes are areas that we spend a lot of time thinking about," Hoff and Wilson told us in a joint response. "We’re constantly looking at how players are interacting with them, what’s important to them, as well as how players are completing them. For the upcoming season, Champions, alongside future seasons, each will have its own Battle Pass themed to the season."
It's not quite clear if Respawn will continue its tradition of releasing an additional legend and battle pass halfway through the season, but it's certainly possible they'll keep up the trend.
Season 3 will be the first season of Apex Legends Mobile to launch alongside a legend from the console and PC version of Apex Legends, as opposed to kicking off with a mobile-exclusive legend like we saw in the first half of Season 1 and 2. Is there any particular reason you decided to switch it up for Season 3 and kick things off with Ash instead of a new mobile legend?
"As we explore new legends for the universe it takes a large amount of time for each new mobile-first legend to become ready for the Apex Audience," the development duo explained. "We also want to keep legends coming out as often as possible."
This is an interesting statement, and shows some of the contrast between Apex Legends and Apex Legends Mobile--earlier this year, Respawn developers working on the console and PC versions of Apex Legends mentioned concerns about legend oversaturation, and alluded to potentially slowing down the rate of new legend debuts.
Frankly, this could be a good thing for Apex's meta, but the mobile game isn't as susceptible to game balance issues resulting from new legend abilities as the PC/console version of the game is. This is partially because of the mobile game's comparatively small legend roster, along with the existence of pre-made legends from console/PC that only need some some mild tweaking to fit into the mobile game, instead of having to be built from scratch each season. Still, new legends always present challenges for the development team.
"By adapting our existing legends to mobile and updating their abilities to compliment a mobile experience we also have to consider what that does to our current meta on mobile," the developers added. "If we add new mobile-first legends each season, we would have a very uphill battle to balancing and maintaining the competitive meta."
This, of course, raises the question of whether another mobile-first character will debut this season.
Can players expect to see a new mobile-exclusive legend added to the lineup during the second half of Season 3?
"When we thought about the legends that are going to be in this upcoming season, we did not want to push another mobile first legend into the current meta," says lead game designer Chad Wilson. "So unfortunately for the players expecting a new mobile-first legend in this season, the answer is no."
So there you have it. It's official: There will be no new mobile legend debuting in Apex Legends Season 3. This seems to suggest that when the Champions battle pass expires during the mid-season split, another legend from the console/PC version of Apex will join the Apex Mobile squad. If this is the case, Season 3.5's legend would be the third consecutive non-mobile-exclusive character to appear in the game.
But who could it be, and how do Apex Mobile's developers go about choosing which characters to bring in from console and PC? Chad Wilson, Kevin Childress, and Jason Shifter all chimed in together to give players an answer.
What factors go into deciding which character to bring from console/PC to the mobile each season?
"A lot of factors go into deciding which characters to pick, create, and bring to the Apex Mobile meta. Examples of these factors include current pick rates, win/loss rates, balances, perk unlock rates, Ranked meta at each tier, player onboarding experience, and a very large swath of narrative beats paired with content and features in future seasons," the developers told GameSpot. "We are doing a lot of work to be better, cohesive and holistic with each season. We look forward to hearing the feedback from our players every season so we can improve the overall experience for them."
The Apex Mobile development team seems to value player input to a great degree, even giving players in-game rewards for completing monthly user feedback surveys that are incredibly in-depth and give players the opportunity to share, in detail, exactly how they feel about the current state of the game and any new additions to it.
Speaking of new additions, Ash's in-game debut is quickly approaching, and we wanted to know more about the process of preparing legends from console and PC for their mobile debut.
When it comes to adding a pre-existing character to the mobile lineup, how do you go about tweaking their abilities to better suit mobile play? Did Ash's ability set present any unique challenges when it came to implementing them into the mobile game?
"Great question! When adapting Legends to mobile there’s many things we consider," senior game designer Jason Shifter told us. "Besides overall balancing, we spend a lot of our time tweaking the designs of Legends to account for touch displays of various different sizes. When you’re playing a game on a smaller screen and your fingers are often covering it, it can be a challenge to adapt the functionality of a Legend so it’s understandable and fun to play."
Regarding the implementation of Ash herself, Shifter had this to say:
"Ash’s kit definitely brought some challenges, but not in ways you’d expect! One example: When first testing Ash’s Marked for Death Passive Ability, it used the same UI on the map as HD. On a small screen this was really difficult to see, so we adjusted it so there’s higher contrast, making it easier to see the deathboxes on the map."
But Ash's abilities weren't the only thing we were curious about. After witnessing the Season 3 gameplay trailer and seeing the way Fade fought Ash with his Signature Weapon, we couldn't help but wonder why exactly The Constellation was called a Signature Weapon and not an Heirloom Weapon--especially considering the fact that The Constellation is a literal heirloom in the sense that it belonged to Fade's family and came into his possession after they died.
With the recent reacquisition of his Signature Weapon, it looks like Fade's getting the mobile game equivalent of an Heirloom Weapon this season. You've previously stated that Apex Legends Mobile is canon and that both games take place in the same universe, so is there a specific reason that items like Apex Packs and Heirlooms have different names in the mobile game?
Childress, Hoff, and Wilson filled us in.
"The Apex Legends Mobile experience is different from what players are playing on console and PC. From having different game modes (Team Deathmatch made its first showing on mobile), to how auto-loot works as well as a different economy," the devs explained. "We changed the names of some of the systems to indicate that they are different systems than what the player should expect if they also play on console or PC. For example, while Heirlooms and Signature Weapons are both melee weapons, the way they operate is very different. Fade’s weapon will have a large amount of customization options available for players, including two distinct 3D models to choose from and upgrade."
But that's not all--the real surprise here is that unlike Heirloom Weapons (which can cost up to $500 each, depending on how you go about obtaining them), Signature Weapons can be unlocked for free!
Season 3 is adding a lot of new features and content to Apex Legends Mobile. Which Season 3 feature are you most excited for players to experience?
The Apex Mobile development team is "very excited about Signature Weapons," according to lead game designer Chad Wilson. "We wanted to provide a melee experience that felt unique and customized to the players' cosmetic choices for the characters that have Signature Weapons."
It seems there's more where that came from, and players are sure to see more Signature Weapons in the near future.
"This feature is the start of a new type of content for our players to engage with," Wilson says of the cosmetic melee weapons. "We have a lot of plans to populate these weapons over the seasons and react to feedback from the players to make sure this system can grow with Apex Mobile in the future."
It's unclear if legends who have crossed over into Apex Mobile from console and PC will have their Heirlooms replaced by new Signature Weapons, or if the developers will simply have their pre-existing Heirlooms converted into Signature Weapons by tweaking them to fit the Signature Weapon cosmetic evolution system. It's not clear how often Signature Weapons will be released, but they aren't tied to Collection Events the way Heirloom Weapons are. Still, Fade's deadly family heirloom is likely the only Signature Weapon players will have access to until another major game update introduces a new one.
Speaking of Fade, I noticed the Season 3 patch notes describe him as a "mobile-first legend" as opposed to a "mobile-only legend." Is this a sign players may someday see mobile-exclusive characters like Fade and Rhapsody make their way to console and PC?
"We’re leaving the door open for the future, should we decide to have any of the [current in-game] systems show up across the various platforms," Wilson and live ops director Myke Hoff tell us. "Right now, we're still discovering what players like, what’s working and not working, and what we think will benefit the overall Apex Legends franchise. The mobile experience is unique to the platform, as players have different play styles and preferences," the developers added.
"However, that doesn’t mean that things won’t cross-over," Hoff and Wilson assured us. "It just means that right now, they’re optimized for mobile."
So if you're eager to check out Fade's abilities on other platforms (or just think bringing mobile legends over to console and PC would tie up some confusing lore-based loose ends), don't worry. Respawn appears to be implying players may someday see Fade and Rhapsody make the jump from the small screen to our TVs and monitors. In the early days of Apex Mobile, developers stated there were no current plans to bring mobile legends to console and PC. But based on the statements made in this interview and Apex Mobile's open commitment to taking player feedback seriously, it would seem that hope is not yet lost.