Respawn Wants To Experiment With Apex Legends' Future Arenas Maps
Though Overflow has two POIs like Party Crasher and Phase Runner, its lane-focused design creates a brand-new experience for Apex Legends' 3v3 Arenas mode.
The new Apex Legends Thrillseekers event introduced a new Arenas map, Overflow. Unlike the other maps exclusive to Arenas, Party Crasher and Phase Runner, Overflow is lane-focused--according to Respawn, we can expect more maps like Overflow in the future as the developer is experimenting with new map layouts to introduce more variety to the 3v3 mode.
"When we originally set out to make Arenas maps, we were testing many different configurations of what type of map could work with our sandbox of guns and legend abilities," Respawn lead level designer Dave Osei told me. "We had larger maps, smaller maps, lane-focused maps among a bunch of others. The two that were most fun are the two that shipped at launch--Party Crasher and Phase Runner. We learned from those two that what felt most fun was two main POIs and an open center to push players to make meaningful choices. Now that the mode has been out for a while, we can begin experimenting with new layouts to bring variety."
One of the most noticeable aspects of Party Crasher and Phase Runner is that they're all designed with two large points-of-interest that stand opposite each other, with a wide-open middle section that provides plenty of sight lines. Squads can typically see what the other squad is doing via this middle section, and then respond accordingly. Fights pretty much only breakout at POIs with the faster squad getting to one of the landmarks first to play defense and the slower squad attacking them.
However, Overflow upends that formula. Though it also has two POIs--Osei said that "Overflow's size is comparable to Party Crasher"--its lane-focused design means there is no empty middle space for squads to see what the other team is doing in order to plan a response. Instead, your team just needs to react as best you can.
"Overflow takes a different approach with its center," Osei said. "It's much tighter with catwalks, so expect lots of over-under gameplay where players can flank to their heart's content and out maneuver their opponents if they choose to. Experimenting with height differences and focused lane combat lead to a really fun and unique map that plays much different than those at launch. We still believe that Arenas maps are best when fights are proactive, strategic, and encourage different engagement distances. Going forward, we may still have two main POIs but we have ideas on breaking our initial formula for more unique experiences."
This makes it sound like Overflow's design approaches what players might expect of a game like Valorant or CS:GO. It likely will make legends with abilities that allow them to see enemies hiding behind walls, like Bloodhound and Crypto, or create makeshift cover, like Caustic and Rampart, very valuable.
The obvious advantage on Overflow may seem like it would go to Apex Legends' movement-based characters--folks like Octane who can jump over walls or Valkyrie who can fly, circumnavigating the need to remain limited by the lanes. But Respawn has accounted for that--folks may find ways of going over the lanes, but they'll have trouble staying on top of them.
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"Designing maps for mobile Legends will always be difficult but we typically design maps with gunplay in mind," Osei said. "Our team builds spaces that will feel fun for the kind of gameplay they want to encourage. For the lane-focused map, Overflow, it was a process of finding the fun first and adjusting the map to fit our Arena map principles. Does this map encourage healthy combat? If not, how can we push/pull the geo to help encourage that. We don't want to discourage players from using mobile Legends how they want, so there's nothing stopping Valk for instance from flying over the walls. To reduce legends from hanging out on top of walls, Overflow has lava on top of them that will damage players who choose to sit up there."
Thrillseekers will likely be the final limited-time event for Apex Legends Season 9, ending on August 3. If the in-game battle pass is any indication, Season 10 will likely begin on August 3 immediately following the conclusion of Thrillseekers, but Respawn has not confirmed an official start date.
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