Respawn Entertainment has much in store for fans with Apex Legends Season 9, coming to the free-to-play battle royale on May 4. We’ve got the lowdown on a new round-based 3v3 mode called Arena, a jetpack-equipped Legend named Valkyrie, the Bocek Compound Bow, as well as an update to the Olympus map.
A close look at Season 9: Trails of Heroes
The new Arena Mode
In this new 3v3 mode, players compete against each other on a close-quarters map.
How it works
Each round is decided by eliminating the enemy team (of course), with the final victory decided by winning at least three rounds and gaining a margin of victory of at least two rounds. Sudden death decides the final winner on the 9th round when both teams are deadlocked at four wins each. That means that each game has a minimum of three rounds and a maximum of nine.
Each round begins with a buying phase, which lets players arm themselves with weapons, consumables such as healing items, projectiles, and even abilities — just make sure you have the materials to pay for it. Get ready for a big departure from dropping into the map and collecting gear as you go.
Weapons start out in their basic form with no add-ons, and by purchasing additional upgrades, you can go up from level 1 to level 3 and add a scope of your choice. However, weapons cannot be carried over to the next round, and must be repurchased with each buying phase.
You’ll only be allowed to use Tactical Abilities and Ultimate Abilities in each round. Tactical Abilities start with a limited number of rounds, but you can stock up on more charges during the buying phase. Unspent abilities carry over to the next round.
Materials required for purchase are provided as round bonuses, and can also be earned by extracting them from devices or by killing enemies. The round bonus also increases as the fight progresses, giving you more options for more powerful weapons, upgrades, and ability charges.
The choices you make in the buying phase play a huge role in overall strategy. In the first round, you only have enough materials to buy your best weapon type and one recovery (you start equipped with armor and helmets). The more you earn in round bonuses, the more you can buy as the game progresses. You can upgrade your weapons, add attachments, recharge your abilities, and make more choices. In the final rounds of the game, both teams will be well-equipped for an epic, high-level battle.
Maps in Arena Mode
Arena maps are small, but like Battle Royale, the ring closes at regular intervals and constricts the battlefield. Supply boxes are scattered around the map containing recovery items and supplies. Combat takes place in a rotation of locales, including the new Party Crusher and Phase Runner maps developed specifically for this mode.
Party Crusher is a versatile map designed for all types of battles, as you fight for a corner of the Mirage Voyage or Bonsai Plaza.
The Phase Runner map will have the same portal features found in Olympus. Phase Runner focuses on medium to long range combat, where players can fight from either the construction site or the entrance/exit of the map.
In addition to the new maps, there will also be custom locations for existing battle royale maps, such as the Turret in Kings Canyon, the Thermal Power Plant in World’s Edge, and the Garden in Olympus.
New Legend: Valkyrie
The latest legend, Valkyrie, is the daughter of Viper, the famed Titan pilot from Titanfall 2. Valkyrie’s jetpack, reconstructed from the wreckage of Viper’s Northstar Titan, gives her the ability to temporarily fly over the battlefield and rain down a barrage of missiles. When danger abounds, she can use her Ultimate Ability to quickly retreat into the sky, and if an ally on her team grabs her, she can carry them up into the air with her.
Activate the jetpack in mid-air and spend the energy gauge to fly. You won’t be able to shoot while the jets are activated, but you can open fire while letting off the gas.
This ability fires multiple small rockets in a specified area, dealing damage and stunning enemies. Missile Swarm can also be activated while the VTOL jet is in flight. Bombarding an area deals less damage than you might expect. On the other hand, it does stun enemies hit by it for a short period of time, so it could be used to support your allies.
Two teammates can accompany Valkyrie on the Skyward Dive by approaching her while preparing to fire and performing an action. This maneuver also lets you quickly spot your enemies’ positions.
After ascending with the Skyward Dive Ultimate Ability, enemies caught in view during the skydive will automatically be marked and shared with your allies. Although you can’t see beyond shields, the ability to mark enemies as soon as you see them is powerful.
A Note from Respawn
Lead game designer Daniel Klein says Valkyrie’s ability to fly with a jetpack is both exciting and effective. But the big question is how to keep matches balanced. Respawn has accounted for that. First of all, you can’t fly forever; if you run out of energy, you will plummet. And the jetpack is so loud that it may expose Valkyrie to nearby enemies. Guns and grenades also aren’t usable while Valkyrie is in jet flight. All these adjustments were made to keep the game fair. Respawn recommends flying somewhat erratically when playing Valkyrie, to make yourself a harder target mid flight.
Bocek Compound Bow
The new Bocek Bow is a powerful and deadly Marksman Weapon from medium range. It’s capable of precision shooting and uses a new type of arrow ammunition. As with all bows, damage is increased by drawing back the arrow and timing the shot. Reloading isn’t a worry with the bow, as you can keep firing until your arrow reserves run dry. Ejected arrows can also be retrieved.
The Bocek Bow has two hop-up slots that can be used in different ways. The Deadeye’s Tempo increases the speed of the bow if you time your shot perfectly. The Shutter Cap spreads the arrows like a shotgun.
Update on Olympus
Olympus, a map introduced in Season 7, gets an update with Season 9. The Icarus, a suspicious ship that entered the atmosphere of the planet Psamathe from outside the realm, has docked at Olympus along with an unidentified parasitic plant. The landscape, infested with giant roots at the point of descent, provides players with a new gameplay experience throughout the map. Massive vines wrap around entire buildings, creating new paths and vantage points.
Inside the ship, you will also find the bodies of the fallen scientists. Search them to find keycards, which will unlock top-grade loot hidden in the Icarus.
Get Ready for Season 9
Valkyrie takes flight, along with Arena Mode, the Bocek Bow, and more when Apex Legends Season 9 launches May 4.