Apex Legends Season 2 arrived today. While players have known a lot of what it would contain for a while, it’s exciting to finally see the new character, weapons, and locations in action.
As video producer Paul Tamayo and I discuss in the video above, the most notable Season 2 change is new character Wattson. Her tactical ability lets her build an electric fence (using some hand animations pleasantly reminiscent of Overwatch’s Symmetra), and her ultimate places a pylon that protects against incoming grandes and recharges her teammates’ shields. In action, she’s great for closing off choke points or forcing enemies to go where you want them to. In one match I played, an enemy Wattson downed me and then fenced me off, preventing my teammates from coming in with a revive. Wattson isn’t a stealthy character – her abilities glow and whirr – but she doesn’t need the element of surprise if she uses her environment right.
Season 2 also brings some big changes to Apex’s King Canyon map. The Leviathans, giant dinosaurs that used to serve as background decoration, are now stationed across the land. While I haven’t seen one stomp a player to death like in the Season 2 trailers (I punched one in the leg for a while, to no avail), they break up the landscape and give you new points of cover. Other areas of the map have been destroyed, with collapsed buildings and open spaces left behind. There are some new buildings as well, in particular a six-story building called the Cage. After spending so much time in familiar locales, it’s fun to have to get my bearings all over again.
New challenges, daily and weekly tasks players can complete to level up their battle pass, give players incentive to explore the changed map. The challenges I’ve seen so far have involved getting knockdowns in certain areas or doing damage as particular characters. Given the race to select a character and the diplomacy of picking a landing spot, they seem a little harder to complete than Fortnite’s challenges, but unlike Fortnite, they’re gameplay-focused instead of extraneous tasks like interacting with certain props. That’s a good thing: Apex is such a team- and goal-oriented game that challenges outside the core gameplay might annoy your teammates or cost you a match.
You can view challenges from your lobby, where you can also select your character to see a new stats page. The stats page shows your lifetime wins, kills, and damage, as well as your progress in Season 2. I liked seeing how I’ve fared across the board instead of having to piece my performance together with character stats.
Please don’t judge me
I haven’t had a chance to check out the new Ranked mode. Respawn detailed how the mode will work in a recent blog post, and it sounds like a good first pass at giving competitive players more to do. I’m intrigued by the scoring system, in which you have to pay to play in the higher-tier leagues with points you earn. I’m also especially interested in the penalties players will receive for leaving a match when they could still be brought back into the game – as a Lifeline main, few things bug me more than a teammate leaving when I could still respawn them, and hopefully these penalties will put a stop to that. Leaving penalties will exist in regular play as well as ranked. I’m curious to see how ranked mode will change the base game. For those of us who want to play casually without clashing with more competitive players, the team-based nature of Apex can be difficult. We’ll see over the course of the season how the presence of a new option for competitive players outside the base game will change things.
There’s also a new weapon, the L-STAR, which only comes from airdrops, and two new hop-ups that do more damage to shielded or unshielded targets respectively. There are also a ton of tweaks to heroes, weapons, and grenades, including changes to Pathfinder’s hitbox and Bloodhound’s Eye of the Allfather ability, which now tracks enemies in real time. The patch notes contain a list of all the changes, as well as various bug fixes and quality of life changes.
I didn’t play a tonen of Apex Legends Season 1, and all the Season 2 changes have given me a reason to come back. I was rusty for my first few matches, but I was soon back in the swing of things, pinging items left and right and taking breaks to try to climb Leviathans and get scared by captive Flyers. I’m glad Apex doesn’t change quite as much as Fortnite, but it’s nice to have a new character to play, a new map to explore, and new skins and emotes to earn.