Apex Legends Season 9 is titled “Legacy,” and for good reason. Weeks ago, Respawn Entertainment promised a ton of Titanfall content, and the fruits of their labor could seemingly pay off in dividends. I spent some time rocketing into the heavens as Valkyrie, winning (and losing) in the new Arenas game mode, dying to the devastating Bocek Bow, and exploring Olympus’ new features when I wasn’t busy being pinned down by Spitfire LMGs. I’ve been playing Apex Legends since its surprise announcement, so I’m always eager to see how the development team revolutionizes its infectious formula. Season 9 is set to be an exciting new shift for the popular battle royale.
Who’s Valkyrie? Is She A Big Deal?
Valkyrie is Apex Legends' most Titanfall-adjacent playable character; she’s the daughter of Viper, an incomparable pilot and a member of the notorious Apex Predator mercenary unit. In Titanfall 2, protagonist Jack Cooper played an important role in the ultimate fate of Viper. Many years later, Valkyrie decides to enter the Apex Games in memory of her father’s legendary legacy. But is she fun to play? Absolutely.
I loved taking to the skies as Valkyrie. Her kit is similar to Pharah from Overwatch in that you’ll spend most of your time maneuvering at high altitudes to find solid high ground. However, your greatest strength is also a particularly deadly weakness. Airspace travel also makes you an easy target for snipers and just about anybody else that has above-average aim. I mean, we’ve all been practicing our accuracy on Horizon these past few seasons.
Valkyrie can fire missiles at her enemies, dealing a decent amount of damage but, more importantly, stunning them for a short amount of time. Her ultimate – a visually stunning redeploy that even her squad can capitalize on – is also pretty awesome to say the least. Here’s a quick tip: if you play with a premade squad, consider making your Valkyrie player the shot-caller as she can spot enemy positions and advantageous rotations with an all-encompassing perspective.
Ultimately, I don’t think that Valkyrie will shift the ranked meta in any substantial ways (at least, not like Horizon did back in Season 7), but you’ll definitely see a lot of her in casual play.
What’s Arenas? Is It Any Good?
Arenas brings another competitive experience to Apex Legends, and I love it. If you’re tired of third-parties, then hop into Arenas where you’ll be pitted against one other squad in small- to medium-scaled maps specially made for the fast-paced game mode. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Arenas is that each player will have to purchase their equipment with crafting materials before every round. This means that you’ll need to micromanage your inventory quite often and decide what’s most important to you: myriad healing items, charged-up abilities, or kitted weapons.
With the ring slowly pushing firefights to specific choke locations and the complete absence of respawn points, rounds went by quickly (unless, I ran into an absolute beast that could clutch 1v3s like a pro). I enjoyed Arenas so much because of how Apex Legends’ fluid combat mechanics and strategy-focused loop were masterfully translated into compact engagements. Strategizing with teammates on what to buy each round made for some truly rewarding wins. Often I would ask less-mobile players to spend most of their crafting materials on shield cells and syringes so that our dps all-star could prioritize high-tier firearms. Solo-queueing in casual matches is understandable, but Arenas appropriately emphasizes team play.
How About The Bocek Bow? Is It Worth Using?
I was downright awful with the Bocek Bow. It took me a while to get half-decent with the wingman (I’m inconsistent with the popular hand canon, at best), but the bow will likely take me even longer to reach amateur proficiency. Nevertheless, the latest weapon to join the loot pool is a force to be reckoned with.
The Bocek Bow is optimal at medium-range and can shred shield and flesh health bars alike. Of course, if your accuracy with non-automatic weapons is as mediocre as mine, you’ll really have to time your shots. Arrows are a new ammo type that can be found alongside the items you’re used to picking up, but, to prevent the bow from becoming too powerful, it’ll be a less common spawn. A small quality-of-life feature that players will appreciate is that arrows get lodged in whatever surface that they hit. This means that your success rate of striking enemies won’t permanently affect your ammo reserves. If you miss, simply retrieve the arrow from whatever structure it’s punctured. And if you eliminate someone, swipe it from their deathbox.
Moreover, if a charged arrow hits its intended target it has the potential to swing the win condition in your favor. Add in two exciting hop-up attachments – the Deadeye’s Tempo which increases your draw speed when firing in a perfect rhythm (yes, I know this is a very abstract explanation but you’ll have to discover that optimal tempo for yourself) and Shatter Caps that make arrows shoot in a spread, shotgun-like pattern – and you have a devastating secondary weapon that can execute at multiple ranges. I can’t wait to see the incredible Bocek Bow highlight reels come early May.
Where Will Season 9 Take Place? Are There Cool Map Changes?
Strap in because we’re going back to Olympus, baby! I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted in Apex’s classic battle royale mode, but the geographical tweaks that have been planned will change the flow of your matches in significant ways. For one, a lot of those terrifying open grasslands have been replaced with the massive stems of an ancient parasitic plant. You see, a space vessel called the Icarus has landed on Olympus and the mysterious research specimen that it was carrying has planted roots in the arena. New points of interest have been unearthed and a few redeploy balloons have been removed to help eradicate an overabundance of pesky third-party scenarios. The most exciting change, however, comes in the form of keycards that can be grabbed from the decaying bodies of scientists who worked on the Icarus. These keycards can be used to open a high security section of the ship that houses a bevy of rare loot. Think vaults from World’s Edge but with pockets of interesting lore sprinkled in.
Are you excited for the new content? Apex Legends Season 9 launches on May 4, meaning that Season 8 is coming to a close in almost no time at all. If you’re still struggling to reach that projected wins-threshold or if you’re trying to get one rank closer to Apex Predator, check out my definitive guide.