Today marks the third anniversary of Apex Legends. It seems like only yesterday Respawn surprise-launched its secret battle royale, and I was entering my second week as a Game Informer intern. It took me a while to get swept up in the hype, but once I glided down to Kings Canyon for the first time, I knew Apex Legends would become an obsession. Fast-forward to February 2022, and things have come full circle.
This past week, I spent several hours playing a sizeable portion of the upcoming Season 12, otherwise known as “Defiance.” I queued into the new limited-time mode, Control, to partake in the overwhelming carnage and chaos that larger team-battles in Apex Legends unsurprisingly produce. I even got to try breaking through the frontlines with Mad Maggie. So, if you’re itching to learn about Control’s loop or whether the next playable character will make big waves in the meta, let’s get into it!
Apex Legends is no stranger to experimentation. We’ve hot-dropped into numerous LTMs, with Arenas’ 3v3 close-quarter fights being the most recent shift. Control adds a seemingly conventional gameplay concept to the mix; on paper, it mimics the main mechanics of Capture the Flag amplified by the freneticism of Apex Legends’ slide/wall-hopping physics. Trust me, Control is more than that. In fact, after diving into several rounds on condensed versions of Olympus’ Hammond Labs and Tropic’s Barometer, I’d argue that Apex Legends’ latest game mode is more than worthy of permanence.
9v9 shootouts are about as chaotic as you’d expect. Pre-made weapon loadouts let you hop right into the action without worrying about collecting miscellaneous loot first. An infinite batch of syringes makes healing feel like an afterthought, meaning you’ll spend more time unloading an endless hail of bullets from a C.A.R. or, heaven forbid, the Rampage LMG. Hell, even shields recharge after a few seconds of taking no damage, and if you die, all you have to do is respawn and hop back into the action. Ultimately, Control’s various features emphasize constant rotations instead of hunkering down, which is a nice change of pace from the more drawn-out matches of classic battle royale scenarios.
My favorite moments came from unanticipated team plays and sensory overload-centric engagements. Narrow tunnels become bombastic death pits when players drop their tactical abilities and ultimates haphazardly. Sure, there are three posts to contest, but the point of interest at the center of Control’s maps draws the most attention. There’s no third-partying or any other emergent qualities of battle royale in this mode, so organizing pushes or long flanks with your squad is your best bet at turning the tides. If Respawn decides to implement Control fully, it’ll be fun to see how the competitive aspect of Apex Legends evolves.
Yes, Control is exhilarating but let's be honest, you're here to learn about Mad Maggie. This highly-anticipated Maori freedom fighter was first revealed in Fuse's origin trailer in Season 8. Maggie is considered a villain by the other Apex combatants, but her dedication to the emancipation of her home planet, Salvo, influences her brutal extremism. It's no surprise that Maggie doesn't work well with others, which is reflected in her ability kit (for the most part).
Maggie's passive, "Warlords Ire," lets her highlight enemies she's damaged. Moreover, if Maggie wields a shotgun, she has no speed penalty, which should allow her to chase and pick off her prey effectively. Her tactical, "Riot Drill," flings a fiery breaching charge on any surface of her choosing. Players that might be camping (or healing) on the other side of those objects take burst damage and, if they don't move in time, will likely burn to a crisp. Finally, Maggie's ultimate, "Wrecking Ball," casts – you guessed it! – a massive wrecking ball at enemies that bounces off any obstruction in its path. Maggie's squad gets a frightening speed boost while nearby the ball and adversaries that make contact with it will be lucky if they can crawl away from the ensuing explosion.
I enjoyed using Maggie's abilities to force teams out of position. Her built-in scanner might not be as powerful as Crypto's surveillance drone or Bloodhound's tracker, but Maggie's hastening passive makes her the perfect scout for any aggressive squadron. I worry that the speed boosts might make close-quarter bouts unfair, so I'd suggest facing Maggie in open areas, where her team might be forced to flee from focus fire. From a competitive standpoint, I expect to see Maggie picked in all tiers of play. However, duelists that can handily win their 1v1s will find the most value in their legend selection.
Like Season 9, we’re returning to the verdant pastures and technological wonders of Olympus. I didn’t get a chance to see any of the map’s geographical changes first-hand. Still, according to Respawn devs, the lore goes as follows: “A threat has hacked into Olympus’ Phase Runner, sending the floating city crashing down and creating destabilization across the city. In this malfunctioning Olympus, new terrains will be exposed containing more POIs than ever before.” New ziplines allow players to get across long distances quickly, and some missing redeploy balloons should encourage them to explore each original location of their own accord. And when you get a second to catch your breath in between navigating Olympus’ treacherous terrain, you might want to take note of the loot pool updates below:
My beloved Alternator is thankfully no longer a supply drop weapon, and Disruptor Rounds have been miraculously removed from the game. The Volt SMG will replace the Alternator, boosted by an extra DPS point and two more bullets in its magazine. Hammerpoint Rounds are back and compatible with the RE-45, so expect to see players running around with the once-lackluster pistol as a secondary; I most certainly will be! A new hop-up called the “Kinetic Feeder” can be equipped to the Peacekeeper and Triple Take. The fascinating attachment autoloads rounds when you slide and speeds up choke-time for both weapons. Shattercaps will now apply its shotgun blast to hipfire allowing 30-30 Repeater/Bocek Bow fanatics to swap firing modes seamlessly. Finally, in a surprise announcement, the Flatline and Longbow will be craftable rifles for the entirety of the season. That’s right, you won’t find them laying anywhere on Olympus, Kings Canyon, or Stormpoint (World’s Edge will be sitting out this season).