Apex Legends Arena mode hands-on preview: A fresh spin

Apex Legends adds Arena mode in Season 9, and I had a chance to play it early.

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Apex Legends Season 9 adds map changes to Olympus, the Bocek Bow, and a new playable Legend. One of the biggest introductions however is Arena mode, a brand new way to play Respawn’s first-person shooter. This 3v3 mode ditches the Battle Royale formula in favor of classic gunplay and faster matches. I had the chance to play some matches of Arena mode and was really excited about what I got to experience.

Before the Apex Games

A game of Arena in Apex Legends begins like Battle Royale, with teams of three selecting their Legends. However, the similarities to Battle Royale mode stop there. Before each round, players will enter a buy phase, where they can purchase weapons, abilities, ordinances, and healing items. Players begin each game with a small amount of materials (currency used to purchase items) and can earn more from good play. It’s a massive change from any other mode ever featured in Apex Legends, and will force players to strategize in an entirely new way.

In most cases, I found myself coordinating with my teammates to light buy in early rounds, so that we could stack up materials and pick up some powerful gear in later rounds. As for the Apex Legends “meta,” some characters will have a tremendous value in Arena mode. As you can still revive teammates, Lifeline and her abilities felt crucial to getting the upper hand in battles. Having Bloodhound’s scan makes it easier for teams to approach engagements.

Less filler, more killer

In Arena mode, two teams of three faceoff in a series of elimination rounds. The first team to win three rounds is victorious. However, the winning team must do so by a margin of two rounds, so games can potentially go up to seven rounds.

During the presentation, the developers at Respawn stated that one of the motivations behind Arena mode was giving players an Apex experience that was distinct from Battle Royale. With the elimination of third-parties and any other objectives, Arena mode really spotlights the superb gunplay and mobility in Apex Legends.

Respawn has designed much smaller maps for Arenas to take place on. The three I got to play (the base launch maps) felt balanced and catered to a variety of playstyles. Every round, a supply drop will land on the same spot on a map, providing high-tier weapons for players to use without spending any materials. At first, I thought it was weird that the supply drop landed in the exact same spot each round, but I grew to appreciate it from a competitive standpoint. If you want high level loot at no cost, prepare to fight for it.

Become Legends

Apex Legends fans will really appreciate the change of pace that is Arena mode. A much tighter, more straightforward mode than Battle Royale, it’s excellent for players that love to get right into the action. With plans for more maps and a competitive queue down the road, Arena mode is a welcome addition to Apex Legends. Arena mode launches when Apex Legends Season 9 begins on May 4. 

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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