Arenas is the new 3v3 mode coming to Apex Legends, and it’s a totally new experience that will scratch the deathmatch itch, but it’s much more than that. Here are our first impressions after a three-hour playtest.
During our session, we played three unique maps, two custom-made for Arenas, and the other an adapted version of Artillery from Kings Canyon.
Despite being straight out of the battle royale map, the Artillery map was actually our favorite, with the ziplines on one side providing a very unique feel and a lot of verticality.
The two custom maps we played, Party Crasher and Phase Runner, were both well balanced too, although more ‘flat’.
Party Crasher is a neon-lit urban area, with Mirage’s ‘Mirage Voyage’ boat crashed into the plaza. Phaserunner has a very World’s Edge feel, with an incomplete phaserunner encircling the map.
The economy system
The shop and economy system in Arenas was a pleasant surprise. At the start of each round, you are given some shield, 2 shield cells, 2 syringes, and a default weapon (either P2020 or Mozambique).
Then, you will have ‘materials’ to spend, and first priority will be a better weapon and a shield battery. Weapons are given higher cost depending on their relative strength – the R-99 is the most expensive SMG, almost double the price of the RE45.
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Managing your materials spent and ensuring you’ve got a mix of weapons, attachments, and healing is vital. But, even more crucial is not to be wasteful. If you want to buy your Legend’s ultimate ability for example, you’ll need to stack up materials, or forego some of the basics.
Unlike Valorant or CS:GO, you won’t keep anything from the previous round if you survive, so ‘saving’ your life is pointless. However, you will carry over materials you didn’t spend in the previous round.
This is why it’s very important for one member of the team to b-line for one of the material stashes on the map. This will award all players on your team 200 materials – doing this at least once per round will give you a big advantage.
Fast, but tactical
Rounds are usually pretty fast, as during our playtest, it was 6 players running head first at each other. But, we expect things will get more tactical as time goes on.
One strategy that worked well was splitting into a two and a one – with the solo playing somewhat stealthy, flanking behind the enemies and catching them out from the back.
But, sticking very close together is also a viable strategy. There are no respawns in Arenas, but you can revive. So, if you go down on the other side of the map from your teammates, they will rightly bemoan you.
We didn’t have time to try out every possible loadout, but an SMG and a Sniper was a personal favorite. Go for a Volt over R99 to save some materials, and a Sentinel or Longbow to accompany it, and you’ll be prepared for all ranges.
Shotguns are an option in the early rounds, especially something like an EVA-8. But, our favorite for round one was the RE45 – a cheap option, but with enemies on grey shield only, it’s more than enough, and will keep you some materials left over.
In the later rounds, make sure to just spend, spend, spend. Depending on which Legend you pick, certain abilities can be worth opting for – Bloodhound’s scan was VERY powerful in Arenas.
But, for some Legends, rather than buying extra ability charges, you will be better served by spending 100 materials on an arc star.
How Arenas plays
Games can be very fast, as short as five minutes if it’s a 3-0 blowout. But, we also had one match go to sudden death (when teams are tied 4-4), which lasted almost 20 minutes.
The best thing about Arenas, compared to the battle royale mode, is that you can really learn your opponent. Realizing that the ultra-aggressive Pathfinder loves to push the right side of the map with a Spitfire every round, you can start countering them, and really thinking about your enemies’ strengths and weaknesses.
Also, Respawn opting for a shop system, where you can build your loadout, was a genius move. The developers told us that they had originally planned to have loot on the map, just like BR, but scrapping that was a very smart decision.
However, there is still a care package, which drops mid-way through each round, and the loot you get in it improves each round. Before the round starts, you can see what will be in the care package in the shop menu.
Also, a great touch is that there are no deathboxes. Instead, loot from eliminated enemies spills onto the ground (just like Fortnite and Warzone), making for much faster looting.
Overall, Arenas is a fantastic edition to Apex Legends. It provides something fresh for those players who have been playing the battle royale for over two years, and should also entice some totally new players to try it out as well.
We know Respawn has plans to add more custom maps, a Ranked Arenas mode, Arenas-focused events, and hopefully much more in the future. We’d love to see different compositions (2v2, 4v4), or even a Titanfall-inspired coliseum mode for those 1v1 matches.