Apex Legends is known for ‘testing’ new features disguised as LTM’s, and the latest test, Airdrop Escalation, seems primed for a major change to supply drops in future seasons.
Update, January 12: Since we put this idea forward, a Respawn developer has said that they have no plans currently to make the supply drops with fully-kitted weapons a permanent feature.
The most obvious example of Respawn testing the waters with a new feature in an LTM is Evo Shields. First only available in the Deja Loot and Battle Armor LTMs, and then in Armed and Dangerous Evolved, Respawn admitted it was considering them as a permanent change all along.
So, it was only a matter of time. In March 2020, Evo Sheilds were made a permanent addition, and then replaced regular all shields in the game, with exception of gold, in Season 6. Generally, it’s been a well-liked change, as Evo Shields reward engagements over looting.
In this spirit then, could Respawn really be considering doing away with the traditional supply drops?
What is Airdrop Escalation?
For the Fight Night Collection event, Respawn technically didn’t add a new LTM to Apex Legends. Instead, they just ‘took over’ the regular mode with Airdrop Escalation.
In this variant, supply drops now drop fully-kitted weapons, with all their attachment slots filled out. They land at the same speed as Lifeline’s care packages too.
“Immediately after you leave the Jumpship, you’ll find a cluster of four supply drops across the map. During each round, more will drop,” Respawn explain. The supply drops include weapons of increasing rarity depending on the round; round 1 drops level 2 kitted weapons, while round 4 drops red armor and crate weapons.
This system has received a mixed reception. While some players argue it reduces the emphasis on looting, others don’t like the attachment presets that Respawn have made (anyone tired of getting holo sights on everything?)
We asked players on Twitter for their thoughts, and it was a mixed bag:
Way too frequent. Wouldn’t be fun as a permanent thing literally takes the point of looting out the game
— #North Kaiju (@Twitch_kaiju) January 7, 2021
whoever thought of using the 1-2x Holo for 90% of the drops never played the game before
— Bob (@RNBobb) January 7, 2021
Will fully-kitted weapons be permanent in Season 8?
Respawn have now said that they won’t be making them a permanent feature. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a test for something else. It’s unlikely they would create this system purely for a two-week event with no possibility of either making it permanent or bringing it back frequently.
Leakers have found a TDM-style gamemode in the files, and it appears that preset loadouts will be a feature here.
Of course, with the feedback from the LTM version, they might be able to make improvements – such as the attachment choices. There also has to be consideration of competitive play, and how this system might affect it.
Respawn may have been inspired by the success of Call of Duty: Warzone’s loadout system, which allows players to pre-make their weapons and attachment setups, and then call it in as a supply drop of their own. While we don’t expect Apex to allow players to create their own perfect loadouts, it’s certainly a similar idea with Airdrop Escalation.
Season 8 is due to begin in early February, right around the anniversary of Apex Legends’ release in 2019. As with all new seasons, we expect to see some shake-ups to the gameplay, but just how drastic remains to be seen.