Apex Legends Season 9 review – Major innovation with Arenas, but lackluster Battle Pass

Apex Legends Season 9Respawn Entertainment

Apex Legends Legacy is a landmark update that offers players a completely fresh way to play while still delivering the quality additions expected with every new season.

Since the release of Apex Legends all the way back in 2019, Respawn Entertainment has been building a quality battle royale title that strives to be different from other competitors in the space. Having now reached its ninth season, Apex is more popular than ever and fans eagerly await the major additions that are implemented every three months.

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While the latest Legacy update may seem just like another season in Apex Legends, it actually marks a huge step in the game’s direction by departing the battle royale genre and offering players an entirely new way to play.

Apex Legends Legacy – Key details

  • Price: Free
  • Developer: Respawn Entertainment
  • Release Date: May 4, 2021
  • Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch

Apex Legends Legacy – Trailer

Arenas – A new chapter for Apex Legends

In a lot of ways, Season 9 is very similar to previous major updates that Respawn has implemented into its battle royale title. With a set of map changes, a brand new Legend, and various tweaks to the game’s overall balance, Legacy will certainly feel familiar to the majority of players. However, there’s one addition that truly elevates Season 9 above the rest, and that’s the new permanent 3v3 game mode, Arenas.

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After building up a title that completely centers around the battle royale genre, Respawn didn’t have an easy task breaking out of that mold. Luckily, Arenas achieves exactly that, offering players an entirely new gameplay experience, while still retaining the satisfying gunplay and unique mechanics that Apex fans have grown to love.

Apex Legends ArenasRespawn Entertainment
The Phaserunner Arenas map in Apex Legends.

Arenas takes a leaf out of Valorant and CSGO’s book, allowing competitors to buy weapons and equipment of their choice before each round. This not only offers players more freedom, but also encourages squads to strategize and adapt to their opponents as a match progresses. The mode’s win-by-two, round-based format means matches against significantly better opponents end quickly and don’t drag on. However, balanced Arenas games can go all the way up to four rounds apiece, where sudden death will really test a player’s ability to perform under pressure.

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As for the maps, both Party Crasher and Phaserunner offer starkly different landscapes that are incredibly fun to traverse while hunting down an enemy squad. For the other three locations, Respawn opted to import areas from each of the title’s battle royale maps. Although these maps are certainly fun at first, over time they become all too familiar and a little stale.

There’s no doubt that Arenas can blossom into a popular permanent mode with a dedicated ranked ladder. However, despite its tremendous potential, if Respawn doesn’t roll out regular updates to keep it fresh, it feels as if the hype and excitement around this new mode could be relatively short-lived. There’s a risk that it could get a little bit repetitive after some time, but new maps will ease that.

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Valkyrie – The high-flying Legend we all wanted

In adding Valkyrie to the roster of Legends, Respawn has certainly gone back to their roots in Season 9. With the Winged Avenger being the daughter of the infamous Apex Predator Viper from the Titanfall series, there was certainly a lot of anticipation and excitement surrounding her release.

Luckily, Respawn has knocked it out of the park with her design and created an incredibly fun character to pilot. Her ability to soar above her enemies and scout foes from the skies makes her a useful part of any squad.

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Valkyrie Apex LegendsRespawn Entertainment
The new Legend Valkyrie in Apex Legends.

While flying above the map does have its advantages, it can also be her downfall which is what makes the Legend so fun to play. Finding a balance between knowing when to use her passive and realizing it’s best to keep your feet on the ground will separate the good Valkyrie players from the great ones.

While Valkyrie’s kit primarily revolves around her jetpacks, her Tactical and Ultimate are extremely satisfying use and the animations for her rockets never get boring. Seeing your opponents scatter after targeting a Missile Swarm directly on their position is just one of the reasons why this Legend is so fun to play. Let’s just hope Respawn can keep the momentum from Valkyrie heading into Season 10 and blow us away with another great addition to the Apex roster.

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Olympus map changes – New POI’s to explore

After the massive impact Fuse had on Kings Canyon in Season 8, the infection that’s taken over Olympus feels relatively tame in comparison. However, despite only adding two new POI’s, the map certainly feels and plays a bit different. The lush environments of Olympus have been tempered and it’s obvious the infection is beginning to spread across the map.

Both the Icarus and the Icarus Bridge are visually impressive and have great sightlines to take gunfights against other squads. As expected, the new POI’s have become hotspots after the release of Season 9 with players searching for the Bridge Keycard. This special item unlocks an area filled with high-tier loot and will ensure players continue to drop into the location long after the initial novelty has word off.

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The Icarus Apex LegendsRespawn Entertainment
The Icarus POI in Apex Legends.

One gameplay addition that certainly deserves a mention is the new Bocek Bow. This deadly accurate weapon may difficult to use, but in the right player’s hands it can pump out a serious amount of damage. While the Bocek will never be the optimal choice for the majority of players, you can guarantee it’s going to be a fan-favorite weapon among the Apex community for a long time to come.

It might be a little bit overpowered in the right hands at the moment, but that’s something Respawn can easily adjust if needed.

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Season 9 Battle Pass – A lackluster set of rewards

Without a doubt, the biggest disappointment in the Season 9 update is the rewards and unlocks offered in the game’s Battle Pass. With a mere five character skins to earn throughout the entire progression path and with three of them being unlocked instantly, the rewards in the Legacy Battle Pass leave a lot to be desired.

While a lot of the rare gun skins do look visually appealing, there are very few standout rewards that will push you to grind out each of the tiers. Demon’s Whisper Wraith is definitely a skin a lot of players will have their eye on, but it’s unlikely to be many people’s favorite Wraith skin, and it still feels like she gets more than her fair share of battle pass skins. There are only three skydive trails too, and one of them is another for Octane, while other Legends feel a bit neglected in this department.

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New Wraith skinRespawn Entertainment
Demon’s Whisper Wraith in Apex Legends.

Despite this, a level of credit has to be given to the free Valkyrie skin that’s available to all players in the Battle Pass. The pink theme along with the intricate detailing across the Winged Avenger’s suit looks incredible and is definitely an unlock everyone will be motivated to work towards.

Ultimately, the Season 9 Battle Pass lacks the standout rewards that are required to keep players interested in progression for an entire Season. Hopefully, Respawn can amend this in Season 10 and give the community a set of unlocks that feel more worth grinding for.

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Rating 8.5/10

Apex Legends Season 9 is a shift in direction for a title that had its roots deeply set in the battle royale genre. By branching out of that with the new permanent Arenas mode, Apex is now a more diverse and versatile title that offers a wider range of gameplay experiences. With an incredible new Legend and a set of map changes that have planted the seeds for future updates, the only disappointment in Legacy is the lackluster Battle Pass rewards.

While Season 9 certainly isn’t perfect, it has given the community a completely new way to play and laid the foundations for more innovative permanent modes in the future.

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