Stars 3.5/5

It’s incredible to think that it has not even been a year since the surprise launch of “Apex Legends” took the video-game world by storm, taking over viewership on streaming-website Twitch and becoming the king of the ever-popular battle royale genre for a few short months.

Combining the structure and monetary system of “Fortnite,” with the fast-paced gameplay of “Titanfall” and the character-based personality of “Overwatch,” developer Respawn Entertainment crafted a gem of a game in an overly-saturated marketplace, and the exhilarating and dynamic gameplay struck a chord with players across the world. 

The premise is simple—20 teams of three players are dropped into a large map, where they race to find loot like shields, weapons, ammo and power-ups. Each character has three abilities. Their passive, tactical and ultimate powers enhance gameplay in some way unique to each character and make each new round feel fresh, as you choose which character fits your team of three best and try to survive until you are the last team standing.

This simple premise gave way to incredibly fast-paced and fun gameplay, a unique and self-aware style, a wide array of weapons straight out of John McTiernan’s sweetest dreams and a sense of personality noticeably absent from many of its battle royale brothers.

However, personality and fun gameplay only went so far, and a lack of content and different game modes cause “Apex” to become stale and fall down the ranks of viewership and player base in comparison to “Fortnite” and others. Seasons 1 and 2 brought new legends, legend and weapon skins and some minor map adjustments, but the initial splash made by the game had long settled down.

Now, Season 3, subtitled “Meltdown,” has brought a new map, a new legend and a breath of fresh air to the stagnant game and revitalized one of my favorite games of the year in an incredibly exciting way.

To start, the most noticeable part of the new season happens to be the brand new map. Gone are the deep canyons and desert landscape of King’s Canyon, replaced with the World’s Edge, a landscape with desert, arctic, volcanic and forested areas of the map all vying for the player’s explorative attitudes and winning mindsets.

While I enjoy the variety of locations and the generally colorful new look, the map often feels inconsistent in terms of loot and activity, and I found myself sticking to one or two locations for drops, rather than adventuring to other locations. 

The new legend, Crypto, is incredibly fun to play as. His drone allows players to see enemies within 30 meters of the drone for a tactical advantage and even provides an ultimate EMP blast that damages enemies and slows them down for a short period of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the few rounds that I played as Crypto and can see him becoming a frequent choice of mine. 

New skins and collectibles provide incentive for players to continue unlocking their favorite character’s new skin (Caustic mains will find themselves thrilled with a new skin for the gaseous new character in the battle pass), and overall, the new coat of paint has led to some incredible visual moments through my first 30-plus hours of season 3. A new weapon, the Charge Rifle is an absolute laser of a weapon, and while it does not fit my particular play style, it is an absolutely wonderful, new addition to the armory.

If you have never dived into “Apex Legends,” Season 3 is a great place to start. The new map, though frustrating at times, is fun and gorgeous to look at, and the new additions, from Crypto to the Charge Rifle, and all of the new skins in between, create even more opportunities to drop hot with your friends, fighting all opponents to become the Apex Champion.

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