It’s no secret that Olympus, the third map to be released in Apex Legends, was not exactly the favourite of many of the battle royale’s top competitive players. However, with Storm Point, Apex’s fourth map that drops with Season 11: Escape, Respawn is confident they have a competitively viable battleground on its hands.
For a start, Storm Point has been designed by Rodney Reece, who created the competitive scene’s current map of choice, World’s Edge. While Storm Point is pushing boundaries in terms of its size and introduces a new loot mechanic in the form of wildlife, all of its innovations appear to have been made with considerations of the competitive scene in mind. Speaking to The Loadout, Reece lifts the lid on how some members of the competitive Apex community helped shape the most striking aspect of Storm Point – its verticality.
“From a competitive perspective, we knew this could be problematic,” Reece admits. “There were a lot of things to solve. So immediately, we did internal play tests, where we bring competitive players in. The main thing that we were looking at at the time were the negative aspects that the competitive community didn’t like about it.
“The main one was that they hate vaulting, which was a very interesting thing. None of them said this before, but they really hate putting away their gun to vault up. So it’s like, okay, mountain climbing is acceptable; provided you’re not vaulting that much.”
With this feedback, Reece and his team designed the mountain to be traversable without any vaulting and mantling to keep competitive players happy. “You can hike up all these large hills without actually having to like climb up, climb up, climb up, and you can have your weapon out the entire time as you thread your way through.”
Reece says that when the same players returned for a later playtest – where not only had the vaulting changes been made, but gravity cannons and a network of zip lines had been added – they were “very happy” with moving around the map.
Storm Point isn’t just the tallest Apex map yet, it’s also the largest. As we explored in part one of our interview with Reece, Storm Point’s size was the result of a successful concept trialled in World’s Edge – “spill-off camps” that sit next to major points of interest. Storm Point is littered with such camps, which give players a viable alternative drop point should their usual drop spot look particularly hot.
So does this mean we’re going to see a lot less early-game action in high-level Apex Legends matches?
“It allows that option – whether the competitive community decides to do that is their choice,” Reece says. “If you drop at The Mill, and you see five other squads land and you don’t want to engage, just look around and you’ll notice there’s like a grouping of four buildings right over there – just spill off, you’ll be able to loot up, and you can then choose to engage with the hot droppers. It gives the option to the player to make that choice, versus sometimes not having the option.”
As well as the landscape itself, Storm Point offers a new mechanic in the form of the wildlife scattered around the map. Spiders, Prowlers, and Flyers can all be found at various locations, and will engage players if they get too close or are provoked. They’ll also offer loot and some points towards your Evo Shield when defeated.
Reece confirms this PvE element will remain in place for Apex Legends ranked games, but reassures those that may see it as a disruptive, anti-competitive feature.
“The wildlife is not really a bossfight – it is a mechanism for loot, and [competitive] players are going to understand that pretty quickly,” he says. “I think they’ll probably engage with it for the very fact that it [rewards you with] smart loot. So if you have an R-301, you’re going to get attachments for your R-301. And the competitive community I imagine will like to make that designated choice.
“On top of that, the ring will never close in on the wildlife camps. So you’ll never have a nightmare scenario where it’s the final ring, there’s five squads all waiting to engage with each other, and it’s over a Prowler location. That was something that we didn’t want.”
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into making Storm Point a map that feels different from its predecessors, but not at the expense of competitive viability. Respawn appears confident it will be embraced by competitive players – so much so, that Storm Point will be thrown straight into ranked mode rotation for the first split of ranked Season 11, before making way for World’s Edge in split two.
If you want to learn more about the development process for Storm Point and how it will evolve in future seasons, check out part one of our interview with Reece. You can also see what else is changing in ranked, aside from the new map, by looking at the Apex Legends patch notes for Season 11: Escape.