Following the drama that was Apex Legends' new character reveal, developer Respawn is finally ready to start talking specifics ahead of Season 4's arrival tomorrow, 4th February - and it's now shared news on the big map changes coming, alongside a first gameplay trailer.
In a lengthy new blogpost, Apex Legends' design director Jason McCord explained that the goal of Season 4's map changes is to offer "new ways for [players] to approach the game...so that each drop, rotation, and gunfight feels as fresh as possible". To that end, World's Edge will see new landmarks in Season 4, alongside major changes to familiar locations.
Most immediately noticeable in the new Planet Harvester point of interest, slapped right in the middle of the map. In lore terms, it's the means by which shadowy corporation Hammond Robotics can gather precious metals from the planet's core, but from a gameplay perspective, its giant red beam is intended to give players "a better sense of directionality and understanding of the center of the map".
"With its large, multi-level design the Planet Harvester is unlike anything else on World's Edge and brings exciting new gameplay options to the game," explains Respawn.
"Fights are largely self-contained as squads will tend to enter the fight through the long hallways that lead to the center of the structure. This should make 3rd parties a little more predictable and hopefully easier to defend against." Respawn also notes that its location should make it easier for players to experience the new content more often.
Elsewhere, Season 4 will see World's Edge's Capitol City split in two, thanks to a giant lava-filled rupture in the earth caused by the Planet Harvester. Practically, it's an attempt to separate the initial swarm of players in what was Season 3's busiest point of interest at the start of a match, creating two distinct areas to land in and loot.
"The large fissure can only be crossed in two locations (a zipline, or a fallen skyscraper bridge)", says Respawn, "This allows teams some breathing room to control one side after the drop, reducing the risk of running into 3rd parties from the other side of the city."
Respawn explains that the fissure itself is intended to bring meaningful opportunities to a match, with players able to fight across the divide, even gain an advantage by seizing control of its bridges. Those tumbling into the fissure won't die (Respawn says it was keen to ensure players didn't avoid the new area out of fear of death) but will take 25 damage from the heat and be carried slowly back up on an air current, potentially making them an easy target.
"We think the damage and slow rise make players respect the gap while in a firefight," says Respawn, "while, in calmer moments, allowing players to have fun and experiment with this new space without the risk of immediate death."
Season 4's final new point of interest is the Survey Camp, a small area in the snowy fields between the Epicenter and Skyhook. It's intended to relieve the pressure of busier locations and create "potentially new rotations, like moving through the train tunnel to get to Skyhook."
Notably, while smaller than other points of interest, Respawn is tempting player toward the Survey Camp with the inclusion of new weapon racks, featuring guaranteed weapons. "This should give players who prioritise a good weapon over a premier drop location a new decision to make," says the developer, "We're always excited to try flipping Battle Royale rules on their heads, and we look forward to seeing how this feature influences where players drop."
Apex Legends' new points of interest get a good airing in the accompanying Season 4 gameplay trailer (which you can see above), and there's a brief look at sinister new playable character Revenant and the new bolt-action sniper rifle, Sentinel.