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the loading screen for Broken Moon, the new map in Apex Legends Season 15. A large terraforming device with three huge spires is in the center-left; a floating piece of space debris hangs in the atmosphere over a wooded landscape.

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Apex Legends designers shake up their battle royale with a huge Broken Moon

Respawn hopes players can settle into more ‘edge POIs’ before pushing to the map’s center

Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Apex Legends’ 15th season, Eclipse, will probe further into the lore of one of its most popular characters as it establishes the origins for its newest. That’s because the Apex Games are headed to the Boreas system, the shattered home of Seer, as well as his new rival, Catalyst.

Boreas gets its close-up with a map called Broken Moon, the fifth battle royale map for Apex Legends since its 2019 launch. It is set on Cleo, the moon referenced in Seer’s lore. A catastrophic meteor impact split Boreas’ satellite, which is responsible for frequent and destructive meteorite showers on Cleo’s surface.

Seer is persona non grata on Boreas, actually, and though the Apex Games have come to that system somewhat with his help, staging them on Cleo put an end to settlers’ attempts to terraform recover the moon. That’s where Catalyst comes in, as fans saw last week during her origin trailer.

Broken Moon is not some desolate punching bag for asteroids, said Jeff Shaw, Respawn Entertainment’s lead designer for the map. Pretty much all of it has blue sky, evidence of the atmosphere and significant terraforming operation that the Apex Games have interrupted. Huge chunks of ejecta just happen to hang out way up in the horizon, that is, evidence of Cleo’s violent history. An overview image (below) suggests that Broken Moon is itself a huge chunk of Cleo floating amongst the moon’s remains.

The full map overview of Broken Moon within Apex Legends. It’s a large chunk of a moon floating amongst other rocky chunklets, the moon itself shattered by a huge asteroid collision years ago. Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Shaw said Broken Moon is “roughly the scale” of, if not slightly larger than, World’s Edge, the huge battle royale map that dates to season 3. “We felt like that scale really provides a strong baseline for the pacing and feel of the game and the player count,” Shaw said in a media briefing last week. Players will find 14 large points of interest on Broken Moon, each suitable for an intense and decisive firefight, he said.

Players can fast-travel among Broken Moon’s POIs with Zip Rails, a map feature that works like the existing Ziplines, just on a larger scale. Shaw said the Zip Rails were introduced to “shake up the traditional flow or feeling of a match,” that designers were observing into the game’s fourth year.

“We found that, generally, squads land on the outer POIs, or ‘edge POIs’, and move toward the center, on a really common trajectory from that starting POI,” Shaw said. The Zip Rail system “allows you and your squad to rotate really large distances quickly, and even hit up multiple edge POIs early, at the beginning of the game.”

While Zip Rails will be greatly useful for outrunning a shrinking ring, Shaw and his colleagues hope it will introduce players to more of Broken Moon before that begins. “This system’s interconnectedness really helps change your squad’s trajectory from your starting POI,” he emphasized, “so it doesn’t always feel the same, match-to-match.

The points of interest themselves are also an attempt to shake the cadence of a typical Apex Legends battle royale match, Shaw said. Developing larger landmarks for players to explore means they won’t all be landing in the same spot and struggling to eliminate one another, instead of enjoying the scenery and getting familiar with the battlefield.

Shaw called the usual POI scrum a “hot-drop dogpile,” that eliminates a bunch of players straight away. “We really wanted to give squads a chance to go to that POI but get a little more comfortable,” Shaw said.

All 14 of Broken Moon’s POIs are explained in further detail in a blog post Respawn published on Monday. They range from a massive Terraformer (described as a “king-of-the-hill” type location that can comfortably accommodate four teams) to a “Perpetual Core” power station, whose turbine airflow can quickly get fighters out of an ambush, Shaw said.

On the whole, “I wouldn’t say [Broken Moon] would be flat,” but it isn’t like Storm Point, which is “uniquely a mountain map.” Still, as the POI descriptions attest, there is plenty of verticality and high ground for players to exploit, and Shaw said designers did take a lot of inspiration and instruction from what they learned after bringing Storm Point to the game with season 11 one year ago.

Separately, Respawn’s designers noted that Apex Legends: Eclipse will introduce two quality-of-life features: gifting and stickers. Gifting, as the word implies, lets players buy an item with Apex Coins (the currency that is bought for real money) and transfer it to another player. Design director Evan Nikolich said gifting supports bringing a new person into a team and making sure they have the latest gear everyone there is already wearing, for example. It’s also a way to hat-tip others at the end of a round for their skillful play, whether as a match-made teammate or adversary.

Stickers are a fun, purely cosmetic addition, Nikolich said. “If you’re engaged with the game, you’ve noticed we’ve changed some of the animations around the shield cells and healing items,” he said. “And so we’re going to let you personalize that with some stickers. We want players to be able to express themselves, and show off what they’re excited about.” The debut of stickers is a first iteration toward a larger goal of greater personalization and customization, but Nikolich said it’s a permanent feature going forward.

Apex Legends: Eclipse, season 15, launches Nov. 1 on all platforms — Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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