Apex Legends’ season 17, “Arsenal,” begins on May 9, bringing with it both a new character and a new (or, at least, noticeably remade) map. Fans have already met Ballistic, the new hero, but they only know his lore, not his skills, nor the broader gameplay changes that support them. And the map, we’ve gotta say, does look nice — with one big point of interest worth exploring for Easter eggs if you’re not getting shot at.
Here’s everything confirmed on Monday in season 17’s first gameplay reveal — a lot of this was leaked out earlier by the usual cadre of data miners. Ballistic is a big part of what’s coming to the free-to-play, hero shooter/battle royale, but there is plenty more on the table than a new face and lore to go along with him.
Who is Apex Legends’ new character for season 17?
August Montgomery “Ballistic” Brinkman was already introduced in a lore trailer on April 24 and then again in a launch trailer on April 26. During a media/influencer preview shown under embargo two weeks ago, Ballistic’s backstory, as a flamboyantly lethal killer in the Thunderdome Games (the Apex Games’ forerunner) was revealed in detail. But we haven’t heard — officially anyway — about the 24th Legend’s gameplay characteristics.
So, here they are:
- Passive: Ballistic carries a Sling, which is effectively a third weapon slot. The limitation is that this gun cannot have any attachments; the bonus is, well, that’s tied into his Ultimate.
- Tactical: This is called The Whistler, and it’s both simple (a smart bullet that tracks an enemy after locking on) and complicated (all the stuff that happens after that). Should The Whistler strike its target, they won’t suffer damage per se, but they suffer a debuff that overheats their weapon the more it is fired. If it overheats and blows up, they take damage from that. Additionally, if The Whistler actually misses, it leaves behind a area of effect, where anyone entering it will get the same overheating debuff applied to their weapons.
- Ultimate: The Tempest turns Ballistic into a one-man arsenal (hence the nickname for season 17) buffing his teammates and himself tremendously: They gain infinite ammunition, faster reloads, and faster armed-movement speed. And about the Sling? The weapon there is upgraded to its Gold version, making for some very interesting decisions on what to carry in it.
Additionally, Ballistic is an Assault class legend — and under the class overhaul Apex Legends got last season (in lieu of a new character) that means he will have the Assault perks. To remind you, those are:
• Open a secret compartment within a red Weapon Supply Bin, which gives Assault characters access to gear and attachments that fit their current loadouts
• Assault Legends can carry an extra stack of ammunition, per inventory slot
Given his all-out attack style and formidable special abilities, Ballistic should be an extremely dynamic character in the hands of those who love running and gunning the most.
What is the new map for Apex Legends season 17?
Though players don’t expect a new map every season, they also didn’t get one in season 16 as Respawn developers focused on larger, structural changes to the battle royale’s gameplay. With that work out of the way, they’re delivering both a new hero and a new map in season 17.
It’s a pretty significant overhaul of World’s Edge, the game’s second battle royale map (introduced in season 3, during the game’s first year), and which last got an update in season 10 (August 2023). World’s Edge is a resource-extraction colony on the planet Talus, riven by violent volcanic activity.
The terraforming there had attempted to cool World’s Edge’s lava flows to allow mining, but a malfunction in one of its control towers left it a ghost town with many ruined buildings — i.e., a perfect place to stage the Apex Games.
Well, apparently the lava flows have cooled on their own, although not entirely, allowing some additions and changes while still leaving intact what fans love about World’s Edge. That starts with a couple of new points of interest.
- Monument: This is essentially a rework of the Fragment East point of interest at the center of the map, and it’s the biggest change, by far, coming to World’s Edge. At the center of Monument, underneath that rocket-like structure that looks like, well, a monument, is a glass-ceilinged Museum, dedicated to the history of the Apex Games. The Museum is essentially a bunker POI, though it does have quick-access sniper positions at the top of the Monument. Additionally, the bunker’s glass ceiling (basically the floor of the Monument) will allow players to peer inside, both to get a look at the exhibits, but more likely to get the drop on who fled down there, ostensibly to safety.
- Stacks: This replaces Lava City in the southeast corner of the map, and stars the red building under construction, with ziplines at both ends, which was previously a Fragment landmark. Lava City takes its cues from that red building, offering a lot of vertical gameplay as well as several interconnected rooftops.
Can you really learn about Apex Legends’ history at the Museum?
The developers at Respawn say yes, you can — both in-world and as a video game. The Museum is a timely inclusion given Ballistic’s involvement with the little-discussed Thunderdome Games, the Apex Games’ predecessor. (The Thunderdome was a location on the King’s Canyon map, but it was destroyed three years ago in season 5). The Museum will chart the lore behind the Apex Games’ rise from the end of the mostly-underground Thunderdome Games, all the way to present day. There will be a section dedicated to the original legends as well as one to Respawn’s development of the game, including some of the studio’s earliest design concepts.
- The Firing Range in Apex Legends continues to evolve, with a Combat Range allowing players to practice with every weapon, and a Vert Course to hone tricky movement skills Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
- The Firing Range also includes the Duel Pit where players may practice 1v1 combat. Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
- Another view of the Firing Range, with Bangalore practicing on an AI dummy. Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
- Monument is a new point-of-interest in the center of the reworked World’s Edge map, containing the Museum, where players can learn about Apex Legends’ history in the middle of a match Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
- Stacks is an all-new POI in World’s Edge, too. As the name implies, players can find a lot of vertical combat among the towers, or cross from roof to roof on its many ziplines. Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
What gameplay updates will Apex Legends get in season 17?
With season 16 so gameplay focused, Respawn stepped back in season 17 to give players time to continue to grow into an ever changing game. But season 17 will introduce a Weapon Mastery system — a form of progression that will not reset each season. Any time players are fighting with a weapon, they’ll be generating XP for that weapon, whether by dealing damage, getting kills, or using certain features.
There are plenty of account-level cosmetic unlocks on each weapon’s Mastery track (badges, banner frames, performance trackers) but it all culminates in a legendary skin for that gun once players have fully mastered all of its challenges.
There will also be a second round of changes and upgrades to Apex Legends’ Firing Range, which got an update in season 16 as Respawn moved to make the game more accessible to newcomers. AI combat dummies can now fire back at players training there, for starters. There’s a Duel Pit to allow them to practice fighting one-on-one, and a Vert Course where they can practice more sophisticated traversal techniques. The Combat Range will also allow players to practice with every gun in the game.
Finally, updates to the game’s famous (and very useful) ping wheel will improve nonverbal communication among teammates, and a new “Evac Tower” will let players deploy a balloon (with certain tactical limitations) that lets players zipline up high and skydive out of a particularly hairy firefight.
What’s in the season 17 battle pass?
Another 100 levels of content unlocks await players in season 17. The battle pass’ free track includes the usual array of weapon skins (10) and Apex Coins (200), plus a Mad Maggie skin, four loading screens, and the season 17 badge.
Of course, Respawn and EA really want folks to buy the premium battle pass, which costs 900 Apex Coins (1,000 coins are $9.99) or a battle pass bundle (2,800 Apex Coins, which requires a 2,000- and 1,000-coin bundle totaling $29.98).
Both the standard battle pass and the bundle return enough Apex Coins to buy the next season’s premium pass. This season’s bundle, in addition to unlocking the first (or next) 25 levels, gives players a Legendary skin for Wattson called “System Shock.”
When are Apex Legends season 17’s start and end dates?
Apex Legends season 17, “Arsenal,” goes live at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST on Tuesday, May 9. An end date has not been announced (probably because that would prematurely announce the start date of season 17) but the May season of Apex Legends usually ends in early August.