“Apex Legends” is heading for the moon. Season 15, called “Apex Legends: Eclipse,” will launch on Nov. 1 and introduce the series’ latest battle royale map, Broken Moon. Set on the terraformed moon of Cleo, Broken Moon features a new zip rail system for swift travel around the battlefield and revamped point of interest (POI) zones so players will die less often within the first five minutes of landing.
Broken Moon, the game’s fifth battle royale map, has been in development for a year and a half. Out of all the ideas that Respawn Entertainment pitched around for Season 15′s locale, the moon setting was the one the team found most intriguing.
“I collaborated with the lead designer on a few ideas,” said Ed Agostini, world director at Respawn Entertainment, at a virtual press event attended by The Washington Post. “We were throwing out possible biomes, possible backstories and the moon environment really gravitated toward the top.”
Moons are typically barren environments, but Cleo was designed to be a vibrant, colorful place with a bustling community of colonists. Fans of “Apex Legends” lore will note that Cleo is the moon of Boreas, which is the home planet of the outcast Legend Seer. Seer’s birth was heralded by a meteor that smashed off a big chunk of Cleo’s landmass, dooming Boreas to a constant barrage of meteor showers. Cleo has since become a massive terraforming project dotted with POIs such as the lush memorial site Eternal Gardens and the site of Cleo’s first moon landing, Alpha Base.
Hopefully, the designs of some of these areas will help players live longer. POIs are usually teeming with high-end guns and equipment, and choosing to drop into one at the beginning of a match is always risky. You’ll most likely be racing against a dozen enemies in a mad scramble for loot. Most of those squads will be killed within minutes, but Respawn hopes to alleviate that in Broken Moon. The map will still have the small, chaotic POIs for players looking for intense landing fights, but also larger ones for squads that want prime loot but also some time to get their bearings.
“We really wanted to give squads a chance to go to that POI but get a little bit more comfortable,” said Jeff Shaw, lead level designer at Respawn. “So having a larger POI results in squads having more landing options. There’s a little bit more space to share and more material or loot to gather.”
Traveling across Broken Moon is also going to be easier than in previous maps. Players can cover vast distances using the zip rail, which is basically a supercharged zip line on a monorail with predetermined routes and stops that runs along the entire map. Compared to regular ziplines, zip railing is faster, provides more momentum and can bank around corners. Players can use it to escape the game’s deadly closing ring or regroup quickly with squad members.
But it also comes with significant risk: You’ll be a highly visible target to anyone on the ground, and enemies could be waiting to ambush you at rail stops.
“I’ve experienced a lot of fun moments on these,” Shaw said. “Head to head jousting, even seeing teams chase the other teams on the zip rails. They’re super fun and generate plenty of these memorable moments.”
The dark side of the moon is a well-worn trope in fiction, so when making Broken Moon, Respawn was interested in what the “light side” of a moon could look like. Agostini referred to this balance of imposing and lovely environments as heaven and hell. Many of the heavenly POIs in Broken Moon, such as the floral research center Bionomics, draw inspiration from the pastel paintings of Claude Monet and the idyllic floral landscapes of English gardens.
Cleo also inherited the culture of its planet Boreas. “Boreas itself is very much a dominant African culture,” said Agostini. “We’ve seen that in Seer’s lore trailer, so we wanted to make sure we still had that connection.” Decorated gazelle heads and intricately patterned plaques can be seen inside some of the homes in Broken Moon.
“Apex Legends: Eclipse” will also introduce a new legend, Catalyst, the first trans woman to join the cast. The launch trailer shows a tense conflict between her and Seer; the two collided at the Apex Games after Cleo’s government agreed to host a tournament in exchange for colonization funds. Their rivalry will serve as the focal point of Broken Moon’s story.