Apex Legends: Meltdown and Fortnite: Chapter 2 launched within weeks of one another, and both did so to major hype. While Apex Legends managed to captivate fans with its Season 3 character cinematic teasers and lore clues, Fortnite’s tactics involved throwing its fans’ attention into a black hole. Given the games' pseudo-rivalry, it's no coincidence the games would both surprise players with new maps around the same time.
These new maps tell players a lot about the evolution of each game. It's worth noting that although they're both battle royales, these are two fundamentally different games. They reward different play styles and serve different audiences. Still, it's helpful to compare them as the maps serve as strong points of reference.
Apex Legends’ new map, World’s Edge, is much larger than the game’s previous map. More buildings, more zip lines and more options for both high- and low-ground play mean there are fewer ways for players to get unmatched advantages based on height alone. The fact that Respawn chose to focus on developing multilevel buildings shows the importance of verticality within the terrain.
Fortnite’s new map introduced hills and plateaus that are more evenly distributed, which means players have to give more thought to circle strategies and high ground advantages. Certain drop locations have verticality, but it’s not as pronounced in the way it was on the game’s original map. While places like the original Tilted Towers or Polar Peak were always fun and allowed players to dominate with height advantages, they were less necessary in a game with a building mechanic that promotes elevation.
Further, the Apex Legends map has clusters of buildings, but players can find sporadically-placed trailers, buildings and supply crates almost everywhere. It also has caverns and tunnels, which add additional height and distance elements to player fights.
Points of Interest
Fornite's new map has many new additions, but several points of interest are fundamentally the same. Retail Row, Pleasant Park and Salty Springs remain relatively unchanged. Additionally, there’s an island at the center of the map, just as there was on the previous map.
This is in stark contrast to Apex Legends, which reuses no points of interest on its new map. One edge of the map is largely situated above lava while the center of it is a giant series of ice crystals. Fortnite: Chapter 2's map has some snow cap areas, but they're not nearly as dominant as those in Apex Legends.
Unique Elemental Aspects
For the time being, Fortnite has done away with many of the unique elements that contributed to the peaks and valleys of its success. This includes items such as mechs and hamster wheels. Of course, Fortnite frequently cycles through such items and makes changes to the game on a regular basis, unlike Apex Legends, which tends to be more structured in its approach.
Fortnite's newly-introduced swimming mechanic sets it apart. While swimming was always possible in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's battle royale mode, Blackout, it’s a new element in Fortnite. Swimming is a fun and fluid experience. There’s also the option to fish, which seems like more of a nod to content creators and younger players than something that should impact high-skill gameplay.
World's Edge retains many of Apex Legends' unique environmental elements. Jump towers and supply crates appear throughout the map. The game also brought back its flying loot, though this time in the form of cargo bots instead of flyers. Players can shoot these down to access loot vaults in caverns throughout the map, which is a new feature.
The addition of a loot train in World's Edge is an interesting choice as well. It can lead to an outright brawl at the start of the game or it can provide a rare shortcut to the circle for those in a rush to make it to the next zone.
Fortnite's current map lacks mobility options. Some players speculate that this was a conscious choice to prevent skilled, competitive players from relying too heavily on mobility to outplay opponents. As of now, there are a few zip lines as well as areas in which players can swim.
In Apex Legends, zip lines, balloons, the train and a single water spout are the game’s only map-based mobility options, though there are also some character-specific mobility options.
Both maps feature serious visual enhancements. In Apex Legends, the World’s Edge map is much more vibrant than Kings Canyon. It has a number of different landscapes, including the frozen crystal area near the center of the map, a topical-seeming area, a number of train stations and a lava zone.
Interestingly, Fortnite opted to do away with those types of zones in favor of some elements of simplicity — for now, at least. But its map refresh features welcome visual enhancements such as more details in the scenery. It’s almost remarkable how the game’s creators were able to enhance the map while also retaining the Fortnite feel.
Play Style Changes
While there was a lot of enthusiasm for the new map in Apex Legends, it’s ultimately divided players based on differing play styles. Especially in Ranked modes, some players feel the map rewards camping and Charge Rifle sniper fights. However, others find that it evened the playing field as teams won’t get a huge advantage simply by having an ultra-mobile Pathfinder on the team.
Fortnite, on the other hand, has taken numerous steps to try to ensure the game remains interesting for both competitive and casual players. These aren't exactly tied to map changes; rather, they're changes that reflect how the game is approaching its meta. Fortnite now includes bots and has implemented skill-based matchmaking.
In terms of the differences in the feel of the map, Apex Legends takes the cake. But for some, that may not be ideal as a new setting also requires players to adapt with new play styles.
For better or worse, this means that for all the hype around Fortnite’s black hole publicity stunt, the new map in Apex Legends features many more surprises.