Apex Legends wouldn’t be the same without Evo Shields. First introduced in a season four LTM, Respawn has steadily encouraged players to level up their armor throughout Apex’s four year lifespan—and leaks indicate the leveling up mechanic will be more important than ever in season 20.
According to well-known Apex Legends leaker Osvaldatore, armor will go through three major changes in the upcoming season. First, all armor will be removed from ground loot completely, eliminating the luck factor in POI contests. Next, any time a player armor swaps from a deathbox, they will not switch to the higher level, and instead overheal their current armor. Finally, when a player upgrades their armor, they will be presented two Legend perks, choosing one that activates for the rest of the match.
Community reception to the changes has been mixed. Positive reactions come from the removal of armor from the loot pool, as it stops one team from getting lucky with high level shields at the beginning of the game, a factor that can easily decide a direct contest and snowball the Evo Shield advantage to the late game.
The possible removal of armor from the ground follows Respawn’s push on Evo Shields since season six’s changes to make armor base-kit exclusive, and encourages players to be proactive in seeking out enemy squads to fight or collecting materials to craft better shields at a Replicator. Otherwise, they’re left with White shields and a major health disadvantage going into the final Ring.
The leaked second change would encourage aggressive teams while keeping the value of shield swapping in the middle of a fight. A player with blue shields can still thirst an opponent with purple shields and gain the 75 shield health when swapping for the immediate firefight. However, players are encouraged to actively deal more damage if this leak proves true, as grabbing a purple shield off a deathbox while on White shields would only grant 75 temporary shields that will quickly decay like Conduit’s tactical ability, and puts the emphasis on leveling their shield through damage or crafting, not just upgrading through looting.
The most interesting change would be the addition of legend perks, a game system previously seen in the season 19 Uprising event and in Apex Mobile. The leaks don’t provide much insight into how such a perk system would be implemented in season 20, but either of the previous systems would greatly affect the dominant legend meta for the casual and competitive scenes.
The Uprising event featured a unique prize track which granted players special passive perks that applied to all legends when playing in non-ranked battle royale, similar in strength to the class passives introduced in season 16. Perks included refreshing a player’s tactical ability on wiping an enemy squad, revealing nearby healing or throwable items through walls. Apex Mobile perks, on the other hand, allowed players to choose one perk from each of three categories. Legend perks changed a player’s starting loadout or passive ability, Finisher perks gave extra rewards such as additional Evo Shield damage, and Ability perks greatly enhanced or changed how abilities functioned entirely, giving more expression when choosing a legend every single match.
Apex Mobile’s perks were more powerful than what was offered in the Uprising event, and could potentially shake up the pick rate of all legends even at the highest level of competition if certain perks make it into season 20. Apex Mobile perks allowed Gibraltar to use his Dome of Protection as a Heat Shield, for example, giving it a unique niche in the ALGS where Heat Shields are completely disabled. If the potential new perk system is remotely as impactful, there could be some major legend meta shifts in store next season.
There has been no confirmation of this perk system, meaning we don’t know if only two perks would be offered for each legend per match, or if a players can keep collecting perks every time they level up their shields—or if these perks will exist at all. Just like previous seasons, players can expect Respawn to release trailers and the official patch notes detailing any major changes to the game in the weeks leading up to season 20’s release, which is projected to start on Feb. 14, the day after season 19 ends.