Despite Apex Legends’ Mixtape playlist being a huge success since its introduction last year, its suite of arcade modes has yet to be given a unique arena of its own. That’s about to change in season 20, which is adding a completely custom-made map to Mixtape for the first time: Thunderdome.
Until season 20, which releases on Feb. 13, Mixtape has been using POIs pulled straight out of Apex’s battle royale locations or repurposed maps originally designed for the discontinued Arenas mode. While these have proven to be adequate battlegrounds, it’s always left the Mixtape playlist feeling like a low-priority inclusion despite its popularity. Thunderdome, by comparison, shows signs Respawn is willing to put sizable development time into it going forward.
World director Ed Agostini walked us through the new Thunderdome map at a recent press event, which pays tribute to a classic Apex location despite the fresh gameplay experience it offers. “It’s a modular, floating stadium that’s an homage to Kings Canyon, which is the original site of the Apex Games,” Agostini explained. The homage is apparent from even a cursory glance at the map’s features—recognizable landmarks drawn from Skull Town to Repulsor are littered throughout.
The game show component is played up more than ever before. Bright neon signage scattered throughout Thunderdome’s locations, with legends competing “in front of a live audience for glory and fame,” in the words of Agostini.
With it being Mixtape’s first custom-made map, Thunderdome has also been designed with all of Mixtape’s modes in mind. Rather than somewhere like Caustic Treatment or Barometer having to be molded and tweaked to fit the needs of Control or Team Deathmatch, Thunderdome is built to be the perfect proving ground across everything Mixtape has to offer.
“We hope to see players forming strategies as they learn the map and develop different techniques for every mode that they play in,” Agostini said.
While Thunderdome’s addition may not be as significant as that of the legend upgrade system or the overhaul coming to ranked, it reiterates a focus Respawn outlined elsewhere in the presentation; the developer wants Apex Legends to be easier than ever to dive into in 2024. The Mixtape playlist has been a perfect avenue for introducing new players to the game who might otherwise be daunted by the battle royale component. Putting a little bit of extra love into it with some wholly unique content to call its own is a natural next step.
Mixtape’s new Thunderdome map will be coming to Apex Legends with the release of season 20, Breakout, on Tuesday, Feb. 13.