Leveling up your Evo Shield is vital in Apex Legends, and it will be even more important once the game’s 20th season hits. With Breakout, the team is changing how shields work and tying them to vital gameplay systems like the upcoming legend upgrades.
Armor will no longer be a dropped item and the only way to improve your armor going forward will be by gaining upgrades, Respawn Entertainment confirmed at a press conference last week—though landing your shots isn’t the only way to get your white shield to red and to upgrade your character.
The addition of legend upgrades lets players pick from bonuses each time they level up, and Respawn tied this leveling system to the existing Evo model that’s been a permanent addition since season six. Getting enough points to evolve your character also bumps up your armor, but evolving your character takes more gameplay actions into account.
With season 20, Apex players can’t loot actual armor vests from the environment or other players. You can’t find or steal a purple vest while you have a blue one, slashing the randomness involved in getting armor. That said, players can still improve their armor through a myriad of gameplay events. “Just playing the game as normal will improve your armor over time,” lead battle royale designer Josh Mohan said.
Experienced players will feel the impacts on the pacing of a match, according to Mohan. The lack of randomness creates distinct “early, middle, and late game” phases. With Evos and legend upgrades tied together, players can also get an idea of who they’re up against based on the color of their shields.
Dealing damage is the key way to improve your armor, but it’s not the only one. Players can find a series of collectibles and lootable objects that will bump up their Evo level. This includes Evo Harvesters and Evo caches. Harvesters are randomly placed around the map, and interacting with them gives some Evo for you and your team. Caches, on the other hand, are rarer to find, but give players “a large amount of Evo all at once,” Mohan said. Lastly, just following your class’ playstyle will earn Evo—for instance, interacting with Survey Beacons if you’re a Recon.
The update won’t kill armor swapping, which has become a key part of Apex gameplay, but it will change the method as we know it. The Armor itself isn’t lootable, but Respawn added a new item called Shield Cores, which essentially grants charge to your armor.
Stealing a shield with the same level or lower as yours just grants it the corresponding charge. If you steal a shield core from a player with a higher level, however, the surplus charge converts into a temporary overshield that depletes over time. “This means all the moment-to-moment gameplay of armor swapping mid-combat is still here, you just don’t permanently keep that higher level after the fight.”
The interlinked reworks of both legends and shields mark some of Apex‘s most significant changes in its history, making it a watershed moment for its five-year lifespan so far. Players can see the changes in action once Breakout lands on Feb. 13.