Respawn is continuing to expand Apex Legends beyond its battle royale roots. The studio is launching its first big team mode, Control, as a limited-time feature available starting February 8th. The mode will sound familiar if you've played Destiny's Control or other hold-the-points gameplay formats. Two teams of nine players each vie to capture and keep up to three zones, with infinite respawns for every player. Those zones will confer benefits like they do in other games, but the nature of those benefits is different — there's a strong incentive to focus on territory rather than wiping out the enemy team.
Every zone your team owns will add points each second, up to a score limit of 1,250. You'll randomly encounter "Capture Bonuses" that deliver a wealth of points if your team holds a given zone when the bonus timer runs out. Own both the center point and your team's home point and you can spawn in that middle ground. And if you manage to capture all three points, you'll start a "Lockout" that guarantees a win if those points are yours when a timer expires. A lopsided match shouldn't drag on longer than necessary, to put it another way.
Control also introduces a ratings system where players can progress through tiers the more they accomplish for the team in a given life. You'll earn use of your ultimate ability every time you move up a tier, so there's plenty of motivation to stay in one piece. Respawn is promising Control-specific badges and challenges for those interested in longer-term goals.
And yes, there's a new Apex character. The game is introducing Mad Maggie, a seemingly Mad Max-inspired, Australian-sounding warlord who has been sentenced to fight in the Apex games. Much like Caustic, her abilities reflect her willingness to leave morality at the door — Riot Drill forces enemies out of cover by burning them, and Wrecking Ball produces boost pads while also exploding near foes. She can also highlight enemies she shoots, and moves more quickly while using shotguns.
It's too soon to know if Control will become permanent like Arenas. Respawn's strategy is clear, however. Modes like this potentially keep Apex fresh for veteran players, and might expand the audience to newcomers who aren't fans of the original game's last-one-standing experience.