Apex Legends Season 16 is changing how character classes work. Starting with Season 16, the playable legends will be divided into five different classes, each with its own perks. If you’re a new player, however, you’ll only have access to four of the five classes from the start. You’ll have to buy into Controller.
The five new classes are Assault, Recon, Skirmisher, Support, and Controller. There are 23 playable legends in Apex Legends, but new accounts only start with six: Wraith, Pathfinder, Bloodhound, Gibraltar, Bangalore, and Lifeline. Wraith and Pathfinder are both Skirmishers, Bloodhound is Recon, Bangalore is Assault, and Gibraltar and Lifeline are Support. That means if you want to play as a Controller, you’ll have to buy one.
Controllers specialize in area set-up and denial, possessing abilities that allow them to lock down and fortify a position so their squad can bunker down to heal, prepare an ambush, or plan their next move. These legends are also the only ones who can access the brand-new Ring Consoles, granting them information on the size and location of the next ring. There are four Controllers as of Season 16: Caustic, Wattson, Rampart, and Catalyst.
As Reddit user dropnation40 first noticed, none of those four characters are free, meaning new players will have to grind to earn enough currency to unlock them or drop real cash to buy any one of them outright. None of them are being freely offered as part of the Anniversary Collection Event that kicks off Season 16 either. Logging into Apex Legends during the first week of the event gets you Crypto (a Recon legend) and doing so again during the second week unlocks Ash (an Assault legend).
It’s a seemingly odd oversight on Respawn’s part, given how much Apex Legends Season 16 is an ideal on-ramp for new players. You’d think Respawn would want to make every class freely available for new players to at least try before they’re forced to decide on where to spend their in-game currency.
Granted, of the five classes, Controllers are the most difficult to use. To use Caustic, Wattson, Rampart, and Catalyst to the best of their abilities, it takes a comprehensive understanding of map layout, an at least elementary grasp of how Apex Legends’ incredible doors work, and an awareness of why you’d ever want to stop and bunker in a game as fast-paced and movement-focused as Apex Legends. That may be a tall order for new players and so restricting them from freely accessing Controllers from the jump may be Respawn’s way of marking it as a more advanced class.
Catalyst is the newest character to be added to Apex Legends and one of the game’s four Controller legends.
It’s still a bit odd, though, regardless of whatever Respawn’s reasoning might be. Hopefully, at least Caustic and Wattson (who have been in the game since day one and Season 2, respectively) become freely available for new accounts at some point. User dropnation40 puts it perfectly in a follow-up comment to their original post: “Caustic benefits from an offensive playstyle [and] Wattson benefits from a defensive playstyle–teaching newcomers about controlling in different ways.”
There are two ways to unlock new characters: Legend Tokens or Apex Coins. You earn Legend Tokens by playing the game, unlocking 600 with every level. However, it takes 12,000 Legend Tokens to unlock a character–a bit of a steep curve when you’re first starting out. Spending Apex Coins is a lot faster but it requires real money to unlock the currency. You can buy a legend for 750 Apex Coins, which is just over $7 USD.
To keep on top of all the new changes that are coming to Apex Legends, check out the Apex Legends Season 16 patch notes, read up on how Apex Legends Season 16 takes a swing at the scan meta, and take a peek at what game director Steve Ferreira and design director Evan Nikolich have to say about the past four years of Apex Legends and how those lessons will inform what’s to come in Year 5 and beyond.