The latest arena in Apex Legends is a lavish technological utopia in Psamathe—and it’s been in development since before the battle royale launched. Design director Jason McCord shared early sketches of Olympus last night and revealed that the map has been in the works since around late 2018.
One of the screengrabs showed a prototype of the arena. The picture, from around May 2019, was close to five months into development, which means that Olympus has been in the works since before Apex launched. "I think the first version ever checked in was in late 2018," McCord said.
The picture shows areas that eventually made their way to the final version of Olympus and POIs that didn't make the cut. Prototypes for The Rift, Turbine, and Oasis/Bonsai Plaza were easy to spot. Players can also see a prototype for the Phase Runner, Olympus' portal system, which shows it was a long-planned addition to the arena.
It looks like the Phase Runner was supposed to drop players at two points close to the center of the arena and on the west side—similar to Olympus' final (and expanded) version. But the ends of the Phase Runner had a different layout that led to individual buildings instead of out in the open, which could've made it more similar to the portal inside Singh Labs in Kings Canyon.
The trademark red balloons, a staple of Olympus, were initially in the middle of the arena, close to large fans that would (presumably) keep the city afloat. Neither of these additions made the cut.
Olympus also experimented with skyboxes to display other clusters of neighboring flying cities, essentially making the city an archipelago in the sky. The areas were inaccessible and painted in, but they were “too confusing” and “made it unclear where the real map was from the ship AND while on the ground,” according to McCord. Other canon depictions of Olympus reinforce the idea of a flying archipelago, as seen in Loba's episode of Stories from the Outlands.