Looking at the “Holoday Bash” level in Apex Legends
In this level/game mode, the biggest call to action is to board a train, and maintain control over it versus other players. While the train moves and stops at various stations that present unique gameplay challenges and opportunities, the train itself is both always the same and always the goal. If players stay on the train while keeping their opponents off of it, they win. This long term goal is supplemented by smaller goals like winning rounds, maintain control over certain train cars, and picking off enemy squads.
Apex Legends does a very good job with direct guidance and relies on it heavily to keep the primary movements of the game flowing. Things like moving circles that show safe areas on the mini-map serve to give the player a sense of direction without restricting decision making.
The level’s core new mechanic is the train, which while it is used in other game modes as a locomotion device, it is the primary focus of the players attention in this level. The level does a good job of using additional direct guidance to make this objective extremely clear, with obvious, non-obtrusive visual and audio queues. These usually take the form of icons hovering around the train or key points of it. The character has audio barks like “time to get on the train” or “we should move in closer” that help serve less obtrusive guidance.
One method of indirect guidance of Schell/Bond’s seven methods that this level uses is landmarks. While the train itself is obvious enough, each stop is visually identifiable as a train station. This subtly lets players know where the train is going to be positioned next, and allows them to make decisions based on that. It also gives the player a location to move towards if they find themselves trailing behind.
In my opinion, this level does really well of introducing the train mechanic. I played this same level last year, as its a seasonal event, and I noticed a few changes that really helped. In this year’s version, after a player is killed, instead of being automatically teleported to the next stop of the train they are instead treated to an aerial camera sweep of the next location. After seeing the next location, the player then gets to decide where to land. This adds extra strategy, while also providing a lot more information to the player over last year where you were just teleported in.