Apex Legends Interview | Talking Season 8, lore, and the creation process with Respawn Entertainment
As Season 8 of Apex Legends goes live tomorrow, we had the chance to talk to the creative team at Respawn about Mayhem, and find out about about what fans can expect from the upcoming season. We chatted about new character Fuse and how he’ll impact the game, what the inspiration was behind the new season, the lore behind Apex Legends and how it came to be, Apex Legends’ connection to the Titanfall universe, and more.
If you’ve seen the trailers for Season 8, you’ll have heard quite a bit about new Legend Fuse. He plays a huge role in Mayhem, and was also a big inspiration for the season itself. “One of the biggest inspirations was the character Fuse. He’s the demolition expert with an explosive personality, There’s a chaos, but there’s a fun-loving chaos, and that was a big inspiration for the whole season,” said Josh Mohan, Senior Narrative Designer. “Coming off of season 7 we wanted to do a shift in tone. We had Olympus and Horizon which were very clean and aspirational, but we wanted to get down and dirty in season 8 and switch it up. That kind of permeated the whole season, not just in the launch and what you’ve seen so far, but in the things to come. Really embrace that and that feeling of mayhem and that 80’s action.”
Fuse is a larger than life character, and he was also a lot of fun to write. “The thing about Fuse is that he’s the very definition of larger than life, and I think what’s what he brings to the table. He would look at a typical Apex match – which is pretty explosive by and large anyway – and say, “hmm, not big enough.” He adds that grandiose 1980s flavour to things,” said Sam Gill, Principal Writer on Apex Legends. “To be honest, if you’re writing a character that requires fourteen hundred or fifteen hundred lines for pings etc, you want someone who’ll make the writing really fun. So, living with Fuse while writing in the two or so months it takes to do it is a good time. Except for my girlfriend. I’m from New Zealand, but I spent most of the time talking in Australianisms. It was kind of confusing for her with my split personality.”
Fuse makes quite the impact in the trailer that showed off his arrival in King’s Canyon, crashing into the map in his airship and setting the explosive tone for things to come. Amanda Doiron, Lead Writer said, “I think what we wanted to do was have a Legend that came from somewhere outside of the Syndicate in order to expand that universe out. He’s definitely coming in as an outsider and a little bit behind the 8-ball after his best friend blew up the games [laughs]. I don’t think everyone will be on his side, but it is hard to stay mad at Fuse. He has an awful lot of charisma.” The new season looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of, with a new character that offers a different feel to many that have come before in previous seasons. The team at Respawn has always made a big point of introducing new lore to Apex Legends, and it’s fascinating to find out more about where the idea to create the game’s story began.
“When we first decided to make Apex Legends, I was the only one there making the lore from Titanfall and Titanfall 2. When we moved on to a battle royale, I was like, “what am I going to do all day?” That was pretty much the situation. When we started talking about what the game was it was really fun, but we didn’t quite know exactly what it was,” said Manny Hagopian, Lead Writer. “Everyone at Respawn is a story teller and they all care about these characters, so when we started talking we realised we were making a character-based game here. This isn’t just classes. At first I remember we were just calling them classes. We ended up changing that and calling them characters and not classes.”
Manny continued to talk about what drove the team to keep building on the lore of Apex Legends. “From there we started building and understanding who they were by giving them personalities. I ended up finding myself creating and working on more lore for a battle royale game that doesn’t have a story. I think we just fell into a groove about what makes Apex Legends. It’s about their characters, it’s about their personalities, it’s about their attitudes for each other. It’s about the community because it’s a community-based game itself, and it’s about family because these characters are a bunch of misfits who come from so many different areas. Once they interact and come together, that’s what makes it Apex Legends and I think that’s something we’ll never lose.”
Of course, the subject of Titanfall came up. “Oh, here we go,” joked Manny. We were tempted to ask about Titanfall content, but instead wanted to know whether that universe was always going to be the setting for Apex Legends. “Absolutely, yes. We had already started working on some characters and locations, and stuff like that. I think the question would be whether we were planning on it being a prequel that took place before Titanfall 2, or how much further in the future does it take place. When we started working around having the character Blisk be in the opening cinematic, that kind of helped set the groundwork to invite players from Titanfall into Apex to see this new world and explore this lore that we had been building. So, yes, it’s always kind of felt that it would be a part of it.”
A lot of new characters and lore has been introduced into Apex Legends. On a personal level, we were keen to know what elements had been some of the team’s favourites. “I think the thing I’m most proud of is developing the mother side to Horizon and developing that story. I’m a mother myself, and you don’t see many mother characters, or that their plot devices by killing them off a lot of the time [laughs]. It really meant a lot to me to work on that part of her,” said Amanda. “Also, the trope in video games is the sad dad, but we have the optimistic mom with Horizon. It’s been such a negative year, so it was nice to spend some time in her head. I really did enjoy working on her. Although she was created by Sam, I was working on the mother aspect of her.”
Manny added, “I think one thing I’m proud of is how everyone at Respawn cares about diversity and representation of the characters. When we first initially started we wanted to make Bloodhound non-binary, we knew we wanted to make Gibraltar gay. We wanted to cast actors who matched the ethnicity, rather than somebody just doing a voice. That is something very important to us and also very challenging, so we are always pushing ourselves to get better at that.”
Steve Ferreira, the Team Director on Apex Legends talked about the creation process for coming up with new characters, story, and content for the game. “The creation process can start from anywhere. The reality is any idea can trigger something that will go into the game. We emphasize that and make it part of our creative process at Respawn, that ideas can come from anybody. When we were back in the studios for example, we had 25-foot wall where anyone could stick an idea to it. That could be an image of what they thought a cool character could be. It could be a one-liner of what they think they could say, or it could be a gameplay ability.”
Steve continued. “It could be anything, and we use that as the catalyst for people to go there and farm those ideas to then start forming a character. When we actually get a character going and that becomes a thing, we start at the gameplay which is the core. We see what the game looks like right now and what’s a good game space we have to explore that would be a fun way to shake things up and give players a new way to play. We don’t want to keep treading on the same design spaces and end up with a Ryu, Ken scenario. We want to avoid that as long as we can. That’s kind of the foundation of it, but all those other ideas which have started in parallel will all start forming onto what that character is.”
Finally, the new design of King’s Canyon comes into play after Fuse crashes his airship into it. We wanted to understand how these changes to the map would impact players. “One of the goals isn’t just to shake up things, but also to expand it. One of the cool things about this map update is we’ve crashed this ship and created this cool vertical play space, but it also opened up this cool space at the north of the map that players can now use to rotate through or land there,” said Josh. “I think the really cool thing the map team did was create this fun element, but also expand the playable space and try and bring Kings Canyon more in line with World’s Edge and Olympus in terms of the density that those maps have.”
Apex Legends Season 8 – Mayhem drops tomorrow on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.