It's time to celebrate in the vibrant world of Apex Legends as the game reaches two momentous milestones: its 20th season and its 5th birthday! Since its surprise release in 2019, this free-to-play FPS has captured the hearts of gamers worldwide with its lovable characters and captivating storyline. Behind the scenes, the journey has been an exhilarating rollercoaster ride for lead writer Ashley Reed, who went from crafting content for Apex's website to shaping the game's narrative. To mark Apex's fifth anniversary, GameSpot sat down with Reed to delve into the exciting narrative arc of Season 20: Breakout, discuss memorable plot twists, and explore the challenges of writing for a game with 25 main characters and an ever-expanding story.
Reed, whose name inspired the character Ash, joined Respawn Entertainment in 2016 as a content writer before transitioning to the game's writing team and eventually becoming the lead writer in 2021. Surprisingly, despite sharing a name with one of Apex's most ruthless characters, Reed is personable, humorous, and brimming with enthusiasm for her craft. However, with no new Legend joining the roster this season, curiosity arose about the reason behind this unusual choice and Reed's role in "Legend-less" seasons. Additionally, fans eagerly sought insights into the plot twists awaiting them in Season 20 and beyond.
Reed explained that anniversary seasons like Season 20 aim to emphasize celebration rather than introducing heavy plot elements. After all, it's a significant anniversary, and distracting from the festivities with a new Legend and their backstory wouldn't do justice to the occasion. Another reason for the absence of a new Legend is to ensure players can keep up with the intricate storylines, as Seasons 18 and 19 delved deep into the lore. However, although there may be no new Legend, Season 20 brings forth captivating plot developments, with Horizon and possibly Ash taking center stage in the narrative arc.
In the Season 20 launch trailer, eagle-eyed viewers noticed Horizon gazing longingly at an object resembling Jack Cooper's time-altering wristband from Titanfall 2. Considering Horizon's quest to reunite with her son involves time travel, the introduction of such technology could have far-reaching and potentially calamitous consequences. Reed confirmed the significance, hinting that something intriguing is unfolding with Horizon and suggesting a closer examination of the trailer's final shot.
Apex Legends' storyline hasn't followed a predictable pattern throughout its five-year run. Starting with minimal lore, the game gradually introduced tantalizing story tidbits that hinted at future plot points, akin to leaving breadcrumbs. The floodgates truly opened with Season 5's Broken Ghost questline, which revealed the surprising return of Ash, an antagonist from Titanfall 2. More recently, the narrative has seamlessly integrated into gameplay, with Season 18 introducing a fresh set of abilities for Revenant, accompanied by an engaging backstory. Crafting such a complex tale is no small feat, especially with the constant addition of new characters. Reed shared her insights on the challenges faced when writing an ongoing story for a live-service game that shows no signs of a conclusion.
One of the significant questions that emerged was how to tell a story without relying solely on cutscenes or grand story beats that disrupt the flow of gameplay. While Apex has its fair share of incredible trailers, the team discovered the allure of smaller, subtler stories. Moments like Mirage's heartfelt voicemail to his mother or the enigmatic blue door that appeared in the game garnered immense attention and excitement from players. Reed emphasized that variety is key, and they will continue experimenting with different storytelling methods. Surprisingly, they found that even the smallest details can have a profound impact.
Although Season 20 doesn't introduce a new Legend, players can still look forward to an abundance of narrative fun. The season will feature a series of in-game lore drops called "vignettes," which expand on the story in a new format. These vignettes will be fully voiced and animated, representing an evolution from the text-based chapters currently present in the game. The transition aims to make Apex's lore more accessible and engaging for players, particularly newcomers.
To ensure players remain immersed in the ever-expanding narrative, Respawn is taking steps to centralize the story experience. Reed acknowledged the feedback regarding the complexity of following the game's intricate plot threads and revealed the team's efforts to streamline the storytelling process.
The last episode of the Kill Code animated web series left players on the edge of their seats as the Legends confronted the aftermath of Torres "Duardo" Silva's murder. Naturally, fans wondered if another animated series like Kill Code was in the works. Reed confirmed that something akin to Kill Code is indeed on the horizon, promising an even more substantial and immersive narrative experience. As they continue to push the boundaries, Apex Legends' lore will become even more intertwined with gameplay features in the coming year.
As Apex Legends celebrates its 5thbirthday and enters its 20th season, players can expect a celebration of the game's rich lore, memorable characters, and engaging storytelling. While Season 20 may not introduce a new Legend, it promises exciting plot developments centered around Horizon and possibly Ash. Lead writer Ashley Reed discussed the challenges of writing a constantly evolving story for Apex Legends, emphasizing the importance of variety in storytelling methods and the impact of even the smallest details. The team aims to make the lore more accessible and engaging through animated and voiced vignettes, as well as working on centralizing the story experience for players. Additionally, fans can anticipate a substantial and immersive narrative experience similar to the Kill Code animated web series in the near future. As Apex Legends' journey continues, the game's lore and gameplay will become more closely intertwined, offering players a captivating and ever-evolving experience.