Apex Legends is in a unique position as a battle royale with a strong central narrative, and that means it delivers its lore in far more interesting ways than its peers. I should correct myself there – Apex not only has a narrative threading through each season (after all, even Warzone does that, just in a really stupid way), but every character builds relationships with the others, there are side stories and offshoots that don’t involve everyone, and there is generally a lot of story going on. It’s a video game soap opera with new episodes every season. The trouble is, it’s hard to keep track.
Due to only being able to put meagre storytelling in the actual game (there is some, though mostly environmental or solo quests that actively work against the battle royale), Apex gets creative with its lore. Every season there is a main story, unlocked by playing the game. Over the years, this has taken the form of PvE missions, comics, and conversations between characters, but it soon spread outside the game and became far less digestible.
Soon, there were comics published on Twitter, a physical comic book produced as well as a diary-style novel in which Pathfinder interviews the other Legends. All in all, there’s a lot to keep track of. Are Loba and Valk still a thing? Why did Bangalore fly off with Revenant? What’s a FuseHound? Wait, Octane’s dad is important now?
That’s why Apex developer Respawn has created a Lore Hub, which details every comic panel, every conversation, and every tidbit in chronological order. If you ever wanted to catch up on what’s happening in Apex, this is the place to go. You can sort by media type, and while it would be nice to be able to sort by Legend, too, you’ve got to appreciate the work that’s gone into chronicling Apex Legends’ four-year-long story. Respawn’s narrative archivist Yonah Gerber and narrative historian ‘FrozenFroh’ have created a treasure trove of tidbits, a Noah’s Ark of preserved lore, and a way for players to catch up, remind themselves, or otherwise dive into Apex’s weaving stories.
More games need to do this. While there’s a joy to the slow discovery of stories in The Witcher 3’s Novigrad, I’d love to head to a website where every book and backstory is carefully explained. For RPGs, you’d probably leave the quests out of things (you want people to still actually play the game), but the small notes and conversations that build the world could be compiled in one place for those who want to learn more.
Apex isn’t the first game to do this. Horizon developer Guerrilla Games was hiring for a Lore Historian last year, who would “build a clean and accessible internal database of all previous Horizon storytelling – both from our games and from other media.” An internal database is less fun than an external database that players can browse, but the preservation of Horizon’s lore is undoubtedly a net positive for the series. It will help future games stick to the canon, allow future narrative designers to build upon the world in meaningful ways, and create a Tolkienesque level of worldbuilding to Horizon’s America.
There is an argument that fan wikis already do this, but I have two problems with this. Firstly, they’re unofficial, and so don’t have unfiltered access to everything the developer has ever created – players’ memories are good, but some details in games like Apex can’t be checked after a certain time. Secondly, fan wikis always get things wrong. Even wikis with complete access to their product – I’m going to use The Lord of the Rings as another example here, as many LotR wikis have basic errors that could easily be checked by, for instance, reading the books – get things wrong.
Fan wikis are an important part of preserving video game lore, especially as preservation of older titles gets more difficult as time goes on. However, inventories of primary sources are even better. The Apex Legends Lore Hub doesn’t just list every piece of lore, it links out to its original source so you can view it on Twitter or YouTube. It could be better in terms of cataloguing in-game lore events – the Broken Ghost epilogues are there, but the in-game missions that divulged important information are missing – but it’s a great start. Games need to preserve their worlds and stories as much as companies need to preserve their games, and that goes double for narratives in live-service titles that can be so easily lost. Apex’s Lore Hub isn’t perfect, but it’s a blueprint that more games should follow if they want players to revisit their worlds and remind themselves of their stories.
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