How The Apex Legends Team Manages The Sisyphean Task Of Writing For A Live-Service Game

I love the episodic storytelling used in Apex Legends–it’s a big reason why I’m still logging into the game every week after five years. How developer Respawn has told this story has changed numerous times since 2019, ranging from social media posts and evolving in-match quips to datamining bamboozles and a YouTube miniseries. The battle royale’s story is always changing and evolving in both how it’s told and what it’s focusing on, shifting most recently by killing off a long-standing major villain who worked outside of the Apex Games and introducing a brand-new baddie who’s actually competing against the legends in the arena, Alter.

The lore is ever-growing as each new season brings with it new characters, locations, or storylines, becoming harder for new players to grasp what’s going on. As a player looking at it from the outside, writing for any live-service game seems like a Sisyphean task–like the game itself, the story has to just keep going and presumably the narrative as a whole becomes increasingly unwieldy. Having to tell an endless story is at odds with how storytelling traditionally works in practically every medium, and there’s the added complexity of needing such a story to evolve in a way that supports the ongoing development of a video game and any changes in its mechanics.

To better grasp what it’s like to put a story like Apex Legends’ together, I spoke with lead writer Ashley Reed. We talked about how Season 13’s Newcastle was originally planned for Season 7, how lucky happenstance plays a huge part in telling the game’s story, and how–at one point–the plan was for Apex Legends to get multiple new legends per season.

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