Hot Drop is GameSpot's weekly Apex Legends column, in which Jordan Ramée takes a closer look at Respawn's battle royale to provide additional insight into the game's evolution, as well as dive deeper into its episodic storytelling and characters. This week, he's talking about the biggest leak that Apex Legends has ever had.
Leaks have been a part of Apex Legends since day one, with folks leaking the game's very existence mere days before Respawn could make the official announcement. Since then, dataminers have delved into the game's code to share information about upcoming legends and cosmetics, content creators and press have often accidentally broken embargoes on new events or modes, and blurry screenshots from in-studio presentations have made their way onto Reddit.
If it proves accurate, what may end up being the largest leak to date just occurred this week; Charlie Intel noticed that Reddit user 5849373-throwaway dropped a Mega cloud link that included 15 videos of supposedly leaked Apex Legends content. The videos showcase new battle royale and Arenas maps, weapons, heirlooms, cosmetics, and fully-voiced Quest chapters, all of which is presumably planned for future seasons of Apex Legends. On top of that, the leak also shows what might be the next nine playable characters scheduled for the game.
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All 15 videos were quickly taken down, but not before the internet got its hands on them. They've since been reuploaded to various places, with 10 making their way back to Reddit thanks to user Legitimate_Chapter82.
Having looked at the leak myself, I share plenty of excitement with my fellow Apex Legends fans at what may be the future for the battle royale--there are a lot of cool-sounding playable characters noted in that leak, the concepts for the new battle royale and Arenas maps seem incredible, and I love the designs for the heirlooms. However, I urge folks to keep their hype in check, especially concerning the new characters. As we've seen over the past three years of Apex Legends, leaks and datamined files don't always reflect the final product.
Longtime fans will remember how early leaks for Revenant suggested he'd be able to change his abilities by switching between a regular and shadow stance. Some of those abilities included a poison dagger that would reveal a target's location for 60 seconds, teleportation, and making a doorway that would allow him to pass through walls. And then there was Valkyrie, whose datamined capabilities included a passive ability that supposedly gave her a faster skydive speed.
And even when leaks have included correct data or ideas, they've been implemented into the game in unexpected ways. For example, while certain leaked characters have never seen the light of day--and likely never will--aspects of them have surfaced in the game. Respawn has talked about how the Polish winged hussar-inspired Husaria became the freedom-fighting warlord Mad Maggie. And though it's never been officially confirmed, fans have long suspected that datamined legend Downfall, a Lex Luthor-like pyromaniac, is the basis for the gravity-manipulating Horizon, while the abilities for the sound-based Pariah were ultimately transformed into the nanomachines utilized by Seer.
So to get back to my original point: I'm not saying that this most recent leak is wrong. I actually think it's 100% legitimate. The heirloom for Crypto, energy assault rifle Nemesis, Drop Off map, and Quest chapters look crisp enough to be added to the game tomorrow (and both Crypto's heirloom and Drop Off actually are officially confirmed to be true, coming to Apex Legends in the recently announced Warriors Collection Event). However, quite a bit of what's in the leak is still in rough shape, seemingly planned for release sometime beyond Season 14. So the leak is probably accurate to Respawn's plans as they existed either now or previously, but I predict most of what was leaked will change in some capacity by the time we finally see it in-game.
Respawn creates new characters, maps, cosmetics, and storylines far in advance, and several developers on the Apex Legends team have talked about how their plans are adjusted all the time. The stuff that looks finished may be good to go, but we can't trust that anything else will remain the same.
In terms of characters, I think the part of the leak that will stay fairly accurate to launch will be Newcastle and Vantage, two of the nine leaked playable legends. I'm not convinced we'll see the other seven--Conduit, Scryer, Uplink, Catalyst, Phantom, Jester, and Caliber--remain as-is. I could be wrong, though! I don't claim to have a source into Respawn's work pipeline. (I certainly wouldn't mind it, though. Call me, Respawn--unlike these leakers, I can actually keep a secret.)
Of the nine, Newcastle and Vantage are the only two to have actual character models--the other seven are using Firing Range dummies as placeholders. Newcastle and Vantage look like they're currently being worked on and finalized, lending credence to their being added sooner rather than later. I predict Newcastle comes in Season 13 and Vantage in Season 14, given that Newcastle's character model features more detail and his abilities seem to be a bit more complete.
Newcastle already exists in Apex Legends' lore. Originally mentioned in a teaser for Season 4: Assimilation, it was revealed that the organizers of the Apex Games passed over Newcastle--the next scheduled entrant to the blood sport following Forge's death--to add Revenant instead, providing a new villain for viewers to root against. So based on the in-universe rules of Apex Legends, Newcastle is supposed to be added to the Apex Games eventually.
In the leak, Newcastle is a defender with a large character model--so like Gibraltar and Caustic, he has the Fortified perk. His abilities make him sound like a hybrid of Gibraltar and Lifeline, able to create cover and drag downed allies to safety where they can be more easily revived.
Vantage doesn't yet exist within the lore of Apex Legends (at least, as far as I know), though her ability kit has been seen before. In February 2022, Reddit user DemonBuer leaked abilities for a new Apex Legends character referred to as "Hawk." The leak was collaborated by dataminers, YouTubers, and content creators in the Apex Legends community, including Biast12 and Thordan Smash. According to that leak, Hawk is scheduled for post-Season 13, is a recon character, and possesses abilities geared toward sniping.
Similarly, according to the more recent leak, Vantage is a recon character with abilities that support using marksman and sniper rifles. She supposedly gleans additional information about a target when aiming down sights, can teleport to high ground via her bird-like drone companion, and utilizes a custom rifle that allows her to scan targets from afar--all of which sounds fairly similar to the leaked abilities for Hawk. So in the same way that Loba's in-game file name was originally Rosie, perhaps Vantage's name in the game's files is currently listed as Hawk.
If I'm right, all of that gets us to Season 15, which--if Respawn holds to pattern--will see the addition of both a new character and battle royale map. The leaked battle royale map Divided Moon may be that new battleground, but that's too far away to predict with any sort of accuracy.
As a final note, prior to the start of Season 12, Respawn teased that Apex Legends might finally see more additions to its underappreciated character classes, and Apex Legends needs a new support character, having not added a new one since Loba in Season 5: Fortune's Favor. So maybe we'll see Conduit or Credence also added to Apex Legends this year, given that both are listed as support legends in the leak. However, both of those characters don't have in-game character models, so they could just as easily be years away from release, or may never be added at all.
In the end, though, it's all very exciting. I love Apex Legends, and even though Respawn is always saying that it has years' worth of content planned for the game, it's nice seeing supposed proof that that is actually the case. I remember when Apex Legends' first big leak came out--it was days after the game's launch, and it revealed 10 possible new characters, including Octane, Wattson, a pirate-looking Crypto, the aforementioned Rosie and Husaria, some robot named Nomad that looks like a very early design for Revenant, and some white dude called Rampart (I further rest my case--that first leak showcases how characters can drastically change both in appearance and ability over time).
Since that first major leak, we've had 11 incredible seasons (and are in the middle of a twelfth), with Respawn still managing to surprise us plenty of times along the way in spite of its plans leaking so early on. In that regard, I hope history repeats itself and that this leak is true--it would mean I'm destined to be obsessed with Apex Legends for another three years (at least).
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