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.
Anita "Bangalore" Williams took the spotlight this week in Apex Legends with the latest chapter of her story dropping alongside the start of the Warriors Collection Event. It was a touching moment of vulnerability for the character--wonderfully portrayed by the talented Erica Luttrell--and though it may seem to finally tie a bow on Bangalore's arc, the promise of additional chapters over the coming weeks lets us know that it's anything but.
To see the story for yourself, log into Apex Legends and you'll get a notification to start "The Williams Sendoff." Head into the Firing Range as Bangalore and you'll notice a G7-Scout prominently displayed front and center. Interacting with it kicks off a stupidly easy challenge to hit 35 targets within a set amount of time. Doing so unlocks a new loading screen that depicts a conversation between Bangalore and Wraith, as well as a radio play between the two characters in which Wraith tells Bangalore that she's discovered the fate of Jackson Williams, Bangalore's brother. There are additional challenges to get more of the story, each involving the use of a different weapon.
When all is said and done, I think The Williams Sendoff is Respawn's way of introducing Newcastle, one of nine Apex Legends characters that were leaked alongside Crypto's heirloom, the Drop-Off Arenas map, and the Warriors Collection Event cosmetics. Last week, I speculated that Newcastle would be Apex Legends' next playable character, releasing in Season 13. Now, I'm sure of it, and I'm convinced that he's Jackson Williams.
Bangalore's search for her MIA brother has been her core motivation for years now. The former IMC soldier served alongside her brother following the Battle of Typhon, participating in the Battle of Gridiron. Seeing that the battle was a lost cause, Jackson ordered their ship to retreat, and with the help of a strange power source--likely something similar to the Ark, the alien technology that powered the Fold Weapon in Titanfall 2--managed to jump to the Outlands in a year's time, instead of the normally 20-year journey.
When Bangalore reported to the IMC in hopes of explaining the situation, her brother was condemned for deserting during the battle and marked for execution. Bangalore defended her brother and the two killed an IMC Pilot--Bangalore took his knife, a blade she uses in the Apex Games as her heirloom weapon. The two realized they had to go on the run, but a week later a stray grenade blew out the side of the Williams siblings' ship and Jackson fell to the planet below. Bangalore has been searching for her brother ever since.
As far as we know, the only people that Bangalore has confided in about this story are Pathfinder and Wraith, the latter of which agreed to help her find Jackson in exchange for assistance in discovering Wraith's origins. As seen in The Williams Sendoff, Wraith kept her word, discovering that Jackson has been dead for some time now.
But is he truly dead? I'm not convinced. Respawn has developed a habit of using smokescreens and subterfuge to surprise Apex Legends players--in fact, it's more believable to think that anything we learn about a character isn't the whole truth. I have a hard time trusting the developer on anything anymore.
Listen to how Wraith describes Jackson's body: "The body matches Jackson's age, height, weight--even blood type. And it had his dog tags. I should have found the records sooner, but Solace morgues are...well, morgues on Solace. No regulations, no protocols...and he was found more than five years ago but was just filed as 'unclaimed.'"
And then when Bangalore tells Wraith that she needs to go see the body, Wraith sadly tells her that she can't because unclaimed bodies on Solace are buried after two weeks and no one knows where the body is even buried because the records were burned in a fire three years ago.
So all we really know about Jackson's death is that a body matching his base physical body type--age, height, weight, and blood type--was found with his dog tags. But since the body was unclaimed, that means there was no one available to at least look at the dude's face and actually say for sure whether it was truly Jackson. And now the only person who can do that--his sister--can't, because the records of where the body was buried were destroyed. Can't even do a DNA test.
If I was in Jackson's shoes and on the run from the IMC, separated from the only person I could trust, faking my death to get the heat off me would be the perfect plan. And this whole situation reads as very fake. I'm honestly surprised that Wraith and Bangalore are buying into it.
And how does this come back around to Newcastle? Well, if Jackson is alive, he's probably been trying to reconnect with his sister, the only family he's got in the Outlands. And she's become a very public figure, having become a legend in the Apex Games. So the easiest way to get to her would be to just join the Apex Games himself.
There are a few ways to join the Apex Games. The most common way is to prove you have what it takes by competing in and winning qualifier matches. But you can technically skip that step by receiving a personal invite from Kuben Blisk or The Syndicate (as Wattson, Revenant, Loba, Rampart, and Valkyrie did), being put into the games as a death sentence (like Mad Maggie), or proving your worth by excelling in a similarly grueling competition (like Octane, Fuse, and Seer). Those last three only work if someone knows who you are, though. If you're a nobody (or want to be a nobody), you have to take the first route and prove your worth.
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In the final days of Season 3, Forge was due to come to the Apex Games as the next would-be legend. However, he was killed by Revenant, who was on a warpath to destroy everything connected to Hammond Robotics, including The Syndicate and their Apex Games. The Syndicate invited Revenant to the games as a means of control, giving him skilled prey to keep him occupied. But in leaked in-universe emails between executives, we learned that upon Forge's death, the Syndicate was originally going to add the person that won the most recent qualifier match: Newcastle. So this Newcastle guy has been trying to get into the Apex Games for a while. And he's aiming to get in via the only method that doesn't involve having some sort of notoriety.
In the leaked videos of Newcastle, he's wearing a mask to cover most of his face. But we can see that he's dark skinned and has a fabulous beard, not unlike Jackson. And leaked images of Newcastle's legendary skins showcase an outfit that looks very IMC, much like Bangalore's legendary Decorated Line and MIL-SPEC skins.
And to wrap this theory up, there would be a gameplay reason to make Jackson still be alive and a part of the Apex Games. See, Respawn can't kill off or maim any of the legends--removing them from the Apex Games would mean they'd no longer be playable characters in Apex Legends, and the studio can't just remove characters like that. Or I guess, it could, but fans would be pissed. So basically, every one of Apex Legends' storylines needs to conclude in a way where the characters remain in the Apex Games, despite many of the characters actively trying to build lives elsewhere.
In Season 11, Bangalore was approached by Revenant and offered a deal: He'd pool his resources with hers, allowing them to collectively pay for the 20-year journey back to her home planet. She'd be able to see her aging parents before they passed away and he'd be able to find and destroy his source code, allowing him to die after living for centuries. With Jackson dead, there's nothing keeping Bangalore in the Outlands. So she's probably going to take the deal. That's what makes sense.
But Respawn can't let that happen--allowing this story to take its logical course would cause both Bangalore and Revenant to leave the Apex Games. So the developer needs to create a new reason to keep Bangalore from taking Revenant up on his deal, and what better way than Bangalore discovering her believed-to-be-dead brother is actually still alive. The same brother who can never go home because the IMC would kill him--Bangalore leaving would be abandoning him to live alone in the Outlands.
Plus, if Bangalore sticks around, Respawn can keep pumping out chapters to that ridiculous Bangalore, Loba, and Valkyrie love story. I hate that storyline so much, but Bangalore and Loba working through their misunderstanding and entering into a relationship would sufficiently solidify Bangalore's reasoning for never wanting to go home and leave the Apex Games. And Newcastle being her brother is a great way to keep Bangalore in the Outlands long enough for that to happen.