Datamining can be the bane of developers trying to slip surprises into long-running games-as-services. Apex Legends has often felt the brunt of these efforts, and so with the launch of season four, Respawn tried something new: intentional misdirection.
In an interview with DotEsports, Respawn design director Jason McCord discussed the lead-up to the reveal of the new season and Revenant. Seeing as Apex Legends' news has been datamined in the past, McCord and his team decided to have a little fun with it.
A character called "Forge" began showing up in updates, leading dataminers to think he might be a character coming to Apex Legends in a future update. And then, in a special video broadcast, Respawn had him brutally die at the hands of Revenant, the actual new competitor headed to the arena.
"Honestly, it started as a fun way to misdirect dataminers who, at the time, felt like they had solved our next legend and had ruined our surprise," McCord told DotEsports. "We actually purposefully leaked fake concept art and details of Forge's kit in patches, so there would be a bread crumb trail by the time we announced him. It's pretty insane, really. I can't think of any other game that has gone through such hijinks."
Of course, Revenant still managed to set off a few alarm bells himself, but Forge's planned leak and subsequent death became its own kind of theater for Apex Legends. It's pretty fun to see a developer not only acknowledge the datamining culture around its own game, but actively toy with it as part of the lead-up to a new content update. It even led to fan theories about Forge's death.
Revenant is currently live in Apex Legends, as it's in the midst of its fourth season.