A beginner’s guide to the lore of Apex Legends

Here are the basics if you're starting (or returning to) the game.

Image via Respawn Entertainment

It’s easy to get drawn into Apex Legends because of its stellar gunplay and groundbreaking movement. But it’s even easier to be captivated by the rich cast of characters, each one with their own personality and origin story.

Crashlanding into the Apex universe, however, can be a fairly daunting task for a new player or to those who took a break and suddenly see an immortal murder robot in the arena. After all, a lot has happened since Kuben Blisk first introduced fans to the Apex Games in the opening cinematic and there’s even more to learn with callbacks to the Titanfall franchise.

Here’s a basic lore rundown to get you started.

Before Apex: Titanfall and the Frontier War

The Frontier War was the main conflict in the Titanfall franchise and its effects still ripple across the Frontier almost two decades after the fighting ended in 2715. There’s an 18-year time gap between the war and the events of Apex, which occur in the year 2733 (2734 as of season eight).

The Frontier War takes place between the Militia and the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC). At its core, the conflict was about the IMC’s interest in occupying the region (using its centuries-old investments as a pretext) and the Militia’s resistance to the opposing faction’s advances.

The Titanfall franchise shows key moments in the conflict. The Battle of Demeter, in Titanfall, cut off IMC reinforcements, while the Battle of Typhon in Titanfall 2 marked a decisive turn for the Militia.

The planet Typhon was a research outpost for the IMC’s Archaeological RESearch (ARES) Division, tasked with scientific experimentation and technological developments for military applications and led by general Elias Marder. The ARES Division performed all sorts of experiments, including on human subjects.

The ace up the IMC’s sleeve was the Fold Weapon, a gargantuan device capable of destroying planets, powered by ancient alien technology called “The Ark.” It was stationed on Typhon and Marder planned to use it against the Militia home base of Harmony.

In Titanfall 2, players take control of Rifleman-turned-Pilot Jack Cooper and his Titan, BT-7274, to take out the Fold Weapon once and for all. The two destroy its power source (The Ark), which causes the weapon to fire upon Typhon and shatter the planet.

In addition to IMC troops, Cooper and BT squared off against a mercenary unit called the Apex Predators. Their leader was the ruthless Kuben Blisk and its members were among some of the deadliest Pilots in the Frontier.

Ash was a simulacrum (essentially a human mind uploaded to a robotic body—but more on that later) who piloted a Ronin Titan, while the skies belonged to Viper and his Northstar. Cooper defeated them both: Ash was destroyed and Viper died in action, survived by his wife and daughter.

After the Militia’s decisive victory on Typhon, IMC forces retreated to Gridiron, their last stronghold. The Militia surrounded the planet in the final battle of the war. Few people know the exact events of the Battle of Gridiron and even fewer can talk about what transpired. Whatever happened there led to a blackout that took down communications across the entire Frontier. Anita “Bangalore” Williams was stationed at Gridiron during the battle and her firsthand account of the events is in Pathfinder’s Quest, Apex‘s first lore book.

Before Apex: The Outlands and the Civil War

Apex takes place in the Outlands, a small cluster of planets at the far end of the Frontier. This corner of the galaxy has its own history, which took a violent turn after the Frontier War.

The IMC provided the Outlands with security and stability since the 2600s, which fostered relationships between the planets. After the IMC gradually pulled back from the Frontier, however, the Outlands were plunged into lawlessness. Without a force to uphold agreements, the situation devolved into a conflict known as the Outlands Civil War. The fighting kicked off in 2716 and lasted until 2723, 10 to 11 years before the events of Apex.

The war ended with a peace treaty proposed by the Mercenary Syndicate. The institution became the law (or lack thereof) in most of the Outlands, though planets such as Gaea and Psamathe are allowed to have their own police forces. Those who didn’t sign the treaty became the Fringe Worlds.

The conflict took a toll on the Outlands, but the Syndicate had its own plan to stabilize the region after the fighting ended.

The Apex Games

The Apex Games are the Syndicate’s “big project to help rebuild the Outlands,” according to Gibraltar. The Games are based on the old Thunderdome, an old bloodsport on Kings Canyon. The competition shut down when the IMC pulled back from the Outlands, but the Syndicate decided to reignite it and expand it into the Apex Games. The original arena remained in Kings Canyon as a tribute.

The man in charge of the competition is Apex Games commissioner Kuben Blisk, the same Kuben Blisk who led the Apex Predators during the Frontier War. He was a Thunderdome veteran himself until he was deployed to the war and landed a position on the Syndicate after the fighting ended. As the commissioner, he can endorse people into the competition, which lets them bypass the normal qualifying process.

Of course, setting up the Apex Games requires a lot of open space. And after the Civil War, there were a handful of places that could serve as arenas for the Apex Games—each with its own secrets.

Kings Canyon, the first arena

Once the home of the Thunderdome, Kings Canyon became the first stage for the Apex Games. The island used to be a hub for IMC research and development, which helped bring “stability and jobs” to Solace.

Kings Canyon houses a series of military installations, some far more secret than others. Syndicate construction crews uncovered the remains of a former ARES Division facility called Singh Labs used to study Phase Tech. The research may be related to the Ark, according to Wraith, since her abilities have similar properties to the piece of technology.

During the Voidwalker short, we learned that Wraith swapped places with a Wraith from a different dimension, who wanted to kill the lead scientist in the project, Amir Singh. Our Wraith emerged from the Labs while the Apex Games were still under construction, about seven years before the events of Apex.

Kings Canyon was also the childhood home of Natalie “Wattson” Paquette. She grew up on the island alongside her father Luc Paquette, a mechanical engineer who created the Ring technology for the Apex Games (with a little help from Natalie).

During the events of season two, an attacker destroyed the Repulsor tower in Kings Canyon, which was keeping the wildlife at bay. We later learned that it was the work of Crypto, looking to create a distraction to hack himself as a competitor in the Games under a fake identity and clear his name.

Image via Respawn Entertainment

The Games move to World’s Edge

After the attack on the Repulsor Tower, the Syndicate relocated the Apex Games to World’s Edge. This part of the planet Talos used to be a mineral extraction site back in the days of the IMC, but an incident caused a flash freeze in the settlement and made it nearly uninhabitable.

Image via Respawn Entertainment

There’s more to World’s Edge than its square footage, however, and the Syndicate isn’t the only entity with an interest in exploring the area.

The resurgence of Hammond Robotics

Hammond Robotics is one of the most ancient companies in the Frontier. The “old” Hammond Robotics evolved into a subsidiary of the IMC centuries before the war. In Apex, the company returns as a “new” Hammond Robotics that’s “committed to leading the Outlands into the future“—but with the same greed as its predecessor.

The vast resources of Talos grabbed the attention of Hammond Robotics. The company placed a Planet Harvester, a gargantuan extractor that would collect large amounts of minerals from the surface, on World’s Edge. Hammond Robotics also sponsored the induction of James “The Forge” McCormick into the Apex Games, the first corporate-backed legend to enter the competition.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Over 300 years before the events of Apex, Hammond Robotics developed its breakthrough simulacrum program. In short, a person’s consciousness (the “source code”) would be uploaded to a robotic body after their death, but their programming would trick them into believing they were still human. The Titanfall franchise introduced fans to Ash and Apex brought a simulacrum of its own—and he had a centuries-old grudge with Hammond.

Related: Lore recap: Everything that happened in Apex Legends in 2020

Revenant’s arrival

Revenant was the first simulacrum in existence. After his first death, he spent over 300 years as a hitman on Hammond’s dime, unaware of his fate or condition—at least, until his programming failed.

During the assassination of Marcos and Alanza Andrade in Olympus, a piece of glass embedded itself into Revenant’s neck and interfered with his systems. His programming could no longer sustain the illusion of his humanity or delete his older memories and 300 years of death and suffering came flooding in.

Fully aware of his condition as “a walking nightmare of steel and vestigial flesh,” Revenant sought revenge against the company that turned him into an abomination. And Hammond Robotics’ move to the spotlight put it in Revenant’s crosshairs.

Screengrab via PlayApex

Revenant’s vendetta against Hammond Robotics led the simulacrum on a warpath. He broke into a series of facilities and killed anyone in his path—most notably, he assassinated Forge during a live broadcast. With Forge gone, the Syndicate and Hammond Robotics inducted Revenant into the Apex Games in his place to keep the simulacrum’s bloodlust in check.

Loba’s revenge and The Broken Ghost

A hitman doesn’t go through life without making a few (or several) enemies, and Revenant made the most vicious enemy he’d ever encounter. Loba Andrade, the orphaned daughter of Marcos and Alanza Andrade, joined the Apex Games to take revenge against the simulacrum who murdered her parents.

Loba found a hidden facility below Kings Canyon, the secure location of Revenant’s source code. She accidentally tripped the security system, which teleported the source code to the planet Psamathe and caused the facility to self-destruct, taking down a chunk of Kings Canyon with it.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Related: Apex Legends’ season 5 launch trailer explained

Loba officially joined the Games after the incident to enact her plan for revenge. Luckily, she knew exactly what to do—but it’d require the help of the rest of the legends. That led to the events of The Broken Ghost, Apex‘s first quest, in season five.

Loba enlists the rest of the cast to uncover nine pieces of a mysterious relic scattered across a different dimension but with one catch: They can’t tell Revenant about it. The legends investigate and discover that she was working with Hammond Robotics and that the company would give her the new location of Revenant’s source code upon delivering the relic.

After the legends assemble the artifact, Revenant chases Loba and confesses that he wants Loba to put him out of his misery. “Every second of my existence is pain,” the simulacrum tells her. This puts the thief in a delicate position: She can’t get her revenge without giving Revenant what he wants. (Eventually, Loba decided to send Revenant’s source code to Gridiron.)

The “mysterious artifact” that the legends put together for Hammond Robotics isn’t a “what,” but a “who.” After piecing together all nine parts of the relic, the legends assembled the (robotic) head of Ash, a former Apex Predator. Ash was destroyed during the Frontier War and later rebuilt, and the legends retrieved her head from a different dimension.

In addition to a series of cryptic hints, Ash also gave the legends a taste of what would become the next arena in the Apex Games: “The path ends here,” she says. “Welcome to Olympus.”

Olympus, a city in the clouds

A technological utopia in the clouds had to have a fitting name: Olympus. The city on the planet Psamathe was a colony for some of the brightest minds in the Outlands during the mid-2600s. But an accident in an experimental facility created a Phase Rift and sent its inhabitants fleeing.

The city’s computer systems kept it running despite the anomaly, which quickly drew the interest of the Outlands’ rich and famous. It spent 40 years as a colony for the wealthy until the Rift grew unstable and the city was abandoned for good—at least until the Syndicate turned it into another arena for the Apex Games. Hammond Robotics followed close and set up a laboratory in the area, presumably to investigate the Rift.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

At the time, a group of scientists in Olympus researched a solution for an energy crisis that threatened the future of the Outlands. By most accounts, the answer came almost like a miracle. But that’s not the full story.

The 2600s energy crisis and the appearance of Branthium

In the 2640s, Olympus researchers discovered that energy resources in the Outlands would be non-existent within the next 20 years. A group of scientists from all over the Outlands gathered to find a solution. And it came shortly after—from an entire corner of the galaxy altogether.

An astrophysicist named Dr. Mary Somers launched a dangerous mission to a black hole. There, she believed she could find a powerful energy source called Branthium. She deployed a shuttle to attempt to extract the material. Her assistant, Dr. Ashleigh Reid, cut the connection between the shuttle and the main ship and ran off with the Branthium, leaving Somers stranded. Somers eventually made her way back to Olympus and joined the Apex Games as Horizon, as seen in her episode of Stories from the Outlands.

The energy crisis deteriorated after Somers’ disappearance until the year 2658, when large amounts of Branthium appeared suddenly across the Outlands. The Phase Rift, which made Olympus uninhabitable, appeared in the same time frame. The truth behind the events was hidden for nearly a century, but Pathfinder uncovered the full story during Pathfinder’s Quest.

Ash

Ash first appeared in Apex at the end of the season five quest, The Broken Ghost. The legends assemble her head and plug it into her body, located in a secret facility below Kings Canyon. When powering up, she starts a series of cryptic phrases such as “all roads lead to Branthium” and “Darion! Duardo!” Although these messages may seem nonsensical at first, they quickly fit into the rest of the lore.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Ash appeared once again during the season six quest, The First Ship—this time, fully built and functional. She woke up in a dumpster after Hammond Robotics took some codes from her memory bank, though we don’t know exactly what was in the codes or what the company wanted from Ash in the first place. Pathfinder encountered her and brought her over to his place.

During the quest, she meets up with her former commander, Kuben Blisk. Ash accuses him of trying to kill her, but Blisk responds that he was just “stashing [her] away” and he “was coming back. Eventually.”

Hints to Ash’s past started appearing during season seven. Her voice lines during The Broken Ghost, which seemed to make no sense, gradually fit into the lore with the addition of Horizon. Words such as “just a wee bit of betrayal before breakfast, eh dearie?” and “Darion! Duardo!” line up with words from a teaser and the seasonal comic. That, alongside a series of other coincidences, points to the theory that Ash used to be Horizon’s assistant, Dr. Reid, in her past life—a hypothesis that’s still unconfirmed. But it might just be a matter of time until the big reveal.

Final note

The lore of Apex has come a long way since its launch. Individual storylines are often complex enough on their own and become even more convoluted when they overlap with the rest of the cast. The aim of this article is to give new and returning fans enough big-picture information to put the pieces together on their own as storylines advance.

Related: Apex Legends season 8 lore recap

Pathfinder’s Quest contains some of the most vital bits of lore in the franchise and is a must-read for any fan who wants to learn more. Gamepedia is also a valuable resource for fans who want to learn about more specific details. Most individual legends also have their episode of “Stories from the Outlands,” a series of animated shorts that recount the story of a certain character.