Duardo Silva finally gives Apex a new Big Bad

Season 12 promises a villain. But there's a bigger bad beyond Mad Maggie.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Apex Legends promises a villain with its newest season, and Mad Maggie is more than happy to play that role. The newest Stories from the Outlands and the season 12 launch trailer feature another villain prominently, however: Duardo Silva, CEO of Silva Pharmaceuticals and father of Octane. 

It is Silva who rescues Mad Maggie from execution in favor of bringing her to the Apex Games. It’s Silva who appears to phase Olympus from its position high in the sky, nearly sending it crashing into Psamathe’s surface and wreaking havoc on Olympus itself along the way. Previously, it was Silva who sent the Icarus and its fleet to Olympus, releasing a deadly virus, and Silva who was behind the terrorist plot during the season seven quest, Family Portrait.

Silva is a bigger, badder villain than Apex has seen in quite a long time. Now, it seems he’s finally stepping fully into the light, making his intentions at least partially known. And that bodes well for the game’s lore moving forward.

Story-wise, it has felt like Apex hasn’t quite been able to recreate the magic of the game’s inaugural quest, season five’s The Broken Ghost. The mini PvE missions were popular, fun little side activities to the main game, and the events of those missions became integral plot points in the story the quest told. The reveal of Ash as the object players were building by collecting pieces around a parallel-universe Kings Canyon felt titanic in its narrative scope and potential, fully linking Apex to an important thread of the Titanfall universe. But equal in importance was Revenant’s threatening presence as the quest’s villain, and the knowledge that there was some mole among the legends helping him. There were real, close antagonists with somewhat inscrutable goals and aims. Characters that were easy to hate. An enemy to work against. 

Then, Caustic was revealed as the mole and made a bit more sympathetic. Revenant’s own motives were revealed. And the importance of both seemed to fade a bit into the background. 

Since then, Apex has seen the legends quickly defeat an unimportant Creighton Sawtelle, a virus, and a freedom-fighting Mad Maggie who felt betrayed by her closest friend. We’ve seen Octane and Lifeline’s parents pulling strings from the shadows. And the Syndicate and Hammond Robotics always seem to be up to something.

The game, however, has lacked a clear and interesting villain, one that both affects the legends and reaches beyond them, for a long time. And its quests and lore dumps just haven’t been quite as engaging, correspondingly. The quests and comics have been beautifully rendered and attempted to approach the greater story of Apex from different angles. But there’s nothing quite like having a bad guy to fight. Not just a character who is clearly a minor threat, and not some entity in the background whose motives are inscrutable. A real person with a real goal. 

Duardo Silva fills that role. Previous quests established Silva’s villainous tendencies. Now, however, he’s present in both the events that are mostly mechanical in scope (he’s the reason for the Olympus map changes) and the large, overarching narrative (the previous story quests he’s set in motion). He has a clear, defined goal as well: he wants to rule over Syndicate space. Sam Gill, Respawn’s narrative lead on Apex Legends, confirmed all this in a season 12 press conference: “It’s important to have a strong villain for your heroes to come up against, and certainly it would seem like Silva, Octane’s dad, is up to no good. It seems like he has schemes and plans.” 

Related: Apex’s Mad Maggie evolved from a ‘one-woman S.W.A.T. team’ into an explosive freedom fighter

There are still important questions that are yet to be answered. Why does the pharmaceutical CEO that already wields plenty of power within the Syndicate want to publicly consolidate that power under himself? Why bring Maggie to the Games, specifically? There are easy answers to these, like that he’s power-hungry or needs a fall woman, but Silva seems like a far more calculating man than that. Octane knows it, too. His question in the launch trailer is genuine: “¿Qué está haciendo?” What is he doing?

If Ash’s introduction into the game felt like the end of a major chapter in Apex lore, the revelation of Silva’s plots being part of a grander plan to take control of the Outlands feels like the beginning of a new one. And with it, Apex gains the villain it feels like it’s been missing for the last several seasons. He is an enemy to work against, both for Apex players and for nearly every legend in the game. Silva’s actions have placed more than half the current cast of characters in harm’s way, and that’s before you get to the whole “wreaking havoc upon Olympus by nearly sending it crashing into a city” thing. This is clearly not a person who should be in control of several planets. 

Silva’s emergence also opens up new narrative and gameplay opportunities for Kuben Blisk, who has toed the line between friend and foe for the duration of Apex Legends’ existence. Blisk has experience as the major villain in previous Titanfall games, but Apex has shown a side of him that seems to actually care for the legends at times. At least, as much as you can care about people you’re sending off to fight in your blood sport. How did Silva manage to so quickly usurp Blisk? And does his apparent demotion pave the way for Blisk to come to the game as a playable character, which has been rumored almost since the game first came out? 

Chances seem pretty good that players will get the opportunity to find out more about Silva’s plots in season 12, if not the chance to outright foil some of them. There’s been too much groundwork laid for his introduction, and now, far too many cinematic appearances for him not to figure into the next season’s story in some more meaningful way. The videos released for season 12 are ostensibly about Maggie, her motives, and methods. But they are also about Silva, his power, and his ambition.

All of this paves the way for compelling lore, in the form of a quest or otherwise, in season 12, and possibly beyond. Gill leaves the door for ongoing stories with Silva wide open, saying “what effect [Silva’s plans] will have on Octane and his relationships, what effect that will have on our legends and how they work together, and what effect that’ll have not just this season, but maybe seasons coming, I can’t say. But he’s cool and I hope he sticks around.” And if the season’s story is a success alongside map changes to Olympus and the first new limited-time mode in Apex in a nearly a year, it would be a welcome return to form after multiple seasons that have felt dry in content.

Because Silva is right, after all. Every story needs a villain.