From a “legend that manipulates loot” to a seductive badass, Loba propels Apex’s immersive storytelling forward

Respawn design director Jason McCord discusses Loba’s development and the new context-specific quips.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Kings Canyon was upended by a massive underground explosion in Apex Legends’ fifth season, leaving Skull Town in ruins. And Loba’s attempt to kill the man, er, robot responsible for murdering her parents ultimately proved futile.

But what fans lost in Outlands real estate, they gained in content, lore, and an exciting new legend.

Loba’s debut is more than just a rejuvenation of the Apex meta. Her release adds a sensational kit to the battle royale and pushes Respawn’s engrossing storytelling forward. While Loba may have lost her family at a young age, she joins a new wolf pack this season—the Apex legends (minus Revenant).

Image via Respawn Entertainment

Before all the writers, artists, and animators hopped on to create the final badass product, Loba’s conception began with a simple idea—“a legend that manipulates loot,” Respawn design director Jason McCord told Dot Esports.

“For some legends, it’s fun to think about major mechanics within our game and design someone who is built around manipulating that mechanic,” McCord said.

So designer Griffin Dean, who also invented Revenant, pitched the High Society Thief and the typical 18-month development cycle began. Writers began toying with personalities, like treasure hunter or cat burglar, until the legend manifested into the seductively devious character that fits right into the Apex Games.

Related: It took a “little over a year” and “some pretty big gameplay changes” to create Revenant, Apex Legends design director Jason McCord says

Early iterations of Loba’s kit did look a bit different from her current abilities, however. The thief’s tactical ability was initially like Bloodhound’s ping and would show loot through walls. But it wasn’t “exciting enough,” according to McCord, and was ultimately turned into her passive.

Black Market Boutique, on the other hand, was “overpowered” in its early versions. Loba’s ultimate would let her loot “every piece of loot that you saw on the list,” McCord recounted. While now it’s restricted to two items per player, fans would’ve had a field day looting anything and everything the Outlands has to offer.

Image via Respawn Entertainment

And creating an ability that can reposition you behind your opponents needs to be handled with care—Burglar’s Best Friend was no different.

“In early iterations she could throw it really far, it wouldn’t make enough noise, didn’t have any penalty for raising your gun, etc.,” McCord said. “So you could just land next to someone and start shooting right away.”

Thankfully, this mechanic was balanced prior to hitting the live servers and is what McCord calls “really fun and powerful without being unfair.”

While Loba’s unique kit is thrilling, many fans wanted to see how the thief would interact with Revenant—and they weren’t disappointed.

Related: Apex Legends season 5 is a success courtesy of Loba and a rich PvE experience

The carefully curated 25-year feud between Revenant and Loba spanned two seasons, keeping the community on the edge of their seats for months. It began with Revenant tearing through a group of bodyguards before brutally murdering Loba’s parents in the season four: Assimilation launch trailer. And the feud reached its climax in the Fortune’s Favor launch trailer when the High Society Thief tried to enact revenge but ultimately failed and blew up Skull Town in the process.

Many first-person shooters focus on gameplay and gameplay only, which is a tried-and-true approach. But Apex has cultivated a battle royale rich with lore that encourages players to actually care about the legends they’re mowing down.

Even though McCord admits that “gameplay always comes first,” devs can still have a field day with how legends interact with each other. To create an authentic and immersive player experience, the tension between Revenant and Loba needed to transfer to the Apex Games. And that’s where the new conditional chatter system came in.

“When we started to understand the relationship between Loba and Revenant, it became real clear that they would not be happy being on the same team,” McCord said. “Not addressing it would severely undermine the storytelling we are trying to accomplish with the game.”

To solve that problem, the writing team created context-specific quips that give fans a glimpse into how the legends actually feel about each other. And the dialogue cues between Revenant and Loba are absolutely brutal.

The killer robot’s “you’re welcome” quip, for example, goads Loba on the death of her parents: “Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?”

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

And Loba doesn’t hide her seething hatred for Revenant. Voice lines like “you don’t deserve my help, demon” or “I hope you don’t expect me to thank you” perfectly encapsulate their relationship. The friction and hostility between the two is palpable.

Respawn has plans to further develop this mechanic, while also creating more pre-existing relationships when releasing new legends. Though devs “didn’t have the luxury” of outlining how legends connected in the early days, the future looks promising.

“As we get better at developing the game, we are able to plan better, and work on legends that are way out in the future,” McCord said. “This lets us develop storylines way out in the future, and really set up relationships that players can care about.”

McCord claims that Apex is “really hitting [its] stride” in season five, with the battle royale boasting its highest level of per-player engagement and daily retention seen to date. Fortune’s Favor skillfully integrates new mechanics and captivating lore, using Loba as the catalyst to expand on last season’s storytelling. With Revenant very much alive and plenty of stories left to go, it doesn’t seem like Respawn has any plans of slowing down yet.