Apex Legends will rename Wattson’s upcoming Charged Conquistador cosmetic soon. The measure follows a series of complaints in the Apex community about the choice to use “Conquistador,” a term that has ties with the colonization in the Americas.
“I believe this will be changed before it goes live. If not, immediately afterwards,” said design director Jason McCord. “Definitely no ill intention, it's one of those things that slip through the cracks.”
The skin shows Wattson wearing a Morion, a typical helmet from the Spanish and Portuguese Conquest, as well as a full suit of the armor. The name, Charged Conquistador, is clear evidence of its origin.
Several fans voiced their discontent with the cosmetic's loaded name, since "Conquistador" is connected to colonization in the Americas.
“Conquistadores are directly tied to the destruction of empires and cultures, via murder, epidemics, slavery as much as they're tied to the 'discovery' of the new world,” according to a thread outlining the harm in the name. “We don't need to name Wattson's skin 'Conquistador,' we can use literally any other name, because the Helmet and uniform got so popular other countries adopted it.”
"Conquistador," by nature, is a loaded word: It encompasses Spanish and Portuguese explorers tasked with the conquest of the Americas starting in the 16th Century. The word's literal meaning in both languages is "conqueror" and it has undeniable ties to the colonization of the Americas, a bloody process that brought death to native peoples and cultures.
This isn't the first time Respawn has altered a shipped element of Apex due to sensitivity concerns. In older versions of the game, Caustic called Crypto a “gutter rat” as a means to offend him for growing up in the streets or for being an orphan. “Rat,” however, was a slur mainly used towards Asians during World War II, according to a fan, and several examples of WWII propaganda compare the Japanese to rats. Developers quickly removed the two interactions.