Techno witch Catalyst is the latest Legend joining the Apex Games, and the first trans character to join the cast of battle royale “Apex Legends.” Her story is intimately tied with Broken Moon, the upcoming map for Season 15, titled “Eclipse.”
Every Legend in “Apex Legends” is crafted around having a certain vibe. If Catalyst was in a high school cafeteria, she’d be the socially awkward but confident goth girl giving crystal readings and talking about the phases of the moon. She looks like a neopagan industrial worker, combining safety gear with a New Age aesthetic.
“Catalyst is what I’d call a big sister type,” said Ashley Reed, narrative lead on “Apex Legends.” “She’s no nonsense and she doesn’t take crap from anybody. She does occasionally try to crack jokes with the other Legends but it tends to fall flat in unintentionally amusing ways.”
When developing Catalyst’s character, Reed said that the team took numerous steps to ensure that her portrayal as a trans woman was done “genuinely and properly.”
“We’ve said for a long time how important representation is in ‘Apex’ and we have a pretty diverse cast and we want specifically to have a pretty diverse cast,” said Reed.
Respawn worked with trans consultants from GLAAD, a media organization that monitors portrayals of LGBTQ people. Respawn also worked with Catalyst’s voice actor Meli Grant and the company’s internal LGBT groups to shape the Legend’s backstory. “Techno witch,” which is the phrase that became the team’s guiding design principle for Catalyst, was suggested by a trans consultant. Reed said that this type of input is vital for designing new characters.
Catalyst was born on Boreas, the same home planet as her fellow Legend, the outcast Seer. Seer’s birth coincided with a calamitous asteroid that obliterated Boreas’s moon Cleo, which has wrought havoc on the planet’s atmosphere. After Catalyst witnessed her best friend Margot sacrificing herself to destroy a facility suspected of stripping Cleo of resources, she decided to make the moon her home and joined the local terraforming crew working to restore the damage.
Working in Cleo’s Foundry (which will be a playable location in Broken Moon) is how Catalyst developed her combat abilities. She wields ferrofluid, a magnetic liquid metal that actually exists in real life and is commonly used as a seal or dampener for electronics. Catalyst’s applications for ferrofluid take on the look of dark magic flowing through her hands.
With her passive ability Barricade, Catalyst can fortify doors with ferrofluid to make them twice as resistant to melee damage. Doors reinforced by Catalyst can only be opened or closed by her teammates. Catalyst can also rebuild doors that have been destroyed.
Her tactical ability Piercing Spikes hurls a patch of ferrofluid on the ground that bursts into a row of spikes when enemies get near, damaging and slowing foes. Piercing Spikes can only be removed by enemies who get up close, so it can be used to initiate fights or cover a chokepoint.
The final ability rounding out Catalyst’s kit is her ultimate, Dark Veil. Dark Veil forms a wall of ferrofluid that obstructs vision but won’t block players from walking, driving or shooting through it. Enemies who attempt to travel through the wall will be slowed and partially blinded. The wall also jams most scanning abilities such as Bloodhound’s Eye of the Allfather.
“It’s a great tool for splitting up the battlefield and getting that extra bit of safety for pulling off a clutch heal or revive,” said OT Harrison, character designer and senior software engineer at Respawn.
For ideal squad compositions, Respawn suggested teaming Catalyst up with Legends who also specialize in area denial such as Caustic and Watson. High mobility Legends such as Octane and Pathfinder can leverage Dark Veil for surprise attacks. If you’re up against an enemy Catalyst, you can use those same mobile Legends to counter Dark Veil. Any doors that Catalyst buffs with Barricade can still be mowed down with gunfire and explosives.
Catalyst will be playable when “Apex Legends: Eclipse” launches Nov. 1. In the game’s ongoing story, the Apex Games arrive at Cleo after the local government agrees to host the tournament in exchange for financial assistance. Catalyst, angered that corporate interests are now threatening the terraforming work she and her fellow colonists have done, enters the games with the intent of using the prize money to help her people. This puts her on a direct collision course with Seer, the Legend who brought the Apex Games to Cleo.