In one of the greatest bamboozles in recent video game history, Respawn pulled an incredible bait-and-switch by hyping up a new Apex Legend, then murdering him before he ever reached the game. Forge's assassination was a shocking but brilliant moment, helping to renew interest in the battle royale as it reached its one-year anniversary, and providing a pretty dramatic way to reveal actual new legend Revenant.
But it seems Respawn wasn't just out to fool the average player, as a new interview has confirmed community suspicions that the bait-and-switch was intended to trick data-miners.
Speaking to Dot Esports, Respawn design director Jason McCord explained the Forge stunt was dreamt up by designer Rayme Vinson as a way to regain the element of surprise and misdirect data-miners, who had already leaked Revenant months before season four.
"Honestly, it started as a fun way to misdirect data-miners who, at the time, felt like they had solved our next legend and had ruined our surprise," McCord explained. "We actually purposefully leaked fake concept art and details of Forge's kit in patches, so there would be a breadcrumb trail by the time we announced him. It's pretty insane, really. I can't think of any other game that has gone through such hijinks."
Forge was first detected by data-miners back in November, and it sounds like the images pulled from patches were deliberately placed there to hoodwink leakers. Proving the depth of the deception, McCord said developers never even made a model or kit for Forge. Something that remains a little unclear is whether Forge was designed as a fake legend right from the start, or was converted to a fake very early in the planning process. I guess the clue was in the name, really.
This is Forge btw, his medallion is a charm now .. this graphic was added to the game files today, interesting... VERY INTERDASTING pic.twitter.com/5QIzEjRWbP— iLootGames (@iLootGames) January 14, 2020
Respawn has long had a contentious relationship with data-miners: after major leaks in March last year spilled the secrets of 10 upcoming legends (including Octane, Wattson, Crypto, Revenant and other as-yet unreleased characters), Respawn warned players that datamines were "not a source of truth", with the game's community manager explaining that many of the characters could end up cut.
Somewhat ironically, Forge's murder by Revenant was also leaked a few hours before the reveal video, thanks to an early upload on the Apex Legends YouTube channel. Shortly afterwards then-producer Drew McCoy called leaks "the absolute worst" on Twitter, adding they undermined the "insane amounts of time and energy" put in by the dev team to create surprises. Yet despite the leaks, it seems the vast majority of players didn't see spoilers ahead of the reveal video: and it's still gone down a treat with the community.
As for the possibility of Forge returning as an actual legend? "Forge is super dead", said McCord. Never mind.