The next character coming to Apex Legends is an "experienced terraformer and defensive conjurer" named Tressa Smith, aka Catalyst, a trans woman who possesses a "remarkable, almost magical, control over ferrofluid."
Catalyst was revealed in a new Stories from the Outlands video detailing a dispute between friends over how to save Cleo, the broken moon of her homeworld Boreas, which is being mined by Hammond Robotics, the corporate bad guys of the Apex Legends universe. Catalyst agrees to help her friend Margo put a stop to Hammond, but things spiral out of control quickly: In the end, Margo is arrested (or possibly killed), but Catalyst, with the help of her newly-discovered abilities, manages to escape.
In an interview with GamesRadar, Respawn lead writer Ashley Reed said they worked closely with trans employees at the studio, as well as representatives from the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD and Catalyst's voice actor, Meli Grant, who is a trans woman herself, to shape the character.
"This has been life-changing," Grant said. "It's very meaningful to be able to work with a team that I know cares immensely about making sure that they're handling this character with care, and creating a character that is respectful and has dignity and feels authentic and feels like a human being, and reflects experiences that are familiar to me.
"And thank goodness, they've been receptive every step of the way. We were constantly communicating about what the character could be and where they came from and where they were going. It was very much a collaboration and it was so artistically fulfilling."
My heart is so full right now…Boundless love and gratitude to @ashsmashreed, @dialoguedude, and everyone at @Respawn for entrusting me with Catalyst, and to my incredible agents @ErinHuckeCESD and Brittney Weiskopf over at @CESDTalent for being the damn best. ❤️🔥October 17, 2022
The development team took pains to ensure that Catalyst is "inescapably trans, front and center," which is why the trailer explicitly references her transition, Grant said. "Because the internet's a confusing place and people like to debate everything and you want to take away as much of that ambiguity as possible. We've had enough ambiguity and queerbaiting and visual storytelling and the use of color palettes throughout media, and not a whole lot of just talking about it."
Catalyst will be added to Apex Legends on November 1 as part of the Eclipse update, which will include a new map, battle pass, and the ability to give gifts to your in-game friends.