Apex Legends’ Broken Moon Map Builds On The Afrofuturism Of Catalyst And Seer’s Home

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Alongside new playable legend Catalyst, Apex Legends Season 15 adds a fifth battle royale map to the game called Broken Moon. Broken Moon explores both the bright and dark sides of the moon, contrasting heaven and hell. Located upon Cleo, the partially destroyed moon hanging over Boreas, Broken Moon will feature African culture and imagery, reflecting what we’ve seen of Catalyst and Seer‘s homeworld.

We first saw Boreas and Cleo just prior to Season 10 and the introduction of Seer. Unlike most of the other locations seen across the Titanfall games and Apex Legends, Seer’s home seemed to feature a primarily dark-skinned population and African-inspired culture. Finally returning to the planet (or, rather, the planet’s moon) in Season 15 presented a chance to talk shop with the narrative and art teams behind Apex Legends to figure out how this corner of the in-game universe came to be.

“There are several tribes and countries represented throughout Boreas,” Apex Legends world director Ed Agostini told me. “Most of our inspiration comes from Nigeria. You can see these [on Broken Moon] represented in areas like the government-provided homes for the workers on the moon–the Promenade and the Eternal Gardens [point-of-interests]. The use of diamond-shaped patterns found on rugs and pillows, wildlife sculptures, and painted masks can be seen on shelves and walls. In the Promenade, you can find several shops that have Igbo-specific names that [former Apex Legends writer] Ify Nwadiwe helped us with. Even the name of the Kobindi Group, which represents the private industry on the moon, is Igbo-inspired.”

Boreas and Cleo are also the places within Apex Legends where we’ve seen mysticism and spirituality become more prominent, making them further stand out compared to the more grounded high-tech science seen elsewhere. For example, many on Boreas believe Seer is the one prophesied to bring ruin to the world. The planet has a long-standing myth about a calamity occurring simultaneously alongside the birth of a child with cursed eyes, who would be born from a woman bearing the mark of the moth–the prophecy suspiciously mirrors the nature of Seer’s birth, enough to leave him ostracized by his planet (save for his parents) his entire life.

We can see this mysticism and spiritualism further reflected in Catalyst’s backstory as well, as the legend and her friends were a part of a Wiccan-like sisterhood as teenagers. Intriguingly, their sisterhood is primarily informed by Boreas’ Afrofuturistic culture, as seen in the Stories from the Outlands: Last Hope trailer. “There’s definitely that Afrofuturism sense of Boreas, which we want to maintain as we talk about Catalyst,” Apex Legends lead writer Ashley Reed said. “We wanted to make that really visible in the trailer; like her friends’ hideout, we have aspects of that Afrofuturism as well. And within the map itself, the actual Broken Moon map, it’s in there as well.”

I’ve always wanted Apex Legends to dip its toes into more fantastical spiritualism and mysticism, but that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. Despite the mystical nature surrounding Seer and Catalyst–and Broken Moon itself, given the general mysticism associated with lunar imagery and symbolism–Respawn has reaffirmed that Apex Legends is a science fiction universe. All the magical-looking happenstances and suspiciously accurate prophecies can be chalked up to high-tech science and freaky coincidence.

“While the prophecy [of Seer’s birth] and Catalyst’s own beliefs are tied to mysticism and spirituality, the basic makeup of Cleo is very grounded in science and infrastructure,” Agostini said. “That being said, we do have the Eternal Gardens which represent the more spiritual side of Boreas. This ceremonial park is meant to evoke tranquility and a place to meditate for those that want to reflect on the tragedy that occurred 26 years ago. We also included African proverbs on our signposts that carry some of that same gravitas that reflects what we’ve seen and heard from both Seer and Catalyst’s lore trailers.”

Still, even if magic doesn’t canonically exist in Apex Legends (for now, anyway), it’s been a pleasant surprise to see Boreas’ Afrofuturism once again show up and, more importantly, get put into the game. Up to this point, African culture has only been seen in-game in Encore, one of Apex Legends’ seven Arenas maps, and a few character skins. Beyond those few examples, Apex Legends’ Afrofuturism really only exists outside of the game in trailers and tweets, not often recognized or highlighted. Afrofuturism is a side of science fiction that doesn’t get enough love in popular media, so it’s wonderful to see Respawn willingly choose to come back to it. It’s rare to see African culture highlighted in a game as popular as Apex Legends.

“We wanted to reflect the diversity of the continent [of Africa] as we imagined that the various cities of Boreas represented various African countries and their cultures,” Agostini said. “Our signposts [on Broken Moon] have proverbs that were sourced from various African regions. In Eternal Gardens the stained glass evokes the colors of the flags of countries like South Africa and Ghana while featuring pyramid-shaped gateways and light fixtures–previously seen in our Encore Arena [map] and a way to do a callback and tie the two locations together. Ultimately, as you explore the homes, you will find photos that represent a melting pot of races and cultures and hopefully a sense of harmony and camaraderie between all of these people that are trying to save their homeworld.”

We’ll be able to fully explore Broken Moon at the start of Apex Legends Season 15, which kicks off November 1.