The newest Apex Legends character, Loba, is an illustrious criminal whose reported inspirations range from the WWE and Bayonetta, to Shakira and Catwoman.
While much of the response to Loba’s reveal has centered around her unique abilities and brilliantly developed story, the comments and memes about her appearance have been inescapable.
In one specific example, a Redditor, ‘moe_baj’ contrasted the seemingly genderless portrayal of Apex Legends’ initial female characters with Loba’s clear femininity and the community’s response. With that in mind, it’s worth exploring how Respawn Entertainment’s writers explain the shift in appearance and attitude, with a focus on the variety of sources that inspired Loba’s design.
As explained by writers Tom Casiello and Ashley Reed, Loba was first pitched by Casiello and finalized by Reed, with input from the office’s women throughout. Initially, Casiello called upon his experience writing for the WWE’s female superstars for early conceptualizations.
While with the WWE, female superstars told Casiello that “while they wanted to be equal, on equal footing as men, we shouldn’t write them like men. Because they’re still women.” While the treatment of female characters as one-dimensional eye candy is a typical trope in gaming, Apex’s women are storied soldiers, all the way on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Although Casiello was fond of those characters, his chief push to create Loba was the realization that “there was just a complete erasure of s*xuality and … that’s almost as s*xist as doing all s*xuality, and so I really wanted to introduce a female character who kind of owned her s*xuality and kind of owned who she is and liked to look good when she wakes up in the morning.”
In order to ensure that this inspiration, drawn from the sentiment of WWE’s finest, was not misguided—Casiello first pitched the character to all of the office’s women: “We were heavily involved with all the women in the office, trying to make this realistic and not the typical female video game character.”
In a specific example, before Reed took over Loba’s development, Casiello cites producer Tina Sanchez as instrumental to the character’s creation, Tweeting that she was “not only part of the first Loba pitch, but was instrumental and vital to her look, her style, her personality and her story.”
Upon Reed’s involvement, Loba’s feminine, empowered and three-dimensional character became even further developed. From the beginning, Reed explained that she “was really excited … because it was a character I, in some ways, identified with.”
“For inspiration ... I probably watched that Shakira “She Wolf” video 100 times, just had it on in the background. … For video games, I thought about Bayonetta … widely beloved in my experience. She is definitely a very sensual lady, but she’s also very much herself. You can see why that character is the way she is, so she’s a complete person.”
Coquettish, seductive and, most importantly, an entirely self-owned boss. Whether the inspiration comes from a Colombian singer or an Umbran witch, it’s clear that Loba’s femininity is her own and not simply the skimpy attire of a classic RPG babe.
As for the moment at which Casiello knew Reed had mastered the character he hoped to create, it came when she described Loba as Catwoman, but “if Catwoman had Bruce Wayne’s checking account.”
“You should smile more.” *headshot*
Clear front-runner for all-time favorite interaction in a video game https://t.co/YVU5aCoHqm
— Sam Maggs (@SamMaggs) May 8, 2020
Ultimately, Loba may be perceived as eye candy. But that’s a character decision, not a visual one. The best example of her self-reflective turn on traditional tropes is her voiceline heard during the Season 5 trailer, in which she tells Revenant “you should smile more” before putting a barrell to his dome.
Flipping one of the most notorious, misogynistic lines is peak Loba energy and a testament to her influences. Reed commented that “every single woman who heard that line during production smiled or laughed” and Sanchez noted that she was “glad the guys trusted the ladies on this one."