Apex Legends Steals Character from Unreleased Shooter

We’ve covered a ton of Apex Legends over the last two years and enjoyed hundreds of hours of gameplay! Unfortunately, we were disappointed to hear that the game’s latest legend is a ripoff of a character who has been in development for several years in another game…

We caught up with the CEO of NOWWA to get the inside scoop on how this whole mess went down.

Apex Legends vs BulletVille

Apex Legends Fuse vs Bulletville Hunter
The resemblance is uncanny!

Apex Legends is a first-person battle royale that has attracted loads of attention since its release in 2019. Recently amassing over $1 billion, the game boasts hero-based squads who compete to be the last remaining team on a vast battlefield.

Respawn Entertainment has kept the game fresh with frequent map changes, new weapons, and, most exciting, new legends to master! Generally, we’ll see one new legend with each new season of the game.

Season 8 launched on February 2, 2021, and with it came a new playable character – Fuse. Armed with explosive abilities and a short-fuse, he’s a high damage legend with the potential to wipe squads himself.

Usually, a new legend is something to be celebrated! However, in this case, Fuse is basically a clone of a character from another game.

BulletVille is another hero-based shooter that leans into the uniqueness of its characters. With elements of parkour and gunplay, the third-person shooter is fast-paced and hectic.

Heroes in BulletVille range from a dancer to a commando to a cat with boxing gloves. Take a closer look at the roster and you’ll immediately recognize a familiar face in the mix.

BulletVille’s Hunter looks like a more cartoony version of Apex Legends’ Fuse! It’s not even that they look similar – the two characters share at least half a dozen distinct features that will make you raise an eyebrow or two.

  • White streak in slicked up brunette hair
  • Cybernetic eye patch
  • Upper attire with red as the primary color
  • Cybernetic arm 
  • Belt featuring a skull
  • Brandished explosives 

We reached out to Respawn and NOWWA, the creator of BulletVille, for comment. NOWWA got back to us and gave us the scoop on what’s going on here!

Yohami Zerpa
Tim X. Brackrock
Liechtenstein / Germany

BulletVille’s Character Development Process

Yohami Zerpa is the CEO and Lead Developer on BulletVille. He’s been making games since the turn of the century and has plenty of experience in the developer space.

BulletVille originally started as a voxel game and has been in development for about 8 years. Yohami faced early criticism about his own character development, with the community drawing comparisons between his designs and McCree from Overwatch

He moved the cowboy vibes to BulletVille’s cabaret dancer hero and transformed Hunter into a space pirate. This meant adding an eye patch and making him more cybernetic.

Yohami takes hero development very seriously and commissioned an artist to create 12 variations of the character he envisioned. He provided some direction on how he’d like the hero to turn out:

  • Macho guy with a mustache
  • White hair a la Cruella de Vil
  • Skulls inspired by The Punisher, but not located on his bandana

Out of these 12 designs, Yohami grabbed the features that he liked the most and combined the best elements. The result was Hunter, a wild-tempered space bandit who grew up committing petty crimes.

Apex Legends steals several character attributes from BulletVille's Fuse

Caption: Image taken from NOWWACorp tweet on 2019/05/17

Yohami knew he wasn’t creating a new archetype, but the design is still very specific. So specific that it’d be difficult for any other game to replicate Hunter’s particular design!

Enter Apex Legends.

NOWWA’s Take on Apex Legends

As soon as trailers for Fuse came out, people started accusing NOWWA of ripping off his design. The issue here is that Yohami and the NOWWA team have plenty of evidence to show that Hunter has been in development for years, and even have gameplay video to back it up!

NOWWA is a small studio, and reached out to several big studios over the years after gaining attention from the gaming community. Among the big guys who took notice were Ubisoft, SEGA, Konami, and, you guessed it, EA!

The team at EA Originals actually got access to the BulletVille pre-alpha, which included the hero in question – Hunter. This pre-alpha was demoed in October 2020, but the public had seen the Hunter design since May 2019, with concepts and videos. There isn’t necessarily a link between EA Originals and Respawn, but at a minimum, it demonstrates EA’s knowledge of the character several months before Fuse was released.

Yohami admitted that in the developer world, it’s not uncommon for people to take inspiration from other games that they admire. However, there are just way too many similarities between Apex Legends’ Fuse and BulletVille’s Hunter.

Yohami was outraged at the latest legend when he saw the Apex Legends trailer. Here was Goliath taking the framework from David and using it in his giant game!

What Happens Next

NOWWA consulted with their legal counsel to understand how to protect their work. The lawyer said they could fight a legal battle over the course of a couple of years – a battle which would likely cost around $200k.

Yohami contacted EA to try to settle things in a civil manner. He also requested that they show any proof that Fuse had been created earlier than his team had developed Hunter. Instead, EA asked NOWWA Yohami to state that EA hadn’t done anything wrong! 

The craziest part of all this is that if the tables were turned and Apex had actually released Fuse before Hunter, they could have quickly shut down BulletVille’s development with a cease and desist.

Yohami didn’t mince words when it came to describing his feelings about EA:

If we were a billion-dollar company, we would absolutely sue EA. F*ck EA.

Unfortunately, NOWWA doesn’t have the ammunition to go up against the behemoth. Instead, Yohami will likely have to scrap all Hunter development, spend another few thousand dollars to obtain concepts and 3D art, then recreate any game trailers that had featured the original design.

This isn’t right.

What You Can Do to Help

In the best-case scenario, Respawn would be forced to make changes to their latest character in Apex Legends. This probably isn’t going to happen, though.

But you can still help out!

First and foremost, go and support the game! Check out their website and social media. Repost some of their content to increase the reach. 

Next, join their discord for updates on the game and the opportunity to test the game for yourself. There are currently over 130k members and the server is growing quickly!

Lastly, follow more Indie Games. BulletVille has a dedicated team that is looking to bring a unique experience to the gaming community and could use as much attention as possible! We frequently cover new titles in the Indie world in our Roundup, so feel free to subscribe to the newsletter to stay up to date.

What are your thoughts on Apex Legends’ Fuse vs BulletVille’s Hunter? Share your comments below to join in on the conversation!

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