Apex Legends Hackers Exposed For Plotting Wild Scheme

Apex Legends Hackers Exposed For Plotting Wild Scheme
Image: Respawn / Kotaku

Early last month, Apex Legends was effectively shut down by hackers who claimed to be attacking the game in an effort to “save” Titanfall. A website, SaveTitanfall.com, was believed to be connected to the shutdown; however, the site pushed back, saying it had no connection to the hackers. Now new information indicates that there was indeed a connection, albeit not one nearly as straightforward as previously believed.

Instead, a much more complex picture has taken shape, one involving high-ranking SaveTitanfall.com community members plotting behind the scenes in secret Discord groups. These members were allegedly behind not only the Apex outage but the very Titanfall hacks that the Apex shutdown was “protesting.” All of this seems to have been done in an effort to resurrect the cancelled game Titanfall Online.

On July 4, Apex Legends was almost totally shut down by a group of hackers who claimed to be working with SaveTitanfall.com. At the time, it was believed these Apex hackers were using the July shutdown to protest the terrible state the older Titanfall games had fallen into over the years, with constant hacking and server issues making it hard to play the older games.

All of the in-game messages that appeared in Apex Legends during the July 4 attack referenced SaveTitanfall.com, but the folks running that site quickly distanced themselves from the whole situation. In particular, a pair of key members of the Remnant Fleet Discord server (a Titanfall community group) continued to push back on the narrative that the Apex hackers were part of SaveTitanfall.com.

The two were P0358, a popular figure in the community with a reputation for being a “good hacker,” and Redshield, a friend of P0358 and an admin on Remnant Fleet. As angry Apex players stormed into the Discord server, which was linked on SaveTitanfall.com, to express their ire about the shutdown, these two users tried to make it clear that they and SaveTitanfall had nothing to do with it.

However, evidence and documents released yesterday as part of a community-led investigation paint a totally different story. In a large, detailed 40-page PDF, the investigation uses Discord screenshots, emails, texts, and other evidence to claim that P0538, Redshield, and a small group of hackers were working together to attack Titanfall 1, 2, and Apex Legends. And oddly, it appears that all of this was in an effort to bring back Titanfall Online.

A little context: Around 2018, a few Titanfall communities joined forces to create a website and a group, SaveTitanfall.com. The idea was to bring attention to how Titanfall 1 and to a lesser extent its sequel were constantly being hacked, with servers being DDOSed and taken down.

While Respawn and EA have always claimed to be aware of the issues and have even patched some problems and security gaps in the older shooters, the SaveTitanfall group wasn’t satisfied. The community continued to press for more updates while claiming Respawn and EA were committing “fraud” by selling games that didn’t work.

Read More: Titanfall 3 Not In The Works, Says Respawn

But the investigation by current members of SaveTitanfall.com, who no longer affiliate themselves with PO358 or the Remnant Fleet, seems to confirm that, ironically, much of TF1 and TF2’s hacking problems were the result of P0358 and other members of SaveTitanfall. These members, spearheaded by P0358, were allegedly working in secret to break Titanfall 1 and 2, then publicly offering ways to fix the very problems they created, in an attempt to potentially get hired by Respawn and/or to gain access to TF1 source code.

In an interview with Eurogamer in April 2021, Redshield explained that the group wanted to take control of TF1 in some capacity, even claiming that Respawn was aware of and open to this idea.

Further, they asked Respawn to give them direct access to TF1’s tools, servers, and source code. But the investigation alleges this wasn’t because Redshield, P0358, or their fellow hackers wanted to actually help Titanfall. Rather, it was part of a plan to resurrect and port the cancelled shooter Titanfall Online.

The small group of secret Titanfall hackers needed these files and tools to properly bring TFO back. So seemingly desperate were these hackers for access to this content that at one point Redshield applied for a job as a community manager at Respawn.

Evidence revealed by the investigation, including screenshots of Discord chats, allegedly shows that P0358 wanted Titanfall 1 and 2 to shut down, assuming this would help their own TFO project in the long run. It also seems to reveal another reason for the Apex Legends server attack on July 4. In one message, P0358 explains that all future Apex Legends outages will be attributed to the site and its members. In theory, this misdirection could make it harder for the community to get support from Respawn and could lead to community backlash to Titanfall.

Promo image of Titanfall Online (Image: EA / Respawn / Nexon) Promo image of Titanfall Online (Image: EA / Respawn / Nexon)

Titanfall players were stunned by what the investigation seems to have revealed. P0358 was seen by many as a good, noble hacker working to save the game. He famously posted a Medium article detailing how to fix many of Titanfall’s security and stability issues that hackers were exploiting. Of course, it seems we now know how PO358 was so knowledgeable about how hackers were disrupting the game: He and his small group of TFO-loving friends were actually behind the hacks, playing both sides against each other in an odd effort to bring back a failed free-to-play port of Titanfall designed for the Asian market.

So, to sum up: The hackers used Apex Legends to run a false flag hack to harm the Titanfall scene to help them get the attention of Respawn so they could get hired so they could get the source code to Titanfall so they could use that to bring back Titanfall Online. Simple, right?

Since the release of the investigation and its findings, those named in the document have either gone quiet, locked down their accounts, or issued public statements denying their involvement. Kotaku has reached out to P0358 and has attempted to contact others named in the document.

On The Remnant Fleet Discord server, Redshield claimed that the investigation “took stuff out of context” in an attempt to “slander” him and the others named in it. He also claims to be in contact with a popular YouTuber in an effort to share their side of the story.

“In the meantime,” explained Redshield, “I’d like everyone to know that we’re not behind Titanfall 1 attacks, Titanfall 2 attacks, Apex Legends attacks.”

Comments

  • Hopefully relevant government authorities are investigating the various hackers involved.

    Ah well, just more names to show whenever someone tries to position hackers as the ‘good guys’

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