Caustic: a sick man's tale
March 16 2022
Apex Legends has a wide range of personalities among its roster. Friendly robots, murderbots, those who seek glory, the ones who join the game to protect others, the ones who just want to chill. Some of them have very complex backgrounds and stories, and some are still writing their own. However, when it comes to being sinister and mysterious, very few can compare to Dr. Alexander Nox, callsign Caustic.
Greetings, Legends! As we dive deeper into Apex Legends lore, there’s a name that comes up quite frequently. Actually—technically—his name comes up even more frequently than we initially thought because this man has existed under different monikers throughout his life. Regardless of his name at the time, his deeds always left a mark—or rather a stain—on the history of the Outlands. Best known as the Legend Caustic, Dr. Alexander Maxwell Nox has been an important but elusive figure for years. So let's learn more about who Caustic is and how to play him.
Who is Caustic?
"Death stalks the ignorant. Intelligence will guide us to survival."
On Feb 25, 2685, Alexander Maxwell Nox was born to Katerina Ticacek and Arthur Rutherford Nox. Alexander turned out to be a genius and a very capable scientist and was employed by one of the most prominent scientists in the Outlands—Dr. Franklin Humbert—for his pesticide research. During his time at the Humbert Labs, Alexander Nox made important progress on the pesticides that protected the crops that sustained the Outlands. In a way, he made a huge contribution to people’s lives.
But in secret, his genius was already obsessing over the concept of death, and creating deadly gasses made him realize he could make even deadlier ones if he had better test subjects. In his obsession, he threw away ethics and started to conduct secret tests on live subjects. At that point, he wasn’t a scientist developing pesticides but a grim reaper in a hazmat suit.
When Dr. Franklin Humbert found out about Alexander’s secret, he confronted the latter, which ended in an altercation. Already geared up for his own deadly experiments, Alexander Nox burned down the entire lab after killing Dr. Humbert with his newly developed Noxious Gas.
Dr. Franklin Humbert’s last moments, facing the hideous truth about his protégé. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
After the incident, Alexander realized he needed to vanish to avoid facing the repercussions of his actions. He cut off two of his own fingers and left them near the corpse of one of his older test subjects. After planting his alibi, he escaped the Humbert Labs using a grappling gun. His escape was accidentally witnessed by none other than Pathfinder, who was working as a window cleaner at Humbert Labs at the time.
After spending all his life on Gaea, Dr. Nox suddenly vanished after this incident. Thanks to the “proof” found on the site of the incident, he was presumed dead. Gaea Global Task Force oversaw the investigation and decided that everyone on-site—including Dr. Nox‚—was dead and the case was closed. However, Lieutenant Victor Maldera was convinced that Dr. Nox had something to do with this incident and that he survived it. He turned his conviction into an obsession, trying to find clues of Dr. Nox’s whereabouts, with failure making him even more obsessed. Years later, when Maldera ran into Pathfinder to make one of the most unexpected dynamic duos of all time, he found out that Nox actually did manage to escape from the labs.
After faking his own death, Dr. Alexander Nox created a new identity for himself using the name Dr. Mikhail Caustic. He also fabricated a history of scientific education and certification for himself. Around the time of his “return,” he decided to join the Apex Games under the callsign Caustic to continue testing his Noxious Gas on live subjects. The Apex Games are about killing each other anyway, and apparently, the commission doesn’t really care how you do it.
Having already developed a hazardous gas even before faking his own death, Caustic quickly scored a considerable kill count in the Apex Games. His disguise, however, was not completely solid. His mother, Katerina Ticacek (a huge fan of Mirage,) recognized him while watching an Apex Games match.
After Fuse was introduced and Mad Maggie sabotaged his entry, a nearby river was contaminated by the fuel leaked from IMS Thermopylae. Caustic requested clearance from the Syndicate to build a chemical treatment plant on the wreckage to contain the problem and was granted said clearance. However, his plan was to use the plant to develop an even bigger method of deploying Noxious Gas to affect a much bigger area than Kings Canyon. His target was Solace City. Confronted again by Wattson, he claimed that the decimation of Solace City would prove an incredible amount of data for his research, once again demonstrating his twisted way of thinking.
Not exactly a team player, but he will play along as long as you get him results. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
When the argument between the two escalated, Caustic unleashed his Noxious Gas on Wattson, causing her to collapse. The thought of hurting Wattson broke Caustic’s calm and collected persona, and he rushed to help her in a panic, not realizing Wattson was drawing him in for a trap. After electrocuting him and foiling his plan, Wattson told him that he needed to work to gain her trust again. She agrees to keep Caustic’s plan a secret on the condition of the latter's promise of bettering himself.
After learning he had terminal cancer, Caustic started showing even further humanity towards other people. Not enough to not gas them to death, but enough to show some respect towards other Legends. Especially when he found out that his mother, Ms. Ticacek, had been infected by the Medusa virus. In the past, Caustic had done everything in his power to sow seeds of mistrust between Crypto and Wattson. After finding out Crypto was adopted by Ms. Ticacek (called Mystik by the kids) as a child, Caustic reconsidered his position as Mystik’s son. He was even willing to let Crypto visit Mystik when she was deathly ill and only “her son” was allowed to visit. However, Crypto decided Mystik deserves to see her real son, the one she thought died years ago. This developed a further mutual respect between the step-brothers.
So who is Caustic? I don’t think even the man himself has the exact answer to that question. He’s one of the Legends whose story is still being written. Especially after he met Wattson, to whom he shows a surprising amount of affection and protection. Wattson thinks Caustic can turn back from his deadly ways, and weirdly enough, Caustic is actually trying to appease Wattson on her wishes.
Passive: Nox Vision
"I still see everything!"
Caustic’s passive ability is the Nox Vision. He can see through his own Nox Gas and gains threat vision on opponents that are affected by the gas. He’s also immune to Nox Gas, whether his own or another Caustic’s. He does not take damage from hostile Nox Gas and does not show up in the Nox Vision of other Caustics since he’s not affected by the gas.
Nox Vision does not grant squadmates the same vision, so you’ll need to communicate the info to them.
Tactical: Nox Gas Trap
"The trap is set. Data soon to follow."
Caustic’s tactical ability is the Nox Gas Trap. It places up to 6 gas canisters (max 3 can be stored at the same time) that will trigger upon an opponent getting close or upon getting damaged. Nox Gas Trap releases Noxious Gas upon triggering, damaging all opponents and blurring the vision of everyone in it, save for Caustics. The damage from the gas will start at 5 and will ramp up every other tick, i.e., 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, and so on. The gas damage applies directly to HP, ignoring shields.
He’s only interested in the results. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
The canister will release gas for 11 seconds after being triggered, and the gas lingers for another 2 seconds after the canister disappears. This makes 13 seconds of gas unless interrupted. The canisters each have 150 HP and can be destroyed even after being triggered. The 2-second gas linger will still happen even if you destroy the canister.
The gas canisters can be completely destroyed by shooting their base before they are triggered. Destroying canisters this way will prevent them from releasing any gas at all.
Ultimate: Nox Gas Grenade
"Take a deep breath."
Caustic’s ultimate ability is the Nox Gas Grenade. He deploys a gas grenade that will explode upon impact and immediately release Noxious Gas in the area around it. This gas works exactly the same way as the one released from the Nox Gas Trap. The only difference is that it does not require any triggering; it’s immediately released after the grenade makes impact.
Remember that Wattson’s Interception Pylon can zap the grenade mid-air but can’t stop the gas if it’s already released. The Pylon even takes damage from the gas.
"We stride towards victory. Predictable and yet… satisfying."
Like Gibraltar, Caustic has the Fortified perk, causing him to take 15% less damage from every attack. He also can’t be slowed down by weapon fire.
How to play Caustic
"I feel most alive when rapidly approaching my death!"
Caustic is a defensive Legend that works best in tight spaces. Fighting on an open field would be like fighting the Dothraki on an open field. It would be foolish. Unless you’re the Night King.
As Caustic, your game plan should revolve around well-placed Nox Gas Traps and good communication with your squad. This will allow a coordinated attack on the opponents unlucky enough to walk into your trap.
Caustic can also deploy his Nox Gas Traps to block doors, which will deny anyone entrance. However, the doors can be broken with melee attacks, explosives, and certain weapons. Melee attacks are your best option because if an opponent breaks down a door with a melee attack, they won’t be able to avoid triggering your trap due to proximity. Your traps will remain as long as you have 6 traps deployed, so a trap being triggered can also be used for recon functions. You’ll know which trap is triggered and can deduce opponents’ position accordingly.
If there’s something more scary than Caustic, it’s a Simulacrum Caustic. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
As I mentioned, tight spaces are Caustic’s specialty. This, of course, includes the last rounds of a battle royale match. Especially during the final round, all remaining teams will be forced to stay in a small zone, which is exactly what Caustic wants. You can place traps and deploy a well-timed Nox Gas Grenade to cripple opponents. Caustic’s gas deals damage directly to HP, so he also makes a great Legend to prevent healing wars during the last round. Your opponents won’t be able to heal faster in a tight zone while also inhaling your Noxious Gas. Not making a gas joke is getting harder with each sentence.
Another bread and butter tactic you will utilize is to place traps around points of certainty, such as the exit points of a Wraith or Ash portal. If an opponent Bangalore smoked their own team to scramble your vision, try to throw in a gas trap or your gas grenade inside the smoke to… well… smoke them out. This will force them to step out, and it will also grant you vision inside Bangalore’s smoke, which is a huge convenience. Once again, you’ll have to communicate this information to your squad, so make sure you’re a good team player to unleash Caustic’s maximum potential.
You can also trigger your own gas traps by shooting them to provide cover for yourself. Since you won’t be affected by the gas, surrounding yourself with it will buy you some time to make an escape or heal/shield up quickly.
Don’t expect Nox Gas Grenade to get kills by itself. It’s a utility ability to force opponents to reveal themselves or escape safe positions. The gas grenade is most useful when utilized in chokepoints and small rooms, preventing opponents from escaping or advancing towards your location. Make sure to attack the opponents caught by your gas grenade to finish the job.
Caustic’s Heirloom weapon is the Death Hammer. It’s a hammer with a skull on it that emits Noxious Gas upon hit. This gas, however, is purely cosmetic and will not deal additional damage to opponents. You will only deal your regular melee attack damage to opponents.
Stop. Hammer Time. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
Coupled with the hammer, Caustic’s Heirloom Set also includes a banner pose where he showcases his hammer and an intro quip where he says, "I look forward to getting my hands on you." which can be interpreted as Caustic talking to the hammer, or us. The hammer also represents his blunt and brutal nature. Caustic does not sugarcoat anything in his experiments or personal relationships. Even when performing completely unethical actions, he’s proud and calm. When confronted about his intentions, he does not lie.
"Like ants burning under a lens."
Caustic is another popular Legend in terms of receiving awesome skins. Some of them have stories and a lot of them are related to the events they’re released with. The ones with stories, as they were also mentioned in the article about Apex Legends skins, are as follows.
Blackheart is the costume a certain individual wore while staging the prison break on Gaea. Their appearance and use of deadly gas pointed towards Caustic being the perpetrator, but Caustic dismissed this notion. He claims that the person in question was merely a copycat, imitating his style and failing at that. Caustic is quite proud of his work and doesn’t think anyone can just show up and perform the same craftsmanship he demonstrated in his creations.
Necrosis is how Caustic would look like if he were allowed to become a Simulacrum after his death. After learning about his terminal cancer, Caustic applied to Vinson Dynamics to be made into a Simulacrum after his death. However, people at Vinson Dynamics were very concerned after seeing his mental health test. His application was denied because of this. Remember that these are the people who created and later employed Ash. They thought Caustic was too scary for a Simulacrum.
Caustic’s finishers and emotes
"Note to self: extrapolate damage output data. Need subjects, living."
Interestingly enough, Caustic’s finishers show his brutal side, while his emotes show his goofy side most of the time.
His finishers show him slowly approaching his victim, as if in a horror movie, and murdering them by either smacking them repeatedly or gassing them in the face at close range. All his finishers are brutal demonstrations of his personality.
The sheriff of Deathtown, population: you. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
His emotes, on the other hand, show him in various funny situations. In one of them, he pours a cup of what we can only hope is coffee into a mug and somehow drinks it despite having his gas mask on. He can also be seen summoning a Noxious Gas Trap to sit on and checking his notes.
Caustic’s skydive emotes also show him performing cool moves or just having a clumsy time with his gas canisters. These emotes act to show his more humane side, that he’s not a complete and irredeemable monster. His actions, on the other hand, might just be revealing his true self.
Caustic’s relationships with other Legends
"How does it feel, knowing you're nothing without someone else picking you up?"
Due to faking his own death, Caustic cut off all communication with his own family. Caustic’s perspective has shifted when he found out his mother, Mystik, was involved with Crypto and another adopted girl named Mila Alexander (named after Mystik’s “dead” son). After learning Mystik was deathly ill, he decided to get in touch with his mother.
Caustic is very protective of Wattson, to the point of other Legends mentioning he’s “gone soft” since Wattson joined the Games. Due to Wattson and Crypto’s close friendship, Caustic has openly shown hostility towards Crypto, demonstrating a weird type of jealousy. Caustic believed the friendship among the Legends was a farce, and when Loba asked them to team up to find an artifact, he proceeded to feed information to the Shadowfall version of Revenant. When Revenant showed up to bluntly tell the Legends that there’s a mole among them, Caustic instantly blamed Crypto to damage Wattson’s opinion of the hacker.
Caustic generally acts distant to other Legends and most of the time only offers help when there’s killing or maiming involved. For example, when Mad Maggie asked for Fuse’s other arm, Caustic immediately offered to cut it off for him. The only Legend that Caustic has a soft spot for seems to be Wattson.
This man will murder you. For science, of course. (Image: Respawn Entertainment)
Caustic also underlines the fact that his Noxious Gas is not just a poisonous gas but a corrosive one that eats through anything and everything. That’s how Noxious Gas can damage Legends such as Revenant, Ash, or Pathfinder. Currently, Caustic is the only person in possession of the chemical that counters the effects of the Noxious Gas, which is how he’s unaffected by it even if it’s a hostile gas.
"I control death… it does not control me."
You could say Caustic is the Scorch of Apex Legends. A walking war crime. He’s in the Apex Games to literally test his corrosive gas on live subjects. As long as he generates ratings, his methods are apparently forgiven. Despite everything we learned about him, Caustic still remains an enigmatic character, mostly about his inner self and motives. There has to be something more than “I must kill everything” in his head, right? Right?
Despite not being in a dominating position, Caustic gets nerfed occasionally. While he’s being nerfed, you can still improve your own performance to keep being a terrifying Caustic in Apex Legends. Now there’s a question about Caustic we know the answer to. “How to be a better Caustic player?” With the help of your G-Loot stat tracker, of course! You can also join the Weekly Brawls to earn prizes including—but not limited to—tickets to G-Loot’s Monthly Showdowns where you can win real money prizes!
See you on the hunting grounds, Legends.
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