Respawn Entertainment announced that it will soon introduce Solos as a limited time mode in Apex Legends. This revelation follows speculation that a previous Electronic Arts statement referring to a major event involving “one of the most fan-requested features since the launch of Apex” was simply an option for no-fill squads.
The mode will appear as part of the game’s Iron Crown Collection Event, to take place from Aug. 13 through 27. An announcement came via a short teaser video on Twitter.
Next week, only one can reign. 👑— Apex Legends (@PlayApex) August 6, 2019
The Iron Crown Collection Event featuring an all-new Solos limited time
mode begins 8/13. pic.twitter.com/8tG4EhIqQf
The game’s community manager Jayfresh_Respawn supplemented the video with a post on the Apex Legends official developer-run Reddit board, though offered few additional details.
“On 8/13 we'll be trying out a Solos Mode in Apex for a limited time,” Jayfresh_Respawn, whose real name is Jay Frechette, posted on Reddit. “We'll talk more about Solos when it's live and you've had a chance to play it. For now we're going to put it out there and see what happens and what kind of feedback we get.”
More than half a year has elapsed since EA released Apex Legends, garnering 50 million players' attention within a month.
But since the beginning, many fans have been clamoring for a Solos Mode, with arguments ranging from the prevalence of loot-hogging teammates to mere preference. An Apex Legends code snippet showing that Solos and Duos Modes already existed in the game’s architecture added fuel to the debate around the inclusion of a Solo Mode.
It almost seems as though each character was designed with solo play in mind, given that the only character with an ability that’s no longer useful at all in a Solos Mode is Lifeline. Though Lifeline will no longer be able to leverage the ability to quickly revive teammates, she still has a fast heal as part of her passive, which is extremely helpful as a solo player.
However, a Solos Mode is a curiosity in this game, given that the game has its genesis in team play. Team compositions seem designed to balance one another out (if not always effectively), allowing players to combine their characters’ unique skills to become champions of the arena. The goal in having multiple characters is that there is some variance on the battlefield, which is something that’s in jeopardy in a Solos Mode.
While players at the non-competitive team level play a variety of characters for different reasons, players vying for a Solos crown while playing as one of the game’s less-popular characters may not stand much of a chance.
For instance, Pathfinder has a unique set of skills that many find make this character a superior player for competitive play. During the recent ESPN EXP Apex Legends Invitational, nearly every professional team had a Pathfinder on the team in every game. In several cases, Pathfinder’s zip line specifically aided in a team’s win.
Pathfinder’s ability to quickly reposition via a grapple and zip line to areas unreachable by other characters make this character an obvious choice for a Solos Mode.
And then there’s Wraith, whose ability to phase essentially makes her temporarily immune to both bullet and storm damage. Wraith also appeared as part of every team in almost every game at the ESPN EXP Invitational, as did Wattson, due to her ability to abate enemies with her traps and restore shields with her ultimate ability.
It seems easy to imagine, then, that a random lobby would quickly become full of individual players who have all chosen the same one or two characters, knowing that these characters provide unmatched tactical advantages. And, going up against a lobby full of Wraiths and Pathfinders doesn’t seem like a fun prospect for someone playing a character like a Caustic, given that both Wraith’s phase and Pathfinder’s grapple make it easy for them to get away from Caustic's Nox Gas.
And maybe there’s nothing wrong with a lobby full of the same few characters, though it’s a bit somber for the characters whose abilities render them fundamentally unable to compete.
Solutions And Fixes
To be clear, Solos Mode is an excellent solution to the problem of matching with sub-par random teammates when the only option is team play. Often, players find themselves matched with others who are lousy players, poor sports, or just generally toxic.
It’s a worthy endeavor, and introducing Solos as a limited time mode is ideal. In order to combat the potential for an all-Pathfinder or all-Wraith meta, Respawn could introduce some character adjustments beyond slight damage- and speed-related nerfs and buffs like the ones it introduced at the beginning of Season 2. Even with adjustments that increase incoming damage by 5% for Wraith, Pathfinder and Lifeline, this minor reduction didn’t appear to affect players’ choices at the competitive level.
Potential ideas include slowing down the regeneration of Pathfinder’s zip line, introducing a way to tear down the zip lines similar to the way players can break Wattson’s fences, or introducing a grapple gun-type tool in the environment that allows other characters to grapple a limited number of times. Wraith may be a bit tougher, but perhaps certain player attributes, such as Caustic's gas, can cause the character to still take damage while in the void. Of course, it's worth noting that players are likely to push back against such major nerfs to either of these favorite characters.
Respawn could also strive to make sure that the lobbies are evenly distributed or, at the very least, not heavily weighted to consist of one character. However, that may pose challenges from a development perspective due to issues rerouting players to new servers based on their character selections.
Game developers shouldn’t shy from risk, but they should also be prepared to make adjustments should this mode not work out as expected. In the meantime, casual players can stick to the standard three-player team mode, likely with the satisfaction of knowing that toxic random squad mates will be happily pub stomping over in Solos.