In the last Apex Legends patch, Respawn graced us with a permanent Duos mode. That’s better than Squads, but it’s still not what players have been hoping for since launch: Solos, a.k.a. the best battle royale experience you can have.
A Solos queue in Apex Legends is not just some unrealistic pipe dream the game’s overly dramatic community has concocted out of boredom; it’s practically a necessity. Despite the game’s deliberately team-focused design, a solo experience would be superior – here’s why.
Solos is fair
Any Apex player who has dropped with randoms knows that they’re in for a sub-par time. Proper communication is a real buff, and pre-made teams enter the lobby with a strong advantage over the rest. This makes team queues inherently unbalanced, in Apex Legends or any other battle royale.
This reality is why many competitive games factor pre-mades into their matchmaking algorithms. We don’t know if Respawn does that for Apex Legends, and if they do, that certainly contributes to matchmaking wait times. This is a lose-lose situation for players who can’t queue up with their friends for whatever reason. They either have to wait longer than they should to get in a lobby, or they quickly get in one where the odds are stacked against them. This is a problem that wouldn’t exist with a proper Solos mode.
Solos is less random
There are some basic principles of competitive game design that set solo and team play apart; simply put, a 3v3 is not just 1v1 multiplied by 3, but rather something else entirely – something inherently more chaotic and volatile. A game of Starcraft may have hundreds of units running around at the same time, but is still easier to manage and predict than a three-on-three fight in Apex Legends. This is because the brain of each player is not forced to constantly contend with the variables thrown at them by three opponents and two squadmates.
While this may sound very abstract, the way it plays out in Apex is simple. Team fights are usually over the moment one squad loses a member, as the instant disadvantage snowballs into a complete defeat. That means that the mistake of any one squad member may end the game for the entire squad at any given moment. Compared to that, one-on-one fights are much more cerebral, and the outcome is almost always based on the difference in individual skill rather than unpredictable circumstances. And Apex Legends is supposed to be a game of skill most of all.
Solos is more fun
Battle royale games are enjoyable because they’re about proving yourself against all odds, beating everyone else, and surviving. The whole experience is about risk, tension, and domination. And all of that is severely watered down when you have a team by your side. Winning is less rewarding when others helped you get there or outright carried you. And to lose because someone else made a string of silly mistakes is beyond frustrating.
Sure, teamplay is fun in its own way, but it does not compare to the real thing. In normal Apex Legends, victories can feel somewhat hollow, and there’s rarely anything to learn from losses that were someone else’s fault. That would never be the case in Solos.
Solos is key for the game’s future
At some point, having Solos would be a factor in whether Apex Legends gets to stick around. Respawn’s battle royale is currently the only major player in the genre without a proper solo queue. The game may have been a massive hit last year, borne far on its good design and original ideas, but it’s not going to be around forever if the studio insists on sticking to their formula against the wishes of many, many players.
The reality is that other battle royale games allow for deep and rewarding team play without completely locking out solo players. New battle royale and shooter games come out all the time, and they will pick up those players Apex Legends left behind through the shortcomings of its team-focused design. Call of Duty: Warzone has already outpaced Apex Legends‘ initial growth.
Without going into detail, Respawn have stated that last year’s limited time Solos mode in Apex Legends didn’t work as intended, in fact turning players away from the game. This is neither surprising, nor a reason to write off the whole idea. The fact is, that first experiment with solos was so half-baked, it kind of felt like the studio was using it to forcefully validate their original squad-focused design. The limited time mode had no dedicated weapon or legend balance, and the revive and respawn mechanics were completely absent, replaced with nothing.
Thankfully, Respawn have also said they are “still exploring ways to allow a Solo experience”. I have complete faith in their team’s ability to design a fun and balanced Solos mode. They got halfway there with the Shadowfall limited time mode, and they intend to do a lot more “experimenting with the core gameplay of Apex Legends” in the upcoming Season 5.