In case you’ve been living under a rock over the last few weeks, a new challenger has entered the Battle Royale subgenre. Apex Legends is a huge success, racking up 25 million players in just one week – even outpacing pop-culture juggernaut (and competitor) Fortnite.
One of many smart changes to the Battle Royale setup that differentiates Apex Legends from its rivals is its focus on teamwork and a unique squad dynamic. Would Apex Legends just become another homogenised Battle Royale without it? Let’s take a look.
Of course, a focus on squad composition is key because Apex Legends revolves around its characters. Each one brings unique abilities (both offensive and defensive) to the battlefield, and each one works well enough on its own. Using a “Legend” ability in conjunction with teammates is definitely satisfying, but playing solo would remove a lot of this.
What’s more, many of the abilities would lose their tactical depth. While Wraith’s “portal” ability would be fairly helpful in and of itself for a tactical retreat, Lifeline’s area-of-effect healing drone would be fairly useless, requiring players to stand in the same spot – essentially a death sentence in a twitch shooter environment.
Playing solo would certainly require a new way of playing Apex Legends. If you were to pare down the roster to only characters with legitimately solo-ready abilities, there is an argument that it could prove just as popular. Imagine sneaking up on an opponent with Wraith’s portal, or saving Gibraltar’s shield for a final circle encounter with a couple of other lone wolves.
In fact, Gibraltar is widely regarded as one of Apex Legends’ most powerful heroes – and with that in mind would likely need to be nerfed or removed for solo play. His front-facing shield when aiming his weapon is one thing, but having a dome-shield and an artillery strike seems that it could make the final circle closer to shooting fish in a barrel.
Of course, there is every chance that new Legends could form a new “Solo Only” roster – Respawn have confirmed the development of new Legends, and tying them in with a new mode would certainly show that they are aware that the current style of play doesn’t lend itself particularly well to solo play.
Being able to hog all of the available loot would lead to an interesting switch on the current meta – ammo feels scarcer than it should be in some matches, and while making every shot count leads to some tense encounters, there’s also a dichotomy between this way of thinking and just how fun gunplay is in Apex Legends – why have such exciting combat if you don’t have sufficient ammunition to take on more than one opponent? Switching to solo play could shift the gameplay lens closer to “power fantasy” than outright survival. Of course, that’s a preferential choice.
Solo play would certainly gel with some of Apex Legends’ more underrated features. Imagine being down to the final five, and the announcer informs everyone left that there is a “new kill leader”, or that “the champion has been eliminated”. These realities could lead to an increased sense of unease or comfort, depending on your own capabilities.
Aside from solo play, I’d like to see more options – a four person squad could be great fun, and duos could potentially require a more keen eye on working in tandem and maintaining a close distance between you and your comrade, especially without a third squad mate to act as a “safety net” of sorts.
Anecdotally, my lone Apex Legends win was thanks to my squad reviving me, using their ping to identify loot for me to grab, and then assembling as a team in the final circle. In a solo match, I’d have been eliminated within the first ten minutes, but that’s not to say there isn’t room for more ways to play this year’s hottest shooter. It could be a limited time event, or it could be (as recent leaks have suggested) coming very soon. In any case, I trust Respawn to adjust the game accordingly for solo play and to keep the game fresh over the months to come.