At the start of my PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds days, I was a proud camper. I would hide out in houses. If I was in a squad, I would be the person holding everyone back. "It's safer to just stay quiet," I would say, waiting for the ambush that would never come. (Well, sometimes it would.) Slowly, I got more confident, and eventually, left my camping tendencies behind.
In Apex Legends' new Solo mode though, a limited time mode for its Iron Crown event, I find that I'm going back to these roots. Because, really, it feels dumb to play it the way I usually do as an Octane-main: loud and brash.
Solos has been debated since launch. With Apex Legends' hero-shooter structure, it depends on teamwork and using each character's abilities together within three-person squads. Still, it was unheard of for a battle royale game to release without a solo mode of any sort. It's been, if nothing else, a curiosity. Can Apex Legends even work if you don't have a Lifeline healing you after a nasty firefight, or a Bloodhound to call out footsteps in the area to the whole team? Can it work if its excellent pinging system is essentially rendered useless? Can it work if you're on your own?
The answer to that question is: it can work, but some characters have a definite advantage. During my couple hours with the new mode, I've found Wraith to be a popular character, along with Bloodhound. Wraith can get herself out of dangerous situations in a flash, while Bloodhound can sense when enemies are around, which is something that's extra useful when you're on your own.
I've surprisingly found Caustic, one of my least-played characters, to be a solid choice in Solo Mode. Caustic is great for the camper in me. If I'm deep in the circle, I set up gas traps at doors. Sure, once this backfired and someone threw a grenade in through the roof, but largely, it's given me the edge in situations.
There is something that feels off in Solo mode though. More players than ever are hot dropping onto popular spots—the current being the new Octane Town skate park, obviously. In most matches if I don't drop on a popular spot, I can easily inch into the top 10, whether I get into a scramble or not. It has the same problem that PUBG had long ago: with everyone dying early, it makes the midgame painfully slow.
It's easy to predict which characters will be favorites in Solos, and which characters won't be seen as viable. Wattson, Mirage, and Gibraltar in all likelihood will be the least popular characters, whereas everyone else has abilities that are fine for Solo play. Octane can go super fast; Pathfinder can swing around with his grapple. (On Apex's subreddit sometime ago, I even saw someone edited a screenshot of a building with a comical proportion of Pathfinder ziplines, which I wouldn't be surprised if I see actually in the game too.) Most characters, while built for teamwork, can ride solo. It's the characters that probably won't do too hot, like poor Wattson, that Respawn will likely have to take a hard look at.
There are other cool features in the new event too, like a damage recap that shows all the damage you did (and received), and by what gun. It's like a little breakdown of your match's adventure. The event's rewards boast the coolest skins in the game's history to this point, though they sure will cost you. Iron Crown Apex Packs, featuring the limited time items, cost a staggering 700 Apex Coins—that's seven times the 100 coins for a regular pack.
There's also the aforementioned new skate park that you can bounce around on the map too, thanks to conveniently placed Octane jump pads. It's always a nightmare dropping there though, but I wonder if it gets a little more relaxed in the later parts of a match.
After a couple hours with the new mode, I'm still finding myself preferring the traditional three-person Squads. At least in Squads, I feel like I can come out of battles with a fighting chance. I'm not as conservative in Squads, because I know someone has my back. In Solos, that optimism is dashed. I'm not feeling bright about my chances. I hide in the second floor of rundown shacks and am more cautious with the guns I pick up. It's changing how I play Apex Legends, but not in a fun way. Still, I imagine I'll keep popping into the mode for the next couple weeks as the Iron Crown winds down to a close—ridiculously pricey Apex Packs and all—on August 27.