As well as reintroducing helicopters to Verdansk, Infinity Ward recently updated the Warzone playlist, replacing BR Solos with BR Stimulus Solos. The new mode makes several notable adjustments to the solo experience, removing the Gulag entirely and allowing players to respawn providing that they have enough cash lining their pockets. These changes have refreshed solo matches to feel far more casual and experimental, and I'm really enjoying it so far.
It's fair to say that dropping into a match and dying instantly is every battle royale player's nightmare. Waiting in the lobby, watching the cutscene while you're in the plane, and then parachuting to a point of interest takes time. Couple this long opening sequence with a few rough starts in quick succession and I tend to run out of steam very quickly. Stimulus Solos removes some of the anxiety around dropping into a busy zone and engaging with other players much earlier. It feels far more aggressive and similar to Modern Warfare's multiplayer, which I admittedly prefer over Warzone. I've had way more fun landing at the Airport and Hospital to chase down other players because there's less of a penalty for taking chances. It's also really satisfying to drop back in on the person that just killed me to take them out and reclaim my gear.
Stimulus Solos also feel like the perfect mode to try out new loadouts and strategies. Buying a Loadout Drop Marker costs a hefty $10,000, which is challenging to scrape together on your own. Cash feels easier to come by in the new mode, making it much quicker to build up a tidy sum that hits the respawn requirement, with plenty left over to make a selection from the Buy Station menu. The skies may be clogged with enemy UAVs, and Loadout Drop Markers are heavily guarded, but I've been more successful in accessing my desired setup and I've had more chances to actually use it. Knowing that I can just try again if things go pear shaped has boosted my confidence with a wider range of weapons.
There are debates that the respawn threshold is too low at $4,500, and while I'd still be happy if this were increased in a patch, this isn't exactly out of character for Infinity Ward's battle royale. Warzone is already different from other battle royales in that it offers a second chance through the Gulag. In BR trios and quads you can also purchase team redeployment at a Buy Station for the same price, so it's not like this number has been plucked from thin air. There's still a small risk involved, too, as you lose half your cash when you die.
Of course, there are obvious downsides to cheap respawns in solo matches. Players can continue respawning until the redeployment window closes, which is fairly late in game. Consequently, solo matches are now significantly longer, so there's no chance of securing a snappy solo victory before your dinner gets cold. Overall, this still feels like a worthwhile trade as it promotes more aggressive play for a solid portion of the match. For skilled Warzone players, this also equates to a constant stream of easy eliminations early on. It's not as intense or challenging—which some will certainly miss—but it's a nice short-term refresh for this otherwise stale mode. Sadly, there will never be a shortage of snipers perched on roofs with AX-50s, but running into others more frequently encourages more action in the previously dull middling rounds of solo Warzone.
Despite enjoying the playlist adjustments this week, I don't think this is the long-term solution to Warzone's solo mode woes. Snipers are often highlighted as a problem in Warzone's late game, and too often the result of a match boils down to whoever's holed up in a convenient building. Stimulus Solos are a great way to temporarily shake up the battle royale formula, but I can see the novelty wearing thin fast. This mode lacks the competitive and exciting edge that solo matches facilitated before and games feel too long. While I'm currently enjoying its relaxed approach, I'm interested to see what Infinity Ward has in store for a solo mode that shifts its focus back to rewarding the most skilled players for their efforts.