Solo players, it's not just you: 1-player missions in Helldivers 2 currently have 4-player patrol spawn times

 A horde of automaton bots from Helldivers 2 marchers mercilessly on.
A horde of automaton bots from Helldivers 2 marchers mercilessly on.

Helldivers 2, despite being a co-op shooter, does have a respectable contingent of lone wolves. That's for a variety of reasons—including (but not limited to) just liking the unique experience of it more. As of patch 1.000.300, however, solo missions have become a whole lot harder, just likely not in the way its devs intended them to be.

After the changes, players reported a sharp uptick in patrols that made solo play nigh-on impossible, to which Arrowhead Games responded that "the intention [of the patch] is that one player has 1/4th of the patrols compared to four players, but it used to be that they had 1/6th".

This makes sense on paper. However, in testing, Helldivers 2 players have found this design statement doesn't track at all. Solo players have roughly the same amount of patrol spawns as a full team, unless that team's operating in very specific circumstances—in other words, it's not just you: something's borked.

As discovered by sleuth and all-around patrol expert Luchs, part of a team who built out an excellent Reddit thread on the subject a couple of months ago, solo players are getting unduly shafted.

Prior to the patch, your squad's size determined how frequently patrols would spawn. In a difficulty 4 bot match, one player would receive a patrol around every four minutes. Two players would receive patrols every three and a half minutes, and so on. For a squad of four, this timer was whittled down to two minutes, forty five seconds.

As discovered by Luchs and his Super Earth R&D team, this new 2:45 number is now the same across the board.

An image showing a graph wherein Helldivers 2 solo players experience similar spawn times to those of a full group.
An image showing a graph wherein Helldivers 2 solo players experience similar spawn times to those of a full group.

There are two options Luchs puts forward as to why this is the case. First off—it's just bugged. Busted. Broken. I love Helldivers 2 to death, but this wouldn't exactly be the first time Arrowhead Games has enacted a change with major issues out the gate.

The second option is far more concerning—as Luchs & Co. previously discovered, Helldivers 2's patrol-spawning code operates on what they call a "player group" system. Players who are a good distance away from each other create their own patrol spawns: "if 4 players were all over 75 metres away from any other player, you have essentially quadrupled the spawn rate because every Player Group is spawning their own separate Patrol."

The concern, as Luchs outlines, is that Arrowhead Games is working under the assumption that because it's possible to have four separate player groups in a game, that's the baseline for a full team's patrol rate. A solo player technically has 1/4th of the patrol spawns, but only compared to a four-player group that's completely split off from each other.

I am severely hoping it isn't that, because that's a bizarre conclusion for any designer to reach about their own game. There are absolutely times in Helldivers 2 where splitting off from your team is fine and correct, but for the most part you're better off sticking together.

At the very least, Arrowhead Games dealing away with patrol spawn timers wholesale feels like a misstep, intentional or not. I wonder if it'll be fixed in due course—though Arrowhead itself has an internal overhaul of how it handles balance likely in the pipeline, so who knows when this'll be addressed. Until then, solo play's gonna be its own special hell.