Apex ranked changes are coming. But, will they improve the unpopular system enough?
Respawn have finally responded to the widespread criticism of the current Apex Ranked system, with a detailed blogpost of their thoughts and future actions.
Apex Legends Season 17 introduced a new, MMR based, ranked system that has proven widely unpopular. There are over one million Masters players across all platforms, a rank that is meant to be one of the highest levels in the game.
There has been solid radio silence on any Apex Ranked adjustments until now. Developers are also following up with a 'Reddit AMA' on July 21st.
Respawn admit that Apex Ranked is too easy
One of the biggest takeaways from the blogpost is undoubtedly the admission that LP is "overly generous." While Respawn did clarify that they wanted this first season to be a "learning experience", and not too difficult, they are admitting that there are an excess of Masters players.
In Season 18, this will be addressed with a lower amount of LP given out per match. This will stop everyone climbing so fast. Currently, it is almost impossible to lose LP over a play session as any losses can be quickly recovered. Popular Apex Legends streamer and pro player Sweetdreams even achieved Apex Predator by dealing 0 damage.
Another key frustration this season has been LP 'Bonuses'. Many players simply just don't get a bonus anymore. Some people were convinced it was a bug, others felt it was intentional to slow down players gains.
Now, it has been addressed that this is intended. However, it is as a result of overly generous LP gains. Bonuses should return when players are not able to climb too far above their MMR in game.
The blog also acknowledges that "we know that it feels bad to perform well and not see any bonuses." Season 18 will also see more bonus being given out, with a new minimum elimination bonus. Now, you will always be rewarded for your kills.
Official ranked distrubution revealed
For the first time in several seasons, Respawn have shared the current ranked distribution. While some websites share this information, it has been a long time since we got official numbers directly from developers.
The graph will not come as a surprise to anyone who has played Apex Legends this season. There are an insane amount of Masters players.
In addition to the previously mentioned changes to slow down LP gains, Respawn are also adding a much requested adjustment to the Apex ranked system.
Season 18 will see a ruleset applied to players ranked Diamond and above only. "Players in these ranked tiers will have increased stakes and LP losses, and decreased rating bonuses and loss mitigations."
This will help strike a balance. Ranked will not be impossible in lower tiers and hard for casual players to feel they are making progress. However, achieving a high Apex rank will still be an achievement.
Respawn also addressing ratting and zone play
Ratting has also become a prevalent issue in Apex Ranked this season. Partly down to the ease of LP gains. Also partly down to the lack of 'Bonus', meaning fighting did not feel rewarding.
Respawn shared data that shows the amount of players 'Idle' in game has increased significantly. However they are also unhappy it seems with the amount of time some players are outside the ring. Surprisingly, they have also pointed to the strategies of some teams in ALGS.
"We’ve noticed a particular pattern in both Ranked and ALGS levels: teams stay outside of the ring and delay interacting with other teams to gain points."
To combat this, Respawn are adjusting ring timings, increasing ring damage and are removing as many rat spots as they can.
ALGS reference causing concern
There has been some initial concern over the reference to ALGS. Some teams do stay outside of the ring for a significant period in ALGS. In the most recent ALGS Split 2 Playoffs, some very notable teams would frequently be outside of the ring crafting armours, heals, to be ready to take a fight later.
In ALGS, teams do not die very fast. You will see 15 teams alive in Ring 4. Finishing 15th, with no kills, scores you one point.
This feels very different to ranked, where you can easily gain a lot of LP with this strategy. Of course, the actual adjustments are yet to be revealed but the direct reference to ALGS has caused much confusion amongst ALGS competitors.
Other planned Apex Ranked changes
Additionally, Respawn are prepared to increase the queue times for ranked games to help tighten the MMR difference in a lobby. Currently matchmaking has not been working as intended for the highest skilled players. Instead of a top MMR player having to wait for other players of their skill level, the matchmaking expands the pool too quickly. This is why you might have seen your favourite streamer simply running down players who should not be anywhere near an Apex Predator lobby.
The bug causing this has been identified and Respawn are hard at work on a fix to make lobbies more competitive. They hope this will create more stacked end games, and make LP feel earned.
All of these changes will arrive with Apex Legends Season 18. However, Respawn also referenced Apex Legends Season 19, hinting that more changes are coming. Respawn "want to deliver the best Ranked BR experience in the world, with the tightest matchmaking and the sweatiest competition at every rank tier."
Will these changes achieve that? Time will tell. Apex Legends Season 18 is set to launch August 8th.
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