APEX LEGENDS™: JULY 2023 RANKED DEV BLOG
Learn more about Ranked on Apex Legends™, what we’ve learned so far with Arsenal updates, and a peek at what’s to come.
When Revenant’s mind is shattered, it intensifies his rage, resulting in a striking new appearance and lethal abilities. Throughout the entire season, Revenant becomes accessible to all players, but to obtain permanent access, complete quests before the season concludes.
MIXTAPE CRASHES INTO BROKEN MOON
Enjoy thrilling Mixtape modes, such as Gun Run and Team Deathmatch, set within various Points of Interest (POIs) on the atmospheric Broken Moon map. Immerse yourself in action-packed gameplay as you battle it out in this unique and engaging setting.
NEW RANKED SEASON
In the Arsenal Ranked update, the team rolled out a series of changes that were intended to create consistently competitive matches by adjusting the scoring system to focus on playing the Battle Royale and as a team. Now that players have had a solid amount of time playing the Arsenal update, we’ve been able to analyze the data behind-the-scenes. Today, we’re able to share our thoughts around the state—and immediate future of—Ranked Play.
In an effort to address as many questions as possible, we’re hosting a live Ranked AMA on July 21, 2023 from 9:30-11:30 am Pacific Time. Join us on the r/ApexLegends subreddit!
The art of game development is rarely a straight line, it often involves building upon and refining ideas—Ranked is no exception. We hit some aspects of our goals, and also missed the mark with some of our tuning and bugs, which caused the inflated number of players in Masters and occasional unfairness in matchmaking. Let’s take a deeper look at these issues and discuss some upcoming changes that will help us move towards a more stable and competitive Ranked for future seasons.
For those who just want the gist, here’s the TLDR:
- Overly Generous Ladder Points (LP): Arsenal’s LP tuning was intended to be generous, but not this generous. Its current tuning is causing a series of cascading issues with the rest of the Ranked system. We are tightening the amount of LP awarded and bonuses included for Season 18.
- Bugs: We love to hate them. They are contributing to the tuning problem and we’re feeling confident about our upcoming fixes.
- Future Changes: Season 18 will focus on refining Ranked tuning and stability. We’re going to take a deep breath and take the time needed to prepare for an even tighter and more competitive Ranked system.
What events or developments have occurred in Arsenal?
LADDER POINTS: PLACEMENT AND BONUS TUNING
Our initial goal for Arsenal was to create a learning experience for players as they adapted to the new ruleset and matchmaking system. However, due to a combination of this intention and some bugs in the Ranked system, the gains in Ladder Points became overly generous, leading to an unexpected surplus of Masters players.
For Season 18, our main focus is to rectify this situation by reducing the amount of LP distributed in each match, thereby balancing out the distribution of players across different ranks more effectively.
The bonus system operates with a specific intention – if a player’s rank significantly surpasses their Matchmaking Rating (MMR) equivalent, the system withholds the bonus. This measure is designed to gradually adjust the player’s rank over time to the appropriate level.
The overly generous LP caused certain players’ ranks to be inflated compared to their MMR, resulting in them reaching the “no bonus” state much earlier. In some extreme cases, the rank exceeded the MMR by approximately 1-2 tiers, causing the bonus withholding system to overshadow all other bonuses entirely. However, with forthcoming adjustments, this state will become less accessible, returning to its original level of difficulty to achieve.
For the average player who is not receiving bonuses, they will need to raise their MMR substantially by actively defeating multiple squads in each match and achieving high placements.
We understand that it can be disheartening to perform well and not receive any bonuses.
In Season 18, our primary focus is to address this issue by introducing a minimum elimination bonus increase tied to the player’s MMR. This bonus will be exempt from withholding, and we will also slightly increase the elimination bonus, ensuring players are rewarded more fairly based on their MMR performance.
Without delay, let’s delve into the matter. You might have come across a graph similar to the one presented below. The surplus of Masters players is a consequence of a combination of bugs and excessively generous LP tuning.
The LP distribution is skewed further to the right than our desired balance, leading to an overabundance of Masters players. The graph below illustrates this distribution, with the dotted line representing players ranging from Rookie 4 up to 36000 LP.
Moving forward, our upcoming actions include
We will be implementing the following steps to address the current situation:
We will decrease LP gains per match to counteract the shift in the ranking distribution.
A new ruleset will be introduced exclusively for Diamond+ players to tackle the significant concentration of players climbing above this rank. This ruleset will lead to increased stakes and LP losses, as well as reduced rating bonuses and loss mitigations.
By implementing these solutions collectively, we aim to slow down the progression to Masters for the average player. This will result in more accurate matchmaking and higher-quality matches, particularly in the Diamond+ ranks.
PLAYING THE BATTLE ROYALE
Thanks to the recent updates in Arsenal, we are witnessing a rise in thrilling end games featuring multiple squads, as players now place higher value on their lives and prioritize winning the game over indulging in deathmatch scenarios.
An adrenaline-pumping firefight for the top spot in a frenzied endgame has become a more frequent and memorable way to conclude a game of Apex Legends™, and we are delighted to see this trend.
The chart below represents just one of the metrics we use to assess the intensity of play at different stages of a match. Even having two additional players alive at the 15-minute mark has a significant impact on the average match, making it even more engaging and competitive.
Perceptive Play emphasizes a macro-focused approach, where gameplay revolves around ring positioning rather than aggressive tactics, with an extreme variant known as “ratting.” While we are witnessing thrilling endgames, there is still room for improvement due to the recent rise in ratting.
This increase is partially attributed to more players adopting a strategy of waiting for ring closures. However, it is primarily caused by players opting to hide and evade encounters, often crouching or standing to remain undetected.
I’m pretty sure you’re not all doing squat reps during ring closures…
We’ve observed a recurring pattern in both Ranked and ALGS levels: teams tend to remain outside the ring and refrain from engaging with other teams to secure more points.
However, playing Apex Legends™ by hiding and avoiding firefights isn’t a rewarding approach. In Season 18, we have introduced some updates to tackle this issue, and we have plans for additional measures in future seasons to address the fundamental gameplay concerns related to inactivity and overly cautious playstyles.
The main focuses of Season 18 are:
- Modifying ring timings to encourage more mid-game encounters.
- Fine-tuning ring damage to ensure players are compelled to stay inside the ring during gameplay.
- Addressing various “ratting” spots with additional fixes planned for the future.
GENEROUS LP’S EFFECT ON MATCHMAKING
We need to discuss a specific detail regarding the Arsenal matchmaker that was not mentioned in our previous ranked blog.
Typically, our matchmaking system relies on a player’s MMR (Matchmaking Rating) to find suitable opponents. However, when a player’s ranking (LP) surpasses their MMR equivalent, we switch to using their ranking instead of MMR. For instance, if a player with Gold MMR has a Diamond LP ranking, they will be matched into a Diamond lobby.
The purpose of this approach is to ensure that MMR and LP ranking are closely connected and both contribute to guiding players to their accurate rank. If players are successful in these more challenging matchmaking situations, we allow them to continue climbing in the ranks. Unfortunately, many players in the game have inflated LP due to a generous tuning of the system. As a result, this creates a game where players have lower MMR than their current rank, nullifying the intended effect of this mechanic.
In Arsenal, you’ve noticed that you’ve been matched with players of a wider range of skill levels, even at the highest ranks. This was not intended and has led to a more variable match-to-match experience than desired. However, we believe that in Season 18, this issue will be less prevalent as we plan to reduce LP distribution.
The focus of Season 18 is to update the matchmaking system to better handle players who are actively challenging their MMR, ensuring that competitive matches align with their current ranking and provide a satisfying and challenging experience.
The updated matchmaking algorithm has significantly improved the overall competitiveness of matches, and we have observed positive changes in various gameplay metrics across the board.
For instance, let’s take a closer look at one specific gameplay metric: Total Damage per Match. This metric serves as an indicator of match intensity. In situations where a match is unfairly balanced, one powerful squad can dominate and decimate other squads, leading to a limited opportunity for many players to deal damage.
On the other hand, in a more equitable and fair match, squads engage in intense battles, taking cover, strategizing, and recovering, resulting in a higher overall damage dealt in the game.
This gameplay metric experienced a significant increase at the launch of Arsenal. However, it began to deteriorate around May 18 as players reached inflated LP values and consequently encountered less fair matchups.
We have the belief that queue times are currently too short, which increases the likelihood of being matched with players outside of your MMR. The graph below illustrates the average wait time based on player skill, with lower skill levels shown on the left side of the x-axis and higher skill levels on the right side.
During the matchmaking process, the system endeavors to find players with similar MMR to ensure exciting and challenging gameplay. However, there’s a time constraint as waiting indefinitely is not enjoyable. If there aren’t enough exact matches to your MMR, the system continues searching for a limited time and eventually starts the match with players who have the closest MMR available.
However, the extreme end of very high skill poses a challenge for matchmaking. These players are getting matched too quickly, resulting in unfair matches with a wide MMR range, leading to imbalanced lobbies. To address this issue, we are actively working on improving the matchmaking for these high-end players in Season 18.
The focus of Season 18 is to identify and fix the elusive root cause of this issue to ensure more consistent and satisfying high-end match experiences. For the rest of the player population, the matchmaking system remains stable, and players are consistently matched with close MMR values.
The graph below illustrates the adjusted MMR width of a game, highlighting how closely the MMR values match based on your current MMR + LP. Overall, this value remains consistent across all but the highest tier of play. This is excellent news as it indicates that the matchmaker is consistently providing competitive matches for most players.
SEASON 18 AND BEYOND
The team has been hard at work digging into Arsenal’s data, working to address known bugs, and refining the Ranked system further. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for your time. Here’s a quick recap:
- Decreasing overall LP gains per match to combat the overall shift in the rank distribution.
- Adding a ruleset that only applies to Diamond+ to properly dial in the top of the ladder.
- Players in these ranked tiers will have increased stakes and losses, and decreased rating bonuses and loss mitigations. Be ready to put it all on the line.
- Adding a minimum elimination bonus increase based on the player’s MMR and buffing elimination bonus in general. Eliminations should always be a contributor to your rank.
- Increasing action in the ring by adjusting ring damage.
- Adjusting ring timings to create more mid-game encounters and less pre-finale lulls.
- Updating matchmaking to better handle players that are actively challenging their MMR, for more competitively challenging matches that mirror their ranking.
Waiting until Season 18 for these updates gives us more data to further inform these changes and strengthen our tuning, but it also gives players who made it to their first Masters time to relish the moment. If you earned Masters in Arsenal, you’ll keep it. You played by the game rules we implemented, and hopefully Season 18 will challenge you to earn it again.
We want to deliver the best Ranked BR experience in the world, with the tightest matchmaking and the sweatiest competition at every rank tier. Splits will not be returning for now as we’re focusing on monitoring and further finetuning. We look forward to sharing more updates on Ranked and how we plan to achieve our goals, especially as we approach Season 19—which is already in motion!
You play the most important role in the success of Apex Legends™, so please keep sharing your thoughts, feelings, and battle stories. And don’t forget to join us on r/ApexLegends subreddit for a live Ranked AMA on July 21, 2023 from 9:30AM – 11:30AM Pacific Time.
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