This season, Respawn implemented some fairly strong changes to the ranked playlist in Apex. If you want to check the full patch notes for season 13 you can do so here, but the general gist behind the update has been that placement matters a lot more than it used to. You used to be able to climb ranks quite easily with a lot of kills even if you didn’t place in the top 5, but this is certainly no longer the case. Entry costs have been a lot more severe than before, and people started the season at a much lower rank than usual, all of which has garnered a great deal of backlash from the community.
It’s almost the split soon, marking the halfway point of the season, so it seems like a good time to analyse the impact the changes have had and take a look at some of the feedback from the community.
I’ll start things off with a hot take. Contrary to what a lot of people might be saying about the changes, I think that the design intentions behind them are good and in the long term, they will have a positive effect on the life cycle of the game. Now before everyone grabs their pitchforks and hunts me down in game, I should say that I understand why people are mad. This season is sweaty. In fact, this is probably the sweatiest season I’ve ever played of Apex Legends, but I’m here to tell you that that’s a good thing.
I should preface all of this by saying that my experience comes with an absolute love for the game in its most intense state. I enjoy the gueling pain and suffering that high level apex has to offer and I think that the game is at its absolute best when the final zones are filled to the brim with teams. I’m someone who believes that the closer the ranked experience can be to ALGS, the better.
With that said, there are a lot of valid issues being raised that aren’t just related to how difficult this season is. The player-bases spread in rank distribution clearly signifies that Respawn were a little too heavy-handed with the changes to RP. I believe that the philosophy behind things is good, it is a battle royale and placement should be the thing that matters most, but the changes are just a bit too overboard. You should never have a spread in ranks unequal to the point where 90% of the player-base is in Gold 2 or below.
Diamond 3 is the highest calculable rank at 0.08%, which completely nullifies the point of even having ranks like Diamond and Master if the jump effectively goes from Platinum to Apex Predator.
The main effect that this has had on the player-base is highly skilled players being squashed in with lower ranks, resulting in lobbies where most Gold players will likely see Apex Predators fairly frequently. If it isn’t already obvious this is something that should not be happening, especially halfway through the season, and definitely warrants a lot of the negative feedback that people have.
It’s been a very hot topic of discussion in the community, with streamers and prominent pro players like Imperial Hal criticising the matchmaking, commenting on how half of the people in his lobbies should clearly not be there.
Other top players in the space like Aceu however, have said that the harsh changes might be a good thing, pointing out that last season there were too many players at the high ranks that didn’t deserve to be there, and that this season is now weaving out the good from the bad.
Both the r/apexlegends and r/CompetitiveApex subreddits also seem to have differing opinions on the issue, with a lot of the posts on the competitive subreddit being in favour of the new ranked system and the overwhelming majority of the main subreddit being against them.
I think both have reasonable concerns. A Gold player should never be in a world where they have to be worried about going up against Imperial Hal. However, I am inclined to agree with Aceu’s attitude that a lot of the people that were able to sail to high ranks with ease last season, should not have been able to do so, myself included, and it’s good that me and other players are now having to actually play the game at a high level in order to climb.
In a competitive game like Apex, Diamond as a rank should be difficult to get to, and it’s clear from the rank spread last season that it wasn’t. The difference between then and now is night and day. I started off this season in high Silver, and I have never seen more intense final ring fights in lower lobbies in my life.
I really think that the long term impact of these changes will be a healthy thing for the ranked life cycle. It will force players to improve and teach them how the game should be played at its highest level. The main downside is that in the immediate, there’s going to be some growing pains. The current calculation system that they have in place is just a little too unforgiving, and the drop of 2.5 ranks at the beginning of the season has definitely contributed towards some unfair matchmaking.
It’s clear to me however that Respawn are thinking of things in the long-term. They don’t want players getting to a high rank and then sitting at its lowest tier with no punishment, so they’ve made it more unforgiving. They don’t want players getting lots of kills with poor placement and then climbing, so they’ve brought in tier-based entry costs. Everything they’re doing is to make the ranked system harder and more competitive.
Apex’s signature is being a very competitive battle royale, and the point of a battle royale is last man standing, so in my opinion, rewarding players who focus on that is a good direction to take. I think that the game is at its best and most intense in those final zones, when each team is fighting for every last inch of space in order to stay alive and it makes me happy to see that experience happening at lower ranks.
With that said they definitely need to adjust the RP system a bit more before things are in a good place, and I am hoping that over time the rank disparity will level off because if it doesn’t then a lot of players are going to be left playing in an unfair system. Respawn have already mentioned some ranked changes for the upcoming split, where it seems they will address a lot of the very valid criticisms that the community have, so my advice to angered players for the moment, is to just sit tight and wait.
Pearce is a recent masters graduate with a passion for games. He thinks they can be seen as a form of art, conveying stories and narratives that can have an immense impact on players. Outside of game design, he has an interest in Twitch, music and animals.