Is Ranked Play Good for the Game?
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
With the introduction of ranked play in Apex, and the excitement surrounding it, Iʼve realized that my opinions probably put me in the minority. Iʼve never been a fan of ranked play, and not necessarily because of my skill level. I consider myself to be at least slightly above average, but a ranking system flies in the face of what I loved most about Apex, and PUBG before it. Without a ranking system, weʼre free to play the game however we see fit. Whether thatʼs a focus on winning, or just playing for fun, weʼre not tied down to a set of guidelines that focus our play style on progression.
As a former Call of Duty player, something that has always irritated me about ranks is the aggressive push to make it to the top. Granted, Call of Duty ranks are far from the same as the new ranking system in Apex, but the idea is the same. When the system is set up to reward those who focus on progression, we lose the charm of the game: freedom. I have memories of playing Call of Duty with groups too big to fit on a team. When the idea of playing in a private lobby was suggested, it was shot down in favor of ranking up. Wouldnʼt we have made better memories and had more fun playing against each other in a lobby with just friends? Of course, but when rank is involved, fun is secondary.
When we step out into the wilds of the ranked playlist, we have a different mindset than if weʼre queuing up in the regular playlist. Once you make it into silver, games begin to cost RP. Already, weʼve limited ourselves by narrowing our choices based on the likelihood that weʼll gain enough RP in the match to cover the cost of entry. If you drop Blue Zone or Skull Town, youʼre more likely to regress in rank. So, now that weʼve decided to start this game more passively than we may have otherwise, weʼll head off the beaten path and loot for most of the game until we get high enough on the scoreboard to get a few points.
Obviously, this doesnʼt happen every game and this doesnʼt apply to everyone. I know plenty of people who can drop Skull Town and do some serious work, but I believe the mindset we get into in the rank playlist is more passive, restrictive and ultimately, less fun. We have to protect our rank while also trying to progress, so weʼll make less aggressive decisions. Those decisions may actually be smarter, but that doesnʼt make them fun. If you avoid every team until the end, youʼve stopped playing the game as it was when it first released. Now youʼre playing a waiting game. Wait until we have enough gear, wait until weʼre top five, wait until thereʼs only two other squads left. Before you know it, the game is slow and boring. Maybe youʼre on the flip side, though. Kills are worth RP, so you push fights you shouldnʼt, or try to thirst a knocked player when their teammates are right around the corner. Either way, ranking up has influenced your play style and the decisions you make. Whether thatʼs a good thing or not is up to you.
The most appealing aspect of Apex to me from the start has been the speed of the game. I began my time with battle royales as many did, in PUBG. Those who have played are aware of how time consuming and slow that game can be. The speed at which you queue up in Apex and get into fights from start to finish has been the factor that drove me to play. Itʼs fast, fun, and exciting rather than slow, campy, and boring. I donʼt want to see the game head in the direction of PUBG, but ranked play seems to be pushing it towards passive over aggressive.
Iʼm not out to rain on anyoneʼs parade or tell you youʼre wrong for having fun in ranked. I know most people are overjoyed for it, and I do agree that theyʼve implemented it well. My issue with ranked is how it changes the game. Maybe we shouldnʼt let it. Maybe we should play ranked as we play regular queue. Let it be a driving force for us to improve, but not an excuse to become more passive. Take pride in the progress weʼve made, but not get tilted when we get in a rut and lose a rank. For me, rank is the least important factor in the
game. If ranked is more important to you, thatʼs fine. Just donʼt let it make the game a chore rather than fun. Donʼt let it take away the freedom we have to play how we want.