The New Ranking System
In my last post I wrote that I needed to wait to get a little more information about the ranking system in order to determine what my goals for this season will be. I will eventually write out my goals, measures, etc. here, but for now I'd like to delve into the ranking system itself, as it has drawn a fair bit of interest from members of our community.
If you haven't seen it yet, the members of the team that created the ranking system for Apex (Tangentiallogic, pinedsman, and SpamminBandies) have explained their thinking behind the system in a post on EA's site. I would encourage you to give it a read before going too much further here, but to make things easier as we go, I'm going to include the graphic from their article here:
There are six tiers, with everyone starting at Bronze and (presumably) hoping to progress to Apex Predator. There is a match entry cost that increases based on your tier. You are rewarded with Ranked Points (RP) for every kill to a maximum of five RP per game (one RP per kill). You gain RP by finishing in the top-ten and get more RP based on how high you finish up to twelve RP for a win. Based on this, a win with five kills is worth the maximum RP of seventeen. You'll have to subtract your match entry cost from that total for your net total RP.
Within each tier, there are also four levels. You can be demoted between levels, but you can't be demoted between tiers. I like this; it means progressing through a tier is challenging, but you never have to worry about bouncing between tiers. One of the frustrations I have with the Rocket League ranking system is how easy it is to bounce between tiers when you first achieve a new tier; I like that I won't have to deal with that here.
There is a punishment for match abandonment (beginning at five minutes and progressing up to a weeklong ban). This is how Respawn is defining abandonment: "An abandon is defined as leaving the game before the match is over for you; this includes leaving during character select, leaving while you are alive, and leaving when you are dead but can still be respawned by teammates." I think that this is fair, and it makes me happy that quitters are being punished. (I have some ideas about where that system can be abused for griefing, but I'll keep them to myself for now, as I'd hate to see griefing show up in Apex.)
There is also loss forgiveness (similar to the Elite Queue) where you won't be punished for accidental disconnects (although how well that'll work, we'll have to wait and see). If one of your teammates abandons you, then you will receive loss forgiveness. The article gives a nice example of how RP calculations are impacted by loss forgiveness. I like that I don't get punished when my teammate quits because they didn't get to play Wraith.
Okay, now let's talk a bit about the way RP are rewarded. A lot of people think that RP from kills shouldn't be capped at five. I disagree with those people. The main reason I disagree is because Apex is a team game. If you can knock off twenty kills in a match, you are way, way better than I am; your reward is a badge full of skulls. Kills are not necessarily a measure of skill. I have had three-kill games where I did 200 damage and two-kill games where I did 1200. I played a lot better in the 1200 damage game than the 200 one.
I feel like doing a lot of damage is as much a sign of skill as kills. I think that I helped my team out more in the high damage game. It is easy to pick up two or three kills in Skull Town and go nowhere. The point of a Battle Royale is to be the last team standing. If you die in Skull Town, you lost. I think that you should be rewarded for winning. If you could get more points from kills than from winning, that would be a problem because it would reward individual play more than team play. Respawn built a team shooter; this isn't Call of Duty.
My only concern here is that they don't count assists or damage for RP. I would like it if they allowed you to get more RP from kills but team kills were what mattered. In such a scenario, your team totals would be what decided your RP. If your team gets ten kills, everyone gets the RP for ten kills. If they did this, I think they'd have to make RP worth half a kill. Or, to really double-down on the team theme, make it one-third RP per kill, but everyone on the team gets that reward. This is a more complicated system, though, and it is something that they can consider down the road. They have said that they will update the system based on the Season Two results, and I am willing to wait to see how it goes.
A secondary bonus of limiting RP for kills is the potential reduction in salt from "stealing" kills. I don't worry about this, but I can see it being frustrating if kills are potentially worth more than wins.
Another consideration is that some characters are built for support rather than assault. If you aren't providing RP for Wattson's grenade knock-downs or Gibraltar's bubble saving you from a Kraber shot, then you have to limit the kill RP. This means that at the highest tiers of play all characters (except Caustic -- Caustic sucks, right?) will be viable in the right hands. If you make it so that all that matters is kills, you are just screaming out for the same four characters in all matches (Lifeline, Wraith, Octane and Pathfinder would be my guess -- maybe Bangalore replaces one). Limiting RP makes the other characters more viable. This keeps the game more interesting and tactical at the highest tiers. I think it will lead to more variability in gameplay, and I think that makes the game more interesting for everyone.
Another interesting thing, I think, is that the difference in RP between finishing first and second is the same as the maximum number of RP from kills; I don't think this is an accident. This just highlights yet again how much more important winning is in this game than getting kills. Again, I think this is the correct approach.
This post comprises my first thoughts about the ranking system, and I reserve the right to return to this at some point down the road. Now that I know where I'll be starting in terms of rank, I can really start thinking about my goals for this season. I hope you start thinking about it, too. I'd love to hear from you in the Discord or on Twitter if you agree, disagree or just want to chat more about this (or any other) Apex topic!