In recent seasons, Apex Legends’ ranked playlist has become a hot-button topic of discussion among the player base. Cheaters, collusion, and the points system itself have all come under the microscope during that time. But Respawn plans to do something about it next season.
When season 17, Arsenal, launches on May 9, it will bring a “significant foundational shift” to ranked that includes a new points system, matchmaking updates, split changes, and a renewed focus on competitive integrity. Design director Evan Nikolich described the steps being taken as “the first of many changes” for the mode coming in 2023.
Both Nikolich and experience design director Aaron Rutledge broke down the evolution of ranked and Respawn’s approach to integrity in season 17 during a recent press event, detailing how each of the new additions to the playlist aims to soothe a specific pain point players have long held.
First up is the rework of the points system. Ranked points are being retired in favor of ladder points—or LP—that “aims to put emphasis on winning the battle royale versus racking up kills,” in the words of Nikolich. No matter your ranked level, the entry cost is now static and the scoring for placement remains consistent in every division. Bonuses are now applied to your score based on kills, assists, how challenging of a match you were in, and your ladder level in relation to your place in a new hidden skill rating.
That new skill rating is the introduction of MMR to Apex’s ranked mode. As Rutledge went on to explain, decoupling MMR and LP was crucial to building this new system for the playlist. “This means the matchmaker will build games based on skill, not purely on your ladder placement,” he said. “Cheaters can no longer sandbag their points to go stomp on lower-skill players.”
Similarly, updates to the scoring system for LP are also being put in place to improve the integrity of the ranked experience. “Competitive integrity is a high priority for the team,” Rutledge said. “New scoring changes, like only receiving LP for unique kills and assists, means you can no longer farm your points with respawn beacons.”
That focus on playlist health also extends to the implementation of new detection methods for cheaters, as well as the introduction of provisional matches to the mode.
“We have no more splits during the season now,” Nikolich said. “The ranked climb resets on the seasonal reset now. The main reason for no splits is that we’re adding provisional matches to better gauge placement at the beginning of your ranked journey for the season. We want it to be a good time to engage with ranked at more points during the season and not just at the start of a split.”
The required account level to access ranked is being increased from level 20 to level 50, further disincentivizing smurfs and cheaters as well as giving Respawn a longer grace period to detect cheaters before they can make it into Apex’s most competitively-minded playlist.
These are a lot of key under-the-hood changes that the devs are hoping will greatly improve Apex’s current ranked experience as they continue to pursue their goal of ranked “being the best representation of skilled battle royale play.”
“We’re excited for players to get hands-on with the ranked changes to continue to give us feedback on how we can evolve the ranked game,” Nikolich said. Players can do just that when season 17 for Apex launches on May 9, with the coinciding updates to World’s Edge and the arrival of Ballistic sure to shake up the meta for all those grinding the ladder.