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What's Wrong With Ranked Mode In Apex Legends?

What's Wrong With Ranked Mode In Apex Legends?
Images via Respawn Entertainment

Written by 

Coleman Hamstead


16th Jul 2021 10:32

Ranked Mode has been a hot topic among Apex Legend content creators and the community over the past few weeks. The game mode has a slew of issues that have received a tremendous amount of criticism

Ranked Mode has gotten so bad, that the game’s top pros and content creators have been forced to publicly speak up. Chris "sweetdreams" Sexton released a Twitlonger that details some of the issues surrounding Ranked Mode. In the tweet, sweetdreams started the #SaveApexRanked hashtag. 

The hashtag spread like wildfire and was trending in no time. Apex’s Director of Communications even joined in on the conversation to say his piece. Unfortunately, we need action, not words.

Everyone’s begging Respawn to save Ranked Mode, but why exactly does it need saving?

What’s Wrong With Ranked Mode?


The most glaring and obvious problem with Ranked Mode is the absolute abundance of cheaters. Ranked Mode is riddled with cheaters, especially in higher ranked lobbies. An endless stream of hackers, DDoSers, and the like run rampant with seemingly no retribution. The Apex Legends dev team has promised to crack down on cheaters on multiple occasions, but so far, their actions haven’t matched their words.

Unfortunately, Ranked Mode has issues far deeper than just unchecked cheating...

Suboptimal Rules And Settings

The rules and settings used in Ranked Mode are suboptimal and could really use some tuning. The scoring system, Kill Points (KP) in particular, is less than ideal. Under the current settings, players stop receiving Ranked Points (RP) after they earn a combined six or more kills/assists in a match. 

This restriction works against the balance and fairness Ranked Mode aims to achieve. The strict limit on KP creates a limit on the max amount of RP a player can earn in one match. But why should that limit exist at all? If someone is good enough to secure more than six kills/assists in one match, why should they not be awarded for it?

On the flipside, Kill Points can actually lead to frustration in high-ranked lobbies. Pros such as Eric "Snip3down" Wrona have argued for the removal of KP entirely. Rewarding KP encourages players to fight, whereas a battle royale game is all about survival. Removing KP would create a game where survival is the utmost priority and kills mean nothing.

Both sides of the KP argument have valid points, but both can also agree that the current system is suboptimal. 

Imbalanced Matchmaking

Another major issue with Ranked Mode is just the general imbalance plaguing the playlist. 

Why do we need to reset everyone’s rank every split? All this does is send good players back into low-ranked lobbies, creating more imbalanced matches. The accuracy of the Ranked skill brackets becomes distorted when everyone gets their rank soft reset every few weeks. The first couple of weeks of every Ranked split are abysmal to play in as a low or medium-skilled player because all of the high ranked players have been sent back into lower-ranked lobbies.

Matchmaking Exploits

Finally, Ranked Mode matchmaking leaves room for exploits that go beyond traditional cheating. Apex Legends prioritizes matchmaking times over balance. This means that in order to fulfil quick matchmaking times, the game will sometimes pull in players from a wider range of skills. 

For example, a lobby consisting of purely Apex Predators would be the most balanced. However, there are only 750 players at Predator rank per platform at a time. It could take hours to begin a match if the system waited for 60 Preds to queue up for the match to begin. So, the game will fill the remaining slots with Masters and Diamond players.

Unfortunately, some devious players have figured out how to abuse this mechanic. Aspiring Apex Predators will queue up in less popular regions at off-times of the day. The fewer players the matchmaking system has to choose from, the wider the range of skill will be in a match. This exploit leads to matches consisting of Gold players vs. Apex Predators — a clearly unfair battle.

How To Fix Ranked Mode

Require two-factor authentication to play Ranked Mode

Countering cheating is an uphill battle. Cheaters will always be a step ahead of the game developers trying to stop them. Still, there are ways to mitigate cheating.

For one, Apex could require two-factor authentication (2FA) to play Ranked Mode. Enabling 2FA would force players to attach an original phone number to their account. If that account gets banned, the phone number is banned along with it. Cheaters would then need to acquire a brand-new phone number to continue cheating. While not foolproof, this roadblock would slow down the less dedicated cheaters. Additionally, 2FA would protect normal accounts from getting hacked and used as a tool for cheaters.

Hire Anti-Cheat Staff

An obvious solution to combat cheating would be to hire more staff dedicated to anti-cheat. Right now, Hideouts is the only public Respawn staff member dedicated to anti-cheat. Electronic Arts (EA), Apex’s publisher, is a $22 billion-dollar company. Why is Hideouts the only person on the team that specializes in game security?

If Hideouts isn’t active, cheaters don’t get caught. Hackers will literally plan their playing time around Hideout’s schedule. The fact that no one else has been hired to help counteract cheating makes it hard to believe that Respawn and EA really care to fix the problem.

Remove The Kill Point Limit In Low-Ranked Lobbies

Removing the KP limit would destroy smurfing and finally create some balance in low-ranked lobbies. As things stand, smurfs can torment low-ranked lobbies for a significant amount of time because there’s a strict limit on how much RP they can earn. Removing the KP limit would send top performers up the ranks near instantly. If you drop a 20 bomb in a Bronze lobby, you obviously don’t belong there. This change would kick smurfs out of the Bronze, Silver, and Gold lobbies fast and leave the players that truly belong there to compete in fair matches.

Stop Resetting Ranks Each Split And Allow For Deranking

Instead of forcing players to continuously run over lesser-skilled competitors just to get back to a rank they’ve already earned, why not just let people keep their ranks? It seems counterintuitive to soft reset everyone’s rank every few weeks. 

Even better, instead of soft resets each split, Ranked Mode should allow for deranking. Right now, there’s no penalty to losing matches after a fresh rank-up. Once you enter into Platinum or Diamond, you can never rank down. This leaves ranks like Platinum 4, and Diamond 4 flooded with players that might not really deserve to be there. Furthermore, players in these ranks know that they can’t rank down. So, they play recklessly and ruin the game for those looking to play more seriously.

Putting an end to soft resets each split and adding the ability to derank would lead to a far more balanced Ranked Mode.

Prioritise Balanced Lobbies Over Matchmaking Speed

Ranked Mode should be all about fair competition. The description of Ranked Mode reads, “play with other players at a similar skill level.” Matchmaking that prioritizes speed over balance completely goes against this principle.

If matchmaking can’t find a balanced lobby, the game should not start. Let the queue run 30+ minutes if you have to. Whether they are attempting to exploit or not, making players switch regions to find a match is the lesser of two evils. Creating as balanced a lobby as possible is crucial for the health of Ranked Mode.

Ranked Mode has some significant issues that need attending to. Respawn and EA need to seriously consider the incoming feedback and make adjustments accordingly. With a few key changes, Ranked Mode could see a re-emergence.


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