Something truly unexpected happened yesterday – Respawn’s devs shared the Apex Legends matchmaking update in a long post. It detailed some very valuable insight into the current matchmaking system and what comes next.
Fans of the immensely popular BR have asked for an update for years now. We’ve all felt it – the unfair lobbies where you get rolled by stacks of Pred teams. Smurfs running everyone’s fun in low-ranked lobbies. People getting their badges and getting carried by more skillful teammates.
Respawn says they’ve been testing this new system and that it provides answers to several burning questions. So, let’s take a closer look and see if we’re ready to witness Apex Legends return to its former glory.
The current Matchmaking system in a nutshell
In essence, the existing Apex Legends matchmaking (before the planned update) relies on 3 distinct concepts:
- Skill Rating
The first is about your actual progression within the game. Are you level 1 or 600? Perhaps you play Ranked – so, what was your rating the last split? Things like that. It is of course a bit more complex than saying “a level 500 player is a God-tier level”. We all know smurfs at level 10 with the 4k/20 kill bomb badges.
The second is the most complicated and it is about the skill rating. The most dynamic of the 3, it basically tracks your performance from match to match. Ever found yourself losing 5 matches in a row, only to end up doing 10+ kills in the 6th? That’s the skill rating, trying to balance your placement into a lower-skilled lobby. The devs use fancy words such as “Continous Gaussian distribution” and “Discrete Buckets” but in essence, it’s mostly about finding the sweet spot for player skill.
Currently, Apex uses 4 “buckets” for skill – rank 1 (the worst) up to rank 4 (the best). As you can see, there is a vast gulf between some of these, so you can easily slip into a higher-skilled lobby on getting an extra headshot or something.
Last is the Matching algorithm and this one is all about figuring out your squad based on the previous parameters. It’s trying to form a group of 2 or 3 (if you solo queue). The task isn’t easy – you can form groups based on several factors that contribute to the squad’s “effective skill:”
- Lowest – your squad is created around the lowest-skilled player
- Highest – your squad is created around the highest-skilled player
- Average – pretty self-explanatory (if you have a 3 and a 7, you end up with a 5)
- Weighted average – the same as average but catering more to the strongest player’s skill
Currently, Apex is using the Highest setting when matching peeps for Pubs and Ranked. It is chaotic, to say the least and that is why it’s about to change.
What is changing and why is it for the better?
The first big change in the Apex Legends matchmaking update is the Skill Rating. The “buckets” are now way more than 4 – every single mode will have a plethora of smaller buckets to examine the skill of the player. Not only that but each different game mode will continue to rank your skill and experience from match to match, so you will always end up with teammates and enemies who are similar to you.
The second change is about the actual squads you will be a part of. It is all about the probability of winning vs. losing as a team. This means that the system will try to place you in a team with a +0 chance of winning based on your previous match and skill level.
The third change lies in the way matching is being done. Instead of the previously mentioned “highest” factor, a new one is introduced. It is all about “predicting the distribution of skill before each match and making an optimal tradeoff between the skill difference and wait times.” So far, they’ve had great results with players of equal skill being placed in the same teams and oppose to each other.
Does this mean I won’t get rolled by 3 stacked teams in Ranked?
Yes, and no. The issue right now is that, while Respawn explained mostly about solo Q, premade squads are still going to “dilute” the system.
However, so far, they’ve had only positive results, and the retention rates for the lobbies where the new system was implemented only confirmed it.
Respawn aims to have the old system totally replaced by end of Q1 2023 so we can expect to see the changes in action.
Everything so far sounds very promising and we cannot wait to see how it will impact Ranked play, and overall fun, in Apex Legends.
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