Apex Legends has just released its latest ranked update for July 2023. The update introduces some major changes to the ranked system, rewards, and matchmaking that will affect how players compete and climb the ladder. Below you can find the main highlights of the update.
Apex Legends July 2023 Ranked Update
Ladder Points: Placement and Bonus Tuning
The developers of Apex Legends designed Arsenal as a way for players to learn how to adjust to the new ruleset and matchmaking. However, they encountered some glitches in the Ranked system that made Ladder Point rewards too high, leading to a surplus of Masters players. Their main goal for Season 18 is to reduce the LP given in each match to balance the number of players in each rank.
The bonus system of Apex Legends prevents players from getting extra LP if their rank is much higher than their MMR. This limit is meant to help players reach their true rank over time. However, due to the excessive LP given in the previous season, some players had ranks that were much higher than their MMR, making them reach this “no bonus” state very quickly. In some cases, the rank was ~1-2 tiers above the MMR, which made the bonus withholding system cancel out all other bonuses.
This state will be harder to reach with future changes. For the average player who is not getting any bonuses, they would have to increase their MMR by defeating more squads per match and placing high to start getting bonuses again. But the developers understand that it feels bad to do well and not get any rewards.
Their secondary goal for Season 18 is to add a minimum elimination bonus increase based on the player’s MMR that will not be affected by bonus withholding and to increase the elimination bonus slightly.
The developers of Apex Legends want to address the issue of too many Masters players in the game. You might have seen a graph like this one before. This problem is caused by a combination of bugs and the high LP rewards.
LP distribution shifted more to the right than they intended, resulting in a surplus of Masters players. The graph below shows the distribution with the dotted line for players from Rookie 4 to 36000 LP. Their plan of action is: To lower the LP rewards per match to fix the ranking distribution.
To introduce a new ruleset that only affects Diamond + players to deal with the large number of players above that rank. Players in these ranked tiers will face higher risks and LP losses, and lower rating bonuses and loss mitigations. These solutions will make it harder for the average player to reach Masters, and allow for better matchmaking and more competitive matches—especially at Diamond+ ranks.
The developers are pleased with the Arsenal changes, as they are leading to more thrilling end games with more squads, players playing more cautiously, and wanting to win the game instead of just killing each other.
They believe that a fierce battle for the top spot in a fun, chaotic endgame is the best way to finish a game of Apex Legends™, and they are glad this is happening more often.
The graph below is one of the indicators that they use to measure the potential intensity of play at different stages of a match. Having 2 more players alive at the 15-minute mark makes a big difference for the average match!
Perceptive Play is a more strategic way of playing, where players focus on ring positioning rather than constant aggression—a extreme example of this is sometimes called “ratting”. The developers of Apex Legends want to improve the endgame experience, as they have seen an increase of ratting lately. Some of this is due to more players waiting for ring closures, but they can confidently say that most of it is due to players hiding and avoiding others (while crouching or standing). They have observed a common pattern in both Ranked and ALGS levels: teams stay outside of the ring and delay fighting with other teams to earn points.
The developers think that hiding and avoiding fights is not a fun way to play Apex Legends™. Season 18 has some changes to address this, and more are planned for future seasons to tackle the core gameplay issues around inactivity and passive playstyles.
Season 18 goals:
- Changing ring timings to increase mid-game encounters
- Ring damage tuning to encourage playing inside the ring
- Fixed some “ratting” spots with more fixes coming soon
Matchmaking: Generous LP’s Effect on Matchmaking
The game usually matchmake players based on their MMR, but they switch to using Ranking (LP) instead of a player’s MMR when their ranking is higher than their MMR equivalent. For example, if a Gold MMR player has a LP ranking of Diamond, this player will be put into a Diamond lobby.
This is to make sure MMR and LP ranking are linked and can both help players find their true Rank. If players do well in these harder matchmaking situations, they let them keep climbing. However, too many players in a game have high LP because of the high rewards. This effectively creates a game full of players with lower MMR than their current Rank, making this mechanic useless.
In Arsenal, you’ve been playing with a wider range of skill levels, even at the top Ranks. This was not intended and meant that your experience varied a lot from match to match. They think this will be less of a problem with lower LP rewards in Season 18.
Season 18 goal: improving matchmaking to better handle players that are actively testing their MMR to ensure a fair and challenging match that matches their current ranking.
The new matchmaking system is creating more balanced matches overall and matchmaking gameplay indicators are higher across the board.
To illustrate this, let’s look at one gameplay indicator: Total Damage per Match.
The game use this to measure match intensity. When a match is uneven, many squads are wiped out by a dominant squad, thus preventing many players from dealing damage. In contrast, a more even match will have squads fighting, hiding, and healing, resulting in more total damage done in a game. This gameplay indicator increased at the start of Arsenal, then started to decline around May 18 as players reached high LP values and were matched with less fair opponents.
The developers think queue times are too short, leading to a higher chance you’re matched outside of your MMR. The graph below shows average wait time by player skill (lower skill on the left of the x-axis, higher on the right). During matchmaking, the system is trying to find players of a similar MMR—the longer it looks, the better the match.
The goal is to find equally skilled players for maximum fun and challenge, but it’s a trade-off between time and quality. Waiting forever is not fun either.When there are not enough exact matches to your MMR, the matchmaking system will continue to look for a limited time before starting the match with the closest MMR players it can find.
Matchmaking is failing at the extreme end of very high skill. These players are getting into matches too fast, creating uneven matches with a too wide MMR range—destroying the lobby. We’re working on improving matchmaking for that end of the ladder to fix this.
The developers of Apex Legends have a main goal for Season 18: they have found the elusive root cause of this bug and they are actively working on a fix for more reliable, high-quality match experiences.
The rest of the population is very stable and are more often matching with close MMR values.
The graph below shows the adjusted MMR range of a game, showing how close MMR is in matches based on your current MMR + LP. Overall, the value is consistent across all but the highest tier of play. This is good because it means the matchmaker is working well and delivering fair and competitive matches for most players. Even though it’s consistent, the range above (~1.5 tiers) is still bigger than they’d like and they are confident they can narrow matches to divisions (instead of tiers) within a reasonable queue time.
Their secondary goal for Season 18: ongoing improvements and updates to matchmaking as a whole. These will be released as they are ready and are not tied to patch cycles.
Season 18 and Beyond
The team has been busy analyzing Arsenal’s data, fixing known bugs, and improving the Ranked system more. If you’ve read this far, thanks for your attention. Here’s a quick summary:
Lowering overall LP rewards per match to fix the overall shift in the rank distribution. Introducing a ruleset that only affects Diamond+ to fine-tune the top of the ladder. Players in these ranked tiers will face higher risks and losses, and lower rating bonuses and loss mitigations. Be ready to risk it all.
Adding a minimum elimination bonus increase based on the player’s MMR and boosting elimination bonus in general. Eliminations should always help your rank. Increasing action in the ring by changing ring damage.
Changing ring timings to create more mid-game encounters and less pre-finale pauses. Improving matchmaking to better handle players that are actively testing their MMR, for more fair and challenging matches that match their ranking.
Waiting until Season 18 for these updates gives us more data to further inform these changes and strengthen our tuning, but it also gives players who reached their first Masters time to enjoy the moment. If you earned Masters in Arsenal, you’ll keep it. You played by the game rules we set, and hopefully Season 18 will challenge you to earn it again.