Apex Legends Is One Of The Few Games Doing Ranked Right

Apex Legends is celebrating its fifth anniversary in style, with major changes coming to the battle royale across the loot pool, armor system, and Legend abilities later this month. During a two-day presentation and hands-on media preview, developer Respawn also outlined extensive plans to rework Apex Legends Ranked in a manner that aims to give players a better understanding of the game’s ranking system and how to climb that proverbial ladder.

As a consistently frustrated Overwatch 2 competitive player, I was pleasantly surprised to see the ranked changes in Apex Legends Breakout, the 20th season of Respawn’s battle royale. The upcoming season is focused on giving players a better understanding of why they’re at a specific rank and what they can do to improve. It’s part of Respawn’s larger shift towards more transparency, a welcome adjustment considering so much of what goes on under the hood of multiplayer games is subject to obfuscation.

Apex Legends Season 20 Ranked changes

“This season coming up, we’re taking the approach that we want to make things more transparent and a bit simpler for players to understand,” Apex Legends’ lead progression designer, Chris “C4” Cleroux, says via video chat. “Transparency was one of the number-one things under the trust umbrella in terms of our goals in season 20.”

Ranked modes in popular games like Call of Duty, Valorant, and Overwatch 2 can be controversial—not only do they require players to invest many hours to progress into higher ranks, but the matchmaking and ranking systems are often difficult to understand or outright vague. For example: Overwatch 2’s ranked system is currently set up so that ranks change after five wins or 15 losses, but Blizzard hides so much of the math behind those ranks that it feels like you’re trying to climb a broken ladder. This has been a major point of contention for comp players like myself, and the team has promised that Overwatch 2’s ranked system will get a rework in the future—it’s just not clear when.

That’s why Respawn’s upcoming Apex Legends Ranked changes are such a breath of fresh air—it really feels like the team wants players to know the ins and outs of the ranking system so that they can leverage that knowledge into better performances and, ultimately, higher ranks.

“We’ve simplified the scoring a bunch where it’s much easier to understand and it really helped us because we wanted to create transparency in the UI,” Cleroux explains. “As a player sees their score at the end of the match they can understand the contributions from combat, from skill and bonuses, and from their placement. I call that the key word of ‘actionable feedback,’ which is one one of our pillars for this ranked system. We want players, especially new players coming in, to understand how they can get better at ranked.”

Two Legends use a zipline while several others wield weapons.

Image: Respawn

In Apex Legends season 20 Breakout, there will no longer be Provisional Matches (the ten matches you had to play before giving a rank based on performance). Instead, all players will start the season at the bottom of the ranking system—this could mean a sweaty few early rounds, but the better players should rise up the ranks quickly, and your matches should feel even-keeled sooner rather than later. Matchmaking will no longer be based on the hidden MMR (matchmaking ranking) but solely on your RP.

The team is also removing Promotional Trials, which required players to complete specific in-game challenges before progressing to the next rank. Now, once you have enough points to rank up, you will—it’s as simple as that.

Ladder points (which were doled out if you placed in the top half in a match) are being removed and replaced with ranked points (RP). You’ll still earn placement points, but you’ll also get ranked points for eliminations and bonuses for performing better than higher-ranked squads. And remember, post-match screens will offer far more transparent scoring for you to better understand what score you got and why.

Ranked play can be a very frustrating and disheartening experience, so it’s great to see that Respawn is trying to avoid those pain points with Apex Legends Season 20. I sure hope Blizzard takes some notes.

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