The latest Apex Legends Ranked changes are the biggest adjustments to the mode since its 2019 debut, and players are reeling from the effects. Respawn details the ideology behind the massive shakeup in a blog post (opens in new tab), and a lot of the changes make sense – but the application of these changes is a different story.
Apex Legends Ranked now favors survival over death-dealing, and can be a tough place for lower-tier players to find enjoyable experiences. Sure, you can play unranked Apex Legends to avoid getting rolled by players who belong in higher ranks, but have otherwise ended up in low tiers because of the rework, but if you’re like me and favor competitiveness over casual play and tend to solo queue for matches, Ranked is rough right now.
The Apex Legends Ranked rework largely focuses on its nature as a battle royale and how players should be rewarded for survival, which is the game’s “primary objective.” In the past, players fond of a hot drop will land in zones that are heavily populated with enemy teams and get a ton of kills early on in the match. This style of play often means squads are wiped within a few minutes, with the remaining playtime functioning like a big game of team deathmatch rather than a battle royale.
In Apex Legends Ranked play, your rank is determined by RP, or Ranked Points, which you earn at the end of every match. The more points you earn, the higher your ranking – and you can lose RP and drop down ranks, as well. The blog post explaining the Season 13 Saviors ranked update makes Respawn’s stance on RP rewards clear: “In a battle royale, placing worse than the bottom half of the lobby is losing. Placements and kills are both important metrics in Ranked. Having kills without the placement should not constitute a success. In response, we have pulled down Kill RP gains for placing worse than 10th.”
That means that you’ll get a lot more points for surviving with your squad than you would going out in a blaze of glory early on in a match – even if you take a few enemies with you. The base value of each kill is worth less overall, so your goal is to stay alive into the top 10 squads – not get a few team wipes and place 15th. The new participation points give you some RP for what seems to be your teammates’ kills and assists, but it’s a very small amount. The new RP calculations combined with what looks like a two and a half rank drop across the board (Masters players are now in Silver, Plat players in Bronze, while I’m, laughably, in Rookie) means climbing up the Apex Legends Ranked ladder takes longer than ever.
In my first Apex Legends Season 13 Ranked match, my teammates have no microphones and hot drop into Antenna. We’re the first team eliminated, and I walk away with no points. In my next game, we hot-drop and place 16th, and I walk away with one kill and two RP points from that match – one for my kill and one for participation. I solo queue for over an hour and don’t make it out of Rookie 4 as my squad consistently hot drops and gets eliminated before the top 10. Just when I’m about to lose my patience and swap to Overwatch, however, I play a round with two squadmates who are communicating well and we manage to place fourth. To my delight, I made the jump to Bronze 4, but the grind it took to get there almost wasn’t worth it.
I’m not the only player who finds Apex Legends Ranked is now a bit too grindy. Reddit users (opens in new tab) have posted the Apex Legend Status chart (opens in new tab), which shows ranked distribution among the player base, to point out how tough the new system is. The majority of players are in Rookie, then Bronze 4, then Bronze 2, then Silver 2. According to the chart, there are no players in Platinum 1 or higher, which means few people have made Diamond, Master, or Apex Predator this season. Although I can understand why Respawn would want Master to be a seemingly unattainable rank reserved only for top-tier players, the grind to get to a more middling rank can be a bit demoralizing.
The Ranked rework is also a serious blow for players who solo queue. I don’t have many friends who play Apex Legends, and the ones that do aren’t big fans of playing ranked, so I’m almost always playing with random teammates. And while Apex Legends’ groundbreaking ping system makes it easier for me to communicate with mic-less players, it doesn’t help when the majority of them insist upon hot-dropping. I’m not the Apex best player by a longshot, but I can usually walk away from a hot drop with a kill or two. Now that doesn’t matter, as the new RP calculations favor teamwork and survival above all else.
These changes make sense on paper – after all, Apex Legends is a squad-based battle royale and you should be rewarded for outliving other squads by working together as a team. But for lower-skilled and solo-queuing players, the Apex Legends Ranked rework is rough as hell. I may be a masochist who will continue to grind my way to the middle, but will the rest of the player base do the same?