This may have been announced in the past, but I just read about it yesterday. Season 2 of Apex Legends is officially getting a Ranked mode, and the developers posted the details online yesterday in a lengthy post (all excerpts are taken from that post). Let’s analyze:

Ranked Leagues run in competitive periods that we’re calling “Series”. The first is scheduled to run for the duration of Season 2 (July through September). Future Ranked Series may not be in sync with the larger Apex Seasons as we may need more time for players to settle on their true skill level. We’ll talk about the Series cadence as we near the end of Season 2.

July through September? That is a really long season. I remember when Overwatch seasons were ridiculously long, and lemme tell ya, not a great move. In player’s mind, they get trapped in a certain ELO and the only thing that can fix it is a new season. By going to shorter seasons, it keeps things exciting for all players. Hopefully just a test for the first season, but you would think Respawn would look at other games to compare.

Ranked Leagues features six competitive tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Apex Predator. All of the tiers except Apex Predator have four divisions; Gold IV, Gold III, Gold II, and Gold I, for example, with Gold I being the top division in Gold tier. All players will start in Bronze IV for the launch of Ranked Leagues, but future Series should have a starting placement if you’ve climbed the ladder in previous Series.

Pretty standard tiers, but the big news is everyone is starting at the bottom of the ladder, and needs to grind to their next level. That’s HUGE. In any other game, players can get carried through the early placement games to the wrong ELO, and everyone suffers. But with everyone starting at Bronze IV, that’s negated pretty easily…

Players climb the ladder using a set scoring system, and we’ve tried to keep the system transparent so you can focus on what it takes to rank up. Scores are tracked via Ranked Points (RP) and your score moves up and down throughout the season.

Each Ranked match will cost RP to play based on your tier: Bronze matches are free, Silver matches cost 1RP, Gold matches cost 2RP, Platinum matches cost 3RP, Diamond matches cost 4RP, Apex Predator matches cost 5RP

During the match you earn RP based on performance. Kills are worth 1RP up to a maximum of 5RP per match. Placing Top 10 is worth 2RP, Top 5 is 4RP, Top 3 earns 7RP, and a win will bank 12RP. Each placement score is exclusive, so if you finish in the Top 5, you won’t earn 6RP for a Top 10 and Top 5 finish combined. That means the maximum score you can earn per match is 17RP, before the match entry fee.

Ranked Leagues will require each player to be level 10 or higher to join. When you queue up with other friends in your lobby, the matchmaker will find a match for the highest ranked player in that lobby, but each player will pay the appropriate match cost for their current rank. This is intended to not let high-ranked players completely carry their lower-ranked friends. If you queue up with your Diamond II friend as a Bronze III player, get ready for a difficult match!

…and this fully stops carrying all together. You absolutely have to get kills to move up in rank. You can’t just camp your way to a bunch of Top 5 wins, because once you get to Gold or Plat, you will be gaining virtually no RP. Also, there’s no averaging your rank if you’re partnering with a friend; you just get placed at the highest level. This system is clearly designed to eliminate players from getting misranked, which is very promising. All together, it looks like Respawn actually did spend some time looking at other ranked modes, because this portion is a great improvement over Halo, Overwatch, and even Fortnite’s new ranked mode.

We regard Ranked as a high-stakes, high-reward environment. This means that we are expecting players in Ranked to show a higher level of commitment to playing out their matches, even when things aren’t necessarily going their way. Players who abandon their teammates will be hit with a matchmaking penalty in both regular and Ranked matches. Penalties will result in a player being barred from joining a match for escalating amounts of time based on how often they have abandoned in Ranked. An abandon is defined as leaving the game before the match is over for you; this includes leaving during character select, leaving while you are alive, and leaving when you are dead but can still be respawned by teammates. Penalty times start out at five minutes, and repeat abandons will increase that time up to a week.

Thank. God. The most frustrating thing about Apex right now outside the boredom is people leaving your team. I once picked Bangalore first and a guy was like “Ok fine fuck you guys” and instantly left. He didn’t even speak up and say he was a Bangalore main! You can’t have a competitive game without punishing players in some way for abandoning the game, and finally Respawn is adding that mechanic. It’s much needed and well past due.

So will this save the game? I’m not convinced just yet but I am interested in Apex again because of this addition. I think for people still interested in battle royales it’s a big step in the right direction. Fortnite’s ranked mode really isn’t that good, with many people very high ranked that shouldn’t be. But only time will tell the long term impact this will have on Apex Legends.