Apex Legends Season 17: Arsenal launches next week, and will introduce a number of significant changes to the game, from the end of seasonal ranked splits to the introduction of a new weapon mastery system (and, of course, a new legend). But with all the pre-season excitement in the air, it’s easy to miss one of the most valuable additions Season 17 is bringing to the game: a better system for targeting the cheaters, bots, and smurfs who have plagued Ranked Mode in recent times.
During Season 17 previews, Respawn gave attendees the scoop on the dev team’s latest anti-cheat measures. While discussing the game’s “under-the-hood” changes to Ranked Mode matchmaking, Apex Legends design director Evan Nikolich detailed some of the behind-the-scenes moves being made to combat players with less-than-honorable intentions.
“We have an all new matchmaking system done with a hidden skill rating,” Nikolich told viewers. “The big thing is we’re taking into account is pre-made squads, to balance for competitive advantages.”
Later, Apex Legends experience design director Aaron Rutledge elaborated on the studio’s anti-cheat efforts.
“We’re increasing the Ranked level requirement from 20 to 50,” Rutledge explained, referring to the minimum account level required to gain access to Ranked Mode. “This will help to slow down smurfs and give us some more time to detect cheaters that are trying to quickly get into high-level Ranked matches.”
The account level increase is an especially useful change, as increasing the level requirement to 50 or more has been a common request from players over the last year. Rutledge added that developers had decided to “decouple MMR and LP.” LP stands for Ladder Points, a part of Season 17’s new Ranked Mode scoring system that will replace the current RP (Ranked Point) system.
“This means the matchmaker will build games based on skill, not purely on your ladder placement, so cheaters can no longer sandbag their points to go stomp on lower-skilled players,” Rutledge continued, “Adding of the provisional matches will help reduce the negative effects of cheaters by keeping them from stomping their way up the ladder, but it will also slow them down, and give us a bit more time to catch them.”
The developer also warned that ban-waves are incoming.
“For botting accounts, things like the increased level requirement and the rolling out of some new detection methods–and repeated ban-waves–means players should see improvements and reductions [in the amount of bots and cheaters] there,” Rutledge explained when asked to elaborate. “The team is continuing to work on refining bot-detection and reducing the time it takes to ban.”
Another issue Respawn is targeting in Season 17 is collusion–that is, cooperating with the enemy for the purpose of farming kills to climb through the ranks.
“The new scoring changes–like only receiving LP for unique kills and unique assists–means you can no longer farm your points with Respawn Beacons,” Rutledge clarified before reiterating Respawn’s commitment to ensuring fair play for all. “We also have some new detection methods that we’re rolling out. Rest assured the team takes this very seriously, and we always investigate reports of any kind of collusion that impacts the competitive integrity at the high-end of the game.”
Rutledge also brought attention to an important distinction regarding a frustrating issue players have experienced in Season 16.
“What’s been perceived recently as DDoSes in high-level Ranked play was actually the result of an exploit that let bad actors crash the game servers,” he explained, before adding that a hotfix had already been deployed and that players would soon see a decrease in crashes that were incorrectly identified as denial-of-service attacks. “That being said, we’ve already launched actual DDoS-protection, and that is working as intended.”
Rutledge ended things with a direct message to Apex’s playerbase, reassuring the player community of Respawn’s determination to keep cheaters, smurfs, and other bad-faith players in check:
“Competitive integrity is a high priority for the team, and while we can’t detail all of our anti-cheat efforts–for obvious reasons–know that we’re always actively working to address and improve these issues.”
The prevalence of cheaters and recent epidemic of smurf accounts infesting Ranked play have become sticking points for the game’s critics, so players are likely to notice a big difference in Ranked Mode when Season 17 goes live–especially given recent resolution of dozens of in-game bugs that turned out to be the result of “a single line of code.”
Apex Legends Season 17: Arsenal launches next Tuesday, May 9, at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET.
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