Apex Legends dev teases solos might be coming during Season 4 - Dexerto
Apex Legends

Apex Legends dev teases solos might be coming during Season 4

Published: 3/Feb/2020 4:28

by Isaac McIntyre

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Apex Legends fans may finally be getting a long-term wish granted in Season 4, after one Respawn developer responded to questions about the single-player playlist ahead of the new season’s gameplay trailer premiere.

The battle royale’s hype machine is in full swing, with Revenant confirmed to join the Apex roster, and powerful new weapons like the bolt-action Sentinel sniper rifle as well as the Sidewinder mini-rocket launcher likely to drop in-game too.

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Now, a Respawn developer has added fuel to the fire on Twitter, after teasing a plan for the long-awaited solos playlist to potentially arrive on World’s Edge and King’s Canyon, even if they don’t necessarily agree it’s the “better” game mode.

Revenant
Respawn Entertainment
Villainous simulacrum Revenant may not be the only thing arriving in Season 4: Assimilation.

Could Respawn have a solo playlist in the pipeline?

With the gameplay trailer arriving in less than 24 hours, Respawn devs have taken to Twitter to drum up hype, from Carlos Pineda suggesting they were “just getting started,” to designer Jobye-Kyle Karmaker just sending emojis.

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Respawn’s producer Josh Medina joined the chorus of hype, adding the company was going to “show only the beginning of the goods Season 4 will bring.”

His comment sparked curiosity from Cloud9 star PVPX, who asked if Season 4 was going to “bless us with solos.” Medina responded soon after, revealing players who queue alone may have something coming their way this year.

Bloodhound in the Apex Legends Iron Crown event
Respawn Entertainment
The controversial Iron Crown event was the last time solos appeared in Apex Legends.

“This my opinion: I think duos is a better experience than solos… playing alone against 55 Wraiths isn’t exciting to me… the duos and threes experience is where it’s at, for me,” the Respawn development producer replied.

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Just because he isn’t a fan doesn’t mean it’s not on the cards, Medina admitted, and added that Respawn “should offer a way for solos to play the game without teammates,” once they get past the massive Season 4 launch on February 4.

He did make sure to add that he “wasn’t promising anything for the launch of Season 4,” so as to temper fan expectations, but concluded solo playlists were “something to think about for the future of Apex” for Respawn.

Permanent duos may arrive before a solos playlist

If some variant of solos arrives in Assimilation, it won’t be the first time the single-player playlist has appeared in Apex Legends—it first appeared in the Iron Crown Collection event, for a short fortnight stint.

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After a mixed bag of reviews, Respawn made the call to double-down on duos as the main limited-time mode. The two-player mode was, unsurprisingly, a huge hit, which suggests it may be on the menu ahead of solos if either does appear soon.

While there’s no official confirmation on the arrival of solos in Season 4, more details on the new season should be revealed in the upcoming Assimilation gameplay trailer, including new legend Revenant’s abilities and ultimate.

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The new season, as well as everything that comes with it, drops into Apex Legends on Tuesday, February 4. Be sure to keep tabs on our Apex Legends section as we break the latest news on Season 4 as it unfolds.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends SBMM controversy: Is EA rigging your matches?

Published: 8/Oct/2020 14:06

by Calum Patterson

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In the midst of Season 6 in Apex Legends, the controversy about SBMM (skill-based matchmaking) has reared its head again. A 2017 paper from EA researches appears to show a nefarious matchmaking algorithm, leaving players both concerned and angry.

But, before you grab your pitchforks, there are a few key facts that have been lost among the debate on social media.

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In an attempt to better explain what we know about matchmaking in Apex, the research from EA, and what it all actually means for you – the player – here is everything you need to know.

First, though, if you don’t know what SBMM even is, here is a quick recap.

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What is SBMM?

Skill-based matchmaking is the name for the predominant system used (or allegedly used) in the majority of online, PvP, multiplayer games. Respawn, the developers of Apex Legends, have confirmed that their system uses skill level as a factor in matchmaking.

They’ve said that this system has always been there, will stay, and that they are constantly trying to improve it. The say SBMM is better for the long-term health of the game, and for keeping players playing and having fun.

However, this 2017 paper, written by a handful of researchers from EA, appears to argue the opposite; that fairer matches are not actually best for ‘engagement’ (i.e. keeping you playing or spending). Instead, another system called EOMM is apparently better. So, is SBMM not actually a thing at all?

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SBMM in Apex Legends
Respawn Entertainment
SBMM has been a hot topic in Apex for ever since launch.

Is Apex Legends rigging you to lose?

The short answer: No.

Respawn’s Principal Coder Michael Kalas has confirmed that Apex Legends does not use EOMM, and said “no one working on Apex matchmaking has read the patent.”

“Apex matchmaking is designed off skill. It’s not literally designed to make you lose, spend, nor play longer,” Kalas confirms. “Apex features are designed and measured to result in fun, entertainment, accomplishment, playing longer, etc.”

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Some players, even professional players, have said based on their own feeling and experience, that there is some kind of system working against them in matchmaking.

Perhaps players are right to feel this way, perhaps not. We will probably never know for certain, as publishers like EA and Activision will never reveal the inner-workings of their matchmaking algorithms. This is because, once known, players could deliberately attempt to game the system. 

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What is the EA research paper?

First, remember that this 2017 research paper is not linked to Apex Legends. After all, Apex was released two years after this paper was published.

It is simply a study, testing if such a system is successful at increasing player retention, and in turn, spending. This system is not SBMM. In fact, it argues that SBMM is actually worse for increasing player retention.

The system is called EOMM = engagement optimized matchmaking. Rather than matching players randomly, or based on their skill level, it combines a number of different factors, to try to increase ‘engagement.’

The paper concludes that “EOMM significantly outperforms all other methods in the number of retained players.”

What is EOMM?

Engagement Optimized matchmaking (EOMM) “aims to match players in an optimal way that maximizes overall player engagement.”

Based on a player’s last 3 outcomes (W)in, (L)ose, or (D)raw, the risk of them quitting changes. The paper presents this table, showing that three losses in a row, or two wins and a loss, will result in the highest risk of quitting (4.9% – 5.1%).

However, if a player has DLW, LLW, LDW, or DDD, their risk of quitting is almost half (2.6% – 2.7%).

A simplistic appraisal of this system then, would be, if you get a win, you might get a harder opponent the next match. If you lose, you get an easier opponent. Keeping the balance of wins, losses, and draws, is core to the EOMM system.

The fear is that the game could be “rigging” your matchmaking, to make you win or lose in a certain pattern. The goal of this system is to increase player engagement; things “such as time or money spent in the game, the number of matches played within a time window, or churn risk.”

But, the research paper was based on 1v1 matches, which might apply to a game like FIFA, but not Apex Legends. However, it concludes that EOMM could easily be applied to other, more complex matchmaking.

AC Milan FIFA 21
EA SPORTS
Games like FIFA could use EOMM, because it’s based on 1v1 matches.

Of course, EA and Respawn want players to be engaged with their game. They want players playing, staying to play more, and hopefully, spending money. So, it stands to reason that they would employ some matchmaking algorithms to optimize this.

But, this study was based on 500 players. Not the tens of millions who play Apex Legends. In the real world, there are countless other factors to consider, including ping, server location, partying up with friends, and much more.

What about SBMM?

The paper on EOMM argues that SBMM doesn’t work because of one key reason:

“Consider a cautious player who cares about protecting his rank among friends, and a risk taker who enjoys difficult matches. Pairing them with similarly skilled opponents will affect these players very differently. Even for the same player, their expectation on the coming match when they just lost three games in a row can be very different from that when they recently performed well.”

In their testing, EOMM retained 0.7% more players compared to SBMM, after one round of matchmaking. This might not seem like much, but over more matches, this number will increase: “For players who play 20 rounds of matchmaking games within eight hours, there will be 15% more players retained by EOMM” than SBMM.

But, the dislike of any system that is not purely random and based totally on connection, cannot be denied. It became a massive issue during Call of Duty’s Black Ops Cold War Alpha recently, where even pro player Scump pleaded with developers to make changes.

We can only hope that the developers take into consideration players’ concerns, and promote having fun in the game, and not just “engagement.”