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Ranked Play Season 1 Community Suggestions and Criticisms
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Ranked Play is here!...sort of

Season 1 of Ranked Play began on Friday, January 9th, and players went in to the playlist expecting a seamless, competitive experience brought to them by the developers. The implementation of a competitive playlist have a number benefits to the game as a whole; including but not limited to bringing more content to the game and consequently growing the competitive audience. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 by Treyarch laid the foundation of how a competitive, ranked playlist should work in Call of Duty, and it is not unlikely that a player would have at least similar expectations set for Sledgehammer Games. While the playlist is a great step in the right direction, and a welcomed update to the game, it seems to fall very short of how a ranked playlist has always performed.

Games such as Halo, League of Legends, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive have all featured public matches for those just looking for a good time, and separate ranked playlists for those looking for a challenge. These ranked playlists have implemented visible skill-based player ranking, quit penalties and temporary bans, and locked, anonymous lobbies to prevent “lobby shopping”. These features serve to promote a healthy, competitive, consistent playing environment for those that wish to take part; ranked playlists serve as another piece of content that players have a choice to experience as much as they would like alongside casual play.

The community has attempted to give positive feedback since the introduction of the Clan vs Clan playlist in Call of Duty: Ghosts and many of the same problems still exist. Issues that currently exist in Advanced Warfare's Ranked Playlist include the allowance of supply drop weapon variants, the lack of locked lobbies, lack of visible ranks, missing quitting penalties, permissions of map voting, and there seems to be party searching complications. Feedback echoed by the community always points to how the playlists of Black Ops 2 and League of Legends work.

When it comes to matchmaking, quitters will always be an issue. The challenge is to decrease this sort of behavior so as to affect as few of the players engaging in Ranked Play as possible. It is not a good experience to play 3 versus 4, and it is not a good experience to have opponents forfeit before a game is complete. These situations greatly decrease the validity and prestige of any rankings. Suggestions presented by the community include temporary bans that slowly raise in severity per offense. Other titles go as far as removing the “leave game” option from the interface entirely, or adding an extra dialogue window warning players of the impending consequences.

Visible ranks and locked lobbies are an essential combination to allow players to get a sense of who they are playing with and against, but also to prevent them from manipulating matchups. If a player doesn't like the selected map or an opposing difficult team, ideally they should not force their teammates to play a man down by quitting, nor should they lobby shop for an easier match. This sort of behavior has no place in a competitive environment, but it is acceptable in the public, casual playlists.

Map and game mode voting does not work for competitive Call of Duty due to the bias presented by players on what they favor and dislike. Many have already complained of an overabundance of Search and Destroy matches even though CoD eSports features three other viable game modes of equal importance.

Supply drop weapon variants are random and not every player is blessed with the luck to achieve them despite hundreds of hours of play time. It is also important to note that the official CoD eSports settings do not permit weapon variants. Aside from the randomness introduced by the challenge to achieve them, the stats of the weapons themselves make them perform outside of their usual role. The ASM1 Speakeasy and the BAL-27 Obsidian Steed are the most prominent offenders with their impressive fire rate and damage over range.

For some, it may be simple to dismiss criticism as incessant complaining, but it is important to note that there appears to be a vocal majority. These people wish to see the playlist and the game in general to prosper and improve wherever possible, and the proposed changes aim to do that. The community doesn't expect Sledgehammer to re-invent the wheel, they wish to receive what has already been accomplished and successful in the past.

Published on 10. Jan 2015
Written by Rondez "Fox" Green - @RonTheDonnn

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