My assessment on Update 1.5:
- Faction based ratings & levels. In my opinion, splitting ratings and levels into factions is a good thing. Most players tend to climb in rating by playing only one faction. F2P players in particular tend to spend most of their credits on upgrading a single faction. This creates an issue if a player ever wants to try to play the other faction. Not only are they inexperienced on that faction, they are also under-leveled for their rating, which usually leads to a lot of losing and a poor experience. By splitting the ratings/levels into factions, players can try out the other faction at an easier skill/card level.
- Replays!!! It’s unfortunate that they are trying to kill 2v2 in the same update that they release their replay feature. Replays were a highly requested feature and I think that this update would have been received incredibly well if all they did was change the 2v2 ranked removal. A replay system is a big step in the right direction to eventually having a spectator mode as well.
- Improved Matchmaking Elo. They kind of did a poor job of explaining “Play Experience Points” but I think the main phrase to focus on is where they say that your PE points will increase “regardless of which faction you are playing with”. In other words, you have your regular rating points Elo which will now be faction dependent. And then you will also have a PEP Elo which is overall. If that’s the case then I think this is a good thing. It basically means that someone with a 90% win rate on Empire who has never played a game on Rebels will have a slightly higher matchmaking Elo if they do ever play Rebels because they have more overall game experience and shouldn’t get matched against brand new players who haven’t played either faction.
- Pooling the player base into 1 game mode hypothetically creates better matchmaking. Right now the player base for this game is pretty small, especially compared to games like Clash Royale. And because SWFA is a faction-based game, it makes it even harder to find similar rated opponents, especially at higher tiers. Pooling the majority of the players into a single game mode should hypothetically improve matchmaking speed & fairness. However, there is also the possibility that a lot of players will quit without ranked 2v2 and then you end up with less incoming funds for the game and a smaller overall player base which will lead to worse matchmaking. I feel like a better solution to try improving matchmaking before removing 2v2 is removing faction restrictions and allowing Rebels to play against Rebels or Empire to play against Empire. This deepens the matchmaking pool availability by allowing similar rated players to play against each other even when they are playing the same faction.
- Removing 2v2 rank/rating. Through many meetings, conversations and disagreements, we settled on the decision to separate the rules of the game modes in the upcoming update. You can tell that even internally Netmarble isn’t in agreement with this change and a huge portion of this community thinks that making this change is a mistake, myself included. In my opinion, removing rating gain from 2v2 is a mistake for 3 primary reasons:
- It alienates a big portion of the community who only plays 2v2 and hurts their overall experience of the game. Not allowing players to gain rating in 2v2 alienates a big portion of this community. I know of dozens of players in our guild who play 90% or more of their games in 2v2 and removing their ability to gain rating there prevents them from gaining bonus crystals each season and it prevents them from grinding the ranked leaderboards each season which is really the only incentive they have to go past 8600 rating in the first place (you earn 0 bonus crystals past 8600 rating).
- It hurts an already weak guild system. Right now there are only 2 reasons to be in a guild: Pre-made 2v2’s and friendly battles. Friendly battles already earn you nothing and aren’t very common and now pre-made 2v2’s are going to be much less common as well. I would love to see some type of Guild vs Guild content in a future update or some type of challenges/additional mode you can do with your guildmates but this update is a step backwards as far as guilds are concerned. There will now be even less of an incentive to find/join a guild.
- There will be less developmental time/resources spent on the 2v2 game mode. This update is Netmarble saying that they are going to focus their efforts on a single mode: 1v1. While it will be easier for them to balance cards when they only consider 1v1, it will lead to more balance issues in 2v2. For example, abilities like Bossk +2 energy gain passive was arguably just fine in 1v1, but quite broken in 2v2. If they only worry about 1v1 balance, cards/abilities like this are more likely to ruin the 2v2 experience.
Split up ratings/levels into factions and then also split up leaderboards into separate 1v1 and 2v2 leaderboards. You could either have a single 1v1 leaderboard and a single 2v2 leaderboard where each player is ranked twice (once for each faction). Or you could have four separate leaderboards: 1v1 Rebels, 1v1 Empire, 2v2 Rebels, 2v2 Empire.
Personally, I would like to see four separate leaderboards. It gives players the ability to play the game however they want without being penalized for it and it allows them to see how they measure up compared to other players on that faction/mode. You could play 1v1 Rebels for an entire season and see how you measure up against other 1v1 Rebel players. I would love that type of diversity. And being 1st in 1v1 for a certain faction wouldn’t take away from being 1st in 2v2 for a certain faction. It would only give more opportunities for players to rank up and see how they measure up in a certain mode for a certain faction.
This is the first change I’ve seen proposed by Netmarble that nearly the entire community seems to be against. This is their first real test to see if they are listening to us and willing to reconsider this change for the overall satisfaction of a large portion of the player base.