It's been almost a week since 2.7.1 launched, and with that the beginning of Season 2 Ranked PvP. There have been some changes this time around; a three month season down from five, a top 96 players of each advance class in solo and grouped, and new daily and weekly Ranked PvP quests. But, is all this enough to save the floundering Ranked PvP scene? Has the population increased? And are thosse PvPers who left, coming back? In all honesty, no. The same issues from last season; population, class imbalance, and class manipulation are still there and turning players away.
So, What are the Problems?
First, population still isn't there. While queue pops are happening fairly frequently, the player base is still rather small. So small in fact, that on many servers players are becoming frustrated and are stopping playing because of "queue sync" groups. These are teams, in solo ranked, that due to tiny Ranked PvP populations are able to queue as solo but still get games together. For example, on The Bastion, the non existent Republic population allows a group of 4 players to all queue and automatically get a group together. These players are in voice chat together and can communicate and coordinate during the match. In Ranked PvP, and PvP in general, this makes a huge difference. HUGE. Being able to determine all, or even 3/4 of you team, creates an unfairness in play as you are essentially playing group instead of solo Ranked. Many imperial players have simply stopped queuing or have abandoned their Imperial characters all together hoping to go to Pub side and ride the coattails of these players. And while not technically cheating, these players are tacking advantage of the low population and matchmaking system. Even on Harbinger, the Republic teams are usually the exact same 4-5 players over and over again. I've seen the same thing happen there also, with an entire guild being on the same team.
Secondly, there are the issues of "fake tanking" and hybrid classes. "Fake tanking" is the ability to place guard on a member of your team (a tank ability) but still be a DPS. This can be done on both Powertechs/Vanguards and Guardians/Juggs by applying guard while in tank stance or cell and then switching to DPS stance or cell. While PTs and Vanguards are stuck guarding one players, Juggs and Guardians are able to "stance dance" between stances and guard swap. Hybrid classes, like "Hots n' Dots" for operatives and "skank heals" for S,orcs, allow players to get useful healing abilities, like Innervate and Kolto Probe, but be queued as DPS by putting more points in a DPS tree. During 4 DPS games this creates a huge imbalance.
The lack of reward announcement is also puzzling, as there is no tangible incentive to play. While the top 96 is definitely a really awesome addition, no one knows what exactly you get and whether it is cool enough to be worth it. Zero hype. We also don't know how the different ranking tiers will be decided. While its a good thing they moved away from the static rating tiers, how they will determine rewards is yet to be seen. Most likely this will be percentage based, top 5% / 10% / 20%, but that is still unknown. To be fair, the Devs may not even know yet. They might be looking at the metrics and seeing how the spread is looking in the first few weeks and make their decisions accordingly.
Lastly, class balance still isn't there. Guardians/Juggs are heavy favorites right now with their overpowered defensive cool downs. Madness Sorcs are doing crippling damage and rendering marauders basically useless with their roots. While CC was severely worked ages ago, roots have become the new stun and its impossible to move sometimes. Snipers, for the second season, are lackluster. And Merc DPS, as well as lightning Sorcs, are just locked down and unable to cast.
What To Do About IT
While it might seem crazy, cross faction queues. Lets be honest, this doesn't actually break lore. Arenas are completely separate from whats going on in the story, and I don't think Giradda cares that much about the whole Imp vs. Pub thing. This would fix queue syncing, increase population, add variety, and allow rating matchmaking to work more effectively.
Implement an expertise aspect to matchmaking, grouping players according to expertise as well as rating. Having someone with low expertise on your team is very frustrating. They are basically rendered useless as they defensively can't compete. This only makes players extremely frustrated and turns them away from Ranked, both the players with and without max expertise. Experienced players hate losing because of it, and so they make the environment toxic for people wanting to give it a try. That turns players from both sides of the argument away, and was definitely the case the first few days.
So, are you doing Ranked? Do you feel like anything has changed since Season 1? Have the changes encouraged those of you who haven't done Ranked or have stopped doing it to come back?