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    Matchmaking Mastery: The Science Behind Destiny 2's PvP Balancing

      TL;DR: The article delves into the nuanced approach Destiny 2 developers are taking to address fireteam-based matchmaking in Trials and other PvP modes. It highlights the challenges of balancing matchmaking to accommodate solo, duo, and trio players while maintaining a vibrant player base. Emphasizing improvements in the trio experience and refining lobby balancing over broad matchmaking adjustments, the piece outlines ongoing efforts to make competitive play more rewarding and fair. The developers' commitment to iterative testing and player feedback is underscored as crucial to fostering an inclusive and engaging competitive environment.

    In the evolving landscape of online multiplayer games, Bungie's Destiny 2 stands out for its continuous efforts to refine and enhance player experience. The game's developers have introduced a series of significant changes to the matchmaking system, striving to balance competition, skill levels, and the enjoyment of playing with friends. This article delves into the recent adjustments and the rationale behind these changes, marking a new chapter in the Destiny 2 Crucible's matchmaking saga.

    Enhanced Matchmaking Systems

    Bungie has initiated several key updates to Destiny 2's matchmaking, aiming to cater to the diverse preferences of its player base. The introduction of the outlier protection matchmaking system replaces the previous skill-based matchmaking in modes like Iron Banner and Control, prioritizing a balanced play environment. Competitive matchmaking now emphasizes rank-based matchups, ensuring players face opponents of similar skill levels. Additionally, Bungie is experimenting with a "Snake Draft" lobby balancer, testing various configurations to perfect this feature.

    The upcoming 7.3.5 update promises further refinements. Playlist tooltips will be updated for clarity on the matchmaking style applied to each mode. Moreover, adjustments to the Snake Draft lobby balancing aim to enhance how it accommodates fireteams, making it easier for players to enjoy the Crucible with friends without facing undue disadvantages.

    A Transparent Approach to Matchmaking

    Bungie acknowledges the complexity of matchmaking systems and the challenges in satisfying the entire spectrum of player preferences. High-level players often seek competitive games against equally skilled opponents, while others prefer showcasing their prowess across a broader player base. To address this, Bungie is committed to offering separate systems and experiences tailored to different player types within the Crucible.

    The previous skill-based and fireteam-based matchmaking systems added unnecessary friction, particularly when playing with friends. Bungie's new strategy aims to reduce this friction, facilitating a more enjoyable experience for groups while ensuring solo players are not disadvantaged.

    Behind the Scenes: Matchmaking Mechanics Explained

    Bungie has clarified several misconceptions about its matchmaking systems. Contrary to some beliefs, the systems do not enforce a fixed kill-death ratio or win ratio, nor do they compromise connection quality for the sake of skill balancing. The three primary matchmaking systems — outlier protection, rank-based, and open skill — maintain high connection quality standards, with outlier protection and rank-based systems even showing slightly better average connection quality than open skill.

    Skill deltas, representing the range of player skills, play a crucial role in the feel of a match. Bungie aims for skill deltas under 500 to ensure competitiveness, with greater deltas allowing for more varied experiences without overwhelming less skilled players. The goal is to avoid the extremes, ensuring matches are neither too one-sided nor discouragingly competitive for the majority of players.

    Already Implemented Changes:

    • Outlier Protection Matchmaking: Replaced skill-based matchmaking in Iron Banner and Control with this new system, aiming to improve match quality by protecting against skill extremes.
    • Rank-Based Competitive Matchmaking: Updated to match players based on their ranks rather than broad skill levels.
    • Snake Draft Lobby Balancer: Undergoing tests with different configurations to optimize team balancing.

    Upcoming in Update 7.3.5:

    • Playlist Tooltips: Will be updated for clarity on the matchmaking style used for each mode.
    • Snake Draft Enhancements: Plans to refine how this system accounts for fireteams.

    Matchmaking Complexity and Challenges:

    • Matchmaking systems strive to balance competitive fairness with enjoyable gameplay, which becomes complex due to varying player preferences. High-level players often seek competitive matches, while newer or casual players might prioritize a learning-friendly environment.

    Previous Systems:

    • Skill-based and fireteam-based matchmaking systems previously made playing with friends difficult and were seen as counterproductive to the goal of making Destiny a friendlier game to play with companions.

    Lobby Balancing Issues:

    • Historically, balancing teams in lobbies has been challenging, often resulting in uneven matches that detract from player enjoyment.

    PvP Strike Team's Role:

    • The team has made substantial changes to matchmaking systems, aiming to address past issues and improve player experience.

    Matchmaking Systems Do Not:

    • Force players into a specific kill-death or win ratio.
    • Intentionally create cycles of winning and losing for individual players.
    • Compromise connection quality for other matchmaking criteria.

    How Matchmaking Systems Work:

    • Different matchmaking systems (outlier protection, rank-based, and open skill) aim to maintain a balance between competitive fairness and connection quality, with nuances in how they achieve this.

    Rank-Based Matchmaking:

    • Focuses on matching players within similar ranks, with adjustments for placements and measures to combat smurfing.

    Open Skill Matchmaking (CBMM):

    • Prioritizes quick match formation and connection quality, with a broad skill range.

    Loose Skill-Based Matchmaking:

    • An earlier system aimed at matching based on skill, but it presented challenges, especially for high-skill players and those playing with friends.

    Outlier Protection:

    • A recent approach that tries to prevent extreme skill mismatches by setting thresholds for skill deltas, aiming to keep matches competitive without overly penalizing mixed-skill groups.

    Fireteam-Based Matchmaking Challenges: The developers acknowledge the inherent difficulties in balancing the matchmaking system for different fireteam configurations. They've noted the adverse effects on the Trials ecosystem when restricting matchmaking to only trios or penalizing duos. Such restrictions historically led to decreased participation and skewed the competitive environment, making it less inclusive and enjoyable for a significant portion of the player base.

    Population and Accessibility Concerns: A major concern is maintaining a healthy player population. Restricting matchmaking to only allow trios, or disadvantaging duos, could significantly reduce the player base, leading to longer matchmaking times and a less diverse skill range within matches. Ensuring that Trials and other PvP modes remain accessible to solo players and duos is crucial for keeping the game vibrant and engaging for everyone.

    Improving the Trio Experience: Instead of limiting who can queue together, the focus is on making playing as a trio more rewarding and enjoyable. By enhancing the rewards for trio play and adjusting the Passage of Ferocity and introducing the Passage of Persistence, the goal is to incentivize forming full fireteams without penalizing those who prefer or are only able to play in smaller groups.

    Lobby Balancing Over Matchmaking Adjustments: The emphasis on refining lobby balancing rather than overhauling matchmaking indicates a nuanced approach to ensuring fair and competitive matches. By experimenting with new lobby balancing techniques, like the Snake Draft system, and making adjustments based on ongoing data analysis and player feedback, the developers aim to improve match quality and fairness.

    Ongoing Adjustments and Communication: The commitment to continuous testing, iteration, and communication with the player base is evident. By outlining specific changes already implemented and those planned for the near future, the developers are signaling an open and responsive approach to balancing PvP play.

    Image Credit: Bungie

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